Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author Platforms and Hoops

Robert Lee Brewer has set participants mighty challenges amid the relaxers this month.
I’ve created work schedules, as you all know too well. They work or they don’t, depending on how motivated I am on any given day. Lately, my motivational level has remained high, I think in part by writing for so many challenges in the past few months.

So far Robert has had us building networks, investigating both others’ blogs and having Twitter chats with large groups of people, along with serious writer stuff like Editorial Calendars. I managed to get that last item completed and revved up. Now he’s got up getting our nets prepared to seine for experts; experts to provide us with interviews on whatever subject we’ve chosen for our blog.

Brother, does that open up possibilities. Should I go after someone new or recycle one from the past? Hmm… choices come hard sometimes.

In truth, I’ll go for something new. Okay, that’s decided. Now, what area do I want to go for? Should it be poetry, fiction writing, screenwriting, ooo… or maybe—no, scratch that as too controversial.

I think I’ll go for film. I haven’t done anything with that in a long, long time. Besides, I just don’t have it in me to create an entirely new blog for other subjects. I have enough to worry about on that score.

And I still have to deal with guest blogs; someone else’s and my own, as well as investigate a social media management tool like Hootsuite. Yep, it’s going to be a long next few days.

Here’s hoping everyone out there has a grand finale to their week and a productive next few days. I’m working toward taking a few days off, but only after completing my appointed rounds and jumped through all of my hoops.

Until later,


Monday, April 23, 2012

Writers Are Marathoners of a Different Sort

Becoming an author is a bit like training for a marathon; not that I’ve run any marathons, unless dancing counts. The two do have a many aspects in common, including a finish line.

Runners make friends with other runners, participate in the same events during the year, train in similar methods to up their running game, and count themselves lucky. Along the way, they find a kind of happiness they find nowhere else. They are only themselves out on the track; no other roles need apply.

Writers do the same thing. We congregate on forums with other writers, discuss projects, problems and needs. The road to authorship is strewn with obstacles, just as runners’ abilities to tackle longer venues encounter injuries and setbacks, weather and personal needs. Writers train every day, if they want to be authors; coursework, submissions and rejections, social media platforms, and other obstacles that build and keep their writing abilities toned.

Within the framework of these career labels, stand three words that signify the relationship between these two careers; preparation, goals, and execution. If goals aren’t set by either the runner or writer, no progress is made. If proper preparation isn’t made, goal execution cannot move forward. Execution marshals the preparations necessary for each goal and advances the career onto the field.

Success on the field depends on one’s objective. A new marathoner might only desire to finish the race. For her, that spells success. For the veteran of the track, the triathlon is the goal each year, with faster times as a signal of improvement and success. For a new writer, the primary objective may be as simple as finishing a long piece of fiction and getting it to a polished state. Or, the objective for the established writer might be the development of a series that could get her a three-book deal.

Two tracks, two careers, similarities in each. As each type of marathoner ages in her career goals change, preparations come easier, and execution becomes a matter of habit. Over the length of the track there is time for the participant to think, evaluate, and decide about the next race, the next field. Nothing a consequence is firmed up at the starting line. Only the experience of the race can grant perspective.


During this month those who signed on for Robert LeeBrewer’s Author Platform Challenge stood at the starting line of a great field event. He promised to instruct all of us in what it takes to create a successful Author’s Platform. So far, he’s kept his promise.

We’ve learned about apps needed for everything from Time Management to Social Network updating. We’ve learned how to catch the eyes of those search engines everywhere and what to do in our blogs and on websites to increase traffic and comment numbers. Through it all, members of the field are cajoling each other, giving encouragement, and offering help to those still struggling with tech, time, and temperament.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Robert. He’s gone out of his way to see that we can stand on our own once we’re through this. But, more than that, he’s built a writing community that allows us to talk amongst ourselves. He’s put together a support structure that many will be using for a long time to come.

Thank you, Robert, for having patience with all of us and our questions and insecurities. You’re doing great!

Until later,


Thursday, April 19, 2012

5 Steps to Beginning New Chapters

A life is a personal book of experience. Just as a larch cone waits to drop to earth to begin a new life cycle by birthing a new tree, new life chapters begin all the time. You’re born, cut your first tooth, leave home for nursery school, attend first grade, start middle school, move on to high school, then college or a job. You see what I mean? All of these mentioned qualify as new chapters in your life.

