Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 1-7, 2018

Were you looking for these? Your informal writerly learnings are here!

K.M. Weiland helps you decide between plain prose and beautiful prose. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jane Friedman returns to Writer Unboxed: a smarter author platform for the digital era of publishing.

Nathan Bransford offers a guide to social media for authors. Later in the week he offers tips on how to regain your concentration.

Emily Wenstrom explains how to use Twitter hashtags for writers. DIY MFA

Porter Anderson delves into author pay and publishing profits. And then, he looks at the success of Canada Reads as PBS announces a similar competition.

Valerie Francis joins Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn to discuss how to write a scene the Story Grid way.

Donald Maass takes a non-linear approach to middle scenes. Writer Unboxed

Sonja Yeorg is resurrecting a shelved manuscript. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt talks art and social change. It’s a ripping awesome post. Writer Unboxed

Tamar Sloan is deepening character complexity with the help of psychology. Writers Helping Writers

Angela Ackerman examines the destructive power of the lie your character believes. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold offers some suggestions to help you create a compelling, but quiet, black moment.

Heather Webb shares a writer’s lessons in failure. Writers in the Storm

Do the thing? Chuck Wendig offers a helpful (and hilarious) FAQ. Terribleminds

Kristen Lamb brings the LOLZ with her post on diagnosing the real writer.

Dheolos and Worldbuilding Magazine are creating a mountain setting. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu explores how the women of The Expanse are changing our worldview.

Dan Koboldt is putting the science in your fiction. Writer’s Digest

And some writerly news from the north:

My friend and vice-president of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Vera Constantineau is interviewed for The Northern Life about her new short story collection Daisy Chained.

Another friend and SWG member Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli announces pre-orders for her first novel, La Brigantessa, forthcoming from Inanna Publications this September.

And that was Tipsday.

Be well until Thoughty Thursday comes around to herald the weekend 🙂

tipsday2016

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Thoughty Thursday: things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 20-26, 2014

I guess this is the week for controversial stuff. PEN Canada, and other charitable organizations who engage in “political” activism are now under investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Here’s a post by Charity Village on the same subject.

The Winnipeg Free Press offers a list of the organizations under investigation.

It’s just disturbing to me that all of these organizations are being audited. It continues the trend of cutbacks, suppression, and outright antagonism toward the sciences, and environmental and arts organizations in this country.

That’s all I’m saying about that.

Carmine Gallo explores the science behind TED’s 18 minute presentation rule. My trainer geek emerged. This is the 90-20-10 rule. People can listen with attention for 90 minutes (think about the timing of your breaks and lunch at work). They can listen and understand for about 20 minutes. The trainer or presenter (in-person) should change things up every 10 minutes. Virtual is a whole different ball game 😉

And speaking of TED, here’s Ze Frank’s very brief, Are You Human?

 

Frances Caballo offers a concise, yet comprehensive guide to Twitter for writers. The Book Designer.

Elizabeth J. Griffin, MD discloses her struggle with depression and what most people don’t understand.

The relationship between creativity and mental illness, on Brainpickings.

One tree has been grafted to bear 40 different kinds of fruit. IFLS. One of my friends commented: It’s experiments like this that lead to Triffids – LOL!

National Geographic explores what animals do in wildfires.

The 100 best sci-fi movies, as chosen by critics and experts. They’re presented in alphabetical groupings and each delivers their top ten. It’s a fair amount of wading, but there are some interesting choices . . .

Balloon art. Seriously. And I can’t even make a poodle. Maybe a snake 😛

And that be it for the thoughty and fun this week.

I’ll check in again on Saturday 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Mischief managed: The M2the5th Twitterview with Roz Morris, March 29, 2014

For my second Twitterview hosting experience, I got to quiz Roz Morris.

Squeeeeee!

For those of you who don’t know, Roz is the ghost writer for some 12 bestselling novels.
She is also an editor and book doctor (are the two the same? Read the Storify linked below to find out!), and in recent years she’s self-published two novels under her own name and the first two books in her Nail Your Novel series, all bestsellers. She also writes articles all over the internet, teaches writing and self-publishing classes … the woman is amazing.

And so gracious with her time! When we proposed the Twitterview as the culmination of a month-long Roz Morris spotlight on the M2the5th Google Plus community, little did we suspect how engaged Roz would be. Lori Sailiata, Amy Pabalan, and I may have shared her blogs, videos, and articles, but she commented on every one, and we had some interesting conversations.

