Tag Archives: Edie Melson

Learn How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer–Part One

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos/StuartMiles

I’m in Alaska for a few weeks, but don’t worry, I have a great line-up of guest posts for you!

Some of you know that Edie Melson and I met at the 2001 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference as unpublished writers, and now she’s the co-director of that conference! How’s that for evidence of how hard work pays off? Be sure to read Edie’s bio below, but let me just say here, she is well-respected and well-known in the writing world.

This article is a reprint of Part One of an eight-part series on freelance writing, originally posted on Edie’s popular blog, The Write Conversation. At the end of this post, be sure to follow the link to Edie’s blog, scroll down and you’ll find links to ALL EIGHT POSTS! Hoo-wee!

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos and MoGo7000 Totals

Okay, I know it’s officially the 1st Thursday and not the 2nd, but because I’m heading to Alaska on Tuesday, I need to go ahead and get this Kudos and MoGo7000 post up. Sorry if it causes any confusion!

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There are only a few kudos to report this month. (I think the change in schedule confused everyone!)

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The Fastest Route to Publication…It’s as Easy as 1-2-3!

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some of you have heard my story of writing a poem in first grade. You know that in high school I worked on the newspaper staff and was editor of the literary journal. Some have heard me say that by the time I was in college I knew that one day I would write a book…and then the next thing I knew, I was forty.

At that point, I figured my life was half over. If I was going to write a book, I’d better get started!

But do you know the rest of the story?

I sat down and wrote a book. It only took me about three months to dash from start to finish, but I was confident it would be the next great American novel for kids. I remember the day I dropped the first batch of ten envelopes in the mailbox. “Oh my. What am I going to do when five publishers want my book at the same time? Oh, my!” (I’m dead serious. That’s exactly what I said.)

But instead of a bidding war, the submissions received 10 rejections before the stamps were dry. (Yes, those were the days when you had to actually lick the stamps, too!)

The years came and went and I continued to recycle that book over and over and over, confident that I’d eventually find an editor who had sense enough to see what a gold mine my book would be for his or her publishing house. I did this for at least 5 years, never considering that perhaps, just maybe, I needed to learn something about writing.

In my rush to see my name in print, it took me 7 years, lots of conferences, and lots of rejections to dash across the publication finish line. It took 10 years to have a published book!

I had a simple 1-2-3- plan for publication: 1)feel the urge, 2)write the book, and 3)collect a big fat advance.

Oh, if only it were that easy! For most of us, successful writing is a tortoise event, not a hare one. A cross-country event, not a sprint.

If you want to write a book and then spend 10 years trying to get it published, that’s fine. After all, it’s your book, you can do whatever you want. But if you really want to cross the finish line as a writer, here are the 1-2-3′s to help you get there faster.

1.  Take the time to learn the craft. If you don’t get anything from this post, I hope you get this: There are no shortcuts. I once heard bestselling author, T. Davis Bunn, say something like, “Would someone decide he wants to be a concert pianist, learn to bang out Chopsticks, and then expect to play Carnegie Hall? Would someone decide to be an artist, slap a little paint on a canvas, and then expect a buyer to pay her for it? Of course not! But that’s exactly what we do when we simply sit down, write a book, and think it’s going to be sold.”

So, instead of jumping straight into a book, start at the beginning. Find a local writer’s group, take a class at the community college, and attend writing conferences. Read instructional books and follow instructional writing blogs like this one. (You could sit and read the archives of Writing Instruction here and have your own writer’s conference right in the comfort of your own home!) Learn the techniques of good writing, apply them to your work, and get valid feedback from others who know what to look for. This doesn’t mean you can’t be working on your book from the beginning, but you need to be learning the craft in the process.

2.  Start with short pieces. Many of us start out with a big dream to write and sell a book. And it could happen. Possibly. But your chances for publication increase if you start out small by submitting articles and stories. And the chances of publishing a book are much greater if you’ve already proven you can write publishable short pieces. And the good news is, I post writing opportunities right here on The Christian Writer’s Den once a month, listing places that are looking for writers.

