Writers@Work: An Interview with Gretchen Carlson

IMG_011016 June 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Thanks so much to all of you who took time to fill out my survey last week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the scoop! My goal is to serve you better. To do that, I’ve created a survey for you to fill out: Write Now! Coach 2015 Survey. And, as my thank you, everyone who fills out the survey can enter to win:

+A $50 Gift Certificate from Better World Books (Yeah, books!)

+A $10 Starbucks Gift Certificate. (Mmmm. Coffee.) (And, I’m giving away 3 of these!)

Thanks in advance for your help!
 Today’s Write Now! Tip is an interview with author and anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson. After the interview below, enter to win a copy of her new book, Getting Real!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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I’m delighted to welcome fellow Minnesotan Gretchen Carlson to the blog to talk about her new book.

9780525427452_large_Getting_Real. Gretchen CarlsonFirst, here are the details about the book. In Getting Real (Viking), celebrity news anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson opens up the conversation of what it means to be an ambitious career woman in America today. From her childhood in Anoka, Minnesota, where her family’s life revolved around the Lutheran church that her grandfather led as minister, and where her bright future as a violin prodigy both thrilled and burdened her, to college at Stanford, her win as Miss America in 1989, and her first in-the-trenches years as a cub reporter on local television stations in Richmond, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dallas, Gretchen Carlson’s rise to anchor of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson is a story of dedication and perseverance.

Here’s what Gretchen Carlson had to say about her new book and more:

Q: Why did you decide to write GETTING REAL?

A: When people watch me on TV they see part of my life. I wanted to let them know the real me behind the scenes. The child who was a concert violinist from the age of six. The young woman who took on the challenge to compete in the Miss America pageant. The television journalist for twenty-five years. The mother of two who, just like most women, struggles to balance work and family. The battles I’ve fought. How I’ve come back from failure and disappointment. Thanks to my upbringing, I always believed in myself and worked as hard as I could to get where I wanted to be. Nothing was ever handed to me. My hope is that when people read my story, it will inspire them to reach for their goals and not give up. The real story is this: if I can do it, you can too.

Q: It’s been said that women don’t help one another out in the workplace. Has that been your experience? Why do you feel it is important for women to support each other professionally?

A: No—just the opposite. I was fortunate to have two strong female role models in the early years of my career. One gave me the chance to be a political reporter when I was inexperienced, and for me it was sink or swim. The second gave me the opportunity to be part of the first two-female anchor team in prime time television and, when it ultimately failed and I got fired, she ended up giving me a second chance in a whole new city. I believe strongly in being a mentor myself, and I seek out young women and interns and try to help them. Women mentors were important to me, and I want to do that for others. I’m thrilled when I am able to give someone an early boost in her career.

Q: Have there been any moments in your career in which you felt like you had failed? How did you overcome this? 

A: It’s the time I got fired from my television anchor job in Cleveland. A week after returning from my honeymoon, the general manager told me they were going in a different direction but that I’d be okay because I was now married. I was humiliated and depressed. I never talked about my firing until recently. One of life’s most important lessons is truly appreciating success through failure. I teach my kids that no one wins every time, and it’s the lessons you take from failure that will shape your success.

Q: In Getting Real, you also describe getting “mean tweets.” What is your reaction to the constant criticism you receive on social media?

A: Sometimes the comments over the top—really ugly. Many of them are critical of my looks, like the one that criticized my “thunder thighs.” I get that a lot. Some of the tweets are too vulgar to repeat. At my age I can handle people writing junk about me on social media, but I sometimes air “mean tweets” on my show to highlight how destructive this meanness and bullying is to young people. I know how devastating it is for a young person to be the victim of such ugliness. I shine a light on it because if people feel comfortable saying it to me, then they must feel doubly comfortable saying it to one of their friends. I can only imagine how it affects kids who are so vulnerable.

Photo used courtesy of Fox News Channel

Photo used courtesy of Fox News Channel

Q: You believe that people should continue to challenge themselves with new goals, no matter how old they are. So, what’s next for you?

A: The future is wide open. I may actually go back and get that law degree someday. Maybe I’ll be in the pulpit. Who knows? I might even pursue a career in politics. If I do, I will have had great practice dealing with the avalanche of daily criticism from working at Fox News and being a former Miss America. I’m ready for anything!

Q: What books are you reading right now?

Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer and The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

Q: And what books inspired your memoir?

One Call Away by Brenda Warner and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

 

 

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Help Me Serve You Better (and Enter to Win a Gift Card)!

Hello, Writers!

