Six questions with JL Madore

JL MadoreJL Madore is the writer of fast paced, sexy fantasy and paranormal romance series with heat levels ranging from sizzle to erotic. She is the winner of the Writing Fairy Scholarship for New Writers 2012, a board member of WCDR – the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (a 300+ member writers group focused on developing authors in all aspects of writing), a member of two writing critique groups and a two time student of ‘A Novel Approach’, a yearlong workshop to study the craft of writing novels and hone ideas into working manuscripts.

You can find her at www.jlmadore.ca and on Twitter @jlmadore

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Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Jenny 🙂

After working together for a short time on an online critique group, I lost touch with Jenny.  I’m so happy that the publication of her novel, Blaze Ignites, was what connected us again.  Congratulations!

WG: When did you first start writing, and when did you know that writing was what you wanted to do, long term?

JLM: Writing actually snuck up on me. I often read about authors who say they ‘knew since they were a kid’ or ‘have been jotting down stories since they could hold a crayon’, but that wasn’t me. My interest actually came about when my husband and I got fed up with the day-to-day and moved our family to Central America for a year. From September 2008 to August 2009 we lived in Llano Grande, Panama. No jobs. No school. Nothing but the four of us on a stunning tropical rainforest property for a solid 12 months. It was during those quiet afternoons, lying in a hammock, reading the one and only novel we brought with us–my daughter’s copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight–that I started to imagine different ways the story could have gone. That lit the fire.

WG: How did Jade’s story first occur to you, and how long did it take you to write your first draft?

JLM: Well, I’ve always been a huge lover of Elves. As a pre-teen I devoured the Elf Quest graphic novels and who isn’t in love with Legolas Greenleaf from Lord of the Rings? I mean, really. When we returned to Ontario in the fall of 2009, I decided to get the story out of my head. Casting Galan was easy and I knew I wanted the protagonist to be a kick-ass female, so Jade had to be able to hold her own. The first draft was written in six months, the only problem was I didn’t know how to write well. I recognized that if I wanted the novel to be any good, I needed to study the craft of writing. After three years of courses, critiques and revisions, Blaze Ignites is ready to hit the public eye.

WG: Are you a pantser, or plotter?  How does that play into your revision and editing process?

JLM: Most definitely a plotter, but not too tightly bound. I write linearly with a general story and loose outline and let the characters adjust things as they go. The funny thing for me was that I saw the big picture story arc for the Survivor Series and kept writing. Before I went back to finalize Blaze, and while I was learning the craft, I’d written the first drafts of the following three books. After that, the editing and revisions just seemed to fall in place.

WG: You’ve gone the self-publishing route.  Were you always set on self-publishing, or did you try for a traditional deal first?  Why did you ultimately choose Lulu?

JLM: I queried traditional agents and publishers over 2012 and although it sounds funny, during that year I received some genuinely supportive rejections. It seemed the industry opinion was that though they liked the story and many commented positively on the voice and humour, ‘Elves won’t sell. The market won’t support a fantasy love story with Elves’.  I disagree. And if I’m wrong, so be it. Galan is an Elf. Decision made, self-publishing it is.

Lulu seemed the most user friendly for a launching platform for me and where I am right now. I’m currently working on uploading to Createspace and others, as well as talking to a printer, but life gets in the way sometimes and it is slow going at the moment.

WG: When did you start building an online platform and how is that supporting your work as a writer?

JLM: My online presence is definitely a work-in-progress. I’m not technically inclined in the slightest, so that side of my writing career is a struggle. I think I probably did everything backwards, but my website, www.jlmadore.ca is only recently up and I tweet when I think I have something worth saying. It’s too early in the game to say how it’s working, but I’m on board for the long haul.

WG: What’s coming up for JL Madore and Jade Glaster?