If you visit her web site (linked above), you can find out all about Roz, her consultancy services, her books, and everything else.

You can also read the Storify of the Twitterview (put together by chief Tweet wrangler, Lori): https://storify.com/LaraBrittWrites/mto5-twitterview-roz-morris

#Mto5 Roz Morris Twitterview Storify

#Mto5 Roz Morris Twitterview Storify

Yesterday’s Twitterview was a great time. It’s really a matter of controlled chaos, or mischief managed, if you like the Harry Potter allusion.

Not only is Roz a great writer and writing coach, but she also, as Amy learned, owns a horse, which boosted Roz’s cool quotient in Amy’s eyes. And if that wasn’t enough, Roz attended circus classes and tried out everything from juggling to the trapeze.

New Twitter friend Mark was active throughout the hour-long session, but other participants, including Porter Anderson, retweeted and shared some of Roz’s gems during and after the Twitterview.

And that’s not all!

M2the5th (Mostly Multicultural, Mysteries, Memoir, and Myth) will be holding weekly Nail Your Novel Tweet chats followed by video hangout workshops on Saturdays throughout April (except for Easter weekend). Join the Google Plus community for more details as they emerge.

We want to keep the Roz-love going because her third Nail Your Novel will be coming out this spring!

Wheeeee!

Writer tech: A Twitter twit’s take on tweet chats, #hashtags, and … what the heck is a twitterview?

When I wrote about my first experience hosting a twitterview last month, someone commented, asking what the heck a twitterview was.

Yeah. BIG oversight on my part.

So, here, for your edification, is the long-delayed explanation.

A twitterview is an interview conducted by tweet chat. What’s a tweet chat, you ask?

Tweet chats are when Twitterers, or Tweeps (people on Twitter), get together and chat about a specific topic. They make themselves a virtual meeting room by using a hashtag to mark all of their tweets. Only those participating in the chat and using the hashtag can see all of the tweets, but the followers of each participant get to see all of that participant’s tweets.

This is why it’s so important to use the hashtag consistently. If you don’t, your tweet will not be included in the conversation and will not be replied to. It’s also kind of frustrating to see only half (or less) of a conversation.

Here’s a hashtag directory where you can identify topics of interest and show up for the meeting: http://twubs.com/p/hashtag-directory/twitter-chat/1064600_179

But how do you participate?

There are several ways to tackle this.

In Twitter itself, you can search the hashtag and bring up a list of the most recent tweets using it.

Mto5 hashtag in Twitter

This is what it looks like.

If you want, you can participate in the chat from there, but you will experience some limitations, like the inability to alter tweets when retweeting (RT) or modified tweeting (MT). This can be a pain in the butt.

If you’re comfortable with Hootsuite, you can set up a stream for your hashtag. In the new stream panel at the end of your existing streams, select Twitter, and then the Search button. Enter the hashtag, and voila, you have a stream dedicated to just that hashtag.

Mto5 hashtag stream in Hootsuite

You can also use Hootsuite to alter tweets when RTing or MTing, or to schedule tweets for the twitter chat if you’re so inclined.

Also, hashtag rooms can be set up using tweetchat.com (chat must be active to enter room) or tchat.io.

Mto5 hashtag room in tweetchat

Mto5 hashtag in tchat.io

The main benefit of a hashtag chat room is that the hashtag is automatically added to your tweets posted using the chat room service. Very convenient.

If you want a little more information on tweet chats and how to participate in and conduct them, here are a few helpful links:

Or you can Google your own results using the terms twitter party, twitter chat, or tweet chat.

Thus endeth the lesson.

I’m doing this in the hope of encouraging some of the more Twitter-phobic among my followers to give tweet chats and twitterviews a try, especially my upcoming twitterview with book doctor and bestselling author, Roz Morris next Saturday.

That’s Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 2 pm EDST. Use Twitter, Hootsuite, tweetchat.com, or tchat.io to attend, but if on Twitter or Hootsuite, don’t forget the #Mto5 hashtag!

So looking forward to my second twitterview hosting gig. If you like Roz or have read any of her books, please drop by next Saturday. We’re going to be talking about all things Roz 🙂

My first NaNoWriMo

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Off the top, I have to say this: I won!  My first time out and I won 🙂

Backtracking to my trip to Surrey

Before I even left, I was considering NaNo. The municipal liaison came out to the Sudbury Writers’ Guild meeting in September to promote. My leave would be until November 18, 2013, so I thought I’d probably have a chance.

