Sunday, May 31, 2015

Guest blogger, writer and instructor Tara Lynne Groth

It is with great pleasure I present a guest blogger today, Tara Lynne Groth. I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in Asheville with Tara Lynne as instructor. I was blown away with her extensive, helpful ideas and suggestions on how writers reach the public and by doing so, sell their books. 

Promoting Your Book Without Promoting Your Book

When you create and own a product or service, you need to sell it in efforts of making a profit. New authors often have the misconception that their success is measured in book sales. Sell, sell, sell. Writers spend time around other writers and see book sales tactics ad nauseum: Personalized bookmarks, contest giveaways, time-sensitive discounts, etc. Instead of focusing on selling in order to increase book sales, authors might want to focus on their platform as a whole.

A writer’s platform is an author’s influence and reputation to the public. A book is just one part of a platform. Focusing time, energy, and effort only into selling a book is like having a baker make hundreds of perfect cupcakes – but have no storefront.

In addition to an author’s book (and let’s hope there are plans for more), other pieces of the almighty writer platform include: Freelance contributions, memberships, awards, alma mater, certifications, conferences, blog, podcast, social media, etc.

Here are three ways you can grow your writer platform, increase awareness about your book(s), and get paid:
1.      Freelance. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish – will readers know who you are before your book is released? Wouldn’t it be nice if they were waiting for your book? Writing articles local or national magazines can help grow your exposure and significantly increase your credibility. Not only do you get paid as a freelance journalist (I encourage you to pitch the markets that pay!), you also get access to the publication’s audience—a larger platform than yours alone generally. Depending on the market’s focus, perhaps the editor would be inclined to write a book review or feature your book in their market? You already have a professional connection from freelancing—take advantage of it!

2.      Seminars/speaking engagements. Think about the memberships you belong to – writing and non-writing alike. Perhaps you have a background in medicine and one of the characters in your novel experiences cancer. Inquire with medical organizations in your area (and outside your area) about opportunities to speak on panels at their conferences/events. Seek paid opportunities where you can contribute your expertise while at the same time including a note in your bio and introduction about your novel(s).

3.      Awards/contests. Although some award and contest applications require fees to apply, seek out free and low-cost opportunities with monetary prizes. An award helps establish your expertise and can be used in marketing of your book – whether on the book jacket as an emblem, in your bio, or when making introductions to secure future paid speaking engagements.
All of the above opportunities do not require you to ask, beg, suggest, or plead anyone to buy your book. Instead, these tasks help build your credibility, income, and add value to who you are and the books you represent. Platform, platform, platform.

Bio: Tara Lynne Groth is a full-time freelance writer in North Carolina. She is the force behind the popular blog Write Naked (, and the founder of Triangle Writers and Asheville Writers. Tara Lynne instructed a 10-week book marketing class at Duke University’s Osher Institute in 2014 and will present “Your Writer Platform” at Glenda Beall’s Writers Circle Around the Table on August 22, 2015 (Registration closes July 1st.)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Squire Summer Writing Residency in Greenville in July

The Squire Summer Writing Residency will be an exciting place for writers to be in July. This is a long weekend of intensive workships with accomplished instructors, group events such as readings and discussions. Those attending will have an opportunity to share work with dedicated writers and the chance to bond with writers from across the state of NC and beyond. 

 Participation is limited to the first sixteen qualified registrants in each workshop, for a total of forty-eight attendees. 

Participants will sign up for one workshop for the weekend. The instructors are highly qualified and I'm sure anyone who attends will be overjoyed with their time there. 

GREENVILLE—Registration is now open for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2015 Squire Summer Writing Residency.
The Residency runs Thursday, July 23, through Sunday, July 26, at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC
Wish I could go. If you, my readers, go to Greenville for this weekend, please let me know what it is like and what you think of it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Register now. Don't wait.

Joan Ellen Gage posted about a Writers Circle class in June.

Read here.

It is time to register. Don't wait too long.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Baby Foxes from the Window

This  past week I visited a friend and had a wonderful experience. A fox had dug out a den under  my friend's back deck. I stood at the  kitchen window and  watched four baby foxes play like little kittens on the deck, in the flower pots and planters and in the back yard. Mother fox sat like she was posing in her soft black and  brown fur, her head erect turning left and right. Obviously she kept a sharp alertness for any movement of danger while her kits were getting their afternoon exercise.

We don't often get such a close up view of wild animals in their natural state. My friend's house is on a wooded lot and a big open field is near by. Her back yard is secluded with a wall on the far side. 

