Monday, March 30, 2015

2015 Writer's Market

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          Each year the Writer’s Market contains contact information for publications, literary agents, and contests & awards as well as helpful advice on a variety of topics.

One of the most useful chapters in the 2015 Writer’s Market is “How Much Should I Charge?” by Aaron Belz. He gathered his information/rates from 17 writers’ organizations. (See the list of organizations on pages 115 & 116.)

          On his well-organized, easy to read Rate Table on pages 117-131, Belz lists Hourly, Project, and Other (including per word) rates across the top breaking them into High, Low, and Average.

Down the left side of the chart, he lists categories of writing including:

·        Advertising & Public Relations

·        Book Publishing

·        Business

·        Computer, Internet & Technical

·        Editorial/Design Packages

·        Educational & Literary Services

·        Film, Video, TV, Radio, Stage

·        Magazines & Trade Journals

·        Medical/Science

·        Newspapers

·        Nonprofit

·        Politics/Government

In total, these 12 categories are broken down into 165 specific assignments like press kits, ghostwriting, paid blogging, web editing, copyediting, proofreading, rewriting, grant writing, and speeches. Now it is easier to charge clients a fair rate for your time and expertise especially if it is a new type of writing project for you.

Unfortunately, writing is an underrated talent. Non-writers do not realize how much time it takes to write well plus proofread, rewrite, and edit to make sure the project is letter perfect (or as close as we can make it). Time is money so we need rates that cover all the work we put into our assignments.

There are many other useful chapters like “Pitch Like A PR Pro: Turn the Blinking Cursor Into Cash” by Dana W. Todd on page 40;  “Earn A Full-Time Income From Blogging” by Carol Tice on page 50; “Balancing Your Writing and Your Platform in 8 Simple Steps” by Krissy Brady on page 132, and "Author Platform 2.0" by Jane Friedman on page 169.

If you want to be a professional, well paid writer, the 2015 Writer’s Market is an essential investment.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Reads for Writers: Christina Bartolomeo's Novels, Filled with Insightful Asides, Provide Masterclasses

From Kate’s Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
          Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.
I love novels filled with insightful asides. If they also appeal to you, try one or all of these novels by Christina Bartolomeo:
The Side of the Angels: A novel about the good guys, the bad guys, and how a woman learns to tell the difference is the story of Nicky Malone whose past and future come together during the cold of winter and the warmth of the holidays.
…Sometimes it seems to me that, for every happy couple fate brings together just in the nick of time, there are five other pairs who miss each other by inches or miles. Do human beings just not want to be happy, deep down, or is it that we snatch at the easiest, most comfortable happiness, not the hard-won kind? (page 29)
…With a stack of books by your bed, you can survive any heartbreak. In the watches of the night, reading soothed me as hot toddies or Valium never could have. (page 65)
...I wished I had the sort of memory eraser that aliens use when they are returning abducted humans in science fiction films. But that’s life, I guess. There’s never an alien handy when you need one. (page 91)
…Maybe I was just suffering that strange malaise that affects people who have seen love end badly. It was powerful and enchanting, this wish to rewrite history, this wish to make it all come out the way you thought it would when you first found him, when you were all in all to each other. (page 214)
…You see couples like this. You see them at a coffee shop or walking slowly along a paved path at the river’s edge, or helping each other up the steps of a medical office building, talking and talking. I wanted to be half of one of those couples…I wanted code words again and secret language, midnight fights and long car rides filled with mishaps. I wanted that joyous ease. (page 270)
Snowed In is the poignant novel about love lost and found in the life of Sophie Quinn.
…In some bedrock, unspoken way, my parents loved me. As long as they lived, I wouldn’t be in want or entirely alone. That can make the difference between courage and despair, in those moments of decision that every life holds. I felt that such moments were coming for me. (page 209)
…Well friendship was much less complicated than marriage. You could always call a friend and say, “I need this,” and there’d be no questions asked. You couldn’t always tell a husband what you needed, or count on him to listen if you did. (page 220)
…A woman who doubts her husband is not a woman who should be meeting a man she cannot trust. (page 241)
…We laughed a little and I sensed it again, that current between us, that sense of being two people who spied on the world from our own secluded vantage point. (page 315)
Cupid & Diana: A novel about finding the right man, the right career, and the right outfit is about Diana Campanella, her vintage clothing shop The Second Time Around, and her complicated family.
…For real value, give me a guy whose face has character and who had to wear glasses at an early age; that’s the sort of thing that instills sweetness and empathy. (page 20)
…I like hearing lurid accounts of other people’s breakups. It makes me feel less of an underachiever. (page 52)
…All the delicate negotiations and trials of love were ahead of us, if we were among the lucky ones who lasted more than a month. (page 218)
          I think we are lucky Christina Bartolomeo wrote these lines (and many more) as they are timelessly true.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Make Time for Rewriting

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

The best way for me to write well is to write essays, columns, and posts as quickly as possible. Get down every idea. Capture the energy I feel about the topics on the page. I don’t worry about punctuation, perfection, or organization; I just write. This is the exhilarating part. Be fearless! It’s fun!