While at SiWC, I heard several people talking about NaNo and how it had really helped them get their ideas down, break through writers’ block, built their confidence, and so forth.

By the time I got back, I was determined to give it a try.

I chose a project that I had outlined years ago. I’d had a little bit written, but I hadn’t touched it in years.

I was going to start over in any case.

The power of planning

I knew I was going away for a few days to visit some friends, and that I’d be going back to work before the month was out. I started out by front loading the work, trying to move ahead quickly at the beginning so I could coast a bit at the end if I needed to.

Still, when I went back to work, there were a few low count nights. I was worried.

To make time for my writing in the evenings when I went back to work, I tried using my smart(er than me) phone to keep track of my email and social media.

I got up a half-hour earlier than usual to check Facebook, WordPress follows, and my Feedly follows and share the interesting stuff on Twitter and Google+.

The pilgrim’s progress

Here’s a convenient table for you:

Day Count Total + or –
1 2161 2161 +494
2 2284 4445 +1111
3 2325 6770 +1769
4 travel 0 6770 +102
5 2122 8892 +557
6 travel 0 8892 -1110
7 1877 10769 -900
8 2168 12937 -399
9 2190 15127 +124
10 1675 16802 +132
11 1721 18528 +191
12 2284 20812 +808
13 2008 22820 +1149
14 1699 24519 +1181
15 1684 26203 +1198
16 1894 28097 +1425
17 1668 29801 +1462
18 1727 31528 +1522
19 return to work 1181 32709 +1036
20 549 33258 +82
21 507 33765 -1242
22 1822 35587 -1087
23 1814 37301 -1040
24 1707 39008 -1000
25 1731 40739 -936
26 1677 42416 -926
27 1692 44108 -901
28 757 44865 -1811
29 2232 47097 -1246
30 3802 50899 +899

What I learned

I don’t think I could do this working full time.

Having said that, it was fantastic to know that I could pull a 50000+ word draft together in 30 days. It was interesting to me because my first novel took me a year to write, working in the evenings and on weekends.

It gives me hope that if I do end up getting a deal for my work at some point and am asked to pump out sequels in swift succession, I should be able to do so. Also, if I end up going the self-publishing route, it’s always good to have moar material out there. If people like what I write, I can potentially supply the demand.

While my Samsung Galaxy Note II is quite lovely, I don’t think that I could manage my social media long term using it alone. Some of the information so easily accessible on my desktop is not so convenient to find in an Android app version of the program. Also, some things don’t translate well. Though the Feedly app appears to allow FB mentions in a post, it does not actually include them when posting to FB.

I have a few strange-looking posts over the last couple of weeks, and was not able to keep track of anyone’s birthdays on my phone, so apologies to anyone I may have offended or missed as a result.

Again, it’s good to know that I can do a minimally good job of maintaining my social media from my phone if need be.

Today, except for these blog posts, I have not written. I’ll get back on that horse shortly. I’ve also had to let a few submission deadlines slide because I just couldn’t manage to do it all. Everyone has their limits.

Coming up

I’ll be blogging in the future about my writing plans moving forward as well as a little about work. Interesting times I live in 😉

Writerly Goodness, signing off.

The leave begins

I’m going to be a bit scarce, or scarcer that I have been recently.

I have my time off and I’m going to use it to catch up on a few projects/straighten out my head.

What’s up:

It’s taken much longer than I intended, but I am coming down to the final, final, FINAL revision of Initiate of Stone before I send her off to the editor who expressed interest last year and to a few select beta readers.  I’m going to be revising my pitch/query and start targeting Agents and small publishers.

I’ll be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference from October 25-7, and I have a pitch session booked with the wonderful Kristin Nelson (squee!)  I’m very excited, but after putting IoS to bed (for now) I will likely spend the next week prepping for SiWC.  I’m going to be reviewing my idea files for what I want to work on next.

While I wait to hear back from editors/agents/publishers about IoS, I’m going to be starting on/returning to other novel-length projects like Gerod and the Lions.

Come November, though, I’m going to be tackling another project for NaNoWriMo (!)  I only have until the 19th off, but I’m thinking it’s time to get something else up and out there.  This may be the idea file project I choose to prep for SiWC.

