Archive for August, 2007

Sage Cohen Readings in Oregon Coming Up This Fall

Like the Heart, The World by Sage CohenSage is celebrating publication in Cup of Comfort for Writers and launching her poetry collection, Like the Heart, the World. Don’t miss Sage live!

September 15, 2:00 p.m.: Cup of Comfort for Writers reading
Borders Vancouver
811 SE 160th Avenue
Vancouver, WA

September 15, 7:00 p.m.: Cup of Comfort for Writers reading
Borders Beaverton
2605 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd
Beaverton, OR

September 29, 2:00 p.m.: Cup of Comfort for Writers reading
Borders Gresham
687 NW 12th Street
Gresham, OR

September 30, 2:00 p.m.: Cup of Comfort for Writers reading
Borders Eugene
5 Oakway Center
Eugene, OR

October 10, 7:00 p.m.: Like the Heart, the World book launch celebration and reading
Barnes & Noble Vancouver
7700 NE 4th Plain Boulevard
Vancouver, WA

November 12, 7:00 p.m.: Poetry reading
Borders Portland
708 SW Third
Portland, OR

Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic, a creative companion for poets forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Oregon Literary Review, Cup of Comfort for Writers, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. In 2006, she won first prize in the Ghost Road Press annual poetry contest. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University where she was awarded a New York Times Foundation fellowship. For organizations including Writers on the Rise and Willamette Writers, Sage teaches poetry writing and publishing workshops. Visit Sage at www.sagesaidso.com.

WOTR Contest Replaced By Writer Mama 2007 Daily Giveaway

Okay folks, I’m sorry to say that I canceled the WOTR contest.

Perhaps not ironically, I tried something similar last summer and then canceled it as well.

Suffice it to say that summer is not a good time for our audience to produce. Let’s see if I can remember this next Spring when I’m trying to motivate everyone (including myself). ;)
Writer Mama Fall 2007 Daily GiveawayHOWEVER, and it is a big however, we are having a Writer Mama 2007 Fall Giveaway instead. So you will probably want to head on over there and check it out now so you can mark your calendar. :)

You can win just by posting a comment. No article-writing involved. And all the prizes are great tools for your writing career.

All the details about how to spread the word are over at The Writer Mama Riffs (my blog).

Thanks for your understanding. I hope you enjoy the giveaway. Bring your writer buddies and win some great stuff!

Writing Adventures in Shanghai: Wulumuqi Road: The Art (and Skill) of Observation

Kristin Bair-O’KeeffeBy Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
At the beginning of April, my husband and I moved from the outskirts of Shanghai to the hustling, bustling downtown area, and our new neighborhood—Wulumuqi Road (pronounced Ooh-loo-moo-chee)—is a fascinating blend of old and new China. Lined with dozens of shops, Wulumuqi Road offers something for everyone: live toads (for cooking), sugary pastries, mounds of green onions and ginger, push-up bras, tea, umbrellas, live chickens (once again, for cooking), electrical cords, spices, pirated DVDs, fine French wine, dumplings, and more. My senses explode when I walk down Wulumuqi Road, and for the past few weeks, I’ve been wandering around with my camera, snapping shots of everything and thinking about how much the act of observation contributes to my writing.

To prove it to myself, after last Saturday’s walk I gave myself a quiz about everything I’d seen, heard, and experienced. Now it’s your turn. First, go for a walk. You can walk in your own neighborhood or take the opportunity to explore one nearby. As you walk, be conscious of all of your senses: sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. Don’t think about the assignment you’ve got due to an editor by 5:00 or the sandwiches you need to make for the friends who will be at your house at 1:00. Just walk and observe…with your whole self.

Walk for thirty minutes (more if you can). When you get home, answer these questions:

1. Describe three people you saw. Give at least three details about each person.
2. Describe three smells. Where did they come from? If you couldn’t see their source, where do you imagine they came from?
3. Describe three sounds. What made those sounds? If you couldn’t see their source, what do you imagine made them?
4. Describe an object that you saw…one you found yourself thinking about long after you passed it.
5. Where does this lead you in your writing? A new article to pitch? New information about a character in your novel? A blog entry?

Here are the truncated versions of my answers:

1. Sleeping man (blue Nylon socks, stuttered snore, bobbing head), old man in park (apple-sized tumor growing from the back of his head, permanent stoop, adoring wife), employee of hair salon (hair dyed golden blonde, James Dean slouch, lost in thought)
2. White lilies, sewage, melted sugar
3. Two women haggling over the price of bananas (in China, you bargain for most everything), a cacophony of car horns, a man on a bicycle cart ringing a bell
4. A little girl’s pink cardigan hung in a tree to dry
5. My observations that day led me directly to this column.

