30 Writing Blog Post Ideas

by Deidre Dykes 

(OR a list of topics which I will probably need to refer back to as the year goes on and/or when inspiration flags)

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Best Of Collections

  1. Writers, editors, publishers, bloggers, or other industry representatives who inspire you
  2. Tools or apps that you rely on or that you find interesting
  3. Who to follow on twitter, blogs, pinterest, facebook, etc.
  4. Links to articles about a topic/related topics
  5. The best blog posts, tweets, or articles that you’ve read recently

Personal Essays

  1. An influential person in your life or childhood who shaped you
  2. A difficult decision that you made
  3. A vacation, trip, or event that you will never forget
  4. A sensory tour of a place, food, or item that is important to you
  5. Give up something for a week/month and write about how it influenced you

How-To Posts

  1. How to make a drink or food item that you love to share
  2. How to create graphics using free software
  3. How to use a social media platform (wordpresstwitterfacebookpinterest)
  4. Any step-by-step guide for something you’re familiar with
  5. How to research or fact-check a particular topic

Media 

  1. Embedded videos from YouTube that made you laugh or smile
  2. Photos that you took of some event or place you went that inspired you
  3. Links to articles or blog posts that made you think
  4. Infographics that relate to what you write or read
  5. Photos or screenshots that aid a tutorial you’re writing

General Interest

  1. Cute or funny animal posts
  2. Memes or humorous photos with fun captions
  3. Use your authorial expertise to write about non-fiction topics that come up in your fictional work (cars, guns, food, fashion, shopping, drinks, technology)
  4. True stories that are stranger than fiction
  5. Posts asking “What if” something was different – anything from politics to celebrities to history to geography

Lists

  1. A list of writing prompts (or even blog topics!)
  2. A list of things that inspire you or make you happy
  3. A list of your favorite books and how they influenced you
  4. A check-list that helps you
  5. A list of productivity tricks and tips

Introverts Unite! Networking for Writers

By Caroline Noonan

Definition: noun net·work·ing: Connecting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts; the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

Hmmm, you say. Doesn’t apply to writers. Writing is about me, my laptop and my awesome manuscript. Well you’re right. To a point. But nowadays we are expected to self-promote, self-market and be our own editors. We are asked to speak, maintain websites and have a presence on social media. And if that’s not bad enough, a great many of us are introverts. Introverts prefer to listen and observe. We are reflective and focused and speak through our art. Networking goes against our very nature and can feel disingenuous.

But consider the potential benefits of a little networking:

  • Are you looking for feedback on your manuscript before querying?
  • Would you like to find critique partners whose opinion you trust?
  • Would you like support and encouragement from like-minded individuals?
  • Are you actively seeking an agent or an editor?
  • Do you want to make writing your career?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should seriously consider networking. Okay, so maybe I’ve piqued your interest. The next step is How? Here are a four practical ways that have helped me personally:

  1. Meetup. Meetup.com is the world’s largest network of local groups, making it easy to organize or find an existing group in your area. I found my local writer’s group and my regular critique partners through Meetup. Yes, I was biting my nails and psyching myself out before that first meeting, but it was smooth sailing after that. Remember, give the same courtesy and consideration in critiquing other’s work that you would like given to yours.
  2. Join a Professional Writer’s Organization. There are many organizations who connect you with other writers and organize local events, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). These organizations have strong on-line communities, as well as terrific regional and national conferences that are well attended by other writers, agents and editors (some of whom give preferential consideration to organization members).
  3. Go to a Writer’s Conference. I suggest starting with a local or regional conference. Get there early and introduce yourself to the folks sitting around you. Ask them what genre they write and what they are working on. Ask them for a business card. Maybe even follow them on Twitter. (Follow Caroline@carolinehnoonan)
  4. Social Media. There is a huge on-line community of writers, especially on Twitter. Many literary agents run contests on Twitter, and I know individuals who have found their critique partners there. Social Media is a great place to share ideas, connect with others and give someone a nod of encouragement when they need it. Next time, it might be you needing the nod!

I hope you find these ideas as helpful and practical as I did. Just remember, writers are basically all nice people, and nearly everyone is in the same boat as you!

Ghostwriting

by Priya Ramachandran

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Not many people know this yet but I’m trying my hand at ghostwriting. It’s one of many creative projects I’m juggling at this time.

I’m NDA’d so I can’t give details of who, what, when, where etc about the book or the person I am writing it for.

So far it’s been quite fun. I’m lucky that the person I’m writing this for sees my quirkiness for what it is, and embraces it. I’ve been told I should maintain my voice throughout the book.

I do all my interviewing over phone, Skype and email. I produce a chapter, I send it off. I get detailed revision notes. I get paid every week, at least for the weeks I’ve managed to turn in an invoice on time. It’s a shortish project, no more than a couple of months, so there’s really no room to get bored. I’m enjoying all of this.

But really, why am I saying all this? And sounding so thankful? Because I’ve had the opposite experience at least a couple of times. One time, I had this amazing magazine publisher who wined and dined me in Starbucks (ok, caffeinated me) and Omni Shoreham in DC. It was a large event with a coupla hundred people, so of course, I came away with stars in my eyes. He had me write up a bunch of stories, and I happily produced them. If he’s buying me, and a hundred other people, lunch in a big hotel ballroom, he must be some big kahuna, right?

Wrong.

He completely took me for a ride. I wrote all the articles assigned to me, and invoiced him. Every week, it was the same story. The check was with Finance. The person in Legal was on vacation for the next two weeks. It was posted last week. Was I sure someone was not stealing my mail?

Then it escalated to phone threats. Bit rich, no? You owe me money, and when I ask, politely, to be paid, I’m threatened. I complained about the guy at some job post boards, but ultimately, it didn’t seem worth the trouble for a couple thousand dollars. Seven years later, the checks have not yet arrived. Somewhere along the way, I learned the value of letting go.