As many of you know, I’m working on a website and business redesign. As I work to better serve you, it’s important for me to understand what you need. You can:

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“But how?” you ask.

“Easy!” I reply.

The Details:

I’ve created a survey with some juicy questions! And, listen to this: every one who completes the survey can enter to win:

+A $50 Gift Certificate from Better World Books (Yeah, books!)

+A $10 Starbucks Gift Certificate. (Mmmm. Coffee.) (And, I’m giving away 3 of these!)

Of course, ALL of you will receive bunches of my GRATITUDE!

Complete the form here: Write Now! Coach 2015 Survey.

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#WritersRead: Books That Inspired Me by Laura Templeton

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9 June 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

I just got back from the Write to Publish conference, where I spoke about Increasing Productivity and Conquering Social Media. I’m currently putting together a book of my very best social media tips. If you have something you’ve always wanted to know about social media—no matter how simple or complex—send me your questions. You may be chosen to be a beta reader for the book (which means you get it first and at no charge)!

COVER FINAL_Summer of the Oak MoonThis summer I’m welcoming guests to the blog to share their favorite writing tips and summer reads. And the best news: they’ll also be giving away books. Today’s tip is packed with book recommendations and comes from one of the members of my list, Laura Templeton! Laura’s novel Summer of the Oak Moon has just been released. You can enter to win a copy of that book below. There’s also still time to win last week’s book. Enjoy!

Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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With an eye toward offering some great summer reading suggestions, I’d like to talk about five books that inspired me as I worked on my newly released novel, Summer of the Oak Moon. The book, a Southern Gothic romance set in the marshes of North Florida, tells the story of Tess’s and Jacob’s budding interracial romance—a relationship that sparks violence in their secluded small town. Spanning two time periods, the early 1980s and the 1950s, Summer of the Oak Moon explores changing societal views toward race, prejudice, and love.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and so many books have been an important part of my life that it’s hard to pinpoint a few. Even when narrowing my options to books that pertained to writing this particular novel, I had to do some serious picking and choosing. Ultimately, I couldn’t take the pressure, so at the end of the post, I’ll list a few more great reads that didn’t make the final cut.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I first read this YA novel in my early teens and immediately fell in love with the characters and the captivating story. I read it again with my son some years later, when it was required reading for school. Then, of course, I saw the movie a few years back. So, the story has been a recurring one for me. The Tucks and their magic spring in particular caught my imagination. I had the spring in mind as I wrote about Tess’s spring in Summer of the Oak Moon, which also has it’s own brand of magic, albeit a less dramatic one!

The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt. I spent a good deal of the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s with my head stuck in Gothic romances and historical fiction. Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Rosamunde Pilcher fed my imagination and my desire to write my own stories. Recently, I discovered that a number of Victoria Holt’s books are available on the Kindle, so I nabbed The Pride of the Peacock, which I remembered as one of my favorites. Opal mining in Australia, a missing jewel, romance, murder, and mystery were all there, just as I remembered. I loved it as much as when I first read it!

Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis. Okay, a change of pace here, but I must mention this book in any conversation about my novel. I’ve read a number of books about the Civil Rights Movement, and it was this reading that influenced the underlying theme of racial prejudice that I develop in Summer of the Oak Moon. But Representative Lewis’s book stands out from the others. After reading it, I felt that I had a much clearer understanding of the challenges faced by civil rights workers and the horrors that prevailed in our country’s not-so-distant past. The story he tells is one of courage, sacrifice, and vision. I can’t recommend this book enough.

The Lost Hours by Karen White. The Lost Hours was the first Karen White book that I read. I was thrilled to discover a new writer who mingled mystery, family secrets, and romance so skillfully, and I’ve since read most of her books. (She’s pretty prolific so it’s a bit hard to keep up.) I’d already finished an early draft of my novel when I read The Lost Hours, and the similarities in theme to my book, particularly with regards to race relations in the South, struck me immediately. I especially like the way that Ms. White layers her novels to weave the complex stories of multiple generations together into one seamless, can’t-put-it-down novel.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I read this book while working on final revisions of Summer of the Oak Moon. My first impression of it was that it was pure genius. The story of how the lives of Nao, a Japanese schoolgirl, and Ruth, a novelist in British Columbia, intertwine is remarkable. With breathtaking, and sometimes disturbing honesty, we get a firsthand look at Nao’s unhappy life through her diary, which Ruth finds on the beach. When Nao’s Buddhist nun great-grandmother and the ghost of her kamikaze great-uncle enter the mix, the results are magical. I can’t really say exactly how this book influenced my writing. I just know that it did. I think—I hope—it made me a tad braver and more daring (as Ms. Ozeki’s prose certainly is) as I struggled to get that last draft of my own novel just right.

