Monday, September 27, 2010


I am finally learning to take advantage of every situation to network my book no matter what the circumstance. For instance: this past weekend. As a volunteer at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, Colorado, and serving as one of two Volunteer Coordinators, the museum paid for the two of us to attend a symposium at the Denver Art Museum. I'd served as a docent there from 1985-89. Saw lots of people I knew including Melora McDermott-Lewis.

Melora is now the Education Director of the museum. When I reintroduced myself, she remembered me before I finished my sentence. Course, we'd worked together developing tours, etc., in that four year time period when she was an intern/assistant and I was a docent. I took that opportunity to mention my "looking at art" Charles Russell book. She commented she always wished a docent who knew art and how to deal with children would write a book. She asked that I send her one, let her know when it comes out and she'd place it in the study room of the Western Art Gallery. Also she'd talk to the museum shop.

Talk about networking. What more could I ask?

Then at the cocktail party, I met the Wichita Art Museum Director of Education. She'd attended the afternoon meeting with me but sat on the opposite side of the room. She commented that her museum displayed American art. I asked if she had any Charles Russell. "Oh, yes." That's all I needed. Our conversation led to her giving me her card and my promise to let her know when the book is released.

I never dreamed networking could be so easy! I've actually learned to mention the new book at every function I attend. My husband even mentioned it at a candidate fundraiser.

More networking came about at my critique meeting. A fellow attendee suggested she's learned a lot about marketing plans. She offered to meet with me to form a marketing plan the publisher will love! I'm researching marketing plans so I'm not a dummy when we meet in a couple of weeks.

The moral: take advantage of every opportunity to mention your new book. You'll be surprised at the numbers of people who'll be interested.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SCBWI Schmooze

Natasha Wing presented a program this week at the Northern Colorado SCBWI Schmooze. She spoke on back matter. "What is that?" you might ask. She described it as the part of the book, usually after the main text, that consists of things like an afterword, timeline, bibliography and more. Also, those interesting tidbits that didn't make it into the original story. She brought lots of examples including some of her own picture books. 

Her picture book lengths often extended to 48 pages rather than the normal 32. Her back matter included, some, but not all, of those listed above as well as Author's Notes, a closing summary and/or a How To.

Besides adding back matter to the book, what can you do with all your leftover research? The Author's Notes may appear in the book. Otherwise, use them in school presentations. List them on your website. Write another book. Or include them in a magazine article.

Keep all your notes. You never know when they will come in handy.

That brings up another subject. How and where do you save all that information? Some people fill 3 x 5 cards and file them away. Some save on the computer, being sure to back up their work. Others use notebooks. Whatever your method, also keep an idea file of where you might send articles on some of the information.

I have lots of possible back matter for my Charles Russell book. As I research my second book on Frederic Remington, I'll store away the notes. Then I can add back matter to my website later. Guess I'd better get busy. I need to update my website with all that extra information I discovered about Charles M. Russell. I'll post it in the "For Kids" and "For Teachers" sections. Unfortunately, it will have to wait another day or so. My week is jam packed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Out of Town

While out of town, I wrote the following blog but forgot to post it. Sorry.

Looking for writing ideas? Always carry a pen, notebook and camera. Unfortunately I left the camera at home on this quick trip to California. We got here Wednesday and leave tomorrow, Saturday.

No matter that I have no camera. I can still jot down writing ideas. One I discovered yesterday - air plants. Are you familiar with air plants? I wasn't. I bought one. Then I found out I can go online and order them possibly for free. Now there is an article.

Besides a pen, notebook and camera, I take along a notebook laptop. Then if I want to write, I save the article to a flash drive or email it to myself. I can write when all the information is at hand and finish the article at home.

On this trip, I only brought research reading for Frederic Remington. Having grown up with a newspaper publisher father, his writing demonstrates a great writing skill. He told one story of the abduction and capture of a wagon train master's daughter in the Arizona Territory and the father's poisoning of Indians. I can hardly wait until I publish a children's book on Remington and use this story in presentations. It won't fit in the book I plan but will certainly add interest to talks.

Have a good weekend. Investing in a notebook laptop is not expensive; it fits in a purse; and provides an easy writing tool, especially on airplanes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Compress Your Words

Unfortunately, text messaging and email have prompted the everyday writer to compress their words too much. Even so, in Helen Wilkie's writing tip of the day, she suggested getting your message across in as few words as possible. She says most people haven't the time to reread for understanding. She further emphasizes that long rambling sentences and confusing words can obscure your message or even give the wrong message. Make your words say what you mean.

Most writers are limited by word counts for a magazine article and even novels in many cases. My editor at Rocky Mountain Parent or Senior limits my words to 600-650 for most articles. Chicken Soup stories shouldn't be over 1000 and preferably lower.

In other words, write tight.

