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How Does One Write Non-Fiction?

Guest Post by Ann Miner – Author and Freelance Writer

High Desert Author

Ann Miner

 
Some people tell me they have lived an uneventful life. I often think that would be like a dream for me.
My life may sound like fiction, but, as the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up. I write non-fiction because when I tell about my experiences, people say, “You should write a book.” What do they mean?
Let’s see, born in a farmhouse, neglected, adopted at one year. Lived the good life for eight years with two wonderful parents; lost Daddy when I was nine; new father, died when I was 14; mother died when I was 18.
In addition, I had my first and last names changed over the years. Let’s see, first and middle names changed twice, last name changed seven times. Good grief, no wonder I don’t know who I am!
Lived with manic depressive, abusive husband; lived with schizophrenic father-in-law, (loads of stories from both of these); divorced, ex-husband died a dramatic and tragic death (not suicide); went back to college at age 52, went bankrupt because I couldn’t get a job at age 56, 57, 58.
Then, after 22 years of single bliss, married again, lost that husband nearly ten years later, married again, lost that man a year later. Was a caregiver for my mother when I was 18, for my manic-depressive husband, and for my last two husbands. One had Parkinson’s disease for years. Never wanted to be a nurse, but God had plans he disclosed on a need-to-know basis.
Was despised and mistrusted by step-children of both husbands, and those stories alone would make a novel. But not a fun one.
Did I mention that I have moved more than twenty times?
So, what’s not to write about in the non-fiction genre? Just write what you know. Begin with a pencil on paper. Don’t stop the pencil until your brain stops. You can go back later and correct any spelling or grammar, or change phrases.  If you stop writing while you are thinking, you will forget the words that were flowing through your mind. Some of them never return, trust me.
An important thing that I have learned is to make an outline as your thoughts come. What stories do you want to share? I have remembered so many events after I have finished a chapter. Where do they fit in now? Why didn’t I write them down?
If you feel that your life has been uneventful, lacking drama, look at it again. How did you interact with family members? Brothers, sisters, cousins. Did you argue? Play pranks? How did those work out? What vacations did you take and what happened? Was there one that stood out because it was so wonderful or so fraught with disaster?
Everyone has a story to tell. In fact, you – yes, you – have many stories to tell. Just start making notes and then see how they fit together. You can make a complete story describing one vacation. I know I can. I have one about a trip to Acapulco when I was seven. Car trouble, high jacking by a truck full of Mexican marauders, that sort of thing. Not fiction.
My two children’s books are actually based on non-fiction. Polly Possum’s Wandering Path, and Buddy Finds a Home. Polly was actually a little possum that was wandering around my back yard, never looking up. Buddy was a cat that came to live with us. Everything in Buddy is true.
My adult inspirational books, I Lift My Eyes and Bugs in the Baptismal, are short vignettes of my life or someone else’s. The book I am working on now, A Cow is a Cow, (I’ve known that I was adopted since I’ve known that a cow is a cow), is autobiographical/memoir/documentary. It is filled with true stories about my life growing up adopted (twice), and the accounts others have shared with me about their experiences of being adopted, adopting a child, or surrendering one for adoption.
A caveat: even non-fiction may need some research. That can be frustrating or fun, interesting or intimidating. But you want your story to be as authentic as you remember it. Then you can go back and take a bit of license if it would be more complete. Or just add more true detail.
For instance: “My granddaddy taught me to play dominoes and also played the fiddle.”
Okay, but the reader may want to know more. How about:  “When we played dominoes I was fascinated by his big hands with long, slender fingers.  He could hold all his dominoes in his hand.” Actually, that is not embellished because it is true. But I could further describe what he usually wore at age 88, how his voice sounded, and so on. The audience wants to get acquainted with this man that you adored. Oh, did you say that you adored him and why? License could come into play here.
Then there was my grandmother who killed a chicken for fried chicken dinner. The chicken tasted good.
Or: When Grandmother planned to cook chicken for dinner, she went to the backyard in the afternoon and chased down a hen. She grasped it around the neck, and swung it in a short, tight circle until the body and head were separated. Then she let it hop around, headless, until it was still, after which she hung it on the clothesline to let the blood drain. After a good soaking in a bucket of boiling water, she held it by the legs, plucked the feathers, and singed the pinfeathers over open flames. Now it was time to take it into the house and finish the cleaning. A delicious fried chicken dinner followed.
The part I like best is this:
Her two daughters – Daddy’s only sisters out of the seven siblings – told the story, years later, of a time when their mother was ill and they wanted to fix her some chicken soup. So the young girls went out to the backyard and cornered a hen. One of the girls took the hen by the neck and started swinging it in wide circles, like a lasso, over her own head. Somehow the hen got loose and ran away. I can just picture that hen clucking loudly as she flew around in a circle at the end of the girl’s arm and then, literally, running for her life. Oh the trauma! Needless to say, there was no soup for dinner that night.
So, that’s how I do it.  Take notes, make an outline, write it down. Good things will happen!
Never at a loss for words.