Finally, as promised, I’m going to cheat and mention several other books that have certainly influenced my writing: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk-Kidd (I love this book), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (the Voodoo woman in the story gave me the idea for the character of Lulu in my novel), and—back to nonfiction here—A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (her gorgeous, full-bodied prose always inspires me…at least, when it’s not making me feel totally inadequate!)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a happy, book-filled summer!

 

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Laura Templeton - author photoAbout the Author: Laura Templeton lives near Athens, Georgia, with her husband, son, and a menagerie of animals. She spends her days heading operations for a laboratory equipment manufacturer. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys gardening, kayaking, ice skating, and taking long walks on the quiet country roads near her home. Laura is the author of Summer of the Oak Moon released May 5, 2015 and Something Yellow published in 2013. You can contact Laura by email at LauraTempleton12@gmail.com or visit her website www.Laura-Templeton.com to connect with her on social media.

 

IMG_0091Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

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Managing Blogs, Submissions, Interviews, and Other Deadlines By Shauna Aura Knight

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2 June 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Happy June!

My kids are still in school and the weather remains chilly in Wisconsin, but I’m already in the summer mindset. I keep wishing I could skip work, sit on the porch under a big fluffy blanket, and write.

This summer, I’m planning to write as much as possible. I’m also beginning a website/business redesign. For that reason, I’m taking a break from weekly blogging. I’ll be welcoming guests to the blog to share their best writing tips and favorite summer reads. And the best news: they’ll also be giving away books.

If you happen to be a lucky book winner, I ask that you spread the joy by giving one of your gently used books to a local little free library. If you can, send in a picture of you making your donation, and I’ll include you in an upcoming blog post.

DreamworkCoverToday’s tip comes from Shauna Aura Knight and will help you keep track of your writing and submissions! She’s also giving away an ebook copy of Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path. According to Shauna, “If you’re looking for some creative inspiration as a writer, working with your dreams may be of use. Dreams are a great resource for your creative process, as well as for personal transformation work. Dreams will tell you a lot more about yourself than you might expect!” You can read an excerpt at her blog and enter to win the copy below.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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Are you overwhelmed with writing deadlines? I am. I’m a recovering procrastinator, and I’ve often run right up to a deadline or sent things in late. I’ve also read a call for submissions and thought, “Oh cool, I should write an article for that,” and then totally forgot about it. What are some ways to get deadlines under control?

There may be smartphone apps for this, but 1. My smartphone isn’t very smart, and 2. I’m more of a laptopper. My simple working tools here are Word documents, folders, and Google Calendar. Plus the occasional hand-written to do list on a piece of notebook paper, though I’m starting to try out Google Calendar’s to do list for some things.

Content Inventory First, it’s important to take an inventory of what projects you’re managing so you can categorize things. These are some things that I’m working on.

Nonfiction Writing:

+Books

+Articles for magazines

+My main blog on leadership, personal growth, facilitation

+Regular guest blogs

+Blog hops: Part of my blog, once every 3 months

Fiction Writing:

+Novels

+Novellas, short stories, and poetry for anthologies and magazines

+My fiction blog

+Blog hops: Part of my blog, 1-2per month.

+Guest blogs

+Interviews

Then add to this other social media, newsletters, podcasts, webinars…overwhelmed yet?

What Do You Get? If you’re not being paid to write an article, you should be getting something out of it. Blogging keeps your audience engaged. Writing articles or guest blogs, or getting short stories published, gets you exposure to a wider audience. You’ll want to know what return you’re actually getting on your articles, blog posts, short stories, etc. It’s another article entirely, however, to explore the art upselling and tracking your impact.

Tracking System I was already using tables/spreadsheets, but I was inspired by a marketing class offered by Kayelle Allen to create a few more, as well as additional folders, to help manage my writing. Then I began adding in important deadlines into my Google calendar.

ShaunaAuraKnight_Calendar

Word Documents: The backbone of my submission tracking system is creating a Word document for every call for submissions. In the title, I have the publisher or publication name, the theme (if any) for a call for proposals, the deadline date if there is one, and the word count. In the document I have the further submission requirements.

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Filenames: I use various notations to indicate if the submission pays or not. Or, if unpaid, I will sometimes research an online publication’s Alexa rankings. Typically I’m going to first submit my work to paid markets, or higher-ranked markets.