So that’s pretty much my writing ambitions.

I have said that I would participate in Khara House’s October Submit-o-Rama, and even participated in Kasie Whitener’s Just Write 2013 challenge for the purpose, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get a pile of short stories submitted.

If it happens, it happens.  I have some markets targeted, but I want to focus on my novels.  That’s where I need to be.

On a more personal note, I’m going to be trying to work in a little more physical activity.  I’ve gained weight just in the six weeks since I quit smoking.  It’s not good.  The clothes are tight.  And I haven’t been as faithful with implementing new habits as I was with changing the old.  I need something that will work with my life when I go back to the day-job.  This bears some thought.

I have no doubt that when I do go back, things will be as hectic as ever, so the new fitness routine has to be something that will let me get the sleep I need, get all the housework and daily chores done, and still accommodate work and writing.  And then there’s all that TV I like to watch 😛

I need to finish off my household clean-up (which stalled in September) and try to get the gardens into some kind of order before the snow falls.  I have a few projects I’d like to get to as well: 2 ceiling fans to install, my office door to strip and refinish, and one of our external doors to repaint.  I’m also looking at some storage fixes, cabinets for the bedroom and bathroom, and a new bookshelf for my office.

These last I’m not going to rush, since I think I’ll have enough with my trip to Surrey, another shortish trip to visit a friend in southern Ontario, and all the writing I want to do.

And then there’s Writerly Goodness.  I’m thinking it’s time for a face-lift, and maybe a new

English: Epic Win title card.

English: Epic Win title card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

name.  My domain will remain the same, but I’m thinking that a more appropriate name might be Totally Epic, or Epic Win (for my interest in epic fantasy).

I could go with something more general because I’m not just about the epic fantasy, I have urban fantasy, YA and MG, science fiction, and even some cross-over type novels in my idea file.  Plus I still write poetry and short stories, some of which are not speculative at all.

How about Improbable Possibilities (one definition of SF), or Speculations on Fiction?  There are some old suggestions: Phigment’s (Phigment is an imaginary dragon—the site would belong to her), or MelanieM/Millennium.  This last was from a friend who realized saying MelanieM sounds an awful lot like millennium.  Does something else present itself to you as clever?  I think I might just put a poll in my post this week 😉

A number of recent writer interviews have been delayed, perhaps indefinitely, so I probably won’t be posting much more than once a week (outside of SiWC, which I hope to blog and maybe even Twitter).  If I have nothing to offer by way of updates, I may not post at all in any given week.

Just to let you know.  I’m still here, but I’m going to be trying to shift my focus away from the interwebz for a bit and get back to the reason I started this whole platform-building gig in the first place—my writing.

I’ve been seeking balance for some time.  Maybe I’ll find it in the next five weeks?  Who knows?

Thanks for your patronage, and for your patience.

CanWrite! 2013: Day 1 publicity and marketing sessions

As promised yesterday, I’m going to talk about the good, bad, and downright ugly.

To start with …

The Good

I’ll start with Vikki Vansickle’s Mapping your Market presentation.

Vikki was enthusiastic, energetic, and clearly loves what she does, on both sides of the board.  Vikki is an author and a marketer, recently moving to Penguin Books (congratulations!).

Vikki has published four middle-grade (MG) novels since 2010.

  • So what do you do when you get published?
  • Celebrate!  Tell EVERYONE.  You never know who your champion will be.  Word of mouth is still king.
  • Do some research (yes, it’s important in marketing too).  How do you find the books you like?  Work outward: How does someone like you in Houston, Whitehorse, or Harrison Hot Springs find the books she likes to read?  That’s where you want to go, to get in front of the wave.
  • Who wants to read your book?  Who needs to read your book?
  • Comparative novels (comps) are critical.  It doesn’t even need to be a novel, as long as it’s in popular culture.  “If you like X, you’ll love XXX!”  “It’s Dirty Dancing without the dirty :)”  “It’s Looking at the Moon meets The Summer I Turned Pretty.”
  • Who is your ideal reader?  Define her in every detail.  Who are your potential readers (again work outward)?
  • Your elevator pitch should be about the length of a Tweet.  You have to tell people what your novel is about in pithy, taut, engaging sentences.
  • Be prepared to wear different hats.
  • Instagram is big with kids.  Facebook’s where their parents are (ew!).
  • Goodreads is great for more mature readers.
  • Writers Cafe (dot) org can help you with critique, beta readers, contests, conferences, etc.
  • Find your niche and identify specialized groups that will help you reach your readers.
  • The Ontario Blog Squad will set up blog tours.  6 blogs.  You create the content.
  • Twitter giveaways.  People love free stuff!  Specify Canada only.  Make sure they enter using a Retweet (RT) and including a hashtag specific to you, your book, or blog.  This helps to spread the word to all of your participant’s followers (and so on, and so on).

