Today's Tinderbox Society guest post comes again from the wise and witty, Georgia Lee, who first posted this on her own blog, Georgia Lee Says, after an eventful weekend. She's sharing some very dry (and dead on!) insight about the ins and out of pursing publication as a writer!
At The Atlanta Writers Conference, strife, confusion and downright frustration were recurring themes that apply not only to writers, but also to human beings, even the seemingly normal ones.
“When do I get off this merry-go-round?” said one attendee at the weekend event, at the Airport Westin Hotel “I devote years and blood sweat and tears just writing the book. Then years finding, hiring and firing agents, then waiting, getting close, then going nowhere near publishing.”
“I may not live long enough to get anywhere with this,” said another. “Some days I don’t even remember why I wanted to write in the first place.”
Over the past decade, the publishing merry-go-round has added more pretty horses to ride – self-publishing, small presses, e-books, Amazon, et al. Yet the golden ring – landing a lucrative book contract with a big publishing house, unless you’re James Patterson, J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, is more elusive than ever.
The Atlanta Writers Conference, sponsored by the Atlanta Writers Club, a century old organization, with over 700 members, breaks a few barriers – by bringing the New York publishing mountain to Mohamed.
Friday: Aspiring writers meet one-on-one with agents, who critique “query letters,” an elevator speech proposal that must be as polished, if not more so, than the book itself. Afterward, a writer may stay up all night agonizing over the pitch, based on the agent’s suggestions, or ditch it altogether. A few lucky souls are encouraged, by a “show me more,” response.
Day Two: Editors, the big-time gatekeepers, critique partial manuscripts, sent in advance by bullet-sweating writers, in 15-minute one-on-one sessions. Awards are bestowed on the best of each. Actual publication is never a guarantee.
And if this isn’t mind-blowing enough – all writers, artists, and business owners must become masters of social media.
“Writers Digest Books” freelance editor Chuck Sambuchino, @chucksambuchino, www.chucksambuchino.com and www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog an obvious expert on the topic, held a Friday workshop. The audience, aware of the online imperative, was also dazed and confused by its baffling complexity. And who among us isn’t?
But it’s simple, really. Sambuchino defines the obligatory platform as “Visibility, influence, reach, authority, network, amplification, discoverability, ability to self market, avenues to speak to a community of your choosing, channels that exist for you to immediately reach others.
A successful platform requires these building blocks:
* Website and/or blog of impressive size
* An e-newsletter/mailing list of impressive size
* Article/column writing (or correspondent involvement) for the media
* Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs and periodicals
* A track record of strong past book sales
* Individuals of influence you know who’ll help you market at no cost
* Public speaking appearances – the bigger the better
* An impressive social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
* Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
* Recurring media appearances and interviews – in print, radio, TV or online.
Now go write the Great American Novel. Find the perfect agent who’ll sell it to the perfect editor, who’ll sell the idea to the best publishing houses and get your million-dollar advance. Immediately begin your next project, while constantly updating your Website, Twitter, Facebook (author and book pages) Blog(s) and checking analytics for performance on all of the above.
It’s that easy.
Directs Writing Center – former Bureau Chief WWD, contributor to every publication in the known world, yoga guru, psychic, Beatlemaniac, milkshake addict.
Today's guest post for Tinderbox Society is from Rena Blain, a self-proclaimed newborn writer! She joined the 8 week Tinderbox Workshop fall series two weeks ago and...
THIS is her first blog post -- EVER!
I'm so happy to share it here. I hope you'll read and share this sweet story. And leave Rena a comment or two, to welcome her and her voice to the party!
THE COAT RACK
One day Blue Coat had a hole that needed to be patched. She came to Coat Rack and asked if she could hang on the rack’s hook. Coat Rack, being made of strong Oak, said, “Sure, I would love to help.”
As Blue started to hang, Coat Rack thought to herself, “Her hole wasn’t that big and I really want to help people.”