“If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!”

Horror Book Fest Kept Ghouls & Creatures Entertained

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Special Guest Julie Adams, cult icon of Creature film

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Mayor Eric Schmidt of Hesperia pals around with Creature icon

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Joyce (in witchie attire) and Michael Raff shared hosting duties during the event

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Dwight Norris, pres of HDCWC and guest E. Van Lowe enjoy the fest of Horror books

If fright is what you like then you missed the best High Desert” spook-tacular” event for Horror and Paranormal books, their authors, and their fans. The afternoon of Oct. 3rd,  was dedicated to Horror books and history of the Horror film genre.

Hosted by Nevermore Enterprises, the business team of Michael Raff and Roberta Smith, pooled their talents to share their first book novel trailers – video excerpts of their thriller novels.

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Loralie Kay and Dwight Norris filled in for author Jeanne Newcomer at her book booth

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The Accordo is Roberta Smith’s top title for the “book trailer” seen at book fest

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Michael Raff is celebrating his latest title: Scare Tactics” during the fest

If fright is what you like then you missed the best High Desert” spook-tacular” event for Horror and Paranormal books, their authors, and their fans. The afternoon of Oct. 3rd,  was dedicated to Horror books and history of the Horror film genre.

Hosted by Nevermore Enterprises, the business team of Michael Raff and Roberta Smith, pooled their talents to share their first book novel trailers – video excerpts of their thriller novels.
With over 50 people in attendance, the event was double their first Horror Book Fest held last year in Apple Valley. On top of the bigger venue at Courtyard Marriott in Hesperia, the town’s Mayor, Eric Schmidt, emcee in flashy tux, went the extra mile to get the crowd in the mood.

Known for his teen horror books, Sal Conte AKA E. Van Lowe, read from his latest novel The Secrets of Love and Death. Lowe is a well-known teen book author of horror, and an Emmy nominee for work on “The Cosby Show”, “Even Stevens”, and other sitcoms.
World famous Julie Adams, actress of over 40 films, TV and theater productions, shared a bit of her film history and her new movie memoir book The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon. Sound familiar? She is best known for the female lead of Creature from the Black Lagoon, a 1954 cult classic. Over the years she’s embraced her legendary role and travels to autograph shows with her son Mitchell.

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A book fest is not complete without authors exhibiting their latest books in booths that were set up around the perimeter of the room. Many members of the High Desert branch of the California Writers Club supported Raff and Smith, also members, with their costumes and creative booths, adding to the festive event. Nearly a dozen friends and relatives filled out the volunteer staff. A dozen vendors shared book titles, Halloween costumes, jewelry, and frightful items for parties.
Mayor Schmidt wrapped up the main event by hosting a film and writers information panel with guests and hosts. Questions were taken from the audience and behind-the-scenes stories on movie sets were eagerly shared by Ms. Adams. Lastly, opportunity drawings of books, gift baskets, and an autographed photo of Ms. Adams was given away.

According to the response, if you enjoy being “creeped out” with horror and the paranormal keep an eye out for the third Horror Book Fest coming next year.

