Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

I remember when I first joined LinkedIn, one of the interesting writers I met over there (on the group forums) was a deaf ex-lawyer. Having gone deaf in his adulthood, he had learned to appreciate both writing and reading intensely, as a way of communicating with the world that had become vital to him. He was in his sixties and wanted to become an author, so he could work from home, therefore he was deeply motivated and interested in learning everything there was to know about writing fiction. He was part of one of the short story groups. After a few months, this writer asked me if I had ever thought of putting out a newsletter, ‘about your writer’s journey, what you learn along the way.’ He said, ‘I’d subscribe to it.’  That was incentive enough and I jumped in the deep end.

You hear that a lot these days if you’re an author, about how you need to compile an email list and put out a newsletter.

I thought I would never get around to it. I’m lazy with the marketing side of the business and don’t do half the things I’m supposed to. At any rate, because my friend on LinkedIn asked me to start one, in 2014, I started writing a fortnightly newsletter.

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I sent the letter to him and to a handful of family members and a few friends from places like LinkedIn and my Wanatribe group, ‘Writing for Children.’ It was basically an artfully decorated letter put together in Word, sent out by group email.

A friend who is a photographer and all round hip gal, and who is one of my subscribers asked me once, “Why don’t you use a newsletter service to make it look more professional?” I had to admit trying and failing to figure out how to use Mailchimp about four times. I can barely figure out how to use a phone let alone an online operating system. My friend said, “That’s okay, your newsletter is quirky and it’s who you are.”

However, I felt the gauntlet had been thrown down, and I had to rise to the occasion.

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That’s why I showed up at Mailchimp’s door again, cap in hand, and tried to figure out how to use the system for the fifth time. This time, thankfully, things fell into place and the newsletter went digital. The whole process of working with the Mailchimp templates: writing the copy, editing, choosing colours, fonts, adding images, and then enhancing them and adding effects is cool fun, too. It’s like being a kid again.

My friend asked, how long does it take you to craft one of these babies? In the beginning, the newsletter took two days to produce, but I have managed to whittle it down to half a day. Last year, the big change was to go from producing the newsletter fortnightly to monthly. I far prefer the monthly format.

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On the weeks in between issues, there are links for fascinating writing articles to collect, as well as photos and jokes. At the end of the month, I compile and post the newsletter and have grown to love the whole process.

It’s creative in a different way to anything else. It gives the mind a break, creating a nice rest from the intense focus of editing fiction.

Whenever I begin writing I think, is this for the blog or for the newsletter? Some thoughts turn into short stories. However, all posts, no matter how random will find their niche. The newsletter provides another avenue of expression. Yet – as I told my friend on LinkedIn – I always worry with social media, that I’ll “put my foot in it” and say the wrong thing.

He replied, ‘Why not make a jolly habit of putting your foot in it? The writing world needs more unedited truth. “Putting my foot in it,” there’s your motto. I can see it all now … fans showing up to hear ever more about the king with no clothes on. Is there not far too much conventional thinking in the wannabe writer world?’

He gave me the confidence to carry on, and five years later, the letter’s still going strong.

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Former writing partner, author and YouTube sensation, Maria Cisneros-Toth said the other day that when she gets my newsletter, she ‘always wants to go and get an iced tea and sit and read, because it feels like a letter you’ve written to a good friend.’

It was reassuring to hear. That’s exactly the way I want people to feel, because that means the newsletter has stayed true to its essence and genesis.

It always was about communicating with a friend who wanted to hear more about a writer’s journey. So, here’s to truth and more of it … and to valuing good friends!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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*Subscribe to my newsletter by visiting the landing page of my website

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“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden” – Goethe

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When you’re a writer, people always recommend you join a critique group. I remember, senior writers used to suggest I join one when I started out, and now, many years down the track, I recommend the same thing to others. But, why?

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1: It’s that right-minded support that lifts us onwards.

One time, at a writing conference, a new author got up for her acceptance speech. Upon receiving a prestigious award, she said, “I wouldn’t be standing there without my critique group.” I remember thinking, does a critique group make that much of a difference? The year was 2011.

At that stage, I still hadn’t found the right group that felt like a fit, so the benefits of the critique group had failed to impact on me. Critique groups were an enigma I didn’t properly understand for the first few years of my attempts to participate. But then, I held a lot of my work back, and only submitted short pieces I was experimenting with rather than committed to. I didn’t trust the process enough at that stage to release into full immersion.

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I started the networking group, “Writing for Children,” through Kristen Lamb’s, Wanatribe site, in 2012, and started to make friends with other writers. We were an instant mutual support system. They felt like family. Through the connections I made there, I met amazing author, Maria Cisneros-Toth. We both wrote for the same genre (Middle-Grade to Tween) and because trust was established, I shared with her my actual primary work-in-progress, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ That was the first time I surrendered fully to the critique process.

Right away Maria embraced my world and my story. Maria told me in no uncertain terms that I could write and she believed in me. Boy, that was just the injection of faith in myself I needed. I set to work with gusto. My confidence blossomed. And later, our critique group of two grew.

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2: It’s working together side-by-side on our stories that builds relationships.

Having a functioning critique group is about having a live support mechanism. A member of my mailing list asked me how I managed to get a supportive network around me. I said you can’t sit back and expect people to come to you; you’ve got to go out and meet them. It’s just like when you go to a party. If you stand in the corner and don’t talk to anyone, you’ll be miserable. The onus is on you to make the first move. Go to social media hubs, like LinkedIn, and Goodreads, and Google+, and participate in conversations on message boards. You soon meet people. You start give-and-take relationships. You treat people the way you want to be treated and friendships naturally grow.

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3: The critique group’s variety of viewpoints and opinions act like a small test group representing the viewing public.

With my story, I had done a lot of “world building,” yet I had lived with the story for such a long time, that a lot of facets of this world were familiar to me and made perfect sense. Showing this unique imaginary realm to my critique group was the first real litmus test. That was when the questions began. Why this? How that? I realized very quickly that in a number of areas, more explanation was needed, more clarity, and in some cases, new solutions.

This slice of the reading community giving you feedback, can be the difference between an idea working in the real world of the reading public, and not. You soon find out what works and what fails, and you get precious feedback on everything.

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4: Giving critique to others hones our own writing skills.

Of course, at the same time, you’re giving critique too. When I did my first course in critiquing children’s fiction with Kate de Goldi, in 2007, Kate told all of us, in no uncertain terms, that learning to critique was as important as the writing. It was a skill we needed to practice, she told us. Learning to pull apart other people’s fiction editorially would hone our own fiction.

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I have come to feel a truly vast appreciation for the benefits of critique. I know what the new author meant when she said in 2011, that she wouldn’t have been standing on that podium if it weren’t for her critique group. I can say my book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ would not be sitting on my bookshelf if it wasn’t for mine.

Do you have similar stories to share of your amazing friends, or your supportive critique groups?

 

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Revision is a personal thing, and it’s easy to become confused with too much input. You have to decide who to trust, but never just blindly do what you are told. Ultimately, you have to be your own North Star, while trying to understand and internalize the things that your readers might be responding to.” ~ James Preller