JLM: The survivors at Haven have many sexy adventures ahead of them: Book 2 – Bruin’s story and Book 3 – Lexi’s story, are being reviewed by critique groups and beta readers, Blaze full page coverwhile Book 4 – Lia’s story is almost finished and waiting in the wings. Currently I have a paranormal erotic/romance series that’s been getting interest from the traditional publishing world, so I’m working on that. I’d love to have a hybrid publishing approach and span both worlds. Fingers crossed.

Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us, Jenny!  Break a pencil with your future writing endeavours 🙂

My pleasure, thank you so much for the opportunity and my best to all your readers.

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A year (and a bit) in the life of Writerly Goodness

This post is one in a series of Anniversary posts for Wordsmith Studio (WSS).

What is WSS, you ask?

It’s a group of people who originally bonded through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year and who have gone on to create a community online, not only through our blogs, but also through social media (Facebook, Twitter (#WSchat), LinkedIn, G+, Goodreads, Pinterest (sorry, not a pinner, so no link for the group there), and probably a few other places that I don’t know about yet).

Originally the MNINB Challengers, or Not-Bobbers, we slowly evolved into our own collective.

Part way through the year, a group of fabulous people got together to create the Wordsmith Studio site on WordPress.org.  Since December of last year, a number of members have been blogging regularly on the site as well as on their own blogs.

Others have been attracted to WSS who had nothing to do with the original challenge, and others who participated in the challenge have moved on to other projects.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle Go Joes! 🙂

Prelude to a kiss challenge

One thing that amazed me was the diversity of people who participated in the challenge.  Some of them had been blogging for years already, or had several blogs.  Others, like myself, were new bloggers.  Others still didn’t start blogging and platform building until Robert’s challenge prompted them to.

I actually started my platform building in September of 2011.  I tried Joomla! first, but found it to be less intuitive than I wanted.  Plus, I was posting a blog more than anything else, and couldn’t figure out the proper way to set a blog up on a Joomla! site.  I wasn’t interested in bothering my techie husband, or in paying someone to sort this out for me, so I looked at other options.

In short order, I found WordPress, and gleefully uploaded the software to my self-hosted domain, labbydog.ca, converting all of my content into proper posts for my blog.

I learned as I went, relying heavily on experts such as Robert, Jane Friedman, and Michael Hyatt and the resources to which they referred me.

Then in February of 2012, disaster struck.  My blog was hacked, and our hosting company insisted in a complete wipe.  RIP labbydog.ca.

After playing around further, I decided, gun-shy and tender creative person that I was, to move to WordPress.com.  On Robert’s advice, I’d purchased my domain name, mapped it to WordPress.com and www.melaniemarttila.ca, A.K.A. Writerly Goodness was born.

At first I was merely attempting to recreate my content and was posting 5-6 days a week.

Enter the dragon challenge

I was already following Robert at the time, and when he announced his April Platform Challenge, I jumped onboard.

For a month, I eagerly awaited my daily dose of platform.  I’d been on Facebook since 2007, and had, as part of my amateur platform building program, already joined Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+, so the days in which the challenge task was to set up accounts on these services I had things a little easier.

It’s a good thing too; otherwise, I’d have fallen waaaay behind.

I learned about having a mission statement for my blog, about using a blogging schedule (doesn’t blogging in this sense sound like a colourful euphemism?  What the blog?  Blogging work!), about calls to action, guest blogs (hosting them and proposing them), interviews, tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, hashtags and Twitter chats, mailing list, business cards, newsletters, Goodreads and other kinds of social media.

By the end of the month, I verged on the overwhelmed.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I cut down on the frequency of my posts.  A new position at work meant that I had even less time and energy to spare for my blog if I wanted to keep up with my novel and other creative writing.

Something I’ve learned is that, as a writer, the writing comes first.  Blogging is a part of that, but if I don’t get my stories, poems, and novels written, submitted, and published, the blog is tantamount to an online journal and practically useless for the purpose of promotion or true platform building.