The Bad

I won’t tell you the guy’s name, or who he works for, but he’s a publicist.  I thought a publicist would be better spoken, honestly.

His session had some good information, but he was almost too relaxed, too casual.  At times I thought he was bored with the topic.  At times he went off on tangents or mumbled.  He decided to wing it.  He didn’t have a plan.

  • Print ads are not an effective use of funds.
  • Look for web magazines that have “up fronts” (= previews) especially if they have a print tie in.
  • A platform is not essential for fiction writers, but is absolutely key for non-fiction.
  • In fiction, the publisher may work with the writer to build the platform.
  • Build your relationship with your publisher.
  • A P/L or profit /loss sheet may determine what will be expected.  Analysis determines what the most appropriate action or angle may be.
  • Do you have a business or profession related to your book?
  • Books = cultural entertainment product.
  • You have to engage your readership on social media (SoMe).
  • Some publishers spend more $$ on authors than others.  This will be different in the States.
  • If a publicist is assigned, it’s usually for 3 months.  On-shelf promotion (during the initial sales period of the book).
  • Marketing is different for every book.
  • Book trailers are too expensive to be effective.
  • Applications (apps) are even more inefficient and more expensive.

The Downright Ugly

One thing that emerged early on in the session and coloured the remainder of it was that this publicist works for a small imprint of a larger publisher and in non-fiction (politics, sports, world events).  His clients are men and of the imprints authors only a third were women.

He made an off-hand remark about the ladies liking their beach reads.  Fatal mistake when speaking to an audience of 90% women.

To be fair, I have to say that I don’t think the young man realized that he’d just insulted his audience unforgivably.  Even after several women from the audience spoke up and made some very salient points, I’m not sure our publicist got it, or if he did, he was so scared, he didn’t know how to save himself with any grace.

I think it has to do with the publishing environment he works in every day, his mentors, his colleagues.  I think the sexism is so ingrained, so rampant in his sector of the industry, that he wasn’t fully conscious of the prejudices he promoted.

For the remainder of the conference, our publicist was the topic of conversation, and not in a good way.

It immediately brought to mind Chuck Wendig’s posts on sexism and misogyny in publishing.

It’s not a problem that has an easy answer.

Tomorrow: I’ll be moving onto the Day 2 panel and session.

Writer tech: Converting from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

In my continuing indecision regarding whether to make the leap to WordPress.org or not, I’ve been doing some research.  Gemma Hawdon has graciously consented to let me post our conversation.  I’m sure it will be as enlightening for you as it was for me.

____________________________________________________________________________

How long were you blogging on WordPress.com before you decided to make the move?

I was only blogging for 6 weeks before I decided to swap to self-hosted WordPress.

What kind of research did you do and what were your considerations?

I started by talking to a few friends who had already taken the plunge into self-hosted blogging. I was lucky to have one friend in particular, Caroline of http://presentimperfection.com – a marketing and communications strategist – she was extremely helpful.  I think it’s important to seek the opinions of others and to have someone you can turn to for help.

I also read information provided on the WordPress site: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/.

Another helpful article was this one by Problogger: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2012/03/04/wordpress-com-or-wordpress-org-which-ones-right-for-you/

In terms of considerations, I wanted to find out which version was more suitable from a long-term point of view. Although a complete beginner, I didn’t like the thought of wasting time and effort building a blog that might restrict me in the future.

What made you decide to take the plunge?

In the end it was the flexibility of self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) in terms of wider choice of custom themes and the ability to increase functionality of the blog through plugins (i.e. to enhance SEO, email newsletters etc.) I wanted to build something that I would have full control over creatively and (if in the future I’m lucky enough!) commercially. Have I actually utilized many of these options yet? Absolutely not! I’m a little lost to be honest, finding my feet, tepidly…

Are you with a hosting “farm” where you’re largely in charge of everything, or do you subscribe to a hosting service where they have people who can help you with technical questions?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what a hosting farm is! But yes, I am pretty much in charge of everything (terrifying). I chose to host with hostgator.com – who were recommended to me because they have a solid reputation and competitive pricing. I have the Hatchling plan which is only $3.96 p/m unlimited disk space (you can upgrade at any stage). This plan also offers 24×7 technical support.