 

Rusty LaGrange

3 Easy Steps to Change Your Mood

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

I’m sure that many of you have these seasonal mood swings that force you into introspection or shades of melancholy. Just when the end of the heat swarms and thunderstorms have badgered you down with tepid exhaustion, you want to bounce back in some way.

Since writers are typically driven by moods, whether they want to admit it or not, the feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and fruitlessness in creativity seem to take over. It’s just about this time that a friend calls you with a conversation tailor-made to perk up your spirits and save the day.

I’ll let Andrew Lock, business marketing and a pioneer in web TV, a guru, who I’ve been following for many years:

Let’s be realistic. Life doesn’t always go how we want it to, right? Does that mean that your life is doomed and you won’t achieve the success you dream of? Of course not. Everybody fails. Let me show you some pretty powerful examples to illustrate this point…

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim in California, on the grounds that it would only attract “riff-raff”.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has had some dismal failures in the world of musical theater, yet no one remembers them.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made more than 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school.

Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts, had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff.

Just put a Beagle on this roof

Just put a Beagle on this roof

After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, read, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” He kept that memo over the fire place in his Beverly Hills home.

Decca Records turned down a recording contract with a band called The Beatles

Early Years

Early Years

with the fascinating evaluation, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.”

A friend of mine in the music industry personally auditioned a singer by the name of Reg Dwight in the 1960’s. He unceremoniously shoved the singer out of his office for wasting his time. That singer is now better known as Elton John.

Imagine if any of these individuals HAD given up, believing they were doomed to failure, and that they would never achieve success.

Do you think they felt down or even depressed at times? Of course. But I can guarantee you that they didn’t allow a gloomy state to overtake them, to overpower their desire to succeed. And in every case they did succeed, in a HUGE way, far greater than their wildest dreams.

Bad experiences can be viewed as positive in hindsight. They can be viewed as stepping-stones rather than stumbling blocks. It’s your choice, but be determined to never ever give up.

Thanx, Andrew. He can be found at www.HelpMyBusiness.com and he’s developed a video personality all his own with his unassuming, soft, English accent.

I can find myself staring at a huge pile of projects that need to be worked on and feel the overwhelming mood to run away. We all know that when you come back, the pile is still there. So, it takes some regrouping and a system to de-clutter and weed through the pile to find the priority projects. Your work is important.

3 Simple Steps to Manage Your Work Load

I give my priority projects an hour or two and move on to the rest. I try to break up the work in segments of 25-40 minutes at a time so I can enjoy mental breaks, then I give myself little rewards for accomplishing them. These are the easy steps to working alone in your home office. Whether you’re a freelancer, a entrepreneur, artist, author, or marketing guru, these steps are how the rest of the day can be managed when you work alone.

Is doesn’t help to allow your mood to take control because sometimes the moods become your all day attitude. That’s not productive for anyone, even highly skilled workaholics. We all have days that seem out of whack. So even a quick text, phone call, quick walk, or email can rejuvenate your spirits. And, it helps to have a network of friends or peers who can do just that.

Rusty LaGrange

Women’s Escape to Catalina Writers’ Retreat

file0001149784476Several others have already weighed in with their opinion of the first women writers’ retreat.  What many of you may not know is the story of how this all came to fruition.  It started with a conversation between two members of the High Desert Branch of the California Writer’s Club.  They were discussing how other responsibilities often kept them from pursuing their true passion, writing.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could go away to an island where we could write without all of the distractions?” one of the women mused.

Apparently, one of them realized that it is possible to go away to an island, and the Escape to Catalina was conceived.

This women-only weekend was a truly unique experience because it was planned for each of the participants to also be one of the presenters.  There were five women, and this translated to 5 sessions that ran from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours long.  Each presenter was allowed to choose her own subject which, in retrospect, could have been a recipe for disaster with no one overseeing the overall plan.  Instead of a disaster, the instructional sessions, which included lots of writing, fit together nicely.  It came together so well, one would have thought much more time went into the overall organization.

