Friday, June 29, 2007

Achieve Success - Hire A Coach

A writer needs a coach for the same reason an athlete does. For instance, consider Joe Blanton, pitcher for the Oakland A’s. He did not tie an Oakland rookie record of 12 wins in 2005 with out a coach, nor did he throw his first shutout on May 31 against the Royals without a pitching coach.

I am not a coach, but I am a “coach-ee” and my “coach-er” is Lisa Gates from Design Your Writing Life. I met Lisa right here in the blogosphere and she taught me how to define the difference between the “I have to’s” and the “I am committed to’s” for my writing career and personal life (among other things).

I have to…oops…I am committed to writing my book proposal by September. See what I mean?

Are you finding yourself spending time on unproductive work? What is unproductive work? For me it is washing dishes, cooking, or cleaning house. All of these things can be hired out. Why should you do anything that you can pay someone else to do or have your partner do? Thus, freeing up more time to spend on your writing.

Are you earning enough money? Of course not but a coach will show you ways to improve in that area.

Are you good at what you do but you are not getting the desired results? This is probably true for most of us. A coach will show you how to get the desired result.

Coaches smooth the progress for their clients in gaining confidence, establishing goals, building a strong foundation and becoming successful. Through Lisa’s coaching I was able to come up with a dynamite motto which will inform my target audience what I do. When I fine tune it, I will be ready to publish.

Hiring a writing coach is not about having someone check grammar and punctuation, although they are quite capable and experienced in that field. A coach gives support, listens and teaches. Furthermore, the objectivity they provide is tremendous because they are not so embedded in your trees that they can’t see your forest.

Write it down,


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Take A Bite From the Billion Dollar Book Pie

This incredible information came from Billie Williams at Printed Words

290,000 books were published in 2006 – makes you feel like a needle in a haystack if you are an author. Where do you fit, how can you possibly hope to compete? Take heart!31 Billion dollars a year is, according to a recent survey, spent on book purchases. That’s a lot of change. I imagine some are purchased for schools, but many of their textbooks are used year after year with minimal replacement. So, you have to think that most books are purchased for personal reasons. All you have to do is write the book you are passionate about, market it like there is no tomorrow, and you may carve out your slice of that Billion dollar pie.

And here is a daunting thought:

Speaking of writing — did you know that if you have an idea that you think sounds like a great first line, gets you unstuck on your current WIP (Works in Progress) or just takes your breath away—you only have 37 seconds to capture that fleeting pellet of wisdom before it floats away on the ether? And even if you can recall bits and pieces of it — within 7 minutes it will be gone forever.

I know all of us have experienced the familiar panic attack when a “WOW” idea hits us and there is NOTHING to write on or what about the time the title of your book popped in your head and you KNEW this was IT and you were lathered up in the shower? What did you do?

I used to place one of those notepads with a rubber suction cup on the dashboard of my car. Other than looking nerdy, I think the sight of it chased my muse away. Day after day the blank paper on the note pad glared at me. Finally, I got rid of it.

Now when I am in the car, I carry a personal digital recorder in my purse. It isn’t much bigger than a lipstick case and it works great. Not only does it record my bright ideas, it records the inflection of my tone and mood. I love that part. When I am at home, I have pen and paper in every room of the house.

If you get a chance click on over to the Printed Word and read Billie’s post in its entirety.

Billie A Williams, Award winning author of over two dozen fiction works, plus non-fiction and poetry books, articles, columns and recently a 3-Act Play to be released July 2007. (where you can visit other authors of her Word Mage writing group)

Write it down,


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Plumbers Versus Writers

When I became a plumbing contractor I had no skills but I had knowledge. When I became a writer, I had skills but no knowledge. (Carma Dutra)

I have been a plumbing contractor for 25 years and I have been a writer for 6 months...professionally speaking that is. Following are some similarities between plumbing and writing.

Plumbers are specialists. Plumbers apprentice for numerous years before being recognized as a journeyman plumber. Plumbers are the health of the nation.

Writers are specialists and apprentice their craft by attending workshops and submitting oodles of proposals for a lot of years before being recognized and published.

Scores of plumbing contractors own their own business and service customers.

