Category Archives: Blogging

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyThis post is part of a blog tour Elizabeth H. Cottrell invited me to participate in. Elizabeth’s blog tour invitation originated at Sor’a Garrett’s The Shine Connection blog.

You can see Elizabeth’s Writing About Writing blog at Heartspoken here.

This week, I’ll answer the blog tour questions. Next week, I’ll introduce you to two bloggers who will answer the same questions.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on learning a new, full-time job. I am also enrolled as a new student at Minot State University. Those two things have consumed me over the last few months.

In between the exhaustion of all that, I’m working on a non-fiction, Word Shark book as well as collections of poetry, historical fiction, and horror and experimental fiction. And, I blog.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Every writer has an original voice. I just write in my voice and hope that it appeals to others. At times I try to write with humor, even with the horror. When blogging, I try to share my experience and my thoughts, some advice, what I’ve learned along the writing way.

Why do you write what you write?

I write poetry because I enjoy that muse. I write horror to kill my demons (and my ex-husbands) and because I love the genre, when done well. I write historical fiction because those stories should not be forgotten. Many of my historical short stories are based on genealogical research I’ve conducted on my family. And I write a blog because I enjoy that outlet – and to share my experiences and thoughts. On the blog, I occasionally share my poetry and short stories.

Describe your writing process.

I have no process. I write when I have the time and the energy. Lately, I don’t have much energy (new job!). I don’t have a schedule, nor do I try to force a writing schedule.

I write. I let it sit. I look at it again. I rewrite. I let it sit. I look at it again and rewrite. I let it sit (lots of sitting here!).

I have decided to insert a new aspect to my process – that of asking a handful of beta readers to read through my bigger projects before they are sent to my editor.

Speaking of editorsoriginal[1]

One of the most important steps I do take in my process is hiring a high-quality editor. I won’t publish without Shawn MacKenzie.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll introduce you to two blogger/writers who will answer the same questions.

27 Comments

Filed under Blogging

How to play well (and blog well) with others

DSC01656I’ve recently had a few lame come-ons in my email – “I’d love to provide content for your wonderful blog. I love your blog. Would you like to have interesting content for your blog?”

Read on and you will see why I am not impressed by this generic query.

I’ve also received a few emails from other writers, editors, and proofreaders – “How do I query another blogger to be a guest?” “How do I find guests for my blog?”

Previously, I posted these blogs as a series – My guest blog guidelines, Hosting a guest blogger, How to query another blogger, and Being a guest on another blog. Today, I’m posting them all together.

My guidelines

If you are interested in creating your own blog guidelines, click here to see my guidelines.

Hosting a guestKenton and boys

Hosting a guest blogger can be a rewarding experience. I learn, I find new friends, and I expand my reader base and exposure. Variety is the blogger’s spice of life. And it’s fun!

Guidelines – I explain these are not hard-n-fast rules, simply guidelines. I like to enable my guests to use their imagination, their own voice, and their sense of humor.

Reach out – I don’t wait around for people to invite themselves to guest blog. I go after people I find interesting. Reach out. Expand your horizons!

Background check – Before I invite someone to be a guest, I check out their blog, website, Twitter, Facebook… Do the same background check if a blogger approaches you. Is this someone you want on your blog?

Posting date clarity – In correspondence with a prospective blog guest, my deadline was vague. The guest blogger thought I wanted her article in February (because earlier I mentioned Valentine’s Day), and I was talking about November!

DSC01197Deadline – Give the guest a specific deadline. S.P.E.L.L. it out clearly. “I need your submission in my inbox on or before January 22.”

Wiggle room – I normally set deadlines at least a week before the scheduled day. Don’t rely on last minute submissions. What if you plan on posting a blog on Tuesday afternoon and you still don’t have it Tuesday morning?

Back-up plan – What if your guest doesn’t follow through? Have a couple of your own draft blog articles simmering on the back burner for these emergencies.