+“Strange Horizons Submissions 5k-9k”

+“Loose Id Holiday Oct 15 30K”

Folders: I keep these calls, and works in process, in subfolders of my “Working” folder. Subfolders include “Fiction,” “Poetry,” “Leadership,” “Metaphysical,” “Interviews” and more. When a piece is published, I have another set of folders under “Published.”

Spreadsheets: I have spreadsheets for different types of submission as well. I track what I send out, what gets rejected, and what gets accepted. I track publication dates, and I also track if I’m giving up any future copyright. Most magazines or anthologies require you credit them when reprinting the article/story elsewhere. Some require you to wait six months to a year before publishing the piece elsewhere. When I reprint something, I make a note of that in the spreadsheet. In other spreadsheets, I also capture links to interviews, podcasts, and reviews of my books. Pro Tip: When I update my spreadsheets, I also update links to these on my main website.

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Online Calendar: I put any important submission deadlines on my Google Calendar, or any deadlines to return edits. Google Calendar events are useful as a reminder for interviews, guest blogs, and podcasts so that I can promote them on my own social media. Similarly, if I’ve signed up to be part of a book giveaway event or Facebook party or other social media event, I put that on my calendar if I’m expected to participate.

For weekly blog hops or promotional opportunities, I create an event on my calendar with all the relevant information about the hop. I write paranormal romance so there are a few weekly blog events like “My Sexy Saturday” that can be a great way to get exposure for my books. I frequently forget how fast these sneak up every week. Creating the Google Calendar event means that I not only can see it coming up on my calendar, but I can also just move it to the next week or month that I plan to participate and all the info stays put.

Now—putting all of this onto my Google Calendar does make my calendar pretty useless for anyone in my personal life. You may want to create a secondary calendar just for writing and promotion deadlines if you use this function to synch schedules with friends and family.

Pro Tip: I also attend festivals, conferences, and I vend my artwork, along with having the occasional social obligation, so I make sure that I have those live events on my calendar too so that I won’t schedule myself to do a podcast when I’m actually going to be vending at a festival, or I won’t be stuck writing an article in my hotel room or on a tablet at the airport.

Other Documents. I also have a document for each of my books with my blurbs, buy links, excerpts, and social media links for easy copy and paste. Similarly, I have another document with the dozen different versions of my bio and all my social media links. I use a different bio for promoting my metaphysical nonfiction, like my Dreamwork book, than I do for my paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels.

Adapting Your System Whatever system you use, make it consistent. Observe your own behavior over time and what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t try to swim upstream. My spreadsheets are actually all tables in Word documents because I hate working in Excel. Work with a system that is closest to your own habits and you’ll have the most success. If your method isn’t working for you, use that to tweak your system.

*This article was previously published on the Author Entrepreneurship magazine.

 

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Bio2About Shauna Aura Knight. 
An artist, author, and presenter, Shauna travels nationally offering workshops on facilitation, community leadership, and personal growth. Her work is inspired by the mythic stories of heroes and the shadows we each face. She is the author of The Leader Within, Ritual Facilitation, and Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path. She’s a columnist for several blogs and magazines and her writing can be found in several anthologies.

She’s also the author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels including Werewolves in the Kitchen, Werewolves with Chocolate, A Winter Knight’s Vigil, A Fading Amaranth, and The Truth Upon Her Lips. Shauna’s mythic artwork and designs are used for magazine covers, book covers, and illustrations, as well as decorating many walls, shrines, and other spaces. Shauna is passionate about creating rituals, experiences, spaces, stories, and artwork to awaken mythic imagination. Visit her online at: http://www.shaunaauraknight.com

Leadership Blog: https://shaunaaura.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShaunaAuraKnightRitualist
Portfolio: http://shaunaknightarts.wordpress.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Shauna_A_Knight

 

 

 

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

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What I Learned from B.B. King about Writing and Life by Rochelle Melander

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26 May 2015

Dear Writers,

Would you like to share your new book with thousands? I’m offering a rare opportunity for authors to guest blog for me this summer. I’m looking for authors who’d like to share their favorite reads or a writing tip as well as offer one of their books for a giveaway. If you’re up for the challenge, send me an email.