If I’ve interviewed someone for an article, I also write the first draft quickly as I weave the person’s quotes into my prose.

When I run out of thoughts while writing, I stare at the ceiling or out the window. If no new thoughts come to mind, I start to rewrite.

          At this point, rewriting means I read my first sentence looking for unnecessary words and awkward phrases then omit or improve them. I move on to the next sentence and then the next until a new thought comes to me. Then I go back to writing.

I repeat this process until I reach my daily goal for long projects or “complete” the essay, article, column, or post by getting all my thoughts down.

But no piece is finished until I rewrite it.

Since I’m also an editor, I love this process. However, I wait at least a day, usually longer, before I focus on rewriting. Errors and awkwardness jump out at me when I work with fresh eyes.

Again, I reread my sentences omitting unnecessary words and rewriting or deleting phrases and sentences, but now I also look for clarity. I reorganize sentences and paragraphs as leads are often buried two, three, or more paragraphs into the piece.

Rewriting means letting go as well as improving what stays. I delete or save for another piece between a third and half of my work.

Then I concentrate on spelling, punctuation, and word choices. For ideas, I refer to The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale or the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. (If interested in these books, see my post dated 6/9/2014).

Reading pieces aloud helps with rewriting, too. I’m often surprised when what reads well on the page doesn’t work when I listen to the words so I don’t skip this step.

Rewriting helps keep errors from living eternally in published pieces so it can be difficult to stop, but deadlines must be met. To submit the best work I can produce, I schedule in the time to put pieces aside then go back and rewrite them.

Be aware that rewriting takes more time than writing. I timed myself in a post dated 10/7/2013. Roughly, I spend one third of my time writing and two thirds rewriting. 

I’ve never regretted a minute of the time I spent rewriting. It not only elevates my writing, it’s the mark of a professional.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradury

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I think anyone interested in becoming a writer should read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury.

These books will also energize anyone who is already a writer. I often pick one of them up, flip open to a random page, read for a while then jump into writing.

          In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury not only encourages writing, he also shares his story of becoming a writer then working hard to become a better writer. Read his work. His dedication and creativity are astounding.

He’s inspiring—hard not to be when he begins his essay “The Joy of Writing” on page 3 with:

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.

          Bradbury notes on page 13:

In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon the truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.

Tiger-trapping. How exciting that makes writing sound! We are brave. Capturing truth. Following wherever our creativity leads us. Zest and gusto indeed!

However, sometimes writing is a quieter craft as seen in one of my favorite essays, “How to Keep and Feed a Muse” on page 31. On pages 32 & 33, Bradbury states:

…to keep a Muse, you must first offer food. How you can feed something that isn’t there is a little hard to explain. But we live surrounded by paradoxes…

…in a lifetime, we stuff ourselves with sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and textures of people, animals, landscapes, events…These are the stuffs, the foods, on which The Muse grows.

…Here is the stuff of originality. For it is the totality of experience reckoned with, filed, and forgotten, that each man is truly different from all others in the world.

          Bradbury also makes this recommendation to writers on page 36:

Read poetry every day of your life…it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough…it expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition.

          In this book, I discovered Ray Bradbury also wrote poetry. Eight of his poems are in the back of the book including my favorite “What I Do Is Me—For That I Came for Gerard Manley Hopkins” on page 137. I think a framed copy should be in every nursery and read nightly to every child so he or she can be “the only you that’s truly you on Earth.”

          For a writer or not, that’s the best life goal.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sitting at My Desk

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          In the winter, I sit at my desk more often. Dedication? Boredom? Cabin fever? Don’t know, but I can’t just sit there without writing. I have the time, the opportunity, so, even without inspiration, I write.

          I entice myself to sit there by putting a birdfeeder outside my office window. I think of it as an ‘air-quarium’ as all the color and activity soothes, mesmerizes, and entertains without have to clean out a fish tank.

          I may watch the birds for a moment or two or for a while—however long it takes until I start writing. The birds keep me from walking away too quickly.

          More writing is pulled out of me when I give it a venue. Thoughts—conscious, unconscious, or from my muse—appear on the page. I often surprise myself with phrases, sentences, and topics I don’t remember choosing.

This is my favorite kind of writing. It may or may not lead to essays, blog posts, or other projects, but it’s always gratifying. I have done my work. I have written. 

          This is what makes us writers. Lots of people write when they have assignments, speeches, or reports. Writers write without these goals just to discover and capture thoughts or distill our lives. It’s how we function.

          I love the feel of a pen in my hand. The way it sits between my thumb and forefinger while resting on the writer’s callous on my middle finger. I love the blurry lines of ink filling my notebook as I scrawl across the pages. I love the stacks of notebooks I have filled over the years.

          I love the feel and sound of the keyboard as I type in an uneven tempo as thoughts ebb and flow through my mind. I love the ease of saving, printing, reviewing and rewriting then publishing to this blog or emailing articles to magazines.

          This is tangible proof that I’m a writer—not to mention all the pens, notebooks, paper, and toner I have stockpiled—but it all starts with sitting at my desk inspired or not.

          Take a seat. Be a writer.