Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Profession Series- Technical Writers

This week I am focusing on Technical Writers. Unfortunately I couldn't drum up multiple technical guests to make an appearance on the blog this week, but I do have lots of info gleaned from the Internet. Yes, I'm a geek. My guest will be me: Landra Graf!
I'm keeping this to the 3 C's and hope that others will chime in on the comments if you have questions or additional knowledge.

A technical writer is defined as: a professional writer who designs, creates, and maintains technical documentation. Technical documents include online help, user guides, design specifications, system manuals, and other documents.

Technical writing is usually synonymous with technological fields like engineering, information design and information architecture. A little known fact is that technical writing can also include education and employee training. Specific qualifications usually include having at least associates degree, but it's not required. What is required is an active knowledge about the business you are producing the writing for, the ability to take constructive criticism, and effective communication skills. Honestly though a degree in English, Creative Writing, or Journalism doesn't hurt.

Now to the guest blogger-- Me!
I have been a technical writer for almost 3 years. Honestly, I stumbled into my current job, which at first involved cooking food- a lot of food! Then I found out that my job included creating detailed, step-by-step, instructions to tell people how to prepare these types of foods on certain pieces of equipment. My job involved designing the format in which the information would be presented and typing up the instructions. Within 6 months the position took a different turn and now I develop instructions for food and any other items that are presented by clients. Unfortunately due to confidentiality and the nature of my job I can't go into any more specifics. Technical writing is not difficult for me, as I have a natural talent for seeing things in steps. Being an aspiring author doesn't hurt either, as I have a knack for coming up with ways to explain things in simple or complex terms. The job is rewarding and offers a significant amount of freedom. The single most important ability is communication! If you are a not a clear and concise communicator then technical writing is not for you. Too many times mistakes are made when someone does not relay all the details clearly. In technical writing success is in the details! P.S. I don't have a writing degree... I have a marketing degree!
Hopefully this blog will give you plenty to think about. Technical writing is a super fun job when you find the right one. The field is vast and in certain cases the positions are unique. I have seen multiple types of technical writing jobs posted on the Internet for writing toy manuals, education books, user guides for appliances and all sorts of neat things.
Hit me up with questions if you want to know more.
*Outside sources include Wikipedia and

Next Week I'll be cover: Proposal Writers
Till then!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reading List for June 2011

Well, hello readers!
Where have I been, you ask??
On a getaway to some romantic island, with beaches, silk sheeted beds, and crystalline pools.... I wish!
Now that I am done in fantasy land, I've been reading. Yes, reading to my heart's content and dealing with a few stray projects. This post is severely delayed, but I figured I should get it out before next week's July reading list is presented.
1. One Night Scandal by Christie Kelley*
2. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
3. Cold Touch by Leslie Parrish*
4. Spirit of Seduction by Olivia Quincy*
5. Embraced by Blood by Laurie London**
6. Dangerous Desire by Diana Escalara
7. Duke of Scandal by Adele Ashworth
8. Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz
9. Miss Verey's Proposal by Nicolal Cornick
10. Hidden Affections by Delia Parr
11. The Darkest Sin by Caroline Richards*
12. All's Fair in Love and Seduction by Beverley Kendall- Note review for this coming this week and special sale at The Season

(*)Review is posted on The Season E-Zine
(**) Review posted on The Examiner

Honestly, I am ashamed to say that my reading list was small for the month of June. But you will be proud to know that I read 3 books today. That's right... 3! An amazing feat even for me, and I was in absolute heaven. Goal for month of July is to read at least 15 books (which I believe I already broke), hopefully a few more then that but let's not push ourselves.
Question: What are you reading lately? WIP, non fiction or a good hearty dose of make believe?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Profession Series- Book Author

In my first blog in the Writing Profession Series, I thought I would cover book authors. Most of the people reading this are probably aspiring authors, or authors already. So some of this information may be new, some not. Seeing that I am currently not published (ha!), I thought I would refer to some experts.