Guest bio – I like to provide a bio and links for my guest’s online pages. So, in addition to the article, I ask for a 1) bio 2) profile picture 3) URLs for their social networking.

Maintain control – Indicate (in your guidelines and in conversations) that if you feel their article is not appropriate for your blog you won’t publish it or you might require edits.

Read the submission – Be sure to read the submission as soon as you get it; don’t wait until posting day. Is it well written and free of typos? Do the links work? If you feel it needs to be edited, send it back to the writer or advise her that you will edit. Be clear about what you feel needs to be edited.

Just say no – I hate to do this, but I’ve had to say, “No, thank you.” If the guest has broken one of your critical guidelines, ask the guest to edit or tell them you feel it’s not appropriate for your blog.

Learn to say yes! – I have broken out of my blogging box on numerous occasions. A few times, I have read a submission and think, “Eh, not really my cup o tea.” But I sit on it, give it a half day or so, read it again, and consider it on its merits.

Blogging love – If I have a guest, I ask that they share the link on their blog and/or their Facebook, Twitter, Fan Page.

Think big picture – Nearly every time I’ve had a guest blogger, I see an increase in my comments, and I occasionally get a couple new subscribers.

DSC01384The query

Before the query – Say for instance you find a way-cool blog. You like a post or two and think, “I’d love to be a guest on this blog!” Before you query…

Guidelines? – If the blogger has guidelines, read them. Follow them.

Research – Read a bunch of the blogger’s posts, including posts made by guest bloggers. I suggest at least a dozen. What is that blogger’s focus? How are the posts presented? How are guests presented?

Where to send query – If the blogger wants you to send queries via an online contact form, use it. If the blogger wants you to send it to his email, use the email.

Form letters – Ick. Don’t do it. Most experienced bloggers can spot a form letter query from a mile away.

A blah query – “I’m a blogger, and I want to guest blog for you! I love your blog.” Blah and blech. Be sincere, not spammy.

A brilliant query – 1) Mentions a couple of the blogger’s posts and why you liked them. 2) Mentions one or two of the blogs in her blog roll. 3) Mentions the blogger’s book (if applicable). 4) Mentions what you’d like to blog about 5) Provides a brief preview.image (13)

Pace yourself – Don’t send out 50 queries on the same day – you might just get 50 “Yes, I’d like to have you on my blog” and then you’re scrambling to write 50 blogs at quantum-leap speed.

No, thank you – You send your query. You think it’s stellar! The blogger turns you down. It’s his blog, his decision. Remember, it might be timing. Make a note to query this blogger at a later date.

Temper, temper – If the blogger turns you down, don’t blast him on FB or Twitter. Send a basic thank you and let it go.

Resubmit – Try again in a few months. Consider subscribing to the target blog and leaving a comment on occasion.

Your guest post Kenton washing car

Your blog host accepts your blog idea and gives you a deadline. You are scheduled to be a guest on another blog. Fabulous! Don’t simply drive in, drop the article, and drive away.

Now the work begins. Make it shine!

Deadline – Your host tells you, “Please have your submission to me by January 15.” Make sure it’s in her inbox by that date. Better if you have it to her before the deadline.

Dress up – Don’t send a slopped-together article. Clean it from top to bottom. Wipe the glass. Scrub the tires.

Check the mirror – Proofread, edit for clarity, adhere to word count, include all the information your host asked for. In addition to the article, your host asks for your bio, a profile picture, and your URLs. Don’t make her come back and beg you for them. Submit these as attachments to the submission email.

The extras

BIO – Your host asks for a 50-word bio. Don’t send a two-page resume and expect her to edit.

PIC – A profile picture – Have one. Have a recognizable profile photo, not you amongst 37 cousins at your last family reunion.

URLs – I keep all my URLs in a list, so I don’t have to retype them every time.