Now I blog on weekends only, and it’s been working for me, which is the most important thing.  I’ve been getting the writing done and have achieved a greater balance between my professional, creative, and personal lives.

I have several new pages, with links to those of my books that are still available for purchase from the publisher, my blogging schedule (such as it is), an invitation for guest bloggers, awards, and so forth.

I’ve started doing interviews with a number of friends, online and in real life, and was surprised but ultimately pleased when a fantasy writer right here in town contacted me out of the blue on my blog to be interviewed.  It speaks to the unexpected impact that blogging has had on my creative life and the community that I am, however back-asswardly, building 🙂

This post will be my 190th, I have 118 followers through WordPress, and publish my posts to 243 friends on Facebook, 412 followers on Twitter, 112 connections on LinkedIn, and 90 people have included me in their G+ circles.

I’ve participated in a few challenges (October submit-o-rama, I ❤ my blog, and the Just write 2013 short story challenge) and a couple of the Goodreads group craft book discussions.

I’ve posted a grand total of once on the WSS site and am currently waiting to hear from Robert regarding a guest blog on My Name is Not Bob.  **Hint: Look in your spam folder, Robert 🙂

It’s a humble beginning, but I remind myself that platforms take years to build and that until I have something more than a couple of old poetry anthologies to shill, that I’m not likely to have a massive following.  Even then, unless I turn out to be the next big thing for real, I’ll probably only see modest growth.

Next

I’ve been threatening to move to WordPress.org for a while now.  I still haven’t found the time to parse my archives and clean up some of my old posts.  I have to rework some of my images too, since in the early days of my blog, I just did a Google search for my images.  I have to find creative commons equivalents, use my own, or remove them entirely.

Nor have I settled on a new hosting company.  The fear of hack still lives in me and I’m admittedly dragging my feet on this one.

I’m also considering a greater involvement in WSS.  The site is still in evolution and I’m not sure what I can commit to.  Want and need are two entirely different things.  Keeping that distinction in mind will help me stay sane.

What I will do is encourage all of you to visit the Wordsmith Studio site, peruse the wonderful diversity of our members’ sites and blogs (photo bloggers, pet bloggers, health bloggers, poets, fiction writers of all genres, non-fiction writers, publishers, and so much more).  A weekly round up of our anniversary blogs will be posted on the Veranda, so please read on.

Also visit My Name is Not Bob to see some of the lessons learned posts from several of the original challengers.

Many of my online friends have had amazing years, some good, some bad, some demoralizing, and some downright inspiring.  Most of them are far more eloquent than I am.

Consider liking, commenting, sharing or subscribing.  They are teh awesome, with a little awesomesauce on the side 🙂

Happy anniversary WSSers!  Love you all, even if I don’t show it often enough.

Six questions with Lara Schiffbauer

Lara SchiffbauerLara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist. She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic, and to laugh.  You can connect with Lara through Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or on her website. Her debut novel, Finding Meara, will be available in March, 2013.

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Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Lara!  Thank you for taking the time to answer these few questions for my readers.  I have to say that since we met through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year that I’ve been following your progress with Finding Meara with rapt attention 🙂  As I approach the end of revisions on my own work in progress, the decisions you’ve made are informing my process and plans moving forward.

Without further ado:

WG: When did you begin to write and what was the moment you knew that writing was the path you wanted/needed to pursue?

LAS: I’d like to first say think you so much for having me over today! The Platform Challenge was a wonderful opportunity to get to meet so many lovely writer-types—like you! I’m honored you find my path to publication informative and inspiring!

I enjoyed writing my whole life, but I didn’t think about writing for other people’s enjoyment until five years ago. I hadn’t been creative in any way for about ten years, and wanted to regain the spark. My children were toddlers, and I work full-time, so a return to writing fit the best. Since I’m a goal-oriented kind of person, I decided to not just write, but write with the goal of getting it read by people other than my family.

WG: What was the idea that became Finding Meara and how long have you been working on the novel?