Once you’ve completed the exercise, follow through on #5. If you’ve got a new idea for an article, pitch it. If your main character suddenly wears blue Nylon socks and has a stuttered snore, get it on the page. And if you’re driven (like me) to blog about what you’ve observed, skip the sandwich-making session (that’s what takeout is for) and get busy.

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe has been living in and writing about Shanghai, China, for over a year. Her articles and essays about the China experience can be found in recent or forthcoming issues of The Baltimore Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, and Highlights for Children. Recently she contributed to To Shanghai With Love, a new Shanghai travel guide. Kristin writes about other stuff as well, including education, parenting, and bears. Her work about those topics can be found in San Diego Family Magazine, The ELL Outlook, The Gettysburg Review, PortFolio Magazine, and other publications. Kristin’s blog, “Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse,” chronicles her adventures in Shanghai (the good, the bad, and the beautiful) and garners the attention of readers all over the world. To learn more, visit http://web.mac.com/kristinokeeffe.

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Build a Portfolio

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

By now, your copywriting business is probably picking up speed. But if you find yourself between jobs, don’t stop working! Build your portfolio instead.

Getting Started Tip #7: Build a portfolio—any way you can
Nothing will make you feel more like a successful freelance copywriter than a fat portfolio stuffed with brochures, web content, sales letters, etc. Whether you show it off to potential clients or simply display it on a bookshelf to boost your self-confidence, a collection of polished marketing materials featuring your own well-written copy is a must. But as a new freelancer, you may find your portfolio is still a bit thin. How do you plump it up? In addition to creating materials for your own business, consider doing pro bono work for non-profits. Trades are another great way to generate tangible examples of your expertise. Exchanging services (retail for retail) with a good massage therapist was my personal favorite. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you build your portfolio—paid, volunteered or traded, a few finished projects now mean more clients in the future.

Copywriting Tip #7: Boost interest with metaphors
As a copywriter, your job is to employ a stockpile of appropriate words and phrases necessary for executing a clear marketing message. If you’re writing for a financial planner, for example, you’ll need to use phrases like financial plans, financial independence and investment choices. Lots of yawn potential, right? Not necessarily. Try boosting interest with a tantalizing metaphor—travel, for instance: Your dreams for the future are simple, and your financial voyage should be, too. Yet navigating today’s world of complex investment choices on your own can be difficult. That’s why our independent financial consultants are here to ensure smooth sailing. The result? A plan for financial independence without the worry—your dream destination. Who wouldn’t rather imagine a Caribbean cruise than some boring suit behind a desk? After all, markets are made of people.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

Good Reads for Writers: Send: The Essential Guide to E-mail for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe

Cathy BelbenReviewed By Cathy Belben
HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? HAVE YOU RECEIVED AN E-MAIL WRITTEN ENTIRELY IN CAPS? DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE BEING YELLED AT?

Maybe you’ve had your in-box filled with “reply alls” that didn’t need to be, or you’ve been involved in a never-ending RE: RE: RE: RE: e-exchange. Hurt feelings, leaked information, wasted time, and inappropriate requests are all a part of the electronic communication culture.

In Send: The Essential Guide to E-mail for Office and Home, David Shipley and Will Schwalbe delve into the history of e-mail, telephone, the written letter, and conversation, analyzing how e-mail differs from the others, why we err both in writing and reading e-messages, and how we can avoid making embarrassing mistakes in judgment and propriety when we communicate via the keyboard.

Citing examples of public officials whose e-mail embarrassments have been made public (e.g. FEMA’s Michael Brown), Shipley and Schwalbe explain why the form causes so much trouble: we forget that it’s not private; that it creates a permanent record; it’s quick to write and send; it is difficult to convey tone in e-mail; personal conversation and letters allow more room for expression and revision. We get cues in conversations—pauses, frowns, sighs, laughs—that we don’t get in e-mail, so it’s harder to modulate our messages to accommodate our audience.

The authors remind us to reconsider our modes of communication, and to judge carefully which form best fits our message—just because we can e-mail doesn’t mean we should. Some messages (“I think we should end our eight-year romance and see other people”) might be better suited to a personal conversation, whereas others (“Let’s go see a movie tonight” or “Hey—could you send me that illustrated book about the history of flyswatters”) are fine for e-mail.