Kenton and ShawnPost Day

Share and promote – Make a post on your own blog that directs subscribers to your host’s blog. Go to the host’s blog page and click all the buttons to share it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc.

Socialize – Visit the host’s blog over the next few days and look for comments. Respond to comments. Be nice. Don’t embarrass your host.

A dud – It your guest post is successful, great! If not, don’t go off pouting or FBing “Why isn’t anyone commenting on my guest post?!” You posted it to your blog, FB, Twitter, and so on. Let it sit for a day. Then consider posting it to your Facebook again.

Send a thank you – Even when I thought Laura’s 10th birthday party was a dud, my mom made me send a thank you note. It’s the right thing to do. Send a thank you to your host.

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

What’s on my bookshelves?

IMG_0430

I’ve got books on languages – 29 to be exact. I counted them. I excel at Sign Language, but the rest – meh, just notes. Swahili, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, French, Lithuanian, German, Russian, Latin, Thai, Czech, Welsh…

I’ve got classics – a couple of them first editions I think. I’ve got McCullough, Zane Grey (for 50 cents on an island in Maine), Pasternak’s Zhivago, Flaubert, Maugham, Steinbeck.

IMG_0429

I’ve got writing books – oh boy, do I have writing books. How to write the breakout novel, how to write poetry, how to write horror, how to write memoir, how to write any dang genre…

I’ve got the limericks book from Aunt Agnes. I can’t print any of that here – too raunchy! But, holy catfish, did she and I have fun with that book.

I’ve got states and countries and flags. I’ve collected travel books from a lot of the states and from several countries.

I’ve got Japanese character writing and Japanese art.

IMG_0555I’ve got art books. How to create watercolor, how to sketch figures, how to do mixed media, how to do oils and acrylics and pastels.

I’ve got a Stephen King collection along with a lot of other horror.

I’ve got women’s lit, war stories, fantasy, sci-fi, sword and sorcery, memoir, historical…

I’ve got signed copies of books from Shawn MacKenzie, Barbara Forte Abate, Kathryn Magendie, Gil Effron, and a few others. My treasures!

I’ve got several copies of The Bible. And a book about The Bible.

I’ve got style guides, dictionaries, thesauri, and multi-language, picture dictionaries.

IMG_0561

I’ve got loads of books about Wales, Welsh coal mining, mining in Pennsylvania, the Welsh in Pennsylvania (it’s where mom was born), Welsh dictionaries, Welsh recipes, Welsh hymnals, about Welsh surnames, life in Wales, Wales, more Wales, and more Wales.

What’s on your bookshelf? What books do you look for at flea markets and yard sales?

23 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Social Networking

What do you expect from an editor?

DSC01710And what do you expect it to cost?

My last several potential clients strung me along for a while, asking questions, getting feedback and critique…

When I finally told them my fee, they all balked.

My fault

This is my fault. I should ask straight up –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

Full stop, wheels screeching

I’m changing my game plan! I’m going to stop wasting my time (sorry, but it’s true) on writers who know nothing about editing, the costs involved, or what they might expect from a really chop-chop-I-am-taking-an-axe-to-your-novel kind of editor.

Subscribers – can you help me? DSC01711

I have a few questions for you –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

No, you’re not having déjà vu – I typed those questions twice.

If you have been edited

What did you get for your hard-earned money?

Were you satisfied?

Was your previous editor not what he/she promised? (Please, don’t mention by name.)

What did he/she miss and when did you discover it?

If this feels icky

If you feel uncomfortable posting comments here on the blog, you can email me – karenrsanderson@midco.net.

10 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience

fargo

 A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience

I have attended numerous national conferences, and not one of them compared to the intimate (and awesome!) North Dakota Bloggers & Writers Conference I recently attended in Fargo, ND. Not only did I connect with writers from North Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada, but I experienced Fargo for the first time.

Before the conference kick off, my BFF and I visited The Rourke Art Museum.