Today’s tip honors the great B.B. King, who died May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. I was fortunate to see him perform in 2013, and I learned many lessons from this great musician.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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I never use that word, retire. —B.B. King

 

By Tom Beetz [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tom Beetz [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, I attended a B. B. King concert at the Riverside Theater.  As the night began, King shouted: “I’m B. B. King, and I’m 87 years old!” Then he launched into a song with his deep baritone voice. Most musicians entertain, but B.B. King did more than that. He schooled me about life. I’m happy to pass on those lessons to you:

1. Do not let your age define you. In our age-obsessed culture, we need to learn this lesson repeatedly. No matter what your age, no doubt someone has told you it’s wrong—too old or too young—for what you want to do. When I was in my 20s, many more experienced people from my profession told me I was too young to have important ideas or write books. Just a few years later, in my early 30s, some of my colleagues told me I was too old. Wow, from young and useless to old and washed up in just five years!

I love what the Indigo Girls say about this in their song, Go:

Did they tell you, you would come undone

When you try to touch the sun

Undermine the underground

You’re too old to care

You’re too young to count

(Amy Ray, GO, Indigo Girls)

Life Lesson #1: Stop using your age as an excuse. If you really want to do something, do it.

2. Get a great team. When B. B. King came to sing, he brought a band that rocked. Literally. Every member of his band could (and did) play solo. Together, backing up B. B., the sound was magnificent. None of us can do it alone. Writers need colleagues, critique group partners, editors and more. When I look at my writing career past and present, I am constantly grateful for the people who have supported and comforted me along the way.

Life Lesson #2: Look around. Do you have writing colleagues to support you? If so, say thank you! If not, join a critique group or writing circle.

3. Have fun. At the end of the night, B. B. King said, “I have a curfew and I’ve already gone past it, but I’m having so much fun.” And he was. His whole body radiated joy. I don’t always feel that way when I’m writing. Sometimes writing feels like slogging through knee-deep mud. But I also have moments when I’m so engaged in the writing, I don’t want to stop. I feel like a kid at the playground who can’t understand why it’s time to go home. In those moments, writing feels so absolutely right that I cannot image doing anything else.

Life Lesson #3: Doing what you love won’t be fun every day, but it also won’t be a drag. If you’re not having fun, poke around at why. Maybe you need to be working on a different project? Maybe you need to lower your expectations or slow down? Once you figure out what’s not working, you can get to what is working again and enjoy it!

Rock on, writers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writers@Work: Interview with Author Jessica Hagy by Rochelle Melander

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19 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

As summer approaches, I’m planning writing projects and reading lists. To help you write better and read more, I’m welcoming many guest writers to share their best writing tips and favorite summer reads. In addition, I’m hoping to have frequent book giveaways. If you have recently published a book and would like to participate, send me an email.

Author Jessica Hagy at Boswell Book Company

Author Jessica Hagy at Boswell Book Company

Today’s tip is a Writers@Work interview with Jessica Hagy, whose most recent book is The Art of War Visualized. I’ve been reading and recommending Jessica Hagy’s work for a long time, and was delighted to meet her at Boswell Book Company this past April.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time.

Thank you! It’s always surprising that people know my work, even after all this time (I’ve been at this since 2006). In some moldy crevice of my brain, I’m still a little kid hiding notebooks full of drawings from teachers who would toss them out.

I’m curious how you moved from business to reflecting on life through charts. How did you start sketching and writing? 

I’ve always been someone who draws in margins, but I was working as a copywriter when I started my blog of charts and graphs (www.thisisindexed.com). The grammar of charts and graphs is as readable as the grammar of a sentence, so turning verbal ideas into visual formats felt right to me. Sentence diagrams come in many forms.

Your blog has an incredible launch story—can you share what happened?

In the summer of 2006, I uploaded maybe a dozen images to my free blogspot site, and within a month the site was everywhere. I had a literary agent (who is still helping and guiding and encouraging me) and I was drawing for the BBC. I think the first “big” link was on Metafilter, and from that point the site was just pinging around the internet.

I didn’t tell anyone in real life that I had the blog for months, and so that was a very strange time for me. The internet was embracing all these little thoughts I had, but in the real world, I was keeping my head down and getting work done and I was 90% invisible. I’d never gotten such a positive response to anything I’d composed or said before, and it was honestly overwhelming.

•• Art of War Visualized-2Your new book is a visualized reflection on The Art of War by Sun Tzu. What inspired you about that book?

When I read The Art of War, I was expecting a brutal book (how to arrange heads on spikes and so on). But the content was actually very measured, very thoughtful, very pragmatic. I liked that, and I liked the idea of using the text as captions for my cartoons—so I could both honor and put a new spin on the original text.

What’s your daily writing and sketching practice?

I draw mostly in the mornings, but I don’t start work until I have left the house, gotten some coffee, and walked at least a mile or two. Clearing my head and mentally sorting through my day in advance is crucial. Once I sit down to sketch, I riff on ideas and vocabulary words that I have latched onto, and then scan the images I want to share.