The birthing process in any activity is both a beginning and an end. Recently this has been one of the most critical things for me to recognize and take into account. I’m always beginning things, while putting others on the back burner until later. Engaging in this behavior leads me into frustration, near-panic states, and little efficiency in time spent working.

Since taking on the challenges presented to me during the past few months, I’ve developed my own method for dealing with my writer’s life chapter beginnings. The steps I use are done every day. They take little time to complete, but save much time later. That’s one thing above all that I’ve learned from taking Robert Lee Brewer’s Author Platform Challenge this month.

Here’s how you prepare for each day’s slim chapter in your writing life.

1.    Take inventory of those daily goals that went unfinished from yesterday and get them out of the way. Otherwise, they’d hang around your neck, dragging you down. If a previous daily goal cannot be finished due to the length of time necessary, devote one hour of active work on it to reduce its size for the next day. This step needn’t take more than an hour and a half.

2.    Determine this day’s goals now that yesterday’s have been attended to. Begin with those items which are routine each day—i.e. email, social media updates, check out at least three blogs/websites and comment as needed, and any writing challenges underway. Devote no more than three hours to this activity. This is also the time to do your own new blog posts for the day.

Also, do a quick scan of your week’s goals, month’s goals, and year’s goals.           Can you cross off anything on those?

3.    Pull up one larger project—book, short story, essay, etc.—that has been sitting on the hard drive for at least six months and give it one hour of your time. Do a rewrite, complete edit, additional research; whatever is needed to get the piece closer to submission quality. If possible, have a market picked out and write a query/cover letter and submit it that day.

4.    Take at least one hour to work on the latest project in your arsenal. If the rough draft hasn’t been completed, then finish it if possible. The first revision can wait until tomorrow's goals. (For book-length projects, an hour could get you up to ten pages of material, if you’re working NaNoWriMo style.)

5.    Take a break to get up and walk around once every two hours. Get something to drink. Talk to a neighbor, family member, make a phone call; whatever you need to do that has nothing to do with writing. This short break of fifteen to thirty minutes will help refresh your thinking and help your body get the circulation flowing again.

Here are some no-brainers as well. Eat, get some exercise. Nobody says you have to sit in that desk chair for hours on end, grinding away at the keyboard. I’ve learned the hard way that that isn’t healthy. You can just as easily run through mental brainstorming while doing the dishes as you can at the computer, if you must keep thinking about words.

Do a fifteen minute workout during a break; a few standing push-ups, stretches, leg lifts, standing crunches, anything you want. Crank up the stereo and break out into dance moves. Salsa is excellent for circulation.

Do an errand. Getting away from the computer will help stimulate flagging senses. New sights and sounds help generate new ideas. Enjoy yourself.

Try out these steps. See if they help you through the day. The main thing I’ve discovered, though, is that I must allow myself time to relax, more than anything else.

The world won’t come to an end if I can’t finish something today and must attend to it tomorrow. That doesn’t apply to deadlines. Those are rigid, but everything else is on a temporary sliding scale. When you begin a new chapter, see it as a personal adventure in professionalism. Realize that you learned one new aspect of writing yesterday, and you can build on it today.

© Claudette J. Young 2012
Photo Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taking a Spin Around the World of Writing

In Robert Lee Brewer’s blog My Name Is Not Bob for his Author’s Platform Challenge this morning, he gave a simple task, something that all of us with blogs do on a regular basis. He asked us to write a blog post, at the end of which we were to put a “call to action” on the part of the reader.

He explained that a “call to action” was merely a direction given the reader. For instance, a shared link that the writer urges the reader to explore, or a post from the past that has relevance at the moment. It seems a simple, straightforward task, doesn’t it?

I thought so, too, until I began it. What should I use for my call to action, I asked myself. I thought about the sites I’d been to in the past couple of days, the blog posts I’d made elsewhere, the past posts I’d made here and on Claudsy’s Blog. Perhaps, I could pinpoint one of the blogs that I follow on a regular basis, with/without my personal comments. Choices circled my head until I was dizzy.

The unhappy/happy result was that I chickened out and did a bit of all of them. Yes, I admit, I had to make it much more complicated than it was. I know that I always—well, almost always—end a post with at least a question, which is a call to action. You do think about an answer, don’t you, when faced with a question? See there. You did it again.