Then came Red Coat, who had a torn sleeve. She asked if Coat Rack knew how to mend it. Coat Rack stated, “Hmmm, I am sure we can figure it out. Hang here while we look at this.”
As Red started to hang, Coat Rack thought, “Whoa, now I can’t see on either side of me. But that’s okay, it’s only temporary.”
In the meanwhile, Yellow Coat, with a broken zipper, came and hung herself upon Coat Rack’s mighty oak arm all on its own.
“Ouch” yelled Coat Rack. “You just scratched and scuffed some of my wood.”
Yellow snapped, “I didn’t mean to.”
Coat Rack felt bad for Yellow so she dismissed the hurt and said, “It’s okay, Yellow. I will help you, anyway.”
Before Coat Rack knew it, Purple Coat arrived. Purple gasped, “Coat Rack, you look full, but I really could use a place to hang. I only need a small mend in my hood.”
Standing up tall like the mighty oak that Coat Rack was made from, she said, “Purple, you have been my dear friend the longest. I would never leave you in a time of need.” So Purple hung on Coat Rack.
As Blue, Red, Yellow, and Purple continued with their hanging, Coat Rack was scuffed, scratched, and could no longer see because each of her arms were full. Over time, the constant added weight made her tired and not feel well. Where she once stood tall, polished, and strong she was now scratched, dingy, and weak. Her legs wobbled a little. One of her posts was loose. But apparently she still looked to be strong and stable to others. Or maybe they just ignored her struggle, because no one offered to help her.
Then one day the Coat Rack said to herself, “I cannot do this anymore. I tried to mend the ones I could. I cried with the ones I couldn’t. But I can no longer support myself, much less these others, too.”
She dropped all the coats.
Coat Rack started to withdraw and stayed to herself. She spoke with others but never really invited them to hang. Then one day, she decided to grab the sander and slowly sanded the dull stain. It hurt at times but she knew it was for the greater good. Once all the dullness was gone and the scratches were mended, she tightened her legs and then her arms. All that was left to do was to apply some varnish to make her nice and shiny.
But then, Red and Blue coat became jealous. Yellow Coat thought she became cold-hearted. Purple Coat was the only one who understood and remained loyal. Coat Rack wished they could understand that she was only one coat rack and could not help everyone. She could help them find the tools necessary to mend their problem but only they could make the actual repair.
Coat Rack could no longer put everyone else above her needs. And so she decided. To remain strong, she would help when she could but would no longer carry the problems of others.
If someone became jealous, she did not let it bother her. They could sand their dullness just like she did. If someone thought she was cold-hearted, she did not let it bother her. They could tighten their legs and arms too. Most of all, Coat Rack assured the coats by her own example that they could apply new stain and varnish to their own parts. Because no one could repair themselves better than they.
Without all that extra weight, she could stand tall and see clearly. Coat Rack remembered the mighty oak at her core and felt renewed and stronger than ever.
Rena Blain is a newborn writer and a native Georgian living just north of Atlanta. Over the years she has expressed her creativity through cross stitch, crocheting, scrapbooking, and quilting. However, she considers her biggest creative accomplishment to be her work helping others through her own practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist. You can find her here: www.southerntranquilmassage.com
Since taking a high school elective in the 80’s called Enjoy Reading, Rena has embraced the creativity and thought process that came with reading and storytelling. Currently, she is practicing writing short stories while also enjoying being a wife and mother. One day she hopes you’ll see her name in print!
Today's guest post is by Tinderbox Society member, Georgia Lee. After our first meeting this week of the Fall workshop series, she offered to share a sublime blog, which is also posted on her own site, Georgia Lee Says. I hope you'll be inspired!
The full moon pulls me outside and I rise or fall, like the obedient tide. Last night, early October, the Hunters or Harvest - each full moon has a name, you know. I don't feel like looking it up, but I'm going with Hunters. It suits my current mood. And Harvest Moon gets too much attention.