Countless writers own their business and work for clients.

What about image? Not all writers are as well known as Stephen King and the fickle public tends to discount you as a professional if you’re not on the top 10 sellers list.

You have heard about the infamous “Plumber’s crack” which is the image the world envisions when thinking of plumbers (thanks to the media)

The price that a writer or a plumber charges for their work is exorbitant if you believe the non-professional. There are numerous people who think a writer or a plumber can work for minimal wage?

In order to have work approved and accepted, plumbers submit their work to an inspector while a writer submits book proposals to editors in anticipation of approval and acceptance.

There are obvious differences. Plumbers have to crawl under houses; fight their way through cob webs, wrestle with black widows and bypass rats. They also clean roots and other paraphernalia from sewers and toilets. Their tools turn black and become crusted with gunk.

A writer does not need to undergo this type of “hands-on” experience. A stroke of the key board will suffice and replicate these experiences from the comfort of their home or office.

What’s it all about Alfie? Commitment, desire, pride, and work ethics. What other analogies can you come up with? Are you committed to yourself?

Over at Michelle Cepeda has a great analogy. She had me laughing.

Write it down,


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Survival of the Fittest

A section of the fence in my back yard is directly up against one of our neighbors fences. This has created a small hollow space between the two fences, which has been the birthplace for a number of cats. I always know when there is a new litter because my Lab Rocky starts spending a lot of time sniffing at the fence.

I am a cat lover but I do not have time to take care of a multitude. When these cute little fur balls venture out of their sanctuary, wobbling on 4 little stubs of fur, who can blame anyone for not being able to resist such cuddly and cute objects of affection?

My 6 year old granddaughter came running into the house carrying a long drooping corrugated black plastic tube about 5 ft long. The tube was wobbly and bouncing around as she frantically tried to explain to me what was inside the tube. “Grandma the kittys stuck, and can’t get out”. The limp black tube was covered in spider webs and dust so I quickly turned her and the tube around to the deck outside.

I wiggled the floppy corrugated tube gently but it just bobbed up and down. I could feel that something was inside. Tiny scratching sounds and muffled meows could be heard. Out tumbled a little black and white kitty. No sooner had it tumbled out than it ran under the wood pile. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, the little kitty’s bottom half was not moving while the top half was covered by the wood.

All the while my big lab dog Rocky had been on our heels chomping at the bit trying to get these little babies. Granddaughter is crying. I am yelling at Rocky. Out tumbles two more little puffs of fur from the bobbing tube, one orange and one brindle. Rocky’s ears and tail point upward as he pounced. However, the kitty was a little too quick for him. In the blink of an eye, the orange puff of fur leaped off the deck into the pond. The little thing was fleeing for its life. It had become Survival of the Fittest.

The world was coming to an end according to my granddaughter, who was wailing. By this time my husband heard the scuffle and came out just in time to see the kitty swimming for his life and scooped him up. Now we had 3 little kittys being scattered in all different directions and Rocky was bouncing from one to the other and almost succeeding. I picked the limp corrugated tube up and as I swung it around out flies a white kitty. I have never seen a kitty or cat walk on air before.

The end result was 2 kittens scooted to the neighbors yard, 1 soaking wet kitten scrambled back inside the fence and the fate of the other kittens are unknown but I am sure they are hunkered in deep somewhere. The most fit is not always the biggest.
Write it down,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Passion Wears Me Out

I have written about passion before but I feel it needs to be revisited. You may be living your passion, but for some of us, we are not so sure. Passion runs deep and often begins in childhood. Take a mental trip into your childhood. What did you dream or fantasize about? Identify what is more important to you. This means values. Make a list of things you deeply want

Dig down real deep to get to the core of your being. Do you see yourself making world changing contributions to society through your work? I often dream about becoming a philanderer, I mean philanthropist. Yes I would give away my money, if I had a lot, but after raising five kids, I’m plum tapped out.

When you were in grade school what did you fantasize about? When I played basketball out in the back yard, I would pretend that I was the star of the team and the crowd would go wild and yell, “Go Carma Go!!!” My mother once told me that when I was a toddler, I would shove other kids out of the way so I could be first.

