Friday, April 22, 2011

Do you have a business card?

Do you have a business card? Why do you need one?

These were questions I asked myself last year before I went to my first big conference.
Initially, I did not have a business card, but I decided it would be good to hand it out to all the people I met at the Muse. So, I designed one myself. I thought it was pretty cool at the time and it definitely made me feel official.

I went to the conference and I handed out maybe 5 business cards, but alas the rest are still in the box. Is this a bad thing? Maybe, if only because I am sure I missed a few opportunities along the way. But overall, having the cards was a good thing because I did make a few good connections. Connecting with fellow writers and getting people to visit my blog was well worth the $20 I spent on 100 cards. Even if I still have 95.

It was a way for me to leave my mark . This year, looking back, I saw that the old ones were amateurish. The learning curve is steep. So, I decided to get new ones professionally done up. They are much cooler. In the end, I know I will feel better if I have them to give out. Even if its only a few.

So here are my reasons why I think aspiring writers should have business cards (especially if you are going to conferences):

1) It will make you reach out to people. After all you spent the money - so why not hand them out. Shameless self promotion is not a bad thing and doesn't have to be shameful at all.

2) It will make you feel like a professional. Having a business card in you pocket or purse with your name, your blog, your twitter, and your email is saying I have it together. I am in the business of writing.

3) It's something to say during a conversation with a stranger - "Hey, I loved your comment in that seminar. Here's my card. What are you writing?"

4) They are fun to make and give you a chance to consider your image. How do I want to portray myself as a writer?

5) You never know who will contact you. That is what the card is for after all, to give strangers a reminder of who you are and what you are about. Bring them to your blog, gain more followers, maybe even have that agent you pitched randomly check you out.

If you plan on attending any conferences, or if you just want to feel like a professional, a business card is the way to go. And when you do sign that book deal, well then you will have something to put on the table at your signings so people can find you online. I don't recommend putting your address and phone number on it though. I did that the first time. But why, in this digital age, do we need to? Email is often the first contact and anything more can be asked for if needed. So, email, blog, twitter if it applies.
Reach out to the masses and maybe they will reach out to you.

Wannabe Me - An Aspiring Writer's Reality

Today I thought I would show you some of myself. I am a writer, and I thought it might be nice to see some of what The Writer's Life looks like over here. All of you of course have your own Writer's Realities - and all of us are unique.I love seeing the process, the place, and the personality of fellow writers - published and unpublished. I find myself looking in the backgrounds of pictures to see what kind of counter top or wall paper someone has. I just like those things. I also love to see their yards and their pets. Am I weird? Well, yes.

So here I am:
Not a great picture - but - it is me. Ariel Swan writer of supernatural women's fiction.
This is my wannabe writer's reality.

This is my office - the table where I do planning and school work. I am home on vacation from the day job - teaching eleventh graders English literature and writing. I love to read and write and that is what I do in my free time. 16 year olds on the other hand - not so much. I wish I had a classroom full of students like me. You can see in the picture some grading I need to do - today.

I am an obsessive planner. (As a teacher and a writer.) I love organizing and putting things is order. Told you I was weird.

 I have started using art paper - long 12x 18 art paper - to look at my plot - as I am revising - and to lay out genealogies - which is a layer that has been added to my WIP - well not really added - it was part of the original idea - but something I chose not to do in the first draft. Now that I am revamping - adding oomph and more story to support my premises - I have added it back in. The trick is not to make it too complicated - but to use the family tree in points of interest only.

I am an avid reader of everything.
These are some of the books I have on my working bookshelf. Some of them I just reference for inspiration - others I look at to chart plot pacing that has worked. To Ride A Silver Broomstick one I use for witch knowledge - spells and herbs and such - which figures into DISTILLATION. There is also the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions. And of course a regular dictionary which I use all the time. Somewhere in there is a Writer's Market too - but now I use Query Tracker which is much easier as it is up to date and cross reference-able.

Although you can't see me I am sitting at this desk right now. Spooky.                                                               My writing desk is a mess and every time that phone rings it scares the bejesus out of me- especially when I am writing a scary scene. Up to the right is an antique unframed mirror I found in an old garage when I worked for a General Contractor doing the books. I love antiquy things - especially old Dags and such. These also figure into DISTILLATION.

You can also see to the left the pile of my print outs - that is all novel stuff. Spread out it looks more like this:

All right - I cheated - I pulled out the files and the print drafts too. It is a lot. As I've said I've worked - hard - to make this story what it is. Maybe too hard. And now I am re-writing - which is different than revising. Some say I should put it away. But I mostly write in the summer - so I do get some distance. After this rewrite - and an edit - I will stop and move on. I am stubborn - what can I say. I want to get it RIGHT.

One last thing to see. I said I like seeing pets - so here is one of mine. My baby - Simone. Tortie Point Siamese and Princess Extraordinaire. I also have chickens.

So, that's my Writer's Reality. What makes up your Writer's Reality?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Recluse Writer

Recluse: One who lives in seclusion. At what point does writing become a bad habit?
I have been in a world all my own lately. The day job keeps me busy during the day and then at night I am back at my keys. Not blogging, not Facebooking, well...maybe a little Tweeting, but writing. On the weekends, I wake up and I start writing. If left to my own devices I will write all day. My husband even complained this past Friday, when I had an unexpected snow day, that I ignored him all day. I wrote for twelve hours.

Of course you would think I am making excellent progress with all that writing. I am, sort of. In the midst of deep revisioning of DISTILLATION, I am losing myself, but checking myself, much more deliberate this time in making sure I am telling the right story. I go for a while, then I hit a road block, realizing I am painting the wrong picture, or not focusing on the right thing, and then I have to go back and think, rewrite, edit, and think some more. It is grueling, but exhilarating.

The problem is that I am starting to neglect my other duties. Vacuum? Never heard of it. Go out to a ladies night? Well, I would but I've been writing all day and (and since most of my friends just give me the blank stare when I talk about writing), I think I'll just take a bath and think about what I wrote today.

Same goes for visits to family. I could have gone over the last vacation to hang out with my sister, but instead I needed to make sure I got some writing done. I do have a deadline after all with the upcoming conference.

It's not like I don't do anything else, but the weekends are full of writing and it is hard to even think about what else has to get done. I tell myself I'll do it during the week, and then the week is so busy with teaching that those things get put off again. And the next weekend I can't even remember them because I am lost in my fictional world.

Do you lock yourself away? At what point does the writing become too encompassing? Is this a healthy thing? I am willing to bet that it is a good thing as long as it doesn't go on too long. Eventually I come out and say hello to the world. Which is what I am doing right now. Hello world.