I feel sorry for the other moons, unsung by, uh - Neil Young? - prolific Southern Manhater? I hope Neil Young will remember, a southern woman don't need him around, anyhow. If only I'd stuck with my own kind, flawed though they all are, I might not be out on wet grass after midnight, alone. Alone!! With vampire mosquitoes, out for a last taste of blood before we all sink into our winters' underworld.
My friends, I am a hopeless DRAMATIC. My backyard - The Fountain Theater, is an Al Fresco cross between the Globe and the Kit-Kat Club. In its heyday: Drunken Pagan Players; Shakespeare's Bastards; 500 Megahertz Revue and Versailles A'flame drew raving reviews, from teenage vagrants, neighborhood vigilantes and the Dekalb County Police. As founder, I directed, produced and starred in most.
The 2014 Summer Season never made pre-production. Shut down, as death, unemployment, breakdowns, assaults and stalkers plagued the theater, its owners and backers.
Last night, through a rotting patio door, I entered the sad, neglected ruins. Is anything more ominous than a darkened theater? Three rows of burnt out stage lights sagged the stage, where the Italianate eponymous Fountain is a cesspool of disease-carrying vermin. Virginia Creeper and dead mimosas sling long arms over ghosts in empty seats. A breeze carries a whisper of dialogue. Smoke of dry ice slithers through weeds. Sweet, decayed gardenias swill in spilled beer.
Into this wreckage, with lavender candle, three quartz crystals and an I-Pad, I stake my gray yoga mat in the ground. Brian Eno's "Music for Airports" is near silent, drowned by the thriving cicada/cricket stereo.
For thirty minutes, I sit. Breathe in. Breathe out. Only breath. It doesn't hold me, my own breath.
I hear my father's automated coma breath, 120 hours of it as I hold the powerful pulse steadfast - on and on, the wrist. I see my mother two years ago. The last scene calls for grace under pressure - Hemingway, Gary Cooper. Even this will not touch me, within me. She rises above.
These two stars dazzle my life.Comedians. Tragedians. Quick chameleons, as all actors must be.
But...this? Are they capable of portraying the the awe, the grandeur of death? Am I, front row - suspending belief, brought to tears, or not, staying until the curtain drops? They are. I am It's over. The End.
I wait. For them to bound back out onto the stage, take several energetic, role-busting bows, applaud me, the audience, and then, with a jaunty wave, exit. Thank you, goodnight everybody!
I wait, with no script. Out for a drink, discuss the end? No. This was one night only, never repeated never duplicated never forgotten.
Tomorrow tomorrow and tomorrow. Last night. The constant moon is my Mother. She reflects shape and light, forming a mosaic of my broken pieces. Full center stage, or hidden behind scenes, in clouds, over horizons.
Dad is the stars - mystery of dreaming constellations, never judging, receiving all that is undiscovered, our surprising universe.
Lured last night into the dead Fountain Theater, I expected nothing but 30 minutes of the full Hunters Moon. I already knew the setting, the characters and the story.
I did not know the message that came behind it. I did not predict the tears. I do not pretend to understand it now. Am I bringing my own bias to it? Probably. It doesn't matter. The dead, once on this stage with us, are with us still. The sheer curtain is opaque. Life and death are equal and both are illusions, stories - a dream within a dream within a dream. There is no Third Wall.
*Save the date: The all-new, fully-renovated, 2015 Fountain Theater, will kick off its Summer 2015 Season Saturday, June 20 with a Summer Solstice Celebrations. Calling all playwrights, actors, musicians, costume and set designers, creatives, rapscallions, art and even sports enthusiasts. Step into the light - all are welcome. Please RSVP. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
DATE: June 20, 2015 EVENT: Summer Solstice Celebration WHERE: The Fountain Theater, Decatur, GA TIME: 8 p.m. until...(we don't follow Time's Arrow) Rain or Shine.
The Show Must Go On.
Georgia Lee directs Writing Center – former Bureau Chief WWD, contributor to every publication in the known world, yoga guru, psychic, Beatlemaniac, milkshake addict.
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