Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Paranormal Secret!

I've been keeping a secret... well, it's not really a secret just something I don't typically get flamboyant about. Then a friend told me that 'it isn't nice to keep secrets' (her words not mine)! So, I decided to announce all to the world via blog. Here it goes... *deep breath*

I host a paranormal web show called The Beyond Natural. Now for those who follow me on Twitter or know me a little more personally then this old news.
Except... there's more! *I sound like a infomercial

My show got picked up by an online TV network- Paranormal TV Network.  We previously aired all shows via YouTube, but no longer. Officially this Wednesday night, August 31st at 9pm CST, the show is launching and every Wednesday we'll air a new episode! Additional perk-- viewers can chat with me while the show is on. I'll answer questions etc era.

For those interested in watching you can check out this link: http://www.paranormaltvnetwork.com/beyond_natural.html

And don't worry about not making it at the perfect time because the episodes are available On Demand for free following the show, and my producer/director will re-air the show right after.

Wait... there's more! *A set of steak knives. Two for the price of one!
No steak knives, but our first episode is a special one, 2 hours of special to be precise. The Beyond Natural is paying tribute to the loss of a wonderful historical site in Arkansas-- Ft. Chaffee Medical Center (part of Chaffee Crossing) and the 100 plus buildings that got destroyed several weeks ago in a fire. 
A devastating loss for history lovers! To preserve it's memory for those in the paranormal field and beyond we'll be airing multiple interviews, clips, photos of the site and a bunch more!

Now that my infomercial is complete I really hope everyone gets a chance to check it out. When talking about this on my blog here I feel like I've stepped into the Twilight Zone. I don't write paranormal books, at least not yet, but I was told my personality would be perfect for the show so here I am!
Oh, and no more secrets! *evil laugh*  My evil ghost------>

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Break Time! Hit the Water Cooler!

Blame it on me and all the projects I keep heaping on myself, but the Writing Profession Blog Series is taking a break this week.

For one thing, it's my birthday! Yes, a big b-day week! Break out the balloons, the cake, the PIE. I celebrate officially on Friday, which according to my clock is about 30 minutes away. I will not reveal my age, simply because I like to maintain an aura of mystery. Enough about me and back to more important things.

The other reason for the break involves absence of professionals. I figure my potential guests are out enjoying the last vestiges of summertime or they are extremely busy hefting the chittlins' back into school. My search will continue and I am actively seeking a ghost writer, screen play writer, book reviewer, newspaper journalist, and plenty more. If you're interested or know someone who might be send me an email.

Side note: You can also send birthday cards, chocolate, gift cards to purchase pie! There are tons of things. Lol! You don't really have to send me anything, but I figure why not. According to my previous post comments, it doesn't hurt to ask!

It amazes me that when I started this blog segment I thought I would run out of writing professions pretty fast. Just when I think I've found the last one someone mentions another or my brain clicks with a light bulb flash!
I truly want to share information and educate others on the possibilities. I think as writers we get locked up into thinking that the only way to accomplish anything is to publish a book-- but there is sooo much more.

Side note: That pie looks absolutely delicious. Can you tell that I'm thinking about pie? Maybe Fridays should be official pie posts. New ideas that make the mouth water!

So, we should be back next week with another edition. Even though my irons are stoking lots of fires I'm doing my best to keep to a Wed-Thurs. post schedule. 'Til then think pie!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To ask or not to ask

Here's my random thought for the day... really random, but it came to me when I was working on this week's Writing Profession Series. Now I am a deep thinker sometimes, mostly I like to cruise along the rims of my psyche instead of diving deep. That leads me to the question: To ask or not to ask?

This question can cover a variety of topics for a writer. Some topics that spring to my mind are asking someone to be a critique partner, asking for query help, or to guest spot on a blog.