Another time I was doing some writing for a startup. Same story there, except I did get paid for the first month’s work. The runaround was similar after that. I have no idea how I managed to work for four months more without getting paid. They must’ve had some very convincing stories, or maybe I had a specially knit dunce cap on.

In this case, however, the startup got bought over by a larger company, which ultimately paid me. It was great to come home to a check a year and half after the fact, but still… I actually have some amount of sympathy for the startup. I can understand bootstrapping. I wish they’d been more honest about their financial situation, instead of giving me a runaround.

Sooo… I’ve been burnt enough to be thankful for normalcy 😀

Ghostwriting is not without its drawbacks. There’s a part of me that feels a little like a surrogate mother. It’s like having a baby that will ultimately be someone else’s child. Maybe I can admire it from afar and feel proud that I was there at its inception, but that will be the extent of my involvement with it for the rest of its bookly life.

The bigger issue I’m facing nowadays is… I don’t feel like my tech writing, my ghostwriting, blogposts etc count as writing. I think I have to be writing fiction or poetry to feel like I’m actually writing.

I recently started creating cartoons for fun. Strangely enough, when I’m sketching, I don’t feel the same sense of disconnect I feel from other forms of writing. (I bought a new Adonit Jot Pro stylus, and the Sketchbook free app downloaded on my iPhone… My egg-yolk-ghostwriter attempt is created using these tools 😀 Wonder why I never thought of them before. Constance Brown, if you’re reading this, big thanks to you for suggesting Sketchbook! Now sarcastic little Grandma Moses, who sits in my head and tells me bad things that make me snicker, will get kicked out into her own little soapbox!)

Deep in the Woods

I’m in it for real now. I’ve submitted my query letter and sample pages to five publishers and agents, just kicked my baby bird out of the nest with the hope that it will learn to fly on the way down.

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So far I have received two rejections and one full manuscript request. That’s got to be worth something, hasn’t it? We’ll just call it even for now. The thing is, the one place that expressed interest is a publisher, to whom I physically handed my query and pages at a convention. And, should they want to buy the book/series, that would make me an unagented writer, which I understand to be a potentially very dangerous thing. There are a lot of  opinions  on what this means for a new writer.

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I lack any strong negotiation skills and I am by no means an expert in contracts. There is a very real chance that I could be nickled and dimed to death by a publishing house because I failed to look out for my own best interests. Even in an ideal case, in which my book series sells well and makes money, I may see very little of it if I don’t properly arm myself with an agent or other representative who will help keep me from making a poor decision.

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I’m lucky to have several friends who are lawyers and who may be able to help me out in a pinch. But that’s not the ideal scenario at all (though I have to hope it’s better than drowning in legally binding language). I’d really much rather have a literary agent. I want someone with whom I have an ongoing business relationship, someone who knows me, someone who cares about whether or not I succeed. Yes, I know my agent won’t be my friend – but I can wish for someone who cares not only because of the monetary gains for himself, but because he genuinely wants for me to succeed. A girl can hope!

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Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned but I always dreamed of getting published the “classic” way: an agent, a New York publishing house, books on the shelves of the big name stores and libraries across the country, a book tour with signings – all of that. But it’s a vision that needs to change more and more as the industry itself is transforming. And this transformation is happening right before our eyes! The rise of Amazon and e-books/e-readers is just one piece of a large and ever-changing puzzle. Self-publishing is even becoming reputable (whereas a decade or more ago, it was just something to do for one’s own vanity) and more and more new writers are choosing it. Andy Weir’s hit novel, The Martian, was originally self-published and it’s now a feature film.

For many people, self-publishing is a viable and even a very good option. It’s not the option that I choose for myself, but it’s worth considering for plenty of first-time writers. Even my old, curmudgeonly self can admit that the changes in the industry are fascinating, fun, and worth embracing.

Everyone Has a Story

by Deidre Dykes

This is Smokie.

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He is a 24 year old Congo African Grey parrot who is now living with my husband and I.  We volunteer with an area parrot rescue and rehoming non-profit called Phoenix Landing and work as foster bird parents to help birds who are between former homes and a Forever Home. Smokie here is the fifth bird we have fostered over the past three years.

But the point here isn’t my husband’s and my story – it’s Smokie’s tale. And right now, we don’t know much about him.

What we know to be true:

  • Smokie is 24 and has never laid an egg (so he’s probably male)
  • His owner died of COPD and the owner’s family could no longer care for him
  • His diet was mostly seeds and table scraps (not very good for a bird)

Otherwise, we were given almost no information about him. The first thing we discovered is that he’s skittish about hands. The second? He really likes scrambled eggs.

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The first time I offered him a spoonful of eggs this morning, he said, “Pretty. You’re so pretty!” Flatterer.

He’s been with us for three days now and, as birds do through their repeated words and their behaviors, he’s revealed some things to us:

  • He likes to be hand-fed food tidbits from your dinner plate
  • If you leave him alone in a room, he will fly to the floor and try to find you and follow you like a dog
  • His owner had a terrible cough

About half of the vocalizations that Smokie makes are growling, coughing noises. But today he let out what was clearly a long, wheezing cough. It sounded like someone fighting to breathe. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard and it told, in fifteen seconds, the sad story of Smokie’s last owner. A long life of love together with his bird living in his bedroom and a slow, terrible death from suffocation.

And poor Smokie had to watch it all.

This is a sad, damaged bird who desperately needs a loving home to give him the life he deserves. I hope we can help him get eating healthier, teach him to trust new people again, and help to find him the right family.

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As I took this photo, Smokie said to me, “Okay. It’s okay.” And he’s right. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, little bird. We’ve got you.