LAS: I’ve worked with children in a social worker/therapist role for over ten years. The seed for Finding Meara rose out of the need to have some justice for abused and mistreated children. The story evolved into an urban fantasy about a young woman who, in a case of mistaken identity, ends up in a magical world where she must rescue her newfound half-sister before their sadistic father can sacrifice either in his quest for immortality and unrestrained power. As her world is turned inside out, she is forced to put other’s needs before her own, and discovers herself in the process. I’ve been working on it for about two years.

WG: I’m a process geek and I love to hear about how other writers approach their craft.  Can you give us some insight in to how you do that thing you do 🙂 ?

LAS: Lots of trial and error! I have learned that if I want to write with any speed, I have to know where the characters are going. With Finding Meara, I’d plot out a few chapters at a time, which allowed flexibility as well. I started another book, Age of Stars, which I plotted out completely. By doing that, I realized that I didn’t like the story and will be re-plotting it, once I get the first draft of the next book in the Adven Realm adventures done.  So, no pantsing for me, but any hybrid of outlining seems to work all right.

WG: I remember that you tried the traditional publishing route. What was your experience with querying and why did you choose to self-publish?

LAS: It didn’t take me long to change my mind. I pitched Finding Meara to Lou Anders of Pyr Books at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference in April 2012 and sent out eight-ish query letters over the summer, before deciding (around August 2012) that Finding Meara is a unique enough animal that traditional publishing probably wouldn’t want it. I love the story and want other people to have access to it, in case they might love it too, and so decided to self-publish.

WG: What platform(s) did you choose and why?

LAS: Interesting question! My platforms fall into two categories: those I have had and used for a while and those I’ve created due to releasing Finding Meara.

I’ve been blogging for a little over two years, and use Facebook to connect to writer friends. I enjoy Pinterest personally, but do have some boards for the three books I’ve got going on it. I like Twitter, but lately I’m lucky to get on a couple of times a week.

In January I created a Facebook Author Page, a Goodreads Author Page and my website, which has links to all my social media spots. I just recently opened a Wattpad account because I am releasing two chapters of Finding Meara a week there until its release.

I’m not one of those people who have created a social media empire, with hundreds of followers on any given platform. I do sincerely appreciate every person who has ever decided to follow along with my journey, and have been absolutely blessed by getting to meet and become friends with some amazing, supportive people. I’ll take those types of relationships over numbers any day!

I chose to create a Facebook Author page because it provides an opportunity to interact with the international community. E-reader use in other countries is on the rise and I’m hoping through Facebook I’ll have a way to develop the writer/reader relationship. I opened a Goodreads page and a Wattpad page because they offer a way to interact with readers. So much social media seems to be directed toward other writers, and while writers read, there are tons of readers in the world who don’t go hang around the writer water-cooler.

WG: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with regard to Finding Meara?Finding Meara Cover

LAS: As I mentioned above, I have a Finding Meara Sneak Peek going on at Wattpad leading up to the release. I wish I could give a firm date of release, but I’m still tweaking for an exact date. It will be in March, though, and if anyone wants up to date information regarding the release, I would encourage them to follow me on Facebook or my blog, as I will post the date as soon as I know. On release weekend, Finding Meara will cost a full $0.00, so if you like the story on Wattpad you will be able to finish it for free. There will also be a giveaway on Goodreads post-release.

Thank you so much, Melanie, for offering me this opportunity to share my story!

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Lara, thank you for being so generous with your time and experience.

If you have any questions for Lara, please write them in the comments, and as always, I encourage you to like, share, comment, and follow (the blog equivalent of the writer’s think, do, create, be!).

Have a good one, my writerly peeps!  Until next time! *waves*

I <3 my blog: the beginning

I’ve enjoyed Khara House’s challenges before.  Her October submit-o-rama was a hit 🙂

Khara HouseKhara’s really good at sussing out what her community might need and delivering it while playing to her strengths.