Do you know how to find all the possibilities that await you? Research, ask questions and read a lot. I am not sure about the possibilities part but research is a great way to broaden your intelligence. Today while I was researching a subject for an article, I discovered little known facts, (at least to me), that soy ink is used in 90% of all American newspapers.

To learn if a particular career is right for you there are ways you can try it out. Get a temporary job in your dream career or shadow someone for a day or two. I like the word “shadow”. It makes me feel a little covert.

This passion stuff wears me out.

What do you enjoy so much that you would do it for free? Whatever that is, then that… IS your passion. Start doing what you love and the money will follow.

Isn’t that what we, as writers are doing? We are following our passion first, money is second. If you need money while you are following your passion, you may have to take a (gulp) job.

I made light of the seriousness of finding your passion, but we cannot take ourselves too seriously, however, we should take our career seriously. There is a difference. Did you get it?

Write it down,


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Words Are All I Have

Thanks Dawud Miracle for tagging me about songs that make my heart sing. I have many but just yesterday or so ago, I ran across this amazing YouTube video after doing some serious vertical surfing over at Liz Strauss' place. I can't remember which blogger had a link to these talented boys of Boy Zone but they are awesome

The Words are simple and sobering to me. Maybe it is more the tune than the words but as Neil Diamond says "You are the song I am the tune, Play me"

Click Here

Write it down,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

BLow YOur DRess UP COntest

Lisa Gates from Design Your Writing Life made a great discovery about a new writing contest. Shelly Kneupper of This Eclectic Life is running it. The name of the contest blows me away. It is This Blog Blows My Dress Up. Hurry to enter because the deadline is June 15.

If you like wit and humor and good story telling then you need to go here.

Write it down,

Seven (Not So) Random Facts

Harmony, from Writer In The Making, tagged me to share 7 random things about me so you, the reader, can get to know me a little better. This is my first meme to participate in as well. Here it goes:

1. I am a licensed Plumbing Contractor.
2. I hate coffee.
3. I was a singer in my previous life.
4. I was a member of the teamster union for two years.
5. I won a 5K race when I was 56 years old.
6. I was on the baton twirling team in high school.
7. Give me a box of chocolate with nuts and I am happy.

Here are the rules to play this meme.

Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to then report this on their own blog with their 7 things as well as these rules. They then need to tag 5-7 others and list their names on their blog.

I don't know if I know enough bloggers to tag because I know some people do not like to do memes, so if I tag you and you don't want to play, that is OK. I would like the following bloggers to tell us a little about them selves.

Lisa Gates from
Design Your Writing Life.
Anne Wayman from
The Golden Pencil
Carolyn Manning from
Thoughts and Philosophies
Suzanne Lieurance from
The Working Writers Coach
Lori Widmer from
Words on A Page


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Inspiration is Everywhere

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." (Jack London)

This is a quote I ran across while looking for inspiration to write this evening. Inspiration is all around us. A word, a song, or a picture can propel us forward to greatness.

When is your best time or where is your best place to be receptive to inspiration?

For me music is my main source of inspiration and next to that is reading. I can't count the number of times I have been driving with the stereo belting out my favorites and a thought or idea will pop right into my head.

Where are you when brilliant ideas pop in your head? I carry a small personal recorder with me in my purse. Now if you are in the shower that may be a little difficult but if you have pen and paper on your vanity, you could dry off your writing hand and write down your idea or run dripping wet to the computer and type it in.

Are you feeling stuck? Going to the park is a great way to meditate and prepare your mind to receive great thoughts. On weekends, I like to take bike rides very early in the mornings so that I can "hear" the quite and "see" the Forrest with out the trees.

Write it down,


Follow The Money

I was reading Anne Wayman’s newsletter today about Freelance writers regarding the fear of money and success. She points out some thought provoking solutions between the relationship of self esteem and fear of making money:

"I don't know how it happens, but for many of us, money - our ability to earn it, our right to have it, our very thinking about the whole subject - gets hooked with our self-esteem or self-worth. For the freelance writer, this lack of true self esteem often results in:

not recognizing and accepting our talents as writers
not charging enough for our work
not following through with invoicing and other money management necessities
not following through with potential clients

Any of these symptoms, and many more, result in under earning, also known in some circles as self-debting."