The first evening was spent learning about the anatomy of a story and all of the components that need to be present in order for a story to come to life.  The second day’s first presentation was about character development and what was required to truly bring them to life on the page.  The instruction in creative non-fiction which followed helped us all realize that non-fiction writing didn’t have to be boring and technical as we learned how to write a recipe as creative non-fiction from the example of a grilled cheese sandwich recipe that was embedded in the description of the first time a future chef climbed onto a chair in her mother’s kitchen to make a sandwich.  A subsequent session spent on voice and style was time well spent because as writers, we need to find our own voice so that we will stand apart from other writers.  The conference closed with Blogging 101, which included excellent instruction about building and maketing your blog.

Between all of these sessions there was time to explore and/or write.    It’s been nearly a month since the return from our weekend retreat, and I am still carrying around the notebook full of notes and ideas that came together from that weekend.  In fact, I began the outline of my NaNoWriMo project during that weekend.  Perhaps it was the presence of  my local area’s NaNoWriMo coordinator that helped to propel me toward that goal.

I am very glad that I was able to escape with my fellow female writers to Santa Catalina Island.  It was time well spent, and I returned feeling refeshed and with my muse reawakened.  The real challenge will be to prevent it from slipping back into a coma now that we have returned to the demands and distractions of daily life.

**Patti  can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Less than a week before we hit the trail through NaNo Land

 

Plot bunny

With only just six days to go, are you ready to hit the trail through NaNo Land?

 

As promised I’m back with more NaNoWriMo trivia, helps and hints.

 

NaNo Challenges are traditions that help the writer reach their 50,000 work count goal. At any point along the trail you may encounter one of the following:

 

  • The Traveling Shovel of Death – this is a challenge to include at some point a shovel into your story. More often than not the shovel will be used to bury or bludgeon someone – but not necessarily so.
  • NaNoWriMo Anagram – this challenge asks you to name a character using an anagram of letters in NaNoWriMo. For example, I named a character “Orwin Mano”.
  • Word-a-day Challenge – usually a thread on your regional forum where a new word is listed every day and you must work it into your story that day.  Many participants return to the forum thread and post the sentence.
  • Word Sprints – this challenge also known as “Word Wars” can be done at a Write-In (more on that later) or online (Via forums, Facebook, Twitter). A time limit is set, 15 minutes or more, and the challenge is to see who can produce the most words during that time period.
  • Guilt Monkeys – the Guilt Monkey comes to us thanks to the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty. Guilt Monkeys will nag you to finish your daily word counts. Here’s how it works – your ML gives out numbered envelopes at random that contain the Guilt Monkeys. To track the movement of the Guilt Monkeys there is thread to post on (Which Monkey was passed to who and why.)You can pass the Guilt Monkey off to another WriMo if you:
    • Reach your 50,000 word goal
    • Compete in Cauldron of Doom Challenge  (you do not need to win),
    • Win a Word Sprint,
    • Make a donation to NaNoWrimo.

 

If you don’t want to burden others with your Guilt Monkeys the MLs have a foster home for them until they can be adopted by someone in need of Guilt Monkey love.

 

  • The Cauldron of Doom – this is a difficult challenge that comes to us from Lansing MI. In this challenge the participants must complete 1250 words, in 20 minutes (I’ve seen various word counts for this challenge.)
  • Plot Bunnies – as John Steinbeck said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” Plot bunnies are really cute and cuddly but you have to be cautious with them. They can lead you to some really wonderful vista of ideas or into a box canyon of despair.

You’ve been working on your novel and now you are stuck – where do you get help? The following are great places to go:

  • Write-Ins – NaNo public gatherings. For a Write-in WriMos gather at public place such as restaurant or coffee house and write. It’s that simple. During the event challenges may be issued, prizes awarded and suggestions make.
  • NaNoWriMo Forums – there are lots of threads with wonderful suggestions
  • Adoption Society – one of my favorite forums.  On this forum you will find abandoned titles, characters and plots looking for a good home.
  • The Dare Machine – If you want add a twist to your story then mosey on over to the Young Writers Program home page (ywp.nanwrimo.org) and try out the Dare Machine. Push the button and do what it says, for example “have one of your characters go missing for a chapter”.
  • Inner Editor Containment Unit – This also come to us from the YWP. Draw a box with a big red button. Now imagine your inner editor – what does she/he/it look like? Sound like? Now push the button, you inner editor has now been removed from your head and into the IECU for the next 30 days and will be kept occupied proof reading the NaNo Website. December first they will be returned to you.