My office is the front bedroom of my house, and it’s full of piles of paper and jars of paint, books in towers on the floor, markers all over the place and sticky notes on the walls. I work best while inside my nest of art supplies.

photo-3Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I am always latching onto to little hooks of information, and I find those by eavesdropping on the world. A funny word, an odd turn of phrase, a pattern of events, a mannerism I see strangers echoing in each other, how paint peels and the paths snails take on the sidewalk—it’s the little, subtle things that I gravitate toward.

Little details can be spun into bigger things. Everything can be a metaphor for something else. That it’s my job to play with all those little hooks, well, that’s a fact I’m grateful for multiple times a day.

What are you reading and reflecting on right now?

I’m actually reading a lot of business books right now. The Lean Startup, the old Carnegie book about influencing people, and lots of Wall Street Journal type articles. Something tells me that it’s time to point my art at the world of business, and to see where that goes.

b&wjessJessica Hagy is an artist and writer best known for her Webby award-winning blog, Indexed (www.thisisindexed.com). Her style of visual storytelling allows readers to draw their own conclusions and to actively participate in each narrative. She mixes data (both quantitative and qualitative) with humor, insight, and simple visuals to make even the most complex concepts immediately accessible and relevant. Her commissioned work frequently appears in various web formats, galleries, books, magazines, newspapers, television outlets, and advertising campaigns. She lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

 

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Writers@Work: An Interview with Author Dasha Kelly

12 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

I’m celebrating my birthday this week! In honor of it, I’m offering a special discounted price for my Jumpstart Your Writing coaching package. This package has helped clients start books, finish books, overcome writer’s block and set up a social media profile that works. If you need to move forward fast, contact me for a phone consultation.

Today’s tip is a Writers@Work interview with Milwaukee-area author Dasha Kelly, who launches her new novel tonight at 7:00 at Boswell Book Company.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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23129776Tell us about your new novel.

Almost Crimson is about a young woman named CeCe who grows up with a severely depressed mother and how her adult life has been shaped by her mother’s “present void.”  When CeCe is presented with an opportunity to alter her experience, she realizes the heavy anchors of co-dependency.

Can you talk a bit about your MFA and how it helped prepare you for writing professionally? 

A number of my peers had started pursuing MFA degrees, but most of them are poets.  I wasn’t convinced the path was me until I missed an opportunity to teach creative writing at a local community college.  While my initial interest was to earn the pedigree I needed to teach on a collegiate level, I am astounded at how much the program refined my writing.  I did the low-res program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and resonated with the culture, the faculty and the program’s approach to workshops. I’m glad that I waited to find the right program. I have a pedagogical appreciation for edits and stylistic choices that I’d been making on sheer gut, and now have the rigor and context to stop most of the bad editing and stylistic habits for which I just didn’t know any better.

 

What’s your writing process like? 

For fiction, a story will start with an exchange or a glimpse of a scenario.  After writing that, I’ll start to unfold why my character was there, who they are and what they want.  A plot will eventually emerge from there.  In a practical sense, I prefer starting on paper, then transcribing my draft into a digital file.  With poems and essays, I definitely start long hand.  With fiction, I try to move to the computer sooner than later.  Transcribing in volumes is tedious and my scribbling is rather epic.  I relish the editing process, so I tend to make a mess of several printed drafts before I’m comfortable editing on screen.

It seems like you wear a lot of professional hats. How do you juggle work and writing? (And stay sane!)

I don’t write nearly as consistently as I’d like, largely because of all those hats. It’s difficult to lose myself in a story when there’s another meeting in an hour, a workshop to invoice for, event notices to send out or dishes stacked in the sink.  Difficult but essential,is what I remind myself.  I’ve started carrying around multiple notebooks to capture different projects. I used to have one notebook, but it became a catch-all for poems, dialogue ideas, email addresses, meeting notes, supply lists, sleepover reminders for my daughters, everything.  Having with me a notebook for work and a notebook for writing was a tiny change with enormous results.  Not only are my notes clean but, inexplicably, the systems has helped me write more.  Another helpful move has been to give myself writing projects of varying intensity.  My blog, for instance, is enjoyable but intimidating.  I approach it like a column, which means I want to present writing that is thoughtful, well-crafted, accessible and poignant.  I might not have such an inspiration every week. Recently, I started crafting micro blogs as well, giving myself a target of exactly 100 words.  I send these out nearly every day. Poems happen anywhere and everywhere, and new fiction is taking shape in the writing notebook. Right now, though, there are dishes in the sink! So, I’m still working on the writing+work formula, but I’m glad to finally be writing more often than not.