I don’t know about you but this topic has my name on it. My husband and I run a plumbing repair business and when money gets tight as it often will, my blood pressure rises, I have anxiety attacks, and I am not easy to live with. In addition, my creativity gets sucked into a black hole.

Another reason for not earning enough money is that we do not charge enough for our services. Do you wage price wars with your competitors and associates?

Do you call them pretending to be a prospective client and ask their rates?

I have known many people who do this. My husband and I provide excellent service and we do not need to apologize for our rates just because we are $10 more than Joe Blow. Don’t judge your talents and services by others.

When you begin to compare yourself to other people in your profession, you are doing a huge disservice to your career and business as a freelance writer.

I have two questions for you and me:

1. Do you fear making money or do you fear being successful?
Yes I fear making money because it would mean I am successful and I am not sure I can handle the scrutiny.

2. Can you manage money once you have it?
This is another major cause of fear. Maybe I don’t manage money well because I don’t want to be successful.

What do YOU say?

Write it down,

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Put A Smile On Your Face

There are a variety of senseless and mindless psychological tests floating around out there but this one from Barbara Demarco-Barrett of Pen On Fire is quite different.

It is titled "Spot the Fake Smile". There are 20 questions and it takes about 10 minutes. My score was a dismal 8 out of 20. I guess I am just too trusting.

Click here to take it.

Report back and let me know what your score is.

Write it down,

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Impatience of Success

"Instead of thinking about where you are, think about where you want to be. It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success." Diana Rankin

Thomma Lyn responded to Writer In the Making’s meme tag and posted a “recycled post” on Failure that fits so perfectly with this quotation. Click here to check it out.

Wikipedia says that failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desired objective. What is the criteria for failure? Is it a company failure or product failure? It could be a hyped event like the 1986 live TV special, where Geraldo Rivera had the public anticipating that Al Capone's vault was full of money, but all that was found was an empty moonshine bottle.

Failure is part of life. You have to string a bunch of them together in order to achieve the best possible result. You are only a failure if you stop thinking and creating. Your family won’t think you are a failure. Who is more important than that?

Write it down,


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Are You a Writer or a Salesman?

Rumor has it that some writers fear selling face to face. True or False? I am a writer who hates selling face to face. My first distasteful experience with sales happened when I was ten years old. I was required to go door to door selling flower seeds as a fund raiser for my 4-H club.

Fear of selling is not a good thing for writers, since we need to sell our ideas and projects to publishers. Is it the fear of rejection or just an aversion to meeting people face to face? For me it is more about insecurity of myself. I find it much easier to “sell” myself on paper.

In Doug D’ana’s monthly newsletter he states that in order for writers to develop their own unique selling style they should take a sales course and not just read a sales book. A sales course will help you get down to the basics of selling face to face. You will learn how to see and feel clients’ emotions and how to react to them and you will gain an overwhelming advantage over writers who take only writing classes.

Doug characterizes his success in one way when he says “Truth is, if there's a reason why I've had such great success in copywriting, it is because I'm not a writer--I'm a salesman who types for a living.”

Of course “selling” is just another form of marketing. Suzanne Lieurance of The Working Writer’s Coach suggests that if we want to keep our freelance writing career going we need to develop a weekly marketing plan. There are two important items in any plan. One is Promotional Activities. We must constantly promote (sell) ourselves and our writing in order to be a working writer. Keep your web site or blog updated, write press releases and so on. The next one is Networking with other writers and community organizations. Join your local chamber of commerce and go to business luncheons.

Also, think of yourself as a “big” business. Even though you are the chief cook and bottle washer, you have a global business on the world wide web. Don’t sell yourself short in this area.

Everyone has a selling style waiting to be developed. Develop your own personal unique selling style and you can be a “thank-you-for-the-money-in-my-pocket” writer.

Write it down,

Monday, June 4, 2007

Metaphor - Figure of Speech - Free Speech

Liz Strauss at Successful always comes up with intriguing projects. She makes us dig down deep into the cortex or is it vortex (I don’t know for sure), of our creative minds.