January is I ❤ my blog month and it’s not going to be a challenge in which everyone is dashing helter skelter to get a bunch of stuff done.  It’s going to be a gentle, thoughtful reintroduction to your blog and the reasons you started it in the first place.  It’s meant to reignite your passion for your blog and get you back on track.

I first met Khara in Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform challenge and that was a task-a-day, whip your butt into shape kind of challenge.  A lot of us struggled to keep up, but Khara was way out in the leader-pack, showing the way.

So I’m back.

The “assignment” for week one was about developing a blogging schedule.  Now I had one.  When I started off, I was posting 6 days a week, then I dropped to five, then four … you get the idea.  In September, I hit the burnout phase.  I was trying to do too many different things and I just couldn’t keep up with the posting on a regular basis anymore.  It felt like a chore.

So I deleted my blogging schedule page and defaulted to posting when I wanted to/had the time/had something to say.  Sometimes that was several times in the course of a week.  Sometimes it wasn’t at all.

So now, in addition to being back with a Khara House challenge, my blogging schedule will be back.

It’s going to be basic.  Something I can manage given working and writing and critiquing (which I’m getting back to shortly).  What I’ve hit on, is a weekend blog-for-all 🙂

Lemme ‘splain: I figure that blogging once a week will fit into my schedule and if nothing else, I’ll post on Saturdays.  But … if it’s been a particularly inspirational week, I’m going to blog on Sundays too, and if a whole lot is happening, I might blog more than once a day.

So it’s a bloggin’ free-for-all, or a weekend blog-for-all.

Hope you like it, ‘cause it’s what you’re gonna get!

What a lovely way to start the New Year!

sunshineawardHey y’all!  Jay Morris of The Wayward Journey nominated Writerly Goodness for the Sunshine Award 🙂  As Jay says in his post, it was the result one of his resolutions: to encourage other bloggers and foster community online.  I think that’s a worthy goal.

First, thanks!  It’s nice to be recognized by your fellow bloggers.

Second, here are the rules:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Post the award image to your page.
  3. Tell seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 other blogs.
  5. Let them know they are nominated.

Numbers 1 and 2 are already taken care of, so without further ado, here are seven facts about me:

  1. I’m a writing geek (really?).  That is, I love words, grammar (yes, grammar), and the whole shebang.  I get excited when I write; I don’t even have to be writing particularly well.  Writing is my friend, therapist, and spiritual practice rolled into one.
  2. I’ve been married for eighteen and a half years to a wonderful man.  Phil’s my BFF, inspirator (conspirator in inspiration), and makes me laugh my hoop off at least once a day.  Yup.  I’m hoopless 😀
  3. I haven’t taken down the Christmas decorations yet, in violation of the standing practice to pack them away January 1st.  Maybe I’ll get to it by Ukrainian Christmas?  Sadly doubtful.  Before the end of January though, for sure.
  4. I need to know the rules, but often, once I’ve figured them out, I find my own way forward.
  5. I think my Mom is a “cool mom.”
  6. I’m terrible at traditional correspondence.  I have a friend who, without fail, sends birthday, anniversary, occasional, and sometimes just-for-the-heck-of-it cards.  I always get a postcard from her on every vacation.  I admire, and secretly envy, this friend 🙂
  7. After work, I transform into “comfort woman.” She’s a strange creature, who wears flannel and sits at her computer all night … writing, yeah, that’s it … writing.

