Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business by Alexis Grant

I have been reading Alexis Grant's blog for almost two years now and have enjoyed it every step of the way. I believe that I found one of her many popular blog posts making their way around Twitter. At that time, she was taking a year off from journalism to write a travel memoir about her time in Africa and keeping track of her progress. Her blog posts and tweets were ones that I kept an eye out for almost every day that I was online. So, it was no surprise to me when she announced that she was starting a social media business, Socialexis.

A year ago, the idea of becoming a social media freelancer was something that I thought quite intriguing. I have my own little blog and Twitter account, but also handle Facebook and Twitter accounts for a local science fiction and fantasy convention called CoreCon. I talked briefly with Alexis about her new business when thinking of doing it myself,  but decided to remain focused on re-writing my own novel and traveling to Japan for research.

Recently I noticed Alexis mentioning an e-guide that she was putting together on How to Build A Part-Time Social Media Business. She used Twitter to ask people their opinion on what she should charge for it and I replied. The day after she posted it on her website, I took the plunge. By the end of the day, I had read the whole thing and for the past few weeks I have been mulling over everything. I created a to-do list on where to start which I am gradually working my way through as I balance it with revising my novel.

The e-guide beings with Alexis's personal experience of how she got into social media and the lessons that she has learned over the past year. The book is aimed at people who want to do this as a side job and create a "Leap Fund", but also provides the potential to moving on as a full time freelancer. It answers the big questions such as finances, tools used in the business, and how to building an online presence. After reading the guide the second time around, I was writing down goals in the margins and researching the questions I had (for example, studying other freelancers' websites). I am hoping to begin recording my progress as time moves on, but this is definitely a way to give yourself a strong start in this industry.

If this is something that interests you, go to Alexis's website and purchase it! I can't recommend a better guide on how to get a social media business started.

Also , I recommend checking out Alexis's blog posts about social media.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ira Glass on Storytelling (Advice to Beginning Writers)

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Sometimes it is good to hear these things from other creative types. They help give me that push and remind me that I am not alone in this journey. There are many struggles, but there is so much heart in this world.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Pearls of Wisdom: Article on Revision with Jo Knowles

I read a lot of articles on writing every week. Actually, every morning I open Twitter and browse over the latest news. I sometimes open up to 10 tabs with the various articles that interest me. I rely a lot on Twitter to provide information about the writing industry than any other social medium. I follow different publications (like @PublishersWeekly), organizations (like @SCBWI), aspiring authors (like @ClaireDawn), upcoming new authors, and current authors (like @cindypon). If you want to see more of who I follow, you can head over to my Twitter page. I would love suggestions on who to follow and feel free to follow me @natashamheck (comment here and I will follow you back).

Check out Pearl by Jo Knowles
One of the articles that stuck out to me this week is the interview of Jo Knowles on Kate Messner's website on the subject of revision. I am in the current stage of editing and revising my WIP so this is something I am very much interested in reading about more than ever. There was on particular pearl of wisdom in there that I just so happened to have written down three times in various places to keep it in mind. After doing the third time, I knew that I had to share this bit with you and encourage you to read the rest of the interview.

"Do you have a favorite revision strategy that helps with any particular part of the process?

Once I have a first draft, I like to use an outline to help me see the progression of the book. There’s a storyboard method I learned from Carolyn Coman that involves thinking of the strongest image and emotion of each chapter to help you see not only the way in which the action unfolds, but how emotion moves through the story as well."

I am at that stage in my WIP where I am trying to find those various threads that I hope to stretch out throughout the story. Sometimes they will be so thin you might not see them, but they remain present. I am not an outliner, but this description brought focus on how I can add cohesion to my WIP as I kick things into gear.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Read it Again

I just completed the second read through of my WIP. The first time I read through it was on our trip to Japan. I printed it out in book form so it was easy enough to carry it wherever I pleased.The most interesting places I did editing was at a shrine on the former Imperial grounds in Kyoto, on the train ride to see Mount Fuji, and on the airplane over the Pacific Ocean. I read about the first 100 pages before we returned (jet lag does not help editing, I tell you). Between now and May, it took me to complete the first and now the second reading with more thoughts of rewrite and not just word changes in mind.