 

See you at the trail head on November 1st!

 

National Novel Writing Month Twelve Days and Counting

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

With only twelve days left until NaNoWriMo begins things are starting to heat up in NaNo-Land. If you haven’t decided to join us on this year’s word round up it’s not too late.

First some definitions so we are speaking the same language:

WriMo – noun, a person who participates in NaNoWriMo

YWP – NaNoWriMo for K – 12 students, where they set an appropriate word goal for their age and skill level.

Planner – a WriMo who plans out their novel, amount of planning varies with each individual

Pantser – a WriMo who just starts writing on Nov. 1st with no idea of where they are going and just let the story happen.

So what do you do during the remaining days until 12:01 AM Nov. 1, 2014?

  1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo or YWP-NaNoWrimo.
  2. Set up your Novel on the site
  3. Join a region, we’re USA :: California :: San Bernardino
  4. Check out the region’s Google calendar to see if there are any events you want to attend and add do your personal calendar
  5. Attend the NaNoWriMo Kick-off and information event on Oct 25, 2014 the Fieldheim Library in San Bernardino
  6. (Pantsers you may skip this one) Prepare for writing
    1. Character charts
    2. Plot outlines
    3. Research, as necessary.
    4. Get up at 11:45 PM on Oct 31, 2014 and stand by.
    5. At 12:01 AM Nov 1, 2014 head out on the trail and start writing.

Remember High Desert WriMos were are gathering at High Desert Book Oasis on Nov 1 to celebrate and encourage each other as we start down the dusty trail toward 50,000 words by 11:59 Nov 31, 2014.

Next week – defining plot bunnies and other NaNoLand denizens.

 

NaNoWriMo is coming! Are you ready?

I'm participating are you?

I’m participating are you?

NaNoWriMo is coming! NaNoWriMo is coming!

What is NaNoWriMo?

The creators of NaNoWriMo define it as: “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” http://nanowrimo.org/about

It is a fun roller-coaster ride. You rise to the top creating your novel and watch your word count soar. Then you plummet in to the dark canon that is thinking written yourself into a corner or you’ve falling behind on your word count only to find you start to rise again.

If you’ve ever thought, “I could do better than this guy.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’d like to write a story, someday.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’m not creative, writing scares me.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

As the Municipal Liaison (ML) for the San Bernardino Region of NaNoWriMo I invite you to join me on this adventure toward completing your first novel.

As a member of the NaNoWriMo community I challenge you to join me because:

  1. You never know what you can do until you try.
  2. You’ll make some new friends, online and at community events.
  3. You’ll have fun.

For more information and to sign-up for NaNoWriMo go to http://nanowrimo.org/

Once you’ve created your account mosey on over to the regional page an introduce yourself.

Comment to score some cool NaNoWriMo sway from yours truly.

Tess DeGroot AKA Victorville-Tess Municipal Liaison for San Bernardino region.

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I can also be found at: www.tessdegroot-books.com

High Desert Viewpoint: The Fear of Writing

After cruising the Internet for a few writing resources, I believe I’ve found the major stumbling blocks and their remedies for the dreaded and brain-draining fear of writing. I’ve heard directly from friends who wish to write only to sling up a brick-and-mortar defensive wall with reasons not to write. Is your dream to write caught in a cloud over your head?

 

What fears we face, we face first in our minds.

What fears we face, we face first in our minds.