Each of the following is pertinent to the writer, or reader for that matter. Some ask questions. Others impart information. All can be used for some purpose. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be listed. Enjoy the choices and let me know how you did with them, what you learned, and if any of them helped in any way during your day.

If you managed to get through all of that, you merit a medal of persistence.

Have fun, above all. 

Until later,


Monday, April 9, 2012

We're Having an Interview

Just a short note to announce that children's writer, Denise Stanley, posted an interview with me on her lovely site, A Room to Write. Please feel free to slide over there, read all the "juicy secrets" and leave a comment or question. I'll try to field questions as quickly as possible during today and tomorrow.

Thank you everyone for your kind attention. I return you now to your regularly scheduled snooze. 



Friday, April 6, 2012

Realizing Connectedness

In this cyber age, connectedness means something different than it did a decade or more ago. Definitions change to fit the culture, times, and influences of the day. I've lived long enough to have multiple definitions for the word that means having part/elements logically linked together.

One definition also relates family members as connected by blood or adoption. I have always lived by that definition. Connectedness within chemical compounds or atomic distribution is also applicable. 

Links through philosophical beliefs or theories could apply. Today we also have connectedness within the cyber world.

How connected are you? How many social networks do you belong to? How many do you believe you need to belong to as a writer for a successful brand/platform/name? Or, do you think you have to be connected at all?

The rule of thumb in the business world, whether on Wall Street, in Washington D.C., or in Hollywood, declares; you’re only as important/influential as those whom you know, whom you’re connected to. All things being equal, who do you know?

Writers are told each day that platform matters to our career paths and futures. We’re advised to join networks, make connections, so that the circle of our influence continues to move ever-outward with new contacts and their networks. (I wonder if there will come a time when everyone in the world will be connected directly to every other person on the planet, if only in name.

If that were the case, would there be any influence at all for anyone? Each person would have as much backing as everyone else. Where would that leave us?

You’re probably wondering why I began this thought path. In doing Robert Brewer’s Author Platform Challenge this month, I realized this morning how much of the process I’ve already gone through and completed.

I have my networks in place, my Facebook, and Twitter accounts active and gaining members. I have my blogs, obviously. The thing I’m waiting to learn is how I can get these networks to work for me with positive changes which continue to build each week. I’d also like to know how to use the blogs for creating my own  readership, which continues to grow. Along with growing blogs, I’d like to know how to make them as enjoyable as possible and how to get them to pay me.

I’m not thinking of huge amounts of money here. I am talking about payoffs in book sales, etc. I’m hoping the appropriate tasks come along soon. I suppose the most useful piece of info for me is how to do all I need to do without using massive amounts of time in the process. Right now, time is something in short supply around here.

While I get myself all squared away here with the platform development challenge, tell me how you handle your own platform. Do you have one? If so, what is it and how long have you been building it? What are your goals for your career and do you think your platform will help you achieve those goals?

Leave me a comment. Tell about how you’re working all of this modern writing business connectedness aspect. I’m interested in knowing what others are doing with their work and how their efforts are paying off for them.

Until later,


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life Is Full of Challenges

I’ve filled Claudsy’s Blog with poetry for this month’s challenges, but I haven’t really done anything with the Author’s Platform Development Challenge. I mention in passing on Wordpress and BlogHer but don’t discuss it.

Calliope will work well for periodic posts to keep me motivated to develop a “professional” brand, platform, persona, what-have-you.

Robert Brewer, of “No Name is Not Bob” fame and Poetic Asides, has been working to train writers on the development of a professional author’s platform for some time. He chose to do this challenge to get writers fired up and engaged in their own futures. Additional articles and reading recommendations extend the background material, which encourages the writer to step out and march forth into her chosen future.

The challenge is four days in and I’ve managed to have all of them done before dinner of the fourth day. Below are the first two days’ worth of tasks: defining myself as a writer and setting goals for segments of the next year.