This second time around, I tore it apart. There are black marks with tons of notes, crossed out scenes or paragraphs or just words, scarring the pages of this copy. It is actually a good feeling since I know that once I sit down and begin the changes in the file, that I have some idea of what I am doing and am learning more about writing. I am not taking myself too seriously and I realize that I can do better than this. That I will learn from it.

The doubts that run through my mind comes from not taking enough time to do the right job or if there is a way that I can have the story work so it is publishable. I rewrote this whole book, and I believe if I continue to not take myself too seriously, I can do something to really make it shiny.

My next step is to sit down and think about the big ideas and what I can do with them. Should I keep it, expand it, or just let it go (maybe use it somewhere else someday)? I am thinking about the reader now and how I improve the pace of the story, clear up the inconsistencies, and to not let my characters down.

Most all, I need it shiny enough to convince myself it is worth reading all over again (and I know I will).


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

"September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying."
-pg.51, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
In my own words:
September is a twelve year old girl accepted the offer that the Green Wind had given her to fly off to Fairyland. Little did she know what she would have in store for her. She finds the land in turmoil, the beloved Queen replaced with the nasty Marquess, and herself with only one shoe (which the Green Wind comforts us with . September might not have needed to meet this tyrant, but she took it upon herself to help a witch get her stolen item back. During her adventures, she finds herself in unfortunate situations where she meets the most unusual, sometimes friendly and sometimes not, creatures as September discovers the many corners of Fairyland.

If you haven't read the quote above, go back up there. I will wait. Have you read it? Good. (If you still haven't, well, I am wondering why you haven't because it is in important. If you are still reading, I applaud your gusto.) The quote relates to what I will write next. This book has some of the most beautiful language that I ever read. You are captured in the story by the words that are just as magical as Fairyland. The gorgeous beauty of the language stands out since I felt like I was almost sucked into Fairyland myself.

The characters in this book are made possible by the language I went on about above. It really brings out the way characters look, the way the characters act, and the way the characters speak. The land itself is like several characters since you learn so much about Fairyland, even if you only spend a small amount of time there. The story is told by a narrator, not by September, and it makes me wonder if the narrator has spent some time in Fairyland or took their role seriously by researching the herd of bicycles or what it is like to ride on a leopard

There are familiar ideas throughout the story that we see in fantasy, but the author (er, narrator) has really twisted them so they are their own. This isn't Alice in Wonderland, but really, it is September in Fairyland. You believe in the story and the words that are told to you, and it is really a pleasant thing.

I am really amazed by this book and how it was written. The author, Catherynne M. Valente, took to writing the chapters and posted them online first. She accepted donations from her readers, asking them to pay what they deemed it worth. The full book was online, but with the publication, only the first few chapters are available in written form or in audio format (for your ears). Go over there and read your fill, and I know you will buy this book. The hardcover has illustrations that aren't included in the online copy that really add to the lovely adventure.

If you need a guide for Fairyland, this might not be the right book to read before you go. It might give you the wrong impression, however, you may read it if you keep that in mind. If you get too flustered, just remember that this is a story based there, and not the real thing. (Or that is how I took it.) I dare you to get lost in the language, but be careful not to get too lost or you might not make it home.

5 out of 5 Stars-- Loved it and would read it again!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Falling behind, stepping forward, or something

I have some blog posts in mind. I have about seven books that I can review when I find the time to make them sound sensible and pretty them up with pictures and links. I have another big blog post in mind that might even include my very first contest. They are all up there in my mind swimming around, waiting for the dam to open.

Right now I am editing. I did my first read through and marked small edits. I was mostly focusing on the plot to figure out what I could do better to tighten it up. Now I am doing the second reading and almost tearing apart every line that I can. I am also marking where I can fix this or that. When I get to it, I plan on posting before and after pictures of what it looks like when I am done with a page.

The black marks are a good thing, if that is believable. It is to create a stronger and more believable story. I am by the seat of my pants writer so I don't expect that everything that I type out on my laptop is shiny. I expect to go back and focus on my words. It is a beautiful thing, but also, it takes time.

I hope you can find patience with the blog for just a little bit longer. It is summer out there and I hope the nice weather will help distract you with its breezes, glimmering water, gardening, chasing butterflies, or whatever summer has you do. And write or read in hammocks. Oh, how I wish I had a hammock.

Going to the library tonight so I can focus on a few more chapters. Trying to decide what playlists to take with me. It should make for a productive evening.


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