It might be that English was never a great subject of yours. Or a teacher hammered in the grammar and distilled the frills until you felt your writing had less appeal than an accounting ledger. Just so many rules to remember, and so many hours to invest in a finished product that might receive a weak C+. It happened to me in sixth grade, too. Until Mrs. Gifford pulled me out of the ooze of English muddle and sent me on a better course. I wanted to write from my mind not the English III hardbound textbooks that we lugged around like that albatross.

Fear is lifted to new heights

Fear is lifted to new heights

 

As a professional writer, you may feel that you have a gift, a calling, having never faced a teacher of English or Composition who marked you as a drudgery of their daily life. Only, they hoped you would make it through class, and you hoped for a fire drill.

 

So step forward, 40 or 50 years, past the letter writing, the book reports, the attempt at polishing the resume, and a short stint at prosy poetry — Your reason for writing is clear. It’s because you want to. Some little germ of an idea has been festering for years. It could be that book. It was stepped on and ground into your brain like the creative juice it started from.

Fear is a strong emotion needing stronger conviction

Fear is a strong emotion needing stronger conviction

 

So why now? Because the kids are gone to their new homes, time is running out, time is running too slow? No need for judgment now. Just pick up your favorite … well, any writing instrument or computer screen will do … just write.

 

Sure, that’s easy for me to say. Here’s a few gems gleaned from the Internet and writing gurus across the blogosphere:

 

1) Take on the writer in you with effervescent yet smaller steps. Allow yourself to mull over an idea from all sides. Write it down. Write several pages then stop and see what you’ve done. Not bad. Reward yourself. The process of writing has many facets: an idea, the fleshing out, writing it down, scratching lines out, rewriting what we’ve written from a different angle. It’s all the things you’ll need to do — and do often.

 

Everything is fear until you face it

Everything is fear until you face it

2) Avoid fixing things as you write. Sort of like baking a cake; don’t peek or it will fall. Most new writers are timid in sharing what they write. They want everything perfect first. How can you be perfect before you finish the draft, or even the first chapter? These little tricks you play on yourself will only fall into the hands of the Muse who taunts you. Constantly fixing things will bog down your creativity, slow your writing, and degrade the excitement of why you are finally writing.

 

Outside of the box is outside your comfort zone

Outside of the box is outside your comfort zone

 

3) Use tools like the professionals do. Some like to outline to keep in step to a targeted end. Some like to “mindmap.” Some feel that this method works so much better than outlining and it will give you a more relaxed access to your inner thoughts. You are trying to extract the ideas and place them in a way that leads you on.  You can Google mindmapping for more details but what you do is take one or two key words or ideas, present them on blank paper, then allow your mind to free-flow with thoughts that are linked to these words. Write them down and circle them. Connect lines to a similar thought that grew from the main one. Soon you’ll have a sheet of circled words connected to thoughts that move you on to your next chapter.

 You can create fictional characters in this way, too. By starting with a name, then linking all is attributes that define him. Include the other characters who are related to him. Soon you’ll have a collection of Cast Cards. You can refer to them to refresh your thoughts. I prefer to use index cards. I can write scenes on them, characters on them, and link ideas with them.

 Free Write Friday poster

 

4) Emulate your favorites. Print out a few pages of your favorite blogger, or rewrite several pages from a favorite book. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so write daily for 30 to 60 minutes each day. Test your brain muscle. Put it through some paces that challenge it. The copy concept is easy: write regularly, practice from others but never claim others’ work as your own. Practice will make the brain see the inner workings of sentence structure, use of adverbs, and strength of phrases connected by verbs. We all have trained prior to doing … anything worth doing. You will see a difference in your own writing that no English III book can cram into your brain. And face it, your brain wasn’t ready back then; now it is.

 

I think that blogging has taken a boost in quality writing due to the short form of it, and the need to be read. Only the better bloggers have a larger following based on quality and specific, focused interest. Usually under 1,000 words, bloggers retain their readers because they offer what a reader wants — high quality, fast read. Finding that target audience is the tough part.