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Sunday Evening Walk About

Attendees gathered Sunday evening at the Radisson and paraded over to the Hotel Donaldson for a tour of a couple of their unique artist-inspired rooms, the wine cellar, and their distinctive work-out room. That was followed by hors d’ouveres at the Donaldson’s HODO Restaurant. Other stops in downtown included Unglued Craft Market, olive oils and balsamics at Pinch and Pour, and brews at Wurst Bier Hall.

Pinch and Pour

Pinch and Pour

Conference Day 

Monday’s conference started with a scrumptious breakfast of fresh fruit, bagels and pastries, coffee, tea, and juices.

Morning Presentations 

Rachel Hutton – Editor, Minnesota Monthly

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Amity Moore

Moderator, Beth Schatz Kaylor, blogger at Rhubard and Venison

More Yummies

Lunch was presented with panache…pasta salad, seasoned potatoes, zucchini and squash with peppers and onions, and roast au jus.

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Afternoon Presentations

Kim Schmidt – North Dakota Tourism

Kim Jondahl – North Dakota State Historical Society

Nicole Moen – Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau

Roundtables

Afternoon roundtables included Writing Blogs That People Love with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Visit with the Editor with Rachel Hutton, Photography Inspired with Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Writing Tips and Tricks with Amity Moore.

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Final Presentation

Passion with a Purpose – Tony, Sarah, and Gio Nasello of Sarello’s Restaurant and Wine Lounge in Moorhead, MN, and of Home with the Lost Italian.

Breaking Up

We broke up. I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I had new friends all over the state!

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Other Bloggers

Here are the resulting blog posts about the conference. And many of these blogs have incredible North Dakota photos.

Allison “A. J.” Bauers of The Covert Extravert with A Guide for First-Time Conference Attendees

Sarah and Tony Nasello of Home with the Lost Italian, Staking Our Claim as North Dakotans

Roxane Beauclair Salonen, thePeace Garden Writer, Secret Spaces

Jessie Veeder Scofield of Meanwhile, back at the ranch with A North Dakota Story

Devin Berglund writes The ND Writing & Blogging Workshop, Through My Eyes

Jenny Dewey Rohrich, The Prairie Californian, with Refreshing My Passion for North Dakota

8 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Social Networking, Special Events

Do you have to stick to “write what you know?”

DSC01541

This blog was inspired by a post I read at Indie Plot Twist, Write What You Know.

Living a dull life?

Danielle Hanna (half of Indie Plot Twist) and I both live in small towns in North Dakota. Just because it’s a small town, doesn’t mean it’s dull.

Read the newspaper

Unfortunately, you will find political intrigue, shootings, explosions, train wrecks…

Local police department

Have you ever done a ride along with the P.D.? I haven’t, though I did volunteer at my local police substation back in Albuquerque (and I still have contacts at the P.D. in case I have police-procedure questions).

Community events

Nearly every weekend, even in small towns, there are holiday events, festivals, or ethnic events.fargo

How about a conference, like the Annual Bloggers and Writers Conference in Fargo, North Dakota?

Everywhere you look, you see history

What’s the history behind that building that houses the art museum?

What’s the history of Main Street?

What events changed your town? The flood of 2011 comes to mind.

Your past life

Most of my short stories and poetry reflect my knowledge, memories, experiences – both good and bad.

I have plenty of fond memories from my long-ago life – growing up on the east coast with Mom and Ang and brothers, building snow forts and skating on the local pond, Christmas caroling with friends, summer vacations. Even if you don’t want to write about long ago, you can use these memories to enhance your current characters and stories.

img002 (3)Look at old pictures

I have taken thousands of photos over the years. When I go back and study them, I see things I never noticed before. Old photos are great if you want to remember how the hair styles and clothing styles were for that era (if you are old enough to have another era). I also have a slew of old photos from my mom’s generation and beyond.

