Saturday, June 30, 2007

Catching up on Blogs

Over the last couple of weeks I've woefully neglected my blogging buddies. I haven't commented, I haven't even read. How rude.

So I'm reading this morning. Here's the down low on my blogosphere:

Vicki at Standing Up For Your Child has a great post on modeling good advocate behaviour for your child. Her book Standing Up For Your Child is coming out in July and the first chapter is here.

Love has made Mir and Otto land barons.

Whitney Gaskell's new book Mommy Tracked is coming out on August 28th and you can find an excerpt here.

The Literary Chicks are signing off. Which kind of makes me grumpy, mostly because I feel like I neglected reading them and now they are gone.

Jenn has gone underground. Me thinks a) hubby found her blog or b) she is blogging somewhere else without telling me. I vote for c) both a and b.

Ann Douglas has an end of June grab bag post up. And she attended a 200th Birthday Party.

Tess Gerritsen talks about print runs and their effect on marketing your book.

Groups, Associations, Unions

It's been a few days, I know. I watch my site stats and think "I'm sorry I had nothing here for you when you stopped by!! Ack! It's like asking someone to come over and then saying - sorry, it's a bad time, I have no coffee on."

I turned 30 last weekend. I don't think I really get it yet. I'm 30! Woot!

Yeah... it's no different from the weekend before. Same book, different pile. (See, only writers will get that reference.)

I'm wondering these days about online writer's groups and associations. I'm a member of many groups and two associations. I'm considering letting my association memberships lapse because if I'm being honest, I don't really get a lot out of them that my groups don't provide.

What often happens is you end up surrounded by people who have paid a membership and expect things. And they complain when things don't come to them. Such is the nature of a membership-based organization. 10% of the people will be in full complaining mode, 10% will be actively running the association and on the board and 80% are apathetic but being tugged on by the two smaller segments.

It's tiring to be in associations, and I'm an extrovert. I've also been in all three groups above. If I'm a complainer, my feedback is "then do something about it and volunteer". If I volunteer the feedback is "you are trying to tell me how to do my job" or "you aren't doing enough". If I am in the apathetic group I'm told "you aren't qualified to complain because you don't volunteer" or "you've got your head in the sand and you need to see that the board is screwing up".

Tiring I tell ya!

Recently I thought about joining another association, a union. It's a fledgling one, about 350 to 400 members. I joined their listserv and listened in for a while to see if I could get an idea of what their flavor was.

Sour grapes with a touch of bitterness. That was their flavor.

As with almost every union I've ever come into contact with, it was "us against them and them" meaning the union against "the man" as well as "any non-union worker". Except I'm a non-union worker and I didn't like how I was being categorized. So no, I didn't send my dues in and I didn't join. They may have a future, they may not. But I don't really want to be associated with them at this time.

There is one group that I'll gladly pay my membership fee to again next year, Freelance Success. This isn't a group for newbies and I don't think they suffer fools, so you should have your books in a pile before you join. But you can get a free week's access if you go over to their site.

Currently I'm doing a Query Challenge and I'm enjoying it. The beginning of the week was a big hectic. Kindergarten ended, I had a trip to the ER to recover from... but I'm up to five queries. And I have to tell you, that's more than I've done in the last three months.

I got one tentative acceptance to a new market already!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Last Day of Kindergarten

Oh my eyes shall not remain dry today. Today my son has his last day at Kindergarten. How did this happen. How did I have a baby boy and blink and have a child who will soon be really and truly "school aged". I've tried to keep him a child, my child, my boy. I refer to him as the Kindergartener, unwilling to think that he's really "in school".

And he is still so small. I watch him walk and he's all knobby knees and elbows. All toothy grin and dirt around his mouth. All full of life and ready to do battle at the drop of a hat with my ruler as a sword and stick for his opponent.

Yesterday his school work came home. I cried sitting at my desk and looking through his writing. I laughed at the answers. What do I like best about kindergarten? "I like to play with the sticks." What I didn't like about kindergarten. "I don't like to do work."

He grew 4 cm and 1 kg. (1.6 in and 2.2 lbs) and he gained a whole new vocabularly and skill set. I've learned a lot from his teachers. I have always spoken to my son like he's a small adult, but sometimes I still don't give him the credit that he will understand what I'm saying. Oh he does.