Mel’s note: If you have technical support, it’s not a farm 😉

From what you mentioned, there are good and bad points about the move.  What are they and what would you do differently if you had the chance?

The main shock after swapping to WordPress.org was the terror of suddenly feeling completely alone! WordPress.com takes care of everything for you. You feel part of a community because they publish your posts across Reader. When I switched to self-hosted I lost a huge chunk of traffic. Previously, I was gaining 5-10 new followers each week – that has fizzled out to 1 if I’m lucky!! Plus it’s amazing how encouraging those simple ‘likes’ can be – you get none of that with WordPress.org.

To help me transfer, I used a friend of a friend because he was incredibly cheap and he did a great job, but initially I lost all of my followers. I had to contact WordPress in the end and they transferred them across for me, but it took several weeks. In the meantime, I had to post from both platforms. I think If I had to do it again I would use WordPress’ own guided transfers – they cost $129 USD.

I’m still feeling lost on the technical side of things. With WordPress.org you’re the one responsible for stopping spam, for creating and maintaining backups and for updating versions of software. I haven’t taken full advantage of the creative freedom yet because it would mean paying someone to build a logo and banner and I can’t justify that right now; however, I’m learning about new things each day and certainly making progress.

One thing that is working for me is having a Feedblitz icon on my site. Feedblitz allows subscribers to view all of their blogs on the one page (a little like WordPress Reader). Followers who subscribe through this software are generally savvy Internet users and bloggers themselves.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve only been blogging for 5 months and it takes time and effort to build a solid following. However, I do feel as though I’m finally making progress. I’m rising in the ranks of Google and Twitter and my traffic is increasing! More than anything, I enjoy the creativity of what I’m doing and the fact that I’m the boss of something that is completely mine.

I think it’s important to figure out what you want from your blog and you’re reasons for blogging before you decide which WordPress version to go with.  For me, the benefits of starting with WordPress.com allowed me to experiment before investing any money. I gained an insight into how people responded to my voice and writing and whether there was a demand for my topic or not.

In the end, I think WordPress.org is better for the long-term if you want to build a blog that is completely yours, which you have full control over – no limitations.

I hope this is of some help – Thanks Melanie for your questions – Happy Blogging!

So what do you say, blogophiles?  Will Gemma’s expereince be helpful to you?  I’ll certainly benefit!

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

____________________________________________________________________________

Gemma Hawdon

Gemma Hawdon

Gemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children, one dog and a couple of rabbits. Having always worked in marketing prior to having children, she turned her attention to writing about 4 years ago and has never looked back! Gemma has published articles in parenting magazines across Australia including Melbourne & Sydney Child and Parenting Express and dabbles in writing ghost-articles for extra income, but her most passionate project is the children’s fantasy she is writing which she never seems to get the time to complete! Gemma is also responsible for running the administration and finances for their family-run business in the building industry.

Gemma’s blog, topoftheslushpile.com, documents the challenges, highs and lows of writing a book and getting it ready to tackle the competitive publishing industry.

Caturday Quickies: A nod to tragedy

Unless you are completely divorced from all forms of communication (and if you’re here, you obviously aren’t) then you know about the tumultuous events of this week in Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas.

Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a wh...

Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a whale watching ferry that left from the aquarium dock. It is the Eastern side of the Boston peninsula. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every newscast was focused with laser-like intensity on these two communities this week, hanging on every bit of news, legitimate and otherwise.  Twitter was alive with blow-by-blow descriptions of what was being reported during the man-hunt for and capture of the second of the two Marathon Bombers.

I’m not going to repeat any of that.  It’s not my story to tell.  The news channels are still recapping everything and coming out with additional facts (at last) as they become available in any case.

I know no one who lives in either Boston or West.  I’ve never visited either city.  I have no ties to either.  If it hadn’t dominated network and radio news and social media, I probably wouldn’t have a clue what happened in either place this past week.

It’s a testament to the global village we now live in that people everywhere know about and feel for the victims of the bombers, and the explosion of the fertilizer plant.