Face it head on and begin writing

Face it head on and begin writing

 

5) Write a lot. There’s not much to this. Just write. I admit that I’m wired to write. I started with poetry in fifth grade, then wrote short stories about my favorite TV characters. Then on to college and writing obits for a local newspaper, then news articles flowed right into journalism. It was all practice, and I don’t feel foolish having gone through those phases. You may not feel “writerly,” as one author said, but you will feel more fulfilled knowing that that novel churning in your head spilled all over the floor and now you have an excuse to pick it up, wring it out, and proceed to write. Come on! Be a writer.

Don't let emotions rule your life

Don’t let emotions rule your life

 Rusty LaGrange

How Do You Use Conference Time to Your Benefit?

Everyone hears that to promote your company, your idea, or your service, you should network with other business owners. So you’ve just returned from a 3-day conference at “Universal Whatcha-Call-it.” You’re tired and just want to relax. Then you see the pile of business card you judicially collected during the weekend.

 

business cards Overwhelm

How Can You Manage Business Cards When You Get Home?

Don’t ignore them. They’re gold.

Here’s some ideas that will help you collect more than paper:

 

Business cards – Those simple cards are really each prospect, a live person that seemed interested in what you had to offer. Image that each card you collect is filled with the expectation that you generated. Will you follow up? You bet. They expect it.


Write a “selfie” prompt
– A keyword or two will help you remember.  Take time right now and write an association word on each card that can trigger your memory later. Your brain is still on overload. Just make a note so you can have peaceful sleep.


Shuffle the deck
 – Decide on four classifications that you can place a business card into. Use color coding with a marker across the top, or a rubber band. Consider these categories: a) a good fit, b) maybe an affiliate or Joint Venture, c) too general to be different, and d) not interested or way out of the categories that you feel comfortable in. Make the first two groups your contacts but make the first group a high priority.


Journal your thoughts or conceptions
 – You’re going to get some brilliant ideas that you will lose as soon as you leave the conference room. Those little thoughts that sprout into a Joint Venture are often captured in written notes, tapes, or personal recorders. Although, some use recorders, it can be intimidating; some use index cards and sort them easily. You decide.

 

Take lots of pictures and upload online – One of the newest trends is to take photos, associate them with the client prospect, and post them on a convention gallery. People love to see and be seen at events. There are ultra small cameras now that you can use with discretion. Be sure to get their name, business, and website — ask first for photo permission.

 

Use your sincere interest and listening skills – It’s good business practice to listen to the prime speaker in any group. Take time to analyze the subject, add your two-cents when appropriate, then listen some more. Try not to interrupt just to hand that person a business card. That’s rude. Are you a good fit for that business? Ask them a question or two, then decide if you might form a new friendship. Tell them your aptitude for business that will enhance theirs. They won’t know unless you ask.

 

Be a person of change – While you may not do anything resounding while in session, you might take a carload of attendees to a nice place for dinner, showing them around town can break the ice later. Maybe two people that seem like a good match would not have met unless you brought them together. Watch for possibilities. It’s not just about you.

 

Mingle in and out – Place yourself in an unfamiliar group. It’s tough for some to do, especially when they don’t see any friendly faces. Move on to another group. Cliques form quickly, so maybe you’ll find one by cruising and using your networking skills.

 

Take time to shop from the display tables – Sure there’s a lot of self-promotional materials there, but you’ll also find reduced prices, a speaker’s course options, and book sales. Bringing home a book from your favorite speaker will be more beneficial down the road.

 

Spend quality time to send out notes – Did you know that 90% of attendees never follow-up with a card or email note? You have all those business cards and connections. Remember how your classified cards and notes were arranged? Now it’s going to be easy for you to follow up. Send out a short, friendly email to categories, “a”, “b,” and “c”. If you can personalize it with a memory, do it. E-mails will be ignored just as fast as you scan through your email subjects after a long weekend. Take the time to catch their attention in the subject line. Warning! Never automatically send emails to all persons at once without using the “Blind copy” line on your email window. Business people abhor the overflow of spam and linked emails.

 

So you’ve made it through another long and busy weekend. When you begin calling on your potential prospects, don’t slam your foot in their door. Always be respectful and professional in order to gain new and beneficial contacts/clients.