Blogging is transforming everyday

To make it simple I usually tell family and friends that blogging is like writing a newspaper column. You get to write about a wide variety of topics and you get your own byline. The part that is hard for them to understand is the WHY I do it.

I tell them when writing for a newspaper one does not get feedback or meet new people or exchange creative ideas, or help one another. I think the day will come when all we have to say is “I am a blogger” and people will nod their heads and say “Wowwww, cool”

There are oh so many ways to define blogging. Check out the list below

Bloggers, Brains and Metaphors at BrainBasedBusiness - Using your Brain to succeed in Business ·
Blogging is like a box of chocolates… at Small Business Marketing Ideas - Marketing Idea Blog
Blogging Metaphors, or, What I am doing here at A Politically Incorrect Entrepreneur
Blogging Metaphor: Why blogging is like a Mommy at Moments of Clarity
My Blogging Metaphor at Carpe Factum
What’s Your Blogging Metaphor? Teaching by Bits (and Bytes) at ModernMagellans - Maps to Improve Your Business, Leadership, and Life
A Blog is Your Bullhorn to the World at Blawg IT
An Image Is Worth A Thousand Words! Huh? at Smart Wealthy Rich
Blogging Metaphor - The “Party Line” at Insight Advertising-Marketing Communications
Singing the “blogging song” around the campfire at Live the GREAT life you desire
Blogging is Like Baseball at Rush Nigut: Rush on Business
Raise your sails and blog on! at dsm BUZZ
One BIG small town at Runners Lounge
Metaphorically speaking, this is what I do at Passing It On

Write it down,

Eight Minutes!

Today at exactly 2:30 p.m. PST, with clammy hands and fingers, I pushed the send button and my email query sailed into cyber space. Exactly at 2:38 p.m. I had a response. Is that a world record? Nevertheless, there is a positive side to this because the editor said I should feel free to submit more queries in the future... You betcha.

What is the shortest amount of time between submitting an article and receiving a response for you?

Jenna Glatzer of addresses the benefits of E-Queries in her book “Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer”. She says you don’t have to spend money on postage, ink, paper and envelopes. Response time is faster.” (I say it is!)

Of course there is always a down side to everything. You have less time to engage your reader with an e-query. “A busy editor checks her email with one hand on the mouse, ready to hit ‘delete’” Jenna says. “You have to use every word to convince her to read on.”

When sending an email query you can be a little more creative with the subject line so you can grab the attention of the editor. In these days with the bombardment of spam, it is probably better to identify yourself as a writer immediately, rather than risk looking like an ad. For instance you can write “Query: How I broke the Glass Ceiling”, in the subject line or any catchy title that may generate a response.

Let’s hope you write a fantastic lead because in an editorial meeting, editors usually only have about ten seconds to pitch their (your) ideas. Keep this question in mind: “What can you write that will be easy to summarize in just a few seconds?”

Which ever method of delivery you choose, snail or email, to send off your query just make sure it is what the editor asks for. Keep sending them because persistence pays off. So get ready to send out a killer query.

Write it down,

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Human Condition

Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989)

'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.

Fail again. Fail better.'
~Samuel Beckett

Hope Clark at Funds for Writers, prompted me to comment on Samuel Beckett this evening with the above quote.

Is this a pessimistic statement from Beckett or can we catch sight of the positive in it? Some readers might say Beckett meant that nothing in life matters because we are all destined to fail. Or does it mean that when we do fail we should learn from it and move forward?

I am not familiar with Beckett’s work so I did a little research. I found that Samuel Beckett was a talented writer, poet and screenplay writer and very unhappy. I also realized that he cared deeply about The Human Condition,

The Human Condition is a philosophical problem. Only human beings ask themselves questions relating to the purpose of life beyond the base need for survival, or the nature of existence. Why was I born? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die?

There are some things that cannot be understood. Maybe we should just learn to "Be" and learn to "Accept" and learn to (at the risk of being too simplistic) "Bloom Where You are Planted"
There are 4 things in life you cannot recover:

1. The Stone, after the throw

2. The word, after it’s said

3. The occasion, after the loss

4. The time, after it’s gone

Write it down,