What advice do you give to young writers?

Read what you like and write what you love. My poetry is most inspired by prose. My prose is inspired by essays. My essays are inspired by magazines. When reading becomes strictly a comparative study of styles you like and authors you don’t, we wrinkle the joy that got us all here in the first place. Write stories and poems that make you wonder what’s going on and what might happen next.  Worrying about agents and publishers and six-book deals in the middle of your second draft will show up in the work; by that, I mean the work might not be as strong. Figure out what excites you about the act of writing and lose yourself in those places.  The other pieces –the business of it all– will happen when and as they should.  Until then, writers should nurture a relationship with their words.

What are you reading right now?

Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman

 

10550075_10152296518320108_3655338528085023362_o-236x365Dasha Kelly is a nationally-respected writer, artist, and social entrepreneur. As a spoken word artist, Dasha has performed throughout the U.S., in Canada, and appeared on the final season of HBO presents Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam. Dasha holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is an alum of the iconic Squaw Valley Writers Community, the former writer-in-residence for the historic Pfister Hotel, and founder of Still Waters Collective, an arts education and community-building initiative. In 2014, Dasha was selected as a U.S. Embassy Arts Envoy to teach and perform in Botswana, Africa. She is the author of one chapbook, Hither, and three books: All Fall Down, Hershey Eats Peanuts, and Call It Forth. She lives in Milwaukee, WI.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

 

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The Keys to Writing Success: Write, Submit, Repeat by Rochelle Melander

birthday-girl5 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Happy May! I’m celebrating my birthday this month. For me, that means more walks and events with family and friends. For you, that means a special discounted price for my Jumpstart Your Writing coaching package. Let me know if you’d like to set up a phone consultation to see if the package is right for you.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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What does it mean to be a successful writer? I’ve gathered ideas from some of the most successful authors in the business. Here’s what they say:

Writers write. When we go to networking events, and someone asks: “So what have you written?” —they want to hear about the award-winning, best-selling books you’ve published. But, being a writer is about what we are doing today and not what we’ve done. Listen to John Irving: The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. Got that? Go write.

Writers submit. John Campbell said: The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home. Writing for yourself is fine, but if you want to make a career out of writing, you’ll need to submit your work at some point. Make a long list of potential agents, editors, or publishers, take a deep breath, and submit to a few of them. When a rejection comes (and it will), go to the next person on the list and submit again. Keep trying until you get accepted!

Rejection happens. If you submit your work, you’re going to get rejected. The more you submit, the more times someone will tell you no. Here’s what Barbara Kingsolver said about rejection: This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.

And if you need a bit of encouragement to keep going, look to this bit of wisdom from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

 

IMG_0091About the author. Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

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Writers@Work: An Interview with Author Dana Cameron

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28 April 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

IMG_2924Greetings! I spent Saturday at the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America conference, soaking up tips on writing romance for young adults. The conference was held in conjunction with the annual Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon, which brought together 60 authors with more than 500 readers. I didn’t attend the luncheon, but had a chance to meet some of the authors, including Tess Gerritsen. And I got a whole bunch of books and swag!

Today I have a special treat for you, an interview with award-winning author Dana Cameron. I met Dana at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee and fell in love with her books. Read the interview then enter to win a copy of her newest book, Hellbender.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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You’re an archaeologist by training. Do you still work as an archaeologist? How did you make the transition from archaeologist to author?

Hi Rochelle—thanks for having me!

I no longer work as an archaeologist and there are days when I miss being in the field (usually around deadlines or when the weather is gorgeous). As for that transition…it was unexpected. A guy came onto a site where I was working and pulled out a gun. He was trying to steal artifacts, and luckily, he left before something bad happened, but it was…scary. Shortly after that field season, I found myself writing a series of six mystery novels featuring amateur sleuth, archaeologist Emma Fielding, starting with Site Unseen.

Then a few years later, my friends Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner invited me to write a short story for one of their urban fantasy anthologies. Writing that story was amazing fun and led to a lot more Fangborn short stories. Eventually, those in turn led me to write the Fangborn series, which features a young archaeologist (and werewolf) named Zoe Miller. They are: Seven Kinds of Hell, Pack of Strays, and most recently, Hellbender, all published by 47North.

I’ve loved both of your series featuring strong women who work in archeology—the mystery series with Emma Fielding and the urban fantasy series with Zoe Miller. What kinds of decisions and plans did you need to make at the beginning of a series?