Day 1: Platform Challenge – Define Yourself

Name: Claudette J. Young

Position: Freelance writer—multiple genres, retired teacher

Skills: Freelance writing—no current clients have me on retainer, though I have other contracts completed, poetry—published, fiction—published, non-fiction—published, travel writing—published, part-time writing coach, blogging, research, book review writing, interviews, newsletter writing, problem solving, idea generation, story development brainstorming, logistics detailing

Social Media Platforms: Facebook, Wordpress (2), Blogger, LinkedIn, Branch Out, She Writes, BlogHer, Jacketflap, Google +, Twitter


Accomplishments: Published poetry in two anthologies—2009 & 2011, published poetry in four online mags, published poetry on numerous websites, published writer’s articles (4) in ICL Newsletter, published travel articles for Assoc. Content and on Trailing Inspirations, published op-ed work for Associated Content, did contract work for both Assoc. Content and Yahoo News, published children’s fiction for British publisher and online Catholic children’s mag, supplied educational materials for SuperTeacher Worksheets, Completed ICL Basic Writing Course through ICL, ready to finish writing course for Great Courses, took travel writing course through AWAI, Graduated from BSU with two Bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s, taught at both college and elementary level successfully, survived non-stop corporate work for IBM in FSD, and managed to become a senior citizen without feeling old until I got there.

Interests: Writing, travel, learning, friends and family, developing into the best human being I can be, crocheting, beading, camping

In one sentence, who am I? I, Claudette J. Young, am a writer who almost waited too long to take her desire and her words seriously; a person who yearns to learn all that time and patience will allow; a person whose gypsy spirit never settles in one place before moving on to a new possibility; a woman who’s always traveled life without a partner or offspring; a woman who could neer be happy living a conventional life; one who would travel continuously if she was financially able; and a woman with emotions that run so deep they overtake her, at times, upon seeing a simple commercial.

Immediate Goals Today:

1.     Complete poems for challenges—PA, PB, and BlogHer. DONE
2.     Post each resulting poem to appropriate Websites and blogs DONE
3.     Begin rewrite on “Moon Sees All” after checking to make sure of format DONE
4.     Complete workout this afternoon DONE

Goals for This Week:

1.     Do each day’s challenges from poetry sites and post them all.
2.     Work min. one hour each day on “Failures to Blessings”
3.     Work min. one hour each day on “Moon Sees All” revision
4.     Work min. one hour each day on course work—either online or BGS
5.     Take at least one hour to relax with a good book each day.
6.     Talk to Peg
7.     Finish going through boxes and organizing office—use one hour per day

Goals for This Month:

1.     Complete all challenge’s for poetry and platform development
2.     Complete BGS course and set aside
3.     Get good handle on Lisle course
4.     Develop work schedule that allows for rewriting mss and writing poetry
5.     Get Cookbook layout completed, recipes placed and formatted
6.     Create Budget for the month to allow for what we need and money for next month
1.     Finish rewrite and submission process for “The Moon Sees All.”--Knopf?

Goals for 2012:

2.     Get Cookbook finished and to publisher/self-publish
3.     Lose at least 60 pounds
4.     Get more fit so that I won’t need a knee replacement
5.     From April through Dec. submit at least two short stories/articles each month to print/online publishers
6.     Finish and submit “Failures to Blessings” to Hay House and two other publishers by Sept.
7.     Finish and submit “Dreamie’s Box to print publisher/MuseItUp
8.     Finish and submit “Forest Primeval” to publisher—Knopf?
9.     Successfully conclude the first nine months of writing course.

Goals to Accomplish Before I Die:

1.     Visit Europe on extended vacation
2.     Publish at least three books in both fiction and non-fiction
3.     Produce a steady stream of published articles, stories, essays, and poetry
4.     Find a place where I can be content for more than a few years
5.     Become the person I know I can be
6.     Have enough continuous income that I don’t feel concern when a bill arrives
7.     Get rid of both properties that are weighing me down.
8.     Learn to sail
9.     Go to Disney World and Epcot Center
10.  Experience all of the National Parks in the country
11.  Enjoy good health and vitality for a long while before death.

The tasks for Days 3 and 4 had already been done. I already have a Facebook account and profile, along with having it on the new Timeline format, and I already have a Twitter account and profile. Although, I do need to refresh the Twitter profile. I haven’t done that in over a year.

Throughout April, posts will appear here every few days, outlining my progress through this challenge to attain a professional standing within the writing business. Check back in each week to see how my journey progresses. Feel free to comment on any post, give advice, cheer me on, but no raspberries. Those are for the table.