Tom Chiarella in his book Writing Dialogue sums it up. "Compress your language." Make each word count. Many non-authors think they can write a children's book. "It's easy," they say. However, in children's books, every word must serve a purpose especially since age levels require different word lengths. Besides, TV and movies have shortened attention spans. Bloated writing or dialogue bores children.

When you write, remember to cut, cut, cut. First get the information/story down then go back with a sharp pencil or the computer's highlighter and delete all unnecessary words. I'll read this post several times. Before I publish it, I'll have either deleted a lot or condensed in order to add more important information. I try to keep my posts at or below 500 words. And, that is probably too long.

Here is a tip for writing in spaces that don't provide spellcheck. I copy and paste the writing into a Word document to check spelling.

I've left lots of room for improvement in this post. Get your pencil. Without changing the meaning, see if you can cut it from the current 310 words.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Networking Works

Yesterday I discovered just how much networking really pays off.

As an art docent at the Loveland Museum/Gallery (with more experience than most, if not all, of the other docents), the museum recommends me to teachers for tours. An art teacher called yesterday. Before we ended our conversation I told her about my upcoming book, the proposed book signing at the museum and asked if she could pass on the information. I hoped she'd share the information with a few peers. She surprised me when she admitted she is head of the Thompson Valley School District's art teachers. She suggested I might make a presentation in March or April at a teacher's district meeting. Wow! Was that luck or is Someone watching over me?

I usually refrain from taking advantage of such an opportunity. Guess I learned a good lesson - don't pass up any chance to push your product. Because of just mentioning the book, I now have a possible district teacher's presentation and book sales. Hopefully, those teachers will want copies.

Next I'll contact librarians for the district. I'll also contact other school districts within driving range.

I recently "took the bull by the horn" and queried my editor with another book idea. There again, I was out of my comfort zone. I told her I was beginning a second book for the series "How the West Was Drawn." Neither she nor I had called it a series. I also suggested the series might be called "Looking at Art" to include other artists in other regions.

At any rate, I inquired if the publisher would be interested in a similar book on Frederic Remington. After over a month, she got back to me this week. Yes, they would be interested. The best part of her comments was "We would rather stick with the series name How the West Was Drawn for a while. Should we later branch out to other regions or topics, we can have a different name for a new series." Again - WOW! Those words opened a whole new world for me.

So, I've checked out or purchased several books on Remington. I'm reading and taking notes, choosing possible pictures, and preparing to write this second book. The moral is: Don't pass up the opportunity to offer your editor something new.

Next, I'll send her a synopsis and chapters of "Monkey Madness," an already written fiction book based on a time travel adventure of three boys to Paris through the picture frame of "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. It, too, is part of a series - "Through the Picture Frame."  I hope I'm not getting in over my head!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Take It One Step Farther

With the holiday weekend, I sluffed off on my posting for this blog. After viewing the page views of the blog, looks like others did, too. Hope everyone enjoyed a few extra days off before autumn officially begins.

All you Northern Colorado residents will want to check out the October issue of Rocky Mountain Parent and Rocky Mountain Senior. I have one article in the first and three in the second. Not out yet, but look for it after October 1st.

A new writer contacted me through my website. One of the questions she asked was "Where do you get your ideas?" Ideas are everywhere; we just need to recognize them. For instance, the articles for RMP/S were assigned but I'll be able to write other articles from them. First, was an article on cabins and ranches geared for families. I used the research from the same type of article I did for Seniors. If you don't live in the mountains, I'm sure there are fun places to visit in regional National Parks, around lakes or other types of places in your hometown. For travel articles, teachers suggest you begin writing about fun places to visit in your own town.

Next I did an article on vision and hearing impairments. I was amazed at the wealth of information of new technology I found on the Internet. Everything from talking watches to bed shakers. Any of the items lend themselves to an article.

Next, an article on historic buildings in Northern Colorado leads me to believe I could write an article about each. Perhaps, think about the haunted buildings near your. We have the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Or I could stretch the churches turned into a sculpture studios by a famous artists in Loveland. An article on the National Register of Historic places and its requirements might be of interest to readers of many markets.

The last article listed places to find other seniors with like interests such dancing, playing cards, reading, etc. Use your imagination and find places to square dance, or go into the different kinds of square dancing or new ballroom dancing techniques. Change the focus and market your articles somewhere else.

Whatever you write, take it one step farther and focus on a new perspective for a different market. Of course, that brings up the next question. Where does one sell such articles? The Institute of Children's Literature puts out market books from Writer's Institute Publications. I have "The Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers," "Magazine Markets for Children's Writers" and "Book Markets for Children's Writers." No market book lists all there is. I also purchase the Writer's Digest "Writer's Market." Check the Internet by Googling "Writer's Markets for ....." or "Publishers of Children's Books," or any other types of publications you want.

For me, marketing is the hardest part of writing. There is also the question of should I query before I write the article. Many say that is the best idea. I tend to write the article and then try to find a buyer. Either way has advantages. Do whatever is right for you.