3.  Write a blog. Yes, writing a blog can help you in your race to the writing finish line. Good blogging requires discipline, writing skills, and promotion. All this will help you build a platform while building your writing paper trail. A blog rarely leads to a book contract, although it could happen. But the better goal is to use that time to make connections while learning to write well. Visit Edie Melson’s blog for great posts about blogging and social media.

So there you have it, the 1-2-3 of writing for publication. Follow these steps and you could see your name in print much sooner than you think!

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Who Won Edie Melson’s Book?

It’s Cyn Rogalski! Hoo-wee! Cyn, all you need to do it Contact Me with your mailing address and your book will be on its way!

And if you didn’t win, don’t worry. You can get your own copy of Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers right here! This is a must-have for every writer!

Happy writing, all!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Author Edie Melson

Yes, you read that right! My friend and frequent cohort in crime, Edie Melson, is with us today to share her new social networking book for…get this…writers! Hoo-wee!

And the good news is, it’s a social media book even I can understand! :-)

You could win your own copy of Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers just by leaving a comment this week. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.

But enough chit chat, let’s get started! Edie, you seem to have a very different approach to social media than most marketing experts I read. Can you explain your thoughts?

I approach social media from the writer’s point of view. I don’t have a degree in advertising or marketing. Because of that, I’m very protective of the time a writer has to actually write. To me, social media is the means to an end—the way to develop relationships with readers, other writers, and industry professionals. It’s not the way I earn my living.

How did you get started in social networking?

It came about because I got my dream job. I was hired as the managing editor of a Christian men’s magazine with a target audience of college age males. When I took the job, it didn’t take me long to realize ninety percent of their interaction happened online, through social media. I had to either come up to speed on social networking to the point where I could lead a team or quit. I got busy and learned the ins and outs of social media.

When did you decide to start sharing your information with others?

I first began sharing what I’d learned with our local writers group, then online on my blog. I got an immediate, positive response so I just kept going. I hadn’t realized it consciously, but being someone who didn’t grow up in the digital era gave others hope that they could also conquer this new medium.

How did this particular book come about?

Back in 2011, the publisher of my devotional for military families, Eddie Jones, asked me to do a small eBook on social media for writers. I was busy with a lot of other projects, but agreed to send him my notes that I taught from to see if there was anything useful. Almost before I could catch my breath he had an eBook up on Amazon.

Social Media Marketing for Writers was super short, only about 28 pages, and sold for 99 cents. It took it less than a month to hit number one in its category on Amazon. And it stayed in the top five until we pulled it in August of 2012.

Why did you decide to take it down?

As you may have noticed, anything digital changes drastically over the course of a year. Most of the how-to information in the book was no longer applicable. The principals I taught about social media and blogging still worked, but a lot of that little book was strictly how-to. For example, how to set up a Facebook account, or a build a blog on Blogger. All the interfaces of those platforms had changed, so the information needed to be rewritten.

Tell us about your new book.

Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers is a much more comprehensive book. It’s published by Susan May Warren at My Book Therapy. The largest portion of it teaches the principals of social networking. I include information about how to grow a blog, how to organize your social media, and which social networking platforms are important for writers. I also include tips on how to organize your social media life so you spend the majority of your time writing.

It sounds like this one won’t be obsolete in a year.

Absolutely not. I’ve worked closely with Susie to develop this into a book that will be helpful for years to come, and as well as immediately practical. For example, after each short article there is a list of Connect! Activities. These are designed to give the reader an opportunity to practice what they’ve just learned.

So how can we get the book?

Connections is available right now in the print version through the My Book Therapy website. (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/magento/connections.html). Mid March it will be available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

Edie Melson Bio:

Edie Melson is the author of four books, a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter,  Facebook, and her popular blog for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com

Thanks for joining us today, Edie. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment. You could be the winner!

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A Movie of Words & A Quick Contest!

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What type of writer are you? Some, like my friend Edie Melson, hear the dialogue. Others, like me, see a movie. Here’s the way I see it.