Thank you! With the first series, I didn’t really make plans because I had no idea I’d be published. I started to write after telling a friend about the incident above, and she said, “You need to write this down!” And boom, instantly, I had to try. I wrote, took a writing class, then joined a critique group. I went to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference where I found my first agent. But with the Emma books, I did want to show what it was like to be an archaeologist, to give readers a look behind the scenes of what really goes on during a dig.

When I got to the Fangborn books, I had much more experience writing. I wanted to keep the archaeology, because I love it and it would give Zoe a way to explore the history of the Fangborn and make sense of her world. I wanted her to start off as someone who was on the margins in every way, but who grew into the power she discovered she had. And I wanted to show characters with different kinds of strengths working together. It was a way to look at a lot of big life questions for me.

Hellbender front coverFor the Fangborn series, you’ve changed our world and its history by adding the Fangborn and their history. What are some of the steps you took to build this unique and believable world?

The first thing was that I did was to invert many of the traditional tropes about werewolves, vampires, and oracles. My characters are superheroes working in secret to protect humanity from evil; my vampires need sun to charge up and my shifters can change form whenever they want. Shapeshifting stories appear in most cultures run the gamut from godlike, to good, to evil. I decided that all of these traditions were connected, just places where the Fangborn failed to cover their tracks and got incorporated into local folklore. What lends an air of believability, I hope, to my world is that I describe real artifacts and places the reader might know.

What does your writing life look like?

I have an office at home and work with music, making a playlist for every story or novel. It’s really helpful with focus, and if I am writing a series, I can listen to earlier playlists and get right back into that mindset. I usually warm up after breakfast with email and social media, then figure out what has to get done that day. I try always to have two or three things going, to have something to work on when one project is stuck. The cats can come in and hang out, as long as they behave. I work until lunch, eat, and then go back until about five or so. I aim for about four to eight pages a day, less for short stories, and I don’t outline. Most of my ideas come from my travel and museum visits. I have beta readers whom I really trust when I’m done with a first draft.

What are some of the best books you’ve read lately?

I was in awe of Mike Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts. The Martian was so compelling and so inspiring—it was great to see how the main character used logic and science to survive. And I’ve been reading a lot of comics lately: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Bitch Planet, and Afterlife with Archie are all amazing.

Thanks so much, Dana! Readers, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Hellbender!

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DanaCameronAbout the author: Dana Cameron writes fiction inspired by her career as an archaeologist. In addition to the six Emma Fielding mystery novels (starting with Site Unseen), Dana’s short fiction evokes the darker side of life, ranging from the Anna Hoyt colonial noir stories (the first was “Femme Sole”) to thrillers and the “Fangborn” urban fantasy world. The latest novel in the Fangborn series, Hellbender, combines archaeology with werewolves, vampires, and oracles and was published in March by 47North. Her work has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Dana lives in Beverly, Massachusetts. Visit her online at: www.danacameron.com

 

 

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Overcome Procrastination in Five Minutes or Less by Rochelle Melander

2015_101BestSites21 April 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Great news! Writer’s Digest magazine has named Write Now! Coach one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. This is my first time on the list, and I’m honored to be there with so many amazing sites.

If you’d like to see the entire list of Best Websites for Writers, it’s in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine, on S0382_1stands now.

This week, I’m planning to work on some projects I’ve been putting off all winter. As I do, I’ll be putting into practice the procrastination solution I explain below. Read on. It might help you, too!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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My daughter and I have fallen in love with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new sitcom on Netflix. The story opens with Kimmy being rescued from the underground bunker of a doomsday cult in Indiana. After spending 15 years underground, Kimmy embarks on a new life in New York City. Along the way she offers bits of wisdom from her days in the bunker, including this one from episode two: “You can stand anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.” Kimmy flashes back to the bunker, where she turned a crank—to no purposeful end—for 10 seconds at a time.

I immediately thought of writing—and all of us who fight to overcome our procrastination habit. I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate at very specific times. I put off writing when I think that the work will be too hard, confront a problem I don’t know how to solve, or worry that I don’t have the skills to complete the task. When that happens, I can’t imagine spending a day or even an hour on the project. I’d rather do almost anything else. But I could manage ten seconds or even five minutes.

In the book Mind Gym by Sebastian Bailey and Octavius Black, the authors recommend that readers overcome procrastination by taking a five-minute start. Tackle a project for five minutes. When your timer beeps, think about how you feel. If you’re up to it, try writing for another five minutes. By taking absurdly small steps, you’ll be able to overcome procrastination and finish your projects.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

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