Jobs in your past

Most of us have numerous career experiences. I’ve worked a bunch of different jobs – dry cleaners, large corporations, small-town government, uniform warehouse, conference planning, loading dock, accounting, school for the deaf, and more. Tap your memories!

So many contacts

We all chat online via Facebook and LinkedIn. Why not utilize some of these contacts for their knowledge, information on their jobs, and their day-to-day challenges? We are all connected to professionals like doctors, lawyers, bankers, chefs, etc.

What if we want a character that does something we know nothing about?

Say, a character who is an archaeologist? That’s okay because I’m taking an online class in archaeology right now through Coursera. I’m learning just enough to be dangerous (or at least enough to include some of my newly-learned tidbits in my prose).

Or, conduct research at your local library or historical society.

Small town life

While I was writing this blog, an article about life in a little town popped up on Pamela Wight’s Rough Wighting blog, In My Little Town.

 

What experiences in your life have inspired your stories or characters?

What local happenings have inspired events in your stories?

Have any of your previous jobs made it into your stories?

Are you in a small town or big city?

 

A plug for my inspiration

Danielle HannaDanielle Hanna learned how to read and write at age four and knew she wanted to be an author by the time she was seven. She now writes Christian mysteries. When she’s not riveted to her computer, you can find her camping, hiking, and biking with her German Shepherd/Rottweiler Molly. Danielle and Carrie Lynn Lewis partner at Indie Plot Twist.

 

 

carrieCarrie Lynn Lewis has been writing for personal enjoyment most of her life. Her favorite genres are mystery, suspense, and political thriller, with manuscripts in the works in each of those categories. She is also an active critique partner for other authors, both published and unpublished. Carrie personal writing blog can be found at Writing Well.

At Indie Plot Twist, Danielle and Carrie are recording their journey to independent publishing. They host free classes on the blog five to six times a year and encourage readers to participate in the comments section.

 

16 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Publishing

Will you be remembered after the writers’ conference?

fargoI am attending a writer/blogger conference in Fargo, North Dakota, this month.

I looked back on my writers’ conference tips, written last year. I also wrote about “branding” back in 2013 – you can see that link here.

For this conference, I thought…

How do I want to present myself? (The Word Shark, editor extraordinaire)

How do I want to dress? (professionally, in colors to match my website and blog)

What do I need to have? (biz cards, a name tag, give-away pens)

People are going to remember me because

I dressed like a professional editor – sensible shoes, a blazer, neat hairdo, spare make-up. And everything about me is going to scream, “Shark!”

Personalize

I’m not going to use any entry-table name tag, no way. I made my own. You guessed it – it has a shark on it.

Hand outsDSC02485

I will have The Word Shark biz cards and give-a-way pens with a shark charm (people will take me home with them).

North Dakota bloggers on FB

I discovered and joined the FB group, North Dakota Bloggers. There has been some chit-chat about the conference, and I have connected with a handful of attendees as well as presenters.

Research the presenters

Before any conference, you get a who’s-presenting email. Do look up these people, connect with them on social networking, follow their blogs ahead of conference time.

Magazine articles

One of the presenters at this conference is the editor of a local, regional magazine. Will I have a couple of articles to hand her? You bet your dorsal fin!

DSC02496Engage

Don’t just show up at the conference – engage. Talk to people, ask questions about their projects, and participate in discussions. Exchange cards so you can send a follow up email, “Nice to meet and you at the conference…”

When all the conference-goers go home

They will pick up my shark pen and say, “Hey, maybe I do need an editor.”

 

Conference ready!

Got the shark name tag

Got shark-pen give-away swag

Got a flashy shark shirt for downtown Fargo walk-about

Got a quiet shark tee and blazer for the conference crowd

Got the biz cards, ready to hand out

It’s all conference I’m about!

 

How do you prepare for a writers’ conference?

What’s your favorite thing about attending a writers’ conference?

 

Cool shark-charm pens custom made by The English Rose.

 

15 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Social Networking