Now, I'm not a big asker. I'm a helper. This means I would rather learn independently on my own through books, internet, etc. without having to specifically ask someone for the information. Asking takes time, and if you work at all, writing or otherwise, time is a commodity. Understand I don't mean that asking wastes my time, but takes time from the person I'm asking.
It took a lot of pushing to overcome my anxieties about asking people to guest spot on my blog. I realized that people guest on other blogs all the time, but usually those authors are familiar with one another. Who wants to guest spot on the blog of someone they barely know? I found out a lot of people are willing if you are kind, respectful, and honest.
Then comes the next part asking for query help. Luckily there are a lot of blogs where others offer their services. Thank goodness! But one on one feedback would be really wonderful, I just can't bring myself to ask. So I stick to reading other queries that receive help. Try to glean what I can from the feedback for the future.
Next the critique partner phase. This one is extremely difficult for me. I've dabbled in offering feedback for query letters, critiquing on critique circle, and have even searched for local groups (with no luck). I tried starting a group, but it seems the author's in my corner of the world are either not available, have their own avenues, or are just to far spread (location and genre) to get involved. So do I ask? Or not?
Typically I choose NOT because again who am I? And why would someone want to turn their novel into my hands for feedback? You've got to build cred and I'm attempting to do that by reading, reviewing, and honing my own craft before I offer my services or ask for anyone else's.
The demented psyche within me says that the worst anyone can say is no, but the nice person in me says that other authors and writers are probably already bombarded with those types of questions all the time. I don't want to impose and believe in leaving it up to the universe... to some extent.
Guess you could say I just need a set of brass ones. Guess you could say I'm a wimp. I guess I have to get used to the idea that we have to ask questions, take rejections, and suck it up!
My question: Would you ask or not?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Copywriter

New week, new profession! This week I'm focusing on the Copywriter.
First, blogger was down Wednesday night and this post is late. I say, devils! Also my involvement with other duties, partially writing related, delayed me as well. More to come on that exciting news soon.

Back to business!
What I know about copywriting covers very little. I've heard the term mentioned countless times in the professional world, but the details and nuances are never mentioned. Honestly, I never asked anyone for the answers, but that's going to change. Right. Now.
My guest today is Shona Snowden. She is a copywriter and writes fiction-- her words, not mine. I would say that Shona is a published author. I'm uber excited that she agreed to talk about copywriting and without further ado here's the scoop!
The old saying about writing being one per cent inspiration and 99% perspiration applies solidly to working as a copywriter.

The copy writing career that most people think of most often, and probably as the most glamorous, is the big ad agency writer – the creator of those snappy slogans, witty tv ads and unforgettable ambient campaigns. Remember that sweat, though - even when the words are few, the thinking, the debating and the frustration behind them is quite monumental. The hours spent staring at a blank screen, an empty piece of paper or a white wall, many of those hours in the wee small hours of the morning when the client expects the idea by 9am aren't so fun. What's even less fun is when the client rejects the idea by 9.10am and it's back to that blank screen!
Thankfully for those of us who struggle to encapsulate a four-page brief in a three-word slogan, there are alternative copy writing careers available. Design agencies push through a lot of work, including brochures, flyers, posters, packaging, in-house or customer magazines, web sites, marketing material and all kinds of related collateral – there is almost no limit to what they can handle. And almost all of it needs some kind of words. Few agencies have writers in house, which brings us to one of the most common ways in which copywriters are employed – freelance.
With a little help from the internet or a reliable little business book, it's easy to set up your own freelance business and get started. Qualifications are wonderful things and there are college courses available, however for most writers the most important thing is their portfolio – a collection of previous projects that shows your wit, charm and general control of spelling and grammar*.
Other copywriters find reliable work by working for large companies – companies that need a wide range of brochures, publish regular newsletters or launch new products multiple times a year. Some of these companies employ in-house writers; others use a stable of freelances. And, of course, the proliferation of digital media has led to a proliferation of work for copywriters – web sites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are important elements of corporate marketing – and somebody has to write them.
The versatility of working as a copywriter makes it a career that can last a lifetime. As long you don't mind a bit of perspiration along with your inspiration!