I have felt for, been engaged by, and responded to these tragedies in my own small ways, but I can’t continue to do that.

I’m just posting this by way of letting you know that I am not ignorant, or uncaring, but I also need to move on.  As I post about my own trivialities, try not to think poorly of me.

To the people of Boston and West, to the friends and families of the victims, my heart has gone out to you, but I need it back now.

Please see Heather Button’s wonderful love letter to Boston.

And Bolton Carley says: Convert tragedies into brownies.

Both are thoughtful reactions to what’s happened in the past week.  In the end, the best victory is to continue to live your most authentic life, to find a way laugh, and otherwise let the bombers of the world know that you have not given in.

Caturday Quickies

Six questions with Barbara Morrison

Barbara MorrisonBarbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is a poet and writer, a publisher, teacher, and dancer. A few years after graduating with a BA in English, her marriage collapsed and she found herself forced to go on welfare. It is this experience of a world very different from the one in which she grew up that she describes in her memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother.

She attributes part of her success in escaping poverty to her involvement in the world of traditional dance and music. She performed as a morris dancer for thirty years and continues to be active in the Country Dance and Song Society and several of its affiliates.

Barbara is also the author of a poetry collection, Here at Least, with a second volume, Terrarium, scheduled for 2012. She is currently working on a novel. Barbara has won multiple awards, been invited to speak as a featured author, and been published in magazines such as The Sun, Sin Fronteras, Scribble, and Tiny Lights. She conducts writing workshops and speaks on women’s and poverty-related issues. She is also the owner of a small press and speaks about publishing and marketing. Come by her website for more information.

Barbara’s Monday Morning Books blog is where every week since 2006 she has been sharing insights about writing gleaned from her reading. You can also find her on Twitter where she tweets regularly about poetry and on Facebook. Be sure to visit her GoodReads Author Page and her Amazon Author Page.

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I met Barbara through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year and am pleased to welcome her to Writerly Goodness.

Terrarium will be Barbara’s second collection of poetry and will be published in May 2013.

WG: When did you begin to write poetry and how do your poems come to you?

BM: I began writing poetry in high school and continued through good times and bad, even when I was a single parent working three jobs. Although I’ve also kept a journal, it is in poetry that I seem to have chronicled my life. At first I thought I had to wait for poems to come to me, but after I spent a couple of years making myself write a poem a day, I realized that there would always be something troubling or tickling me, something I wanted to praise or puzzle over.

WG: What is your creative process like?  Do your poems incubate for a while?  Do you edit extensively?  What role does your publisher play in the process?

BM: They often start with a single phrase. Some poems come quickly while others take their time. I then put them away for a while before starting another round of editing. I often repeat this process several times. I self-publish my poetry, but once I put on my publisher’s hat, I might demand further revisions.

WG: Terrarium’s theme revolves around various interpretations of home.  How did this theme evolve for you and how does it reflect the “place” you find yourself in at this point in your life?

BM: I actually started with the theme and deliberately wrote poems around it. I often dream about a particular city. It doesn’t exist in our world, as far as I know, but I could draw you a map of it; the streets and shops and houses are the same whenever I revisit them in dreams. Trying to work out why my unconscious needed to construct and continue to inhabit this place made me wonder how our places, both those we choose and those where we find ourselves, influence who we become. I never meant to stay in the city where I now live, so on some level I continue to feel even after many years that my life here is temporary, which in turn reminds me that our stay on earth is temporary, and I must make the best use of it that I can.

WG: How was assembling Terrarium different from working on your first collection, Here at Least, and what has the experience taught you about yourself as a poet?

BM: With the first collection I agonized over selecting and arranging the poems. I must have changed my mind a thousand times! With Terrarium I was more focused. Also, each of the three sections has a kind of chronology which helped.

WG: Is a launch or reading planned?  Will there be an online component to your promotion?

BM: Yes, I have a book launch party scheduled for 10 May 2013 at The Ivy Bookshop in Terrarium CoverBaltimore, MD. I also have several readings set up; see my website for details. One thing I’ve learned about online promotion is that there is no end to what you can do, so I will pace myself.

WG: What’s coming up next for you?

BM: I’ll be teaching a five-day memoir workshop called Sharing Our Stories at Common Ground on the Hill in July; for more information, see my website http://www.bmorrison.com. I am also working on a novel.

Thank you for sharing your creative journey with us!