Throughout the book, the writers focus on language and how its meaning is affected by the mode in which it’s transmitted, and how personal and professional relationships and impressions are strengthened or weakened based on how we use our words and with whom. This is, truly, essential reading for anyone interested in electronic etiquette, and especially those who depend on their finesse with words for their livelihood!
Cathy Belben lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she earned early fame for her award-winning fourth grade essay, “What the flag means to me” and later wrote bad rhyming poetry for the Whatcom Middle School Warrior Express. She recently survived a year in Hollywood writing for the show Veronica Mars. She’s returned to her normal life as a high school teacher and librarian, a triathlete, a weightlifter, a yogi, a dog’s mom, a cat’s slave, an artist, a napper, a nanny and an auntie. She’s thankful every day for everything.

Green Writer Marketplace: Natural Home Magazine

Susan W. ClarkBy Susan W. Clark

“Living Wisely, Living Well” is the motto of Natural Home magazine, formerly known as Natural Home and Garden. A cousin of Utne Reader and Mother Earth News, this green publication is part of Ogden Publications and reaches over 100,000 readers from its Topeka, Kansas home.

Recent magazine topics span the lifestyle map, including a solar home in Bend, Oregon, medicinal herbs, a slow-food Thanksgiving, and regular reviews of green appliances and upscale technology. A few illustrative article titles include, “Composting? Make it Pretty” and “America’s Best Eco-Neighborhoods.” There is room in this magazine for your writing on natural décor, health, green homes, all sorts of gardening subjects, and the latest in natural products. Just plan ahead and research well. As always, read the magazine before you query.

Robin Griggs Laurence is the editor-in-chief, but submissions should be directed to Jessica Kellner. She is the coordinating editor (jkellner@NaturalHomeMagazine.com) of this bimonthly publication for health- and earth-conscious readers. She asks for a query eight months prior to publication. The query should include a complete outline, written description, sample pages (if applicable), or sketches—whatever it takes to provide a clear sense of what you are proposing.

If you are accustomed to providing your own photos, please note that Natural Home wants 35mm or large-format slides. They pay on publication and may take some time to decide if they want your piece, but will send an acknowledgement of receipt, which we applaud. Their rates range from $.33 per word to $.50, and the acceptable length is three to sixteen typewritten pages (about 750-4,000 words), each featuring your name, address, and phone number at the top.

You’ll find the writers’ guidelines online at http://naturalhomeandgarden.com/contact-natural-home-magazine.html. Now is the time to get that query in the mail. You can do it!

Photographer, editor, and award-winning writer, Susan W. Clark is an ardent advocate for sustainability. The Utne Reader applauded her article “Sustainable Revolution” from In Good Tilth magazine as “world-changing.” She is a regular contributor to In Good Tilth and Touch the Soil. Her work has appeared in the Capitol Press, Portland Tribune, Small Farmer’s Journal, and Permaculture Activist. She edits Salt of the Earth, the quarterly journal of Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust. Her observations about living within our ecological means are posted at http://susanwclark.wordpress.com.

Green Writer Marketplace: Natural Home Magazine

Susan W. ClarkBy Susan W. Clark
“Living Wisely, Living Well” is the motto of Natural Home Magazine, formerly known as Natural Home and Garden. A cousin of Utne Reader and Mother Earth News, this green publication is part of Ogden Publications and reaches over 100,000 readers from its Topeka, Kansas home.

Recent magazine topics span the lifestyle map, including a solar home in Bend, Oregon, medicinal herbs, a slow-food Thanksgiving, and regular reviews of green appliances and upscale technology. A few illustrative article titles include, “Composting? Make it Pretty” and “America’s Best Eco-Neighborhoods.” There is room in this magazine for your writing on natural décor, health, green homes, all sorts of gardening subjects, and the latest in natural products. Just plan ahead and research well. As always, read the magazine before you query.

Robin Griggs Laurence is the editor-in-chief, but submissions should be directed to Jessica Kellner. She is the coordinating editor (jkellner@NaturalHomeMagazine.com) of this bimonthly publication for health- and earth-conscious readers. She asks for a query eight months prior to publication. The query should include a complete outline, written description, sample pages (if applicable), or sketches—whatever it takes to provide a clear sense of what you are proposing.

If you are accustomed to providing your own photos, please note that Natural Home wants 35mm or large-format slides. They pay on publication and may take some time to decide if they want your piece, but will send an acknowledgement of receipt, which we applaud. Their rates range from $.33 per word to $.50, and the acceptable length is three to sixteen typewritten pages (about 750-4,000 words), each featuring your name, address, and phone number at the top.