*You may have to excuse my spelling and grammar – it's late here, so no guarantees!!!
Okay, the nail has hit on the head! Copywriting officially sounds like something I could do... possibly, if I didn't stress out the first time the words fail to come to me. So, adding the words to newsletters, websites, etc. is copy writing. I'm already doing that, and I bet half of you out there are doing that too! From Shona's explanation copy writing doesn't sound that bad of a career, especially from the major corporation aspect.
Now when you are working on that website or helping a friend develop a flyer the project will mean more, as you could use the work as a reference for free lancing ability. Regardless being a copy writer sounds like a job that carries a lot of competition, especially in the free lance market.
What do you think about copy writing? Is it something you are already doing for friends or yourself? Is the market too saturated for someone with the capability to jump into?

I want to thank Shona for taking the time to share her knowledge of copy writing. This post definitely cleared some haze from my eyes. Now, for those interested in learning more about our guest you can visit her website at http://www.shonasnowden.com.au/ . Shona also has a story published in the Extinct Doesn't Mean Forever Anthology published by Dare To Dream press. The story is amazing so I encourage everyone to snag up a copy via the links.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reading List for July 2011

July has been my biggest month yet, I think? I devoured tons of tasty morsels and a couple that were not as sweet. Definitely a big month of reading. I nearly cleared 1 book a day. Lost a few to some work and other hiccups.

1. Nowhere Near Respectable by Mary Jo Putney
2. Ectasy in Emeralds by Renee Bernard*
3. Lord Langley is Back In Town by Elizabeth Boyle
4. A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl
5. Heiress In Love by Christina Brooke*
6. The Dragon Who Loved Me by G.A. Aiken*
7. Shameless by Anne Stuart*
8. All Through The Night by Connie Brockway
9. Rush of Pleasure by Ryhannon Byrd*
10. Notorious by Nicola Cornick**
11. The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels*
12. Guilty Pleasures by Laure Lee Gurke
13. A Lady's Lesson In Scandal by Meredith Duran
14. How to Seduce a Soundrel by Vicky Dreiling
15. The Marriage Betrayal by Lynne Graham*
16. The Heart of Christmas Anthology by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan
17. The Priveledged and the Damned by Kimberly Lang*
18. To Desire a Wicked Duke by Nicole Jordan
19. Who Will Take This Man? by Jacquie D'alessandro
20. Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell
21. A Gentleman Never Tells by Amelia Grey
22. A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua *
23. The Lost by Caridad Pineiro*
24. Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer*
25. Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
26. Improper Gentleman by Mia Marlowe, Maggie Robinson, Diane Whiteside*

*Review available or upcoming on The Season E-zine
**Review available via Examiner.com

Let me say right now that I went on a reading binge! It was a ton of fun and I overloaded my mind with romance. Swimming in a sea of romance really. Some of my fave author's are in the group listed above, and several I had not experienced the pleasure of reading until I jumped into this month. FYI: I do believe this is a record for me.
I will say that reading this many books in one month can splinter a person from reality. My entire existence seemed to inhale the written word, and I tended to be quite useless to just about everyone. Plenty more on my TBR list for August and I'm still catching up on some reviews that need to kicked out.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Proposal Writer Part II

It's time for Part II of The Proposal Writer.
Yesterday, Phoenix Sullivan gave me some awesome information about the details of proposal writing, job expectations, and what goes into writing a proposal. Part II of our information divining session is all about what it takes to be a proposal writer and the one thing everyone wants to know about... the moolah!
As always, Phoenix is excellent at crunching numbers. Those who follow her blog already know exactly what mean. With that I relinquish the floor...

A proposal writer must be able to work fast and to produce stellar work under constant pressure. They must play well with others and know when to compromise vision and craft. And they must intuitively understand how to weave technical details into a sales pitch that can’t help but sway the customer’s decision.

The Rewards

In larger companies, the proposal writer is often part of the sales organization and may be bonused for working on a proposal that helps close a deal. Bonuses may range from a small, fixed amount to a percentage of the overall commission on the deal. Depending on typical deal sizes and how many of the deals go on to win, a writer might receive up to $10,000 or more a year in bonus money. This on top of an annual salary that, on average, runs $40-70,000 depending on experience and – becoming even more relevant these days – location.
Many proposals are crafted in a “war room” environment, requiring all team members to be physically present. Larger companies may have the technology and mindset that allows proposal writers to work from home.