Now, here are my ma-nominations (doo-doo-da-doo-doo!).  Yes, I’m a Muppet maniac 🙂

  1. Laura Conant Howard – Finding Bliss  Fantastic site with all kinds of interviews and book features.  Her new book, The Forgotten Ones, is coming out soon!  Also follow Laura on FB and Twitter.  She will often share when good books are on special – bonus!
  2. Khara House – Our Lost Jungle  Khara is fabulous, and so is her site.  She has led several great challenges over the past year that have kept me motivated.  Her current: I ❤ my blog.  Yup.  I’m in it.
  3. Karen Woodward  Karen is a prolific blogger and has a variety of good advice to offer.
  4. Kim Fahner – The Republic of Poetry  Kim is a poet and a teacher, and waxes lyrical on many topics.  Just love her 🙂
  5. Vikki Thompson – The View Outside  Vikki invites us to follow along on her writing journey.  There’s always something interesting going on at The View Outside 🙂
  6. Sarah Rios – Riosfan  Sarah is hilarious!  Become her minion on G+ too and get all the fangrrl goods 🙂
  7. Lara Britt – Writing Space  Lara is a working writer in Hawaii.  What a wonderful place to be 🙂
  8. Claudia Karabaic Sargent – CKSWarriorQueen  Another one of my Wordsmith Studio connections (as are Lara B, Lara S, and Khara).
  9. Lara Schiffbauer – Motivation for Creation  Her Funny Friday Photos are always a hoot and I love feeding her fish 🙂  Also, check out her book Finding Meara.
  10. Brian Braden  Brian’s WIP, Black Sea Gods is moving toward publication.  He’s been supportive of my project and I just want to return the favour 🙂

There were a lot of blogs that I wanted to feature.  If yours isn’t in here, I mean no disrespect.

TTFN blogging buds 🙂

I’ll be back tomorrow with I ❤ my blog, and the Pupdate 🙂

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! Rethinking my online strategy

I’ve been through a fair amount on this platform-building journey, from my first hesitant steps, through my experience of being hacked, and my triumphant return to the blogosphere.  I think it’s time that I took a little more control of my online life rather than letting it control me.

To this end, I’ve retooled my blogging schedule.  I’ll only be posting twice weekly now, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Tuesdays (starting next week) for my learning and development category, and Thursdays for all things Writerly Goodness (it’s a grab bag folks!).  Fridays will be set aside for any guest blogs and other special events.

The truth is that I really have to get back to my novel.  If I don’t have a product, what’s the point of all this platform development?

Back in April I partook of Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Challenge.  I’ve learned a lot from the experience and made a lot of online friends through the continually evolving Wordsmith Studio community.

Recently, I also volunteered to help develop Author Salon’s social media campaign.  With working, critiquing, curating, blogging, and hopefully writing, my schedule’s full enough.  I’m learning and growing though, as a writer and in social media.  As Christina Katz wrote, if it’s not painful, you’re not growing.

Actually, what she wrote was:

If you are frustrated to the point of tears or total exasperation, then wow, you must really be taking risks and stretching yourself. Good for you!

Think I’m getting there 😛

For the next six weeks, I’m participating in We Grow Media’s How to Build Your Author Platform course delivered by Dan Blank.  I’m hoping to learn how to make more efficient use of online tools to recapture some of my precious writing time.

Today, however, I want to share some pearls of online wisdom I’ve learned over the course of the past few months:

From Nathan Bransford:

  • When you post something to Facebook or G+, the link that you copy into your status will be embedded.  Once the post shows up, you can delete the pesky link and use the space to say something more apropos of your witty authorial persona.
  • Render unto Twitter that which is Twitter’s.  In short, if you tweet a lot, don’t link your Twitter feed to Facebook.  I experienced the negative side of this earlier this year, when a friend joined Twitter and I saw his half of every Twitter conversation he had.  It was excruciating clutter, but because he was a friend, I didn’t say anything.  He isn’t the “hey, you’ve got a booger in your nose” or a “that dress makes you look like a hoochie mama” kind of friend.  Sorry Dan.

From Kristin Lamb:

  • Don’t spam your friends.  Though tools like Hootsuite make it very convenient to post to multiple social media at multiple times, don’t do it unless you’re there to engage anyone who might respond.  Twitter is about having a conversation, forming a community.  If you’re automating you posts and someone replies to you or retweets saying that they liked it, you have no way to engage them if you’re not actually on line to respond.  Prove you’re not a robot?  Only post/tweet/share when you’re on line.  Got a day-job?  Tough.