You’ll find the writers’ guidelines online at http://naturalhomeandgarden.com/contact-natural-home-magazine.html. Now is the time to get that query in the mail. You can do it!

Award-winning writer Susan W. Clark champions sustainability and farming in her writing. Her writing has appeared in the Capitol Press, In Good Tilth, Small Farm Journal, Touch the Soil, and Permaculture Activist. Check out her land trust work at (www.osalt.org).

Conference Confab (July/August)

Pamela KimLearn, Connect and Pitch with Industry Experts
By Pamela Kim

NYC Pitch and Shop Conference
September 13-16, 2007

Here’s a novel idea: bring together faculty, connections and expertise to create an exclusive forum for writers with completed novel manuscripts, narrative non-fiction and works-in-progress. That’s just what the New York Writers Workshop and Algonkian Writer Conferences have done. The conference is limited to 60 writers, so you have ample time to workshop your novel with professional fiction editors and pitch top acquisition editors from major publishers — Scribners, Penguin, Random House, Holt, St. Martins. According to the organizers, one in three projects pitched at the conference are requested for a close read by publishers.

The conference offers three intensive “pitch workshops” designed to teach the art of the pitch plus opportunities to get a reality check on your novel and learn more about publishing. Submission of bio, goals, synopsis and write sample is required.

The same folks also host the Seven Mountains Writers Conference on October 19-24, 2007.

Writer mama Pamela Kim writes non-fiction articles about kids, single mommyhood and the joy of organizing the stuff of life. She leverages eighteen years of experience as a corporate communications consultant to connect readers with the information they need and want. When not traveling the conference circuit – each year finds Pam at writing, blogging and health conferences – she lives in Northern California with the fabulous Katie Kim who is six. Her home online is www.studiopk.wordpress.com.

Pitch Like a Sales Pro: Writing Conference Success

Mary AndonianBy Mary Andonian

I have been a salesperson my whole life. It seems only natural then that I would position my book as a “product,” and the agents and editors who purchase them as “clients.” Your pitch at a conference is the means to closing the sale of your product—your book.

The pitch is like delivering a query letter in person. Elements of a good pitch:

1. Identify the need
2. Position your unique solution to that need
3. Describe your business strategy, including packaging, positioning, marketing, and support
4. Overcome objections
5. Close or advance the book sale

Begin your pitch with a brief statement of the knowledge gap that exists (for non-fiction book proposals) or the conflict in your story (for fiction queries). For example:
“Fifty million Americans die from this disease, but they don’t know they have it until it’s too late.”  This is a knowledge gap statement. The gap is that people don’t know about this disease until it’s too late. That’s a real problem. Solution? Why your book, of course. “My book on (disease) will educate the consumer so she can catch it in time.” And then go on to break down your unique solution.

After you describe your solution, back it up with a description of your product. Does it read like a Vicki Iovine Girlfriend’s Guide book? Does it smack of Anne Lamott? Compare and contrast your book to actual books on the shelf. In my pitch for my non-fiction humor book, Mind Chatter, I said, “You read over and over books about ‘staying in the moment.’ My book is a humorous take on NOT staying in the moment!”

If you’re pitching non-fiction, you have two products to sell: your book and your platform. Your platform is your credibility in the marketplace, as defined by your “following.” Do you teach classes on this subject? Are you a medical professional who prescribes this solution to your patients? Again, differentiate yourself from the rest by telling them why you’re the most credible person to write this book.

Your pitch will consist of about two to three minutes of sales pitch, and another five to six minutes of questions and answers. Think of their questions as objections, and your answers as overcoming the objections. For example:

“How many pages?”

“About one hundred.”

“That’s short, isn’t it?”

“It was written in bite-sized chunks for busy, on-the-go people who don’t have time for longer books on similar subjects.”

“Makes sense.”

Save the last few minutes for personal relationship building. You want to find common ground with your client so they’ll remember you when they receive your follow-up materials.

Mary Andonian is the agents and editors coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference—one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator. She just completed her second book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth. You can reach her at (maryandonianwwconferencATyahoo.com).


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  • This Blog Moving to ChristinaKatz.com as of December 30, 2009… December 27, 2009
    We’re moving! Writers on the Rise archives have been here for years. I hope that WordPress will let the archive live on for a good long time. However, it’s time to move on, bittersweet as change may be. Please come and find me at my new digs: http://christinakatz.com. And while we’re both thinking of it, […]
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