Real-World Numbers
I worked for a large technology company that produced thousands of proposals per year ranging from deals worth $50,000 to $100 million and more. Because of the sheer volume, only deals worth $20 million or more got dedicated proposal writer support. My job was to craft compelling boilerplate copy that was plug-and-play into the under-$20M deals and only had to be slightly customized by writers on the larger deals.

Because I didn’t have to be present in the war rooms, I worked exclusively from home for the last 4 years I was with the company. I also didn’t have the frenzied pace of a writer working live deals (even though I often worked 60-hour weeks), but I did sacrifice commission-based bonuses in the trade-off. Still, between end-of-year bonuses and individual incentives, even in tight years affected by the economy, I received about $6-8000 extra, on top of a $78,000 salary. During my best-earning – and busiest – year, I took home $93,000.
Why did I quit? Because I retired this past January. At age 51. Not everyone will be in my situation – no partner, no kids, a home in a low-cost state, Texas – but my career as a writer in the corporate world allowed me to pay off my mortgage and save enough to tide me over till I can start collecting pension and social security in 13 years. So yeah, you can earn a decent living writing. It just takes hard work, skill and, as with most things, a lot of luck in landing the right jobs along the way.
Okay... maybe tons of research, good communication and people skills, and 60+ hour work weeks are worth it; especially at that pay grade. Now of course I agree with Phoenix, there is a little bit of luck involved in landing the right proposal job with the right company, and you have to be willing to fight for the best positions by honing skills.
I will say that being a proposal writer has perks and pitfalls as does any writing profession; even the potential lure of working in your jammies or birthday suit!
The true question would be for those interested in pursuing proposal writing: Is this the kind of writing I could do day in and day out?
What do you think?

If you missed Part I of The Proposal Writer post check it out here.
Next week I attacking: The Copy Writer

Also if you missed yesterday's post then you missed the links for Phoenix's blog and my all exuberant push for you to buy her novel Spoil of War: An Arthurian Saga. Definitely check out both and come back by tomorrow as I list my record breaking reading list for the month of June!

Writing Profession Series- The Proposal Writer Part I

It's week 3 of the Writing Profession Series and I'm learning tons! How about you??
This week it's all about Proposal Writer's!! Now proposal writing is a huge topic...
So, without further adieu I'm turning this over to the expert. My guest today is Phoenix Sullivan, author, animal lover, farm owner, and extremely experienced proposal writer. Let's just say, she knows the job details intimately. Take it away Phoenix!

Mix one part technical writer with two parts copywriter, add a dash of the creative and you’ve whipped up a proposal writer.

What’s A Proposal?

Companies wishing to buy equipment in bulk or to have certain services performed solicit bids from contractors who in turn audition for the work. Some bids, such as for window washing or providing one or two printers for an office, are uncomplicated. The contractor sends the potential customer some marketing brochures and price lists and lets the customer choose their own solution.

More complicated services, such as designing and building a new headquarters or installing and maintaining a network system for 60,000 employees worldwide, often require a team of differently skilled people to:

• Meet with the customer

• Understand the results expected

• Design a solution that meets those expectations at a competitive price

• Present the solution in a clear and compelling written proposal

• Negotiate the close

Proposals are often written by committee. For large, complicated deals, the proposal team might consist of :

• Salespeople who will ensure the language of the proposal is geared toward the customer’s specific needs and focuses on how the proposed solution addresses what the customer values most, be it cost, how fast the work can be done, or service after the sale

• Technical people who will flesh out the details of the proposal with specifics on timelines, what products will be used and how exactly the solution will be put together and delivered

• Financial and marketing folk who will ensure the price is competitive enough to win the business while still being profitable for the contractor

• Proposal writers to add the magic it takes to put the benefits, features and costs of the solution together in a way that tells a compelling and persuasive story that strikes the perfect balance between sales and marketing language and that keeps the customer’s concerns front and center
The Proposal Document
The format of the proposal itself is usually dictated by the customer who might provide a template of questions to be answered by all the contractors who are bidding. There might be word count limitations imposed. For especially complex services, there might be several sections requiring multiple teams of experts working on their own sections simultaneously.
Depending on the services being proposed and the customer’s guidelines for the document, a proposal can run anywhere from 2 or 3 pages to several hundred. And when the government is the customer, page counts can be pushed into the thousands.