My guest(s) today are Best-Selling author Anna Campbell and Harlequin Presents author Maisey Yates. Both author's have graciously submitted a little bit of info about writing books. So without further ado here is Anna's blurb about being a book author:
I wanted to be a writer from a VERY young age – books seemed like glamorous, mysterious items to my childhood self. They still do, in a lot of ways! I spent a lot of time writing and not being published but I finally became a full-time writer when I was in my mid-40s. After all that time, it was a dream come true, as you can imagine. Of course, then I started on a huge learning curve. I thought once I received the validation of publication, the writing would get easier. If anything, it gets harder. You have expectations to meet when you’re published – when everything you write ends up under the bed, not so much. I had to learn to deal with deadlines and the way publishers work (revisions, galleys, ARCS, promotion, etc.) and how to self-promote. For a slow writer like me, there was also the difficulty of producing quality work quickly. For genre fiction, a book a year is probably about the minimum requirement. The hard work is definitely worth it – there are some wonderful perks of being published aside from the opportunity to get paid for telling my stories. Hearing from readers all over the world who have loved my books is wonderful and seeing my books on sale in bookshops is also pretty special. Being able to go to work in my pajamas is a nice treat as well!
Thanks Anna, for sharing the information. Pay attention readers, topics you should learn about: Revisions, galleys, ARCS, promotion.
Questions to ponder: Are you a slow writer?

Now on to Maisey, who's writing experiences are a little different than the standard book author.
Hi Landra, thanks so much for asking me to come gab about writing!
I write Harlequin Presents, which is what you call category, or series, romance. These books have a promise offered to their readers (For Presents it's: Glamorous international settings, unforgettable men, passionate romance.) These books are 50K words long which is a bit shorter than a single title novel.
To write a complete romance with a satisfying character arch in 50K words requires one major keyword: Focus. The focus stays on the hero and heroine. There isn't room for a lot of secondary characters, a secondary plot or romance, or pages and pages of the hero and heroine apart.
I personally keep it at dual POV, only the hero and heroine. No one else gets that screen time, because I only have so many words to set up and solve the conflict.
Also, in a Presents especially, the conflict is mainly internal. This allows for the reader to really get to know the characters, and gives opportunity for maximum emotional impact in a small amount of words.
And that's the real goal in category/shorter length novels: To give the reader the complete emotional experience they expect to get in a romance with half the word count. There might not be as many pages as you get in some books, but everything still has to be there so that you're providing a complete and satisfying reading experience.
Sounds like writing on the short side is a challenge! Thanks Maisey for the great info. Fun Fact about Maisey: She writes fast!
Questions to ponder: Are you good at short, concise writing? Is the dual POV something you can stick too?

Reading both Maisey and Anna's accounts of being a book author gives potential authors things to think about and tons of options.
As author you can choose genre, novel length, and whether you would like to work in pajamas or alternative dress wear. Short or long, you have deadlines. Promoting your books through ARCs and blog tours is a full-time task, full of multiple hours spent writing on anything except the next book you desperately need to finish.
Being a book author involves working hard for every penny you make, but reaping the benefits via adoring fans/ fan mail.

Next week: I'll examine the world of technical writing!

Special thanks to Anna and Maisey for participating.
For more info on Anna's books, and latest releases visit her website at . Latest news is available on her Facebook page at
Maisey's latest and upcoming releases can be viewed on her website at

*If you're not a fan of either of these ladies yet, read one book and you will be!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Email Excerpt #4- Common Sense

Email Excerpt #4:

My parents told me about Mr. Common Sense early in my life and told me I would do well to call on him when making decisions. It seems he was always around in my early years but less and less as time passed by until today I read his obituary. Please join me in a moment of silence in remembrance. For Common Sense had served us all so well for so many generations.

Obituary: Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a class mate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student; but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

-Source, Unknown
**Images courtesy of Cafe Press

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Writing Profession Series- A look at different ways to be a writer

In the coming weeks, I've decided to write several blogs on being a writer.
The Writer Profession Series, is what I'm calling it! (Thought it sounded prim and proper).

With this series I'll cover several different writing jobs including: Book Author, Technical Writer, Copywriter, Magazine Journalism, Freelance Writing, and any others suggested or that I stumble across.

As I prepare for this adventure my question to you is: What writing professions would you like to know more about? Are you a professional writer and if so, which type and would you like to interview with me on my blog describing your job to the masses?

Writing Methods

I got 'em. You got 'em. So what's 'em?

The all- knowing precious writing method. That's 'em!
We all write differently. Sometimes it's just sitting down and cooking up a first draft. For others it's outlines and character outlines, and pictures. Then some go even further with research and details on the setting, plot, time period and all that jazz.

I write in strange ways first with an idea or a scene; sometimes this involves random dialogue. Then comes more ideas spawned by the characters in the scene, their thoughts and feelings. How does the character find their way out of their problems, what problems do they have, etc. From there my story begins to take flight. In some cases the best outlines fail me. My stories develop minds of their own, twisting and writhing according to the last scene. As if you are building a road, but you haven't decided where it will go until you get to the next bend.

So, what writing method do you employ? Is it one filled with blood, sweat and tears as you try to find the right words and thoughts to bless the pages with? Are you the studious outliner, who has everything lined out and rarely are changes needed or made?