Every book…every chapter…every scene…every page…every paragraph…every sentence…every word we write should transition into a movie onscreen. If we want to write compelling stories, the reader must be able to see the movements, hear the words, and feel the emotion, whether we’re writing mystery, romance, or historical fiction.

In order to make my writing real, I take the words on my paper and project them onto the screen of my mind and then ask, “What kind of movie do I see from only those words?” The problem is, as the writer of the words, my mind inserts lots of information I haven’t actually put on the paper. My mind can see a pretty good scene, complete with all the senses. But I need to see what the reader sees.

If I’ve done a good job, you should be able to see the setting, feel the emotion, and smell the air. The characters should come alive on the screen as you watch them stand, sit, and move around the set.

If I’ve not done a good job, I have plain black and white stills, stuck in a dusty, one-dimensional photo album.

Here’s an example of a boring photo:

An old black woman came into the room. She had a nice voice.

Here’s how Christa Parrish created a movie with words in her novel, Home Another Way.

She looked older than her one hundred years, if that was possible. Her skin, the color of cinnamon sticks hung loosely over her skull, as if she had borrowed it from someone much larger, or bought it off a clearance rack. Age spots clung to her cheeks like leeches. Filmy, sightless eyes peered out from between rheum-caked eyelids, and her earlobes hung nearly to her chin. But her voice was a lullaby of fireflies and snickerdoodles. My tense muscles relaxed under her words.

Oh my goodness! Can you see and hear this dear woman? Now that’s how it’s done! Thank you, Christa!

Okay, readers, how about a quick exercise? I’ve written some black and white stills below. Would you take a few minutes to rewrite them and make them into a movie of words? And then would you post one or more of them as comments?

The winning comment wins a downloadable workshop of your choice from my Store.  :-)

1.  I went across the street and went into the store.

2.  When my daddy came home, the dogs got excited.

3.  She sat down and got to work.

Now friends, time to work your magic. Let’s see you turn one or more of these boring black and whites into a passage worthy of an Academy Award! (You don’t have to do them all. You can do one, two, or all three!)

 

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Writer’s Headlines: A Brand New Call for Submissions, Conferences & Contests

It’s time for Thursday’s Writer’s Headlines…

And that means great opportunities for you! This week’s Writer’s Headlines include a brand new, time sensitive call for submissions, a list of writers conferences, and some writing contests that could bring you some money to help you GO to writers conferences!

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Edie Melson is Looking for True Stories of Abuse

Friends, Family, and Foes: Learning How to Recognize and Stop the Cycle of Domestic Violence—Call for Submissions By Edie Melson

In 2001 my best friend and her daughter were murdered…by her husband. I had spent hours in close proximity with this family and never knew they were victims of domestic violence. That tragedy, along with the things that followed, dramatically shaped my life. I’ve made it one of my life’s missions to warn others about the signs of domestic violence I missed and help them put an end to the cycle of domestic violence so common in our world today.

This book is under contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. We are now accepting submissions of your either your true-life experience with domestic violence or how you dealt with a friend’s experience of domestic violence.

Access the full call to submission for Edie Melson’s writers guidelines for Friends, Family, and Foes here, or find them at Edie Melson’s website. But you must hurry–the deadline is May 31, 2012.

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Writing Contests Can Help You Win

Jennifer Slattery recently joined us here at The Christian Writer’s Den to talk about writing contests. You can check out Jennifer Slattery’s post here.

Here are some contests you might want to check out:

1.  Utmost Christian Writers Poetry Contest

2.  Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel will be announcing a new contest soon. Be on the lookout for it!

3.  Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

4. Writer’s Digest Writing Competition

5.  Word Weavers Writing Contest for members of Word Weavers only. Check with your local chapter for details.

6.  Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest is closed for this year, but you could be working on your book now for next year’s contest!