I was explaining that he had new cousins once I married Major Man. He said "What do you mean?" I said "Oh, cousins are ..." he interrupted, to say "I didn't ask what a cousin is, mom, I know that..." He was just wanting to know how he got them and who they were.

Can you tell a difference between the first day and the last?

Day One

Last Day

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why Write Nonfiction Instead of Fiction?

by Terry Whalin

Everyone says it is easier for an unpublished writer to break in with nonfiction vs. fiction? Is it only easier to break in with nonfiction if you have speaking engagements that will result in sales? I've always thought, "Who would buy my nonfiction? I'm a nobody without a degree, without a famous husband or friends and without an enthralling life." But everyone says it's easier to break in with nonfiction so I thought they meant that even if I'm a nobody, if I can speak to a "felt need" I can sell books.

Here's the story about nonfiction--you don't have to have a degree or anything to write nonfiction--you do have to be able to write. And with a nonfiction book proposal--shaped in the expected format with the expected elements (something I'm teaching two extensive workshops on this year--in Florida and North Carolina), then you can break into the traditional book market--with the right idea.

With fiction, you need to be great (many aren't--just look at all the stuff in my office I need to reject this coming week if you want a visual), and it has to be a complete manuscript (so I know that you know how to end it--unless you have published a number of fiction novels). I've been writing an ebook that I plan to launch soon which will have the inside scoop about nonfiction book proposals. I've about got the cover designed and everything in place--called: Book Proposals That Sell--21 Secrets To Speed Your Success.

If you want to read a fascinating writing book, get a copy of (excuse the title--it's the real title:) Damn! Why didn't I write that? subtitled: How ordinary people are raking in $100,000.00 ...or more Writing Nonfiction Books & How You can Too! by Marc McCutcheon (Quill Driver Books) 2001.

I didn't get the zeros wrong on the subtitle--it's 100K (a hundred thousand). The book is simple reading and fascinating. Maybe it will be a huge boost to your confidence level.

Look at devotional books--nonfiction--and no degree or experience necessary other than a heart after God--and I wrote two of them which sold over 60,000 copies EACH. I wrote these books as a work made for hire--but I think I made $5,000 on each book and wrote each manuscript in a two-week period. That's $10,000 in one month that I made on those projects which is plenty from my vantage point. They are beautiful devotional books--no longer in print--Lighthouse Psalms and Love Psalms. It's not rocket science and you could do it too.

Another area to consider as a writer is collaborative nonfiction. It's where you are the writer (credentialed or not--if you can write is all that matters) and you hook up with a personality or expert to sell the book. Your co-author does all of the book promotion and has the story content for the book. You do the writing, get paid and go on to the next book. A number of writers make a substantial living every year from writing these types of books. It isn't required that they have a degree or a particular background--just the proof that you can write in a particular situation. It's all that is going to count for the publisher.

I encourage every writer who wants to have a book published to learn how to write a nonfiction book proposal then begin marketing that proposal to publishers or agents and get a nonfiction book contract. Then write the book.

W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk--as an editor and a writer. He worked as an editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer's Digest and Christianity Today. Terry has written more than 55 nonfiction books and his latest is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Teaching the Bible (Alpha Books). See more about Terry For more than 12 years Terry has been an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as CBA Marketplace and BookPage. He is the Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Publishing and creator of Sign up for Terry's free newsletter, Right Writing News.
© 2004 W. Terry Whalin

**This post brought to you by my major deadlines!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Those Mac/PC Commercials

You know those Mac vs PC commercials that are on TV? (Where else would commercials be, really?)

I love 'em. But not because I love Macs. In fact, it's the PC guy that is endearing. The Mac guy is a smug little so-and-so and I don't like how me makes fun of the poor PC guy. The PC guy tries so hard and is so earnest.

That's why I love my PC. It's earnest. It doesn't think it's better than anyone else, it just focuses on the task and gets the job done without trying to be cool. I hate the trying to be cool.

This post brought to you by the art of procrastinating from the final editing of the book.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Whys.