Other points of etiquette:

  • Got published?  Yippee!  But I don’t need to see the same post every five minutes.  If I’m interested, I’ll check it out, but I find that half my Twitter feed consists of people trying to promote their books.  It becomes a visual kind of white noise and I tend to ignore those tweets after a while.  Pace your promo posts, and again, try to do it when you’re online to respond to any enquiries.
  • In the same vein: be professional.  In the early stages of any platform building effort, it can seem like you’re not getting anywhere.  It takes time.  Sometimes years.  Be patient.  If every time you post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, or any of the other social media sites, you’re practically begging people to “share, please share” it smacks of desperation.  It’s off-putting.  If you write honestly and put out quality material, people will share of their own accord.  Again, it takes time to build a solid following.
  • If you’re interested in proposing a guest blog for someone and they’ve posted guidelines, treat them as seriously and professionally as you would submission guidelines to a magazine or journal.  Read the guidelines and follow them.  Respect the blogger you want to guest post for.
  • The other side of that coin is that if you’ve entered into an agreement, informal as it may be, to host a guest blog, or to interview someone, treat it with as much respect as a written contract.  If you can’t, for whatever reason, hold up your end of the deal, be up front and address the issues with your guest or interviewee.  If you have to decline after receiving the interview transcript or post, then do so in a timely manner.  Pretend you’re a publisher, because that’s what you’re doing when you host guests or conduct interviews, and treat your guest or interviewee as you would like to be treated if your positions were reversed.

It’s the golden rule.  Be polite.  Be professional.  Show respect.  You’ll be amazed how those three simple phrases will transform your online life and how much more quickly your platform will grow as a result.

Ok.  Kicking the soap box off to the side now 🙂

There might be some additional changes coming in the future as the result of Dan Blank’s course.  I’ve been considering a thematic revamp of the blog, but I want to hold off until I have some feedback.

On that note, if you have any of that for me (feedback) please feel free to comment.

How are your platform development efforts going?  Have there been bumps, or ruts in the road?  What have to done to work through these issues?  Do you have a plan moving forward?  Do tell 🙂

Writerly Goodness, signing off.

Two lovely thinks, er, things, that fell in my lap today :)

Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap.
Some say that knowledge is something that you never have. ~~Kate Bush, “Sat in your Lap

First

Partook of a Webinar this afternoon offered by Training Magazine Network and delivered by the inimitable Jane Bozarth on social and informal learning.  I follow her bog, the Bozarthzone, and have attended a few #lrnchat sessions on Twitter.

Jane promoted the power of social networking tools in the workplace, of curation, and the need to let learners have more control over their learning.

I’m all for this.  Unfortunately, my employer isn’t quite on the same page.  Facebook is blocked, because ours is a production environment and pressures are mounting.  Though Twitter is not blocked, our connection is so slow, in part due to the massive security measures we have in place, that it’s hardly worth the effort.

Though we have 2 internal Wikis with the capability to blog and curate, these tools are not promoted for use by our front line staff.  Again, operational requirements make it untenable.  The tools are mostly used to push information and email is still heavily relied upon as a means of communication.

We have SharePoint sites too, but again, for frontline staff, it’s used as any other Web page or site, as a means to push information, and not to engage staff in their own learning.  All of this on our sprawling Intranet, which, while it’s had a facelift, is still an unwieldy beast.

Only when staff reach the advisory or managerial level do they have the flexibility to dip their toes in those waters, and then to do so means some serious workload juggling.  Fortunately, aside from being the Learning Mutt, with a certain share of tenacity and feistiness, another of my workplace alter-egos is Shakti.  Multiple arms do tend to make the juggling easier 🙂  I could always evolve into a land-squid.