My friend said she  discovered the baby foxes in her yard soon after her father passed away about a week ago. I know that watching the new life, the babies in the back yard, helped her family deal with the loss of such a fine man and father. 

It is always  hard to lose a loved one, especially the last living parent, and realize that now there is no one who loves us as unconditionally as a mother or father. Sometimes it seems we have far more sadness in our lives that we can handle, but we manage to go on and do what is expected of us. The adversity we face usually makes us stronger. I think when we get through the first major loss without coming apart at the seams we are surprised and relieved to  know we can do this. We know we will live and one day be whole again, but it takes time to heal. 
I hope that watching the foxes from the window helps with  the healing of my friend.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Autumn at Yellowstone 2004

I often use prompts in my classes and one of the best prompts is a photograph. I have written a number of poems prompted by pictures of loved ones or photos of places.

Tonight I came upon some photos taken when we vacationed at Yellowstone National Park.

The photos reminded me of several poems I wrote about the bison roaming the prairie and the roads. I'll share one of them and three photos taken by my brother-in-law, Stu Moring.

Autumn at Yellowstone 2004

Is it the fire or maybe just September
that paints the park in shades of brown?
A herd of bold, shaggy bison crop
amber prairie grass waving below
rocky mountain peaks.
Do the small calves by their side face
certain death from winter’s blizzards?

I reach from my car window,
touch the sloughing coat of one
historic survivor marching like a tired soldier
down the highway’s center line.
In the distance hobbling on three legs,
no longer able to keep up ―
a potential dinner for wolves.

It was September and all was gold and brown

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tables - dining tables, family tables and round tables

Our prompt about tables brought out some interesting comments. Some you can read on the blog and others were emailed to me.

I was reminded that William Everett, poet, writer and blogger, makes very special tables.Visit his website to read his poetry and see photos of the various tables he makes for use in worship service. His artist wife, Sylvia, creates pieces used for worship as well.

Bill developed a ministry called the Roundtable Project.  

On his blog, he says, "The Roundtable Project emerged out of my long interest in the relation of ethics and worship....Beginning with the creation of round tables as the central focal point for worship, it now embraces roundtable worship forms and the cultivation of circle conversation groups to help people deal with difficult issues."

It seems that round tables help us best reconcile our differences. Perhaps government leaders should sit at a round table instead of long rectangular tables when they pursue common goals.  

William Everett says of the Communion Tables he builds:
"The roundtable links the experience of communion to the work of reconciliation in our world. "

"The roundtable symbolizes in our time the way in which people seek to reconcile their differences through mutual counsel. It also symbolizes a place of nurture where we can all share in the bounty of God's earth."

Read more here. 

Family Tables - round, oblong, rectangular or square    

When we moved to North Carolina from our home in south Georgia, I sold the large dining room table that was in this house. I had always wanted a round table for Barry and me. We found it in Atlanta -- a  round oak table with two leaves to make it oblong if we needed more room. It is the perfect size for two or four people to sit or we can seat six comfortably. My chairs were special-ordered. They are upholstered with casters. So comfortable. My friends often tell me how much they like my chairs because the casters make it easier to push away from the table and the arms on each chair are helpful for rising.

My family, after all us brothers and sisters were older, sat around the table, sometimes for hours, after a meal. (Upholstered chairs would have been appreciated.) Our most memorable conversations took place there. Perhaps that is why my four brothers and my father could work together for decades. They reconciled any differences while seated together around that table. On holidays, before my parents and brothers died, the leaves expanded the surface to hold places for 10 or twelve of us.  A kids' table was set in another room.

When I was growing up our entire family of nine sat down to supper every night. We called our mid-day meal dinner. It was the large meal of the day. I can still see my sun-browned father at the head of the table. Mother sat on his right. Baby Gay occupied the well-worn high chair between Mother and Daddy and I sat on Mother's right side. My brothers filled in around the table with Ray, the oldest brother, next to Daddy.

After the meal my father enthralled us with stories from his childhood and his baseball playing days. He enjoyed retelling the tales as much as we loved hearing them.

My four brothers inherited the storytelling gene. When they grew up, they regaled us with laughter at their mischievous antics and pranks on friends, even on their wives. Max, my only living brother, is still a great storyteller.
A farm table similar to the one we had when I was a child.

Tables, like the one Pat Davis mentions in comments in the last post, are platforms for many tales we can dredge up in our memories. .