If you are a part of my Writing Mother Yahoo Group, then you may have already heard... I'm officially, officially a full time freelancer. But weren't you already? Yes and no. Yes, I freelanced full time. But I had this wonderful thing called Maternity Leave Benefits going on.

And at the end of this month, the benefits run out. So it was time to let my boss know that I wasn't coming back.

So I did.

Then he offered me a raise AND a promotion.

While I told him that I'd think about it... there really isn't anything to think about. I will still be mentally and financially better off staying at home. Truthfully, I might be a bit financially ahead if I went back, but is a couple thousand dollars a year worth the sacrifice mentally?

Today I helped my daughter stand on her own. She's ten months and can only do it for a few seconds before she's over come with giggles and she either starts to topple or she flops down on her butt.

I was here when the neighbor kid came over for the first time to ask if my son could come out to play. My son's face lit up because he's been quite leery of the boys in the neighborhood and now it seems they are buddies.

I was here to stack blocks with my daughter and giggle with my son as she smashed the blocks down with a mighty baby roar.

When my son splashed water all over the bathroom, I had enough energy left to accept it calmly and deal with it rather than get frustrated because it was another job to do before I could go write for the day. I'd been writing all day, I wasn't pressed for time.

I was worried about giving up my RRSPs and DPSP (deferred profit sharing plan) until I realized that I don't have to share my profits with anyone. And yesterday I signed up for a new RRSP with a really hot financial consultant... who happens to be my husband.

A fellow writer cautioned me about leaping into the freelance pool too soon. I understood her concerns, she'd tried to do it before. I did too... as a single mother with hardly any writing credits to my name. I wasn't in a good place emotionally as I'd just come out the "sunny" side (supposedly) of a divorce. I was too stressed to be a good writer or a good mother. Now I have five years experience with both.

And some savings... that's important. I've known this day was coming for over a year... ever since I got pregnant with my daughter I knew that I'd stay home when it was time. And I know WHY I'm staying home, deep in my heart and soul.

You are amazing.

I came across this article in one of the newsletters I receive. I almost missed it because I had convinced myself that I'm too busy this week to be reading anything. But I'm glad I did.

I heard it first at Starbucks. I ordered "calm" tea (needed it). When the barista, a cute, funky little thing, dropped in the teabag, she forgot to secure the string.

The tail landed ploink in the hot water. "I'm a little brain-dead today," she said. "But don't worry, I'm amazing." She smiled mischievously (not unlike my 2-year-old son). "A little conceited," she added, "but amazing."

Read more....

Friday, June 08, 2007


Deadline approaching, deadline approaching....


Not just a regular deadline either... ACK!

Book Deadline!

Six weeks out!

Must get photographs organized!

I think the biggest surprise of this entire project has been the incredible amount of work that it takes to organize all the photos, line drawings and graphics.

And here you thought publishing a book was about WRITING!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wha? It's Thursday already?

Holy Camoley, it's Thursday already!

June is a crazy month for me. It's my birthay month and I'm turning A Decade Year this time around. Hubby has been planning my birthday party and I'm really trying not to interfere. I can hardly restrain myself. I know it's a little rude to try hone in on someone else's plans, but I am a control freak...

I know that I shouldn't complain. It only took a few hints for him to get that I wanted him to plan my birthday party. I'm still scarred from my 18th birthday party... when no one showed up. Yep, me and my mom, drinking alone. Fun!

Oh I'll just say it. I'm turning 30. About half of you just thought "is that all?"

There's something about the 30 birthday. There are so many things that I said I'd be doing by the time I was 30. Truthfully, I've done quite a few of the things ... but there are those crazy ones: learn to fly a plane, travel around the world, get my scuba license... that I just never got around to doing.

But now that it's almost the summer solstice, I start thinking about how fast time is flying. By the 22nd of June the days will actually be getting shorter, not longer... and here in Calgary the summer has only just begun.

I went to the doctor today. She was investigating a suspicious lump. She doesn't think that it's anything to worry about, but suggests that I make an appointment for a couple weeks from now to poke and prod me again. It just got me thinking about when we realize that our lives are actually getting shorter and not stretching out before us into eternity.