One constant you can count on is that the customer will provide a hard deadline for delivering that’s impossibly short and that will be met with only seconds to spare. Be prepared to deal with high stress and short tempers.
Whoa... and Phoenix worked as a proposal writer! Whoo, a song comes to mind.
"She works hard for the money!"
I have to say that being a technical writer alone is intimidating at times. I can only image the pressure that comes with proposals. Obviously proposal writer's are required to be a jack of all trades when it comes to knowing the business they work for.
In my opinion there are some things to consider:
-You should probably have an experienced background in whatever product or field you are going to be conducting proposal writing for. Example: I wouldn't want to write proposals for farm equpiment. I know jack diddly about farming.
-Formatting and editing skills are most likely required. The way Phoenix describes it, a proposal writer is the one who ultimately formulates the pitch. Typos and bad grammar will get poor results for sure.
-Short or long, creative flair is a must. Proposal writer's have to make the idea sound delicious.
-Based on the fact that a proposal writing could combine the work of multiple entities, you have to be able to pull the important pieces together.

Okay, so proposal writing is detail oriented and very demanding. What do you need to become one and what are the benefits?
Stop by tomorrow for Part II of The Proposal Writer.

Big thanks to Phoenix for being a guest. For those of you wanting to learn more about my wonderful, talented, firey guest visit her blog. Also, Phoenix recently published a wonderful novel called Spoil of War. You can read my review here and if you want to buy this fantastic work of fiction go here! Important tidbit: I'm not the only one mesmerized by Phoenix's tale, check out the other reviews on Amazon... you'll see what I mean.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Joy!

I've been uber busy so my Monday Contest joy posts were practically non-existent for the month of July. You'll see what I mean by busy from my next post.

To business! Let's hit the Top 5!

5.) MSFV- Gear up for the Baker's Dozen! If you were not aware Authoress held the most amazing contest last year. 12 agents lined up to bid on selected unpublished works. The experience was worth it for the feedback that each submission received and for the tons of waiting to be signed author's searching for the ever elusive agent! Authoress is gearing up for the second issue of this awesome contest. For more details hit the link above and mark it on your calendar!

4.) Operation Awesome- Have you checked out Operation Awesome? This blog is hosted by a group of fantastic authors that specialize in YA. Besides providing great posts on writing and the wonders of,  they host Mystery Agent contests each month. Just another chance to get that log line or brilliant ready to go manuscript in front of the people who will get you published.
3.) The Season Midnight Dance Release Extravaganza!- Tomorrow, A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua will be on book shelves everywhere. The Season Blog is celebrating by giving away 30 copies to lucky commenter's. I encourage everyone to stop by. The book is amazing and additionally visit Lila's blog as her husband is hosting a whirlwind release party with a special tomorrow as well.
2.) Good Housekeeping Contest- the 2011 contest is almost at the deadline. September 1st is the last day to submit. Contest is for 3,500 story based on a theme that reflects an aspect of women's lives today. This contest has a ton of rules listed and as always, I encourage those interested to read every single line. Winner gets potential publication and 3 grand.

1.) 3-Day Novel Contest- Ever write a novel in 3 days??? Would you try for the possibility of getting published? I'm not sure I would, but for some this could be the challenge you've been waiting for. The contest launches over Labor Day Weekend. This contest has been running for over 20 years, so it definitely has a seal of legitimacy in my opinion. Click on the link for more info.  P.S. Thanks to Nancy Berk for bringing this to my attention!

That's it for contests and blog joy! Off to count the purple sheep!