7.  Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

8.  PBS KidsGO Writing Contest for kids

9.  The Frasier Contest for Voices members at My Book Therapy

10. The Biggest Loser Write It and Win SweepstakesOkay, this isn’t officially a writing contest, but you can write letters to your favorite Biggest Loser competitor and win a trip to the Biggest Loser Resort, Biggest Loser meals, or tickets to the Finale! :-)

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Speakers Conferences


1.  2012 CLASS Reunion: April 27-29, 2012, Palm Springs, CA

2.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 29-September 2 at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. Come join Carolyn Knefely and me as we partner with you to bring Him glory through your writing and speaking ministry! Cec Murphey Scholarships are available! But you must hurry–scholarship deadline is April 1, 2012! Registration deadline is July 29, 2012. Space is limited, so please don’t delay. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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2012 Writer’s Conferences are Moving into High Gear!

Here’s an updated list of writers conferences. Hope you’re planning to make it to at least one!

1.  Carolina Christian Writers Conference: April 20-21, 2012, Spartanburg, SC (I’ll see you there!)

2.  Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 16-19, 2012, Estes Park, CO

3.  Orange County Christian Writers Conference: May 18-20, 2012, Newport Beach, CA

4.  Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 20-24, 2012, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

5.  St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference: June 19-23, 2012, Grove City, PA

6.  North Texas Christian Writers Conference: June 22-23, 2012, Keller, TX (I’ll see you there!)

7.  AnAuthor World/The Writers’ Plot Conference: July 21, 2012, Furman University, Greenville, SC (I’ll see you there!)

8.  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: August 1-4, 2012, Langhorne, PA

9.  Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival: August 11-16, 2012, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

10. Christian Authors Guild “Catch the Wave” Writers Conference: August 23-25, 2012, Norcross, GA

11. CLASS Christian Writers Conference: October 31-November 4, 2012, Ghost Ranch, NM

Can’t wait to see what comes from these links!

Write on!

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos, MoGo7000 February Results & Cec Murphey Scholarships

Thursday’s Writer’s Headlines…

Yep, it’s Thursday, and that means we’re looking at the headlines. Read below to see who’s been blessed with writing success, who’s been writing away and is in the running for $100, and discover a scholarship opportunity for Christian women speakers!

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Are We Willing to Lay It on the Altar?

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

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Don’t Filter Out Good Writing

Photo courtesy of wandee700

Filtering.

Yes, I know we’ve talked about it before. But after critiquing our stuff last week, Edie Melson and I realized how easy it was for those filter words to sneak into our writing.

I first heard the term, filtering, from Cec Murphey. Until that moment, I’d never known what to call it, but intuitively felt it as a writer.

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Writer’s Headlines: Fighting Fear Winner, Call for Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Welcome to Thursday’s Writer’s Headlines!

Today we find out who won Edie Melson’s book, put out a call for your kudos, and ask for your December MoGo7000 totals.

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Who Won Edie’s Book?

Lisa Hoffman! Yay, Lisa! Just Contact Me with your mailing address and your book will be on its way.

Thank you, Edie, for a great interview. I hope Fighting Fear will get into the hands of those who need comfort and strength as they wait for their loved ones to come home.

And congratulations to all the Christian Writer’s Den readers who were published in Edie’s book!

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Call for Kudos!

Yep, it’s that time again. Time to celebrate all your successes! Have you had an article published? Released a new book? Received a contract? Landed an agent? Started a new blog or website? We want to know about it!

Please send your info in this format (Please do not leave as a comment):

  • Your name
  • Your state
  • Link to your site
  • Your good news
  • Link to your good news, if online

And it doesn’t matter if this is your first visit here or have been with us from the beginning, we want to hear from you! Be sure to check back next week to see what everybody’s been up to. :-)

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It’s Time to Post Your December MoGo7000 Results!

Did you write at least 7000 new words on a book project in December? If so, please leave a comment with your total and you’ll get another entry in the drawing.

And don’t forget that the 2012 MoGo7000 Challenge is underway, so now is the time to be working on your new January goal. Remember, it’s open to everyone–and it’s free! Need details? Check out the MoGo7000 guidelines here.

Be sure to return next Thursday to see who is the winner of the 2011 $100 prize! You’ve been an amazing group of writers, writing well over half a million words in this year alone. I’m so proud! :-) And even if you didn’t reach the MoGo goal, just think of all the work you accomplished on your book.

And work is what it takes, right?

Write on!

Vonda

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