Still, informal and social learning is a wonderful dream I foster for my workplace and Jane gave me a few tools to add to my arsenal, courtesy of Diigo: http://www.diigo.com/user/jbo27712/upskilling

Second

The second gift of my day waited for me when I got home.  It arrived in the form of an email from a friend with a link: http://www.cpsrenewal.ca/2012/02/think-write-repeat.html

Think, Write, Repeat is a wonderful post.  I think I’m going to have to follow cpsrenewal 🙂  In his post, Nick Charney states that good writing and critical thinking are not only skills that can distinguish one in the workplace, but that they also support one another.

He offers a reminder: It’s a knowledge economy, stupid.  Indeed.

Charney promotes blogging as a kind of living portfolio, and one that will serve the knowledge worker well.  It’s better than a static resume that can hardly demonstrate any skill other than communication and editing.

Strong communities of practice and personal learning networks are also critical.

Once again, Writerly Goodness proves to be teh awesome (misspelling intentional) as a platform for both of my professions: writing and learning and development.

How has technology and the world of social media had an impact on your professional development?

What the heck is a MOOC?

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I used to play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs, or just MMO’s).  But what in the heck is a MOOC?

I was first introduced to the term last October, immediately following the course I’d taken on course design.  One of my fellow learners was a guest blogger on a corporate blog the following week.  The topic was MOOCs.

MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course, and they are the latest trend in education.  I’ve already written about participant centered training, and, on the surface, the MOOC would be the ultimate in PCT.

Here’s another fun view of what a MOOC is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc

By and large, MOOCs are free, and consist primarily of presentations on weekly topics, usually delivered via Webinar, and supplemented by social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.), but participants are expected to make the course their own and take charge of their own learning: researching, Googling, diving into the deep end.  Reporting these efforts could be done via discussion groups and blogs.

The learning material is aggregated by the learning community and made available on a Web page or other central point of online distribution.  The link to Wikipedia (above) will provide more information regarding MOOCs and some examples, including Change.MOOC.ca, the MOOC that my colleague was participating in this past year.

I’ve been following her since on her learning blog: Connecting the Dots.

By the time I found out about MOOCs and Change.MOOC.ca, several weeks and learning topics had already elapsed.  I have a personal preference for beginning at the beginning and work demands are such that I would feel extremely uncomfortable putting myself into the MOOC arena now.

I can always look forward to participating in one next year.

Some other thoughts on MOOCs:

Does the idea of a MOOC interest you?

Going “rogue”

Thanks to the colleague who helped me to introduce my idea, I started to attend free training and learning Webinars that were offered by various magazines and firms.  I was doing this at work.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

It was professional development, and I didn’t doubt, question, or waver a bit in my decision to take advantage of them.  Since March 2011, I have been attending, on average, about two of these Webinars a month, and they’ve been most instructive.  I’ll even chat about some of the things I’ve learned from them in this blog from time to time.

Then my manager got me signing up for some eNewletters, essentially subscription feeds from some very interesting blogs by learning and development professionals.  I’ve linked to some of my favourites under Learning Blogs 🙂

Some of the articles I receive are fascinating, and the links to other resources within them have often led me on a merry chase over the Interwebz, yielding even more resources, sites, and blogs of interest.

When I signed up to attend a course to become a certified trainer in my organization (I know, I’ve been training for three years, and now I’m getting certified …) I picked up a few more resources.  And so the catalogue grows.

I’ve become a social learner, a rogue learner, a mutant learner, and I’m in charge of my learning, by and large.  There are still formal courses to attend, and hoops to jump through, but I’m getting so much more from reading a handful of interesting articles regarding learning theory and design and attending the odd Webinar, than I ever did from institutionalized education …  Mind = Blown 😉

Not that I’m knocking formal education.  Entirely.  It’s gotten me where I am today, but social learning is going to take it from here.

“… second star on the right, and straight on ‘til morning.”  J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

So … what has the world of social media brought you?  Any surprises?