 

Rusty

If you enjoy what you read here, then take look at my other blogs

A Flair For Words.com

A Flair For the Old West.com

My Rusty Bucket Ranch.blogspot.com

Do “Moochers” Tie Your Sales in Knots?

Selling content, whether it’s in a book, CD, DVD, a training program, or content on a blog,  a case study, or for a large web site, has the same inherent problem of facing the “moocher.” You write a piece of advertising hoping to hook a buyer by offering little free goodies: an e-Book; a free article; a discount; an item sent through surface mail, the list is

endless.

The “moochers” seem to troll the streams of opportunity looking for freebies. And while that’s not illegal, it costs time and resources to others who are truly looking for advice or a product you have.

Moochers come in all sizes. They like free stuff. Never mind that the free DVD on raising worms in your backyard is furthest from their mind. They’re just little hoarders.

The problem is that a lot of people, who were not qualified  prospects for those services, would call and demand the free CD anyway.  This wasted the time and money it cost to fulfill these requests  for that free CD.

This is what happened to Bob Bly, a long-time guru in Direct Marketing for large clients as well as  selling his helpful how-to books to entrepreneurs. For him it was worse!

“I resented these freeloaders — big-time. It annoyed the bejeezus out of me, truth be told.

“Why?  These moochers knew I offered the free CD to get copywriting  clients.  They knew they were NOT potential clients — and yet they were  telling me to send the CD because, after all, I had advertised it.

“Recently I changed the offer from a physical audio CD to a  downloadable PDF e-book, so as to eliminate the expense of  fulfilling the requests.  But I had the same problem: non-prospects who had no intention  of buying my paid services mooching free stuff off me.

“This problem is not unique to me, by the way.  It is a universal flaw in the content marketing model:

“Namely, when you offer valuable free content as a bribe to get  response, you generate a lot of response from people who want  the content only but have no interest in your product or service. So, here is my easy solution for stopping these “content moochers”  cold.

“I humbly recommend it to you, too — if you, like me, don’t want to waste time and effort giving away valuable free stuff to people who are not potential customers and never will be.  To get my free e-book, you have to type into your browser the URL of a landing page where the book can be downloaded.

“The landing page copy used to say — “fill in this form to get your  free e-book” — which to me says anyone and everyone can get it.

“But a few months ago I changed the landing page copy to say —  “fill in this form to see if you qualify to receive this free  e-book.”  This clearly communicates that not everyone is entitled to it.

“You have to qualify. And who decides whether you qualify? I do — based on how you fill in the order form. Importantly, I believe the copy, as worded, frees me from the
obligation to send the e-book to anyone I don’t want to. And I don’t. It’s my call — at my discretion.

“It’s a small thing, but I came to resent the freeloaders who  wanted an e-book that regularly sells for $49 for free.

“So I don’t send it to just anyone any more. It’s only for  prospects I might consider taking on as clients — (or customers we might sell a book to) —  a very small subset of the universe.

“If you are using landing pages to give away free content, and you want to separate qualified leads from freebie seekers, here are a few tips:

** As stated, change “to get” for the phrase “to see if you qualify” — clearly indicating that whether they get the freebie is your  call, not theirs.

** Also have a separate check box they can use to request more  information on your product or service. If they only check the box for the free content and not for more information on what you sell, they are most likely a bad lead and you can act accordingly. Exceptions? Of course.

** Require them to give you their web site. By clicking on it you can instantly see whether they are a real prospect and a good fit for your services.

** If they disrespect you by filling in fields on the form with nonsense or gibberish — don’t respond or send them a thing.

** Make phone number and e-mail addresses required fields. If the information they fill in is fake, again they are not a good lead.”

 

Thanks to Bob Bly’s insight, we can tighten up the sales funnel and make more sales through prospects that are actually interested in the products, books, or services we sell.

Now that makes sense.

Bob Bly, Copywriter / Consultant and author of over 70 books, can be reached at rwbly@bly.com or www.Bly.com
 

Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you read here,
then you can read more at www.aFlairForBooks.blogspot.com

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