Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guest Blogging with Casey Crow

As you may or may not know, the writing community is one that is pretty close-knit -- especially when it comes to interacting online. When I was a freelancer actively looking for work, I was part of an online freelance writing community called Freelance Success. This is a fabulous site and community that is made up of all types of nonfiction writers and boasts just about every byline you'd see in most consumer magazines (Woman's Day, The New York Times Magazine, TIME, USA Today Magazine, Parenting, etc.). Tons of contacts, support, and guidance from veteran writers and industry experts. It's actually thanks to FLX (as it's called by its members) that I got my book deals last year!

The last few years, as my work has centered more on corporate copywriting and teaching, I've strayed away from this kind of freelancing and have been interacting more with my creative self when it comes to online writing communities. Yes, I will admit, I have several works of fiction in progress: a YA novel (which was my master's thesis project from over two years ago); a romantic paranormal suspense novel that I'm thinking of building into a trilogy -- again, more than two years in progress; and a sci-fi romantic novella I started last summer as a way to flush my brain.

Whether it's my addiction to work or my undiagnosed and untreated ADD, I have yet to be able to sit down and conscientiously finish any of these projects. This week I'm editing a 600+ page Web site -- and assignment I took without batting an eye. Last year, I co-authored two books that was easily 700 pages total. Yet, I can't seem to push these stories and characters that I know and love forward. Fiction writing is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

So, I am eternally grateful for having been able to make contact with and build some relationships with more experienced novelists through the Internet. I actually met Casey Crow through Facebook, via Cynthia Eden, another author who was kind enough to critique some of my work a few years ago. Casey was kind enough to offer me a spot as a guest on her blog, which I happily took her up on. I'll be doing a series of "confession" blogs, starting with a post where I unabashedly come out as a book addict (a huge shock to anyone who knows me, I'm sure). Check it out: Confessions of a Book Addict.

Would love to hear suggestions or ideas for future posts!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Help Your Fellow Man, Woman, Child, and Pet

For my PR Writing courses at Montclair State University, I group my students up and pair them with nonprofit organizations so that they can gain some real experience in developing communications strategies and working with media -- all the while supporting some great causes.

One of the organizations we are working with this semester is Community FoodBank of New  Jersey.With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, you can imagine that the project for Community FoodBank of New Jersey is in full swing. We're currently promoting the organization's annual Turkey Drive, which will take place on 11/20 and 11/21 at 40 locations throughout the state.

In addition to helping promote these events locally, they are also holding a huge drive on campus and promoting the organization's virtual drive as well. This is a really cool option that enables people out-of-state or who can't make it to a donation event to help out.

The whole class has really come together to make a difference for this organization and the three students dedicated to this project were able to secure a fabulous article about their drive in The Montclarion, which is the student paper. The rest of the class is working this weekend to distribute posters and flyers in the towns where the donation events will take place in an effort to jump-start grassroots awareness.

While holiday food drives that will help provide hot, nutritious meals for families are a familiar part of the season's activities, we should also keep in mind that it's not only people that are in need right now. Pets, too, are feeling the strain on the economy, since if people are having trouble feeding their families, of course they'd be having issues feeding their pets.

If you routinely donate supplies to the local animal shelters, kudos for the help you're giving to homeless animals in your area. You should also look into providing pet food to a food pantry that accepts these types of donations, as well. This can help prevent those who are struggling financially from having to give up their pet because they can't afford to feed them anymore.

Also look into pet food banks in your area. In North Jersey, some animal hospitals serve as a pet food bank, where people can drop off food for cats, dogs, and other household pets. The supplies are then distributed by a local Meals on Wheels program.

The next time you're thinking about what to donate to the local food drive, consider adding a bag of kibble or a case of canned food to your list. Save Our Pets Food Bank provides a listing of pet food banks nationwide. If your area isn't included, check with your local food pantry about donating some pet food. They may think you're crazy at first, but if you explain why you want to donate the food, they're likely to understand.

Friday, November 5, 2010

E-publishing Killed the Reader

Back in June, published a piece about how, should the continued assertions that the publishing industry will soon be no more come to fruition, readers will find themselves awash in very bad writing.

The piece explains that authors are finding increased opportunities to publish and market their works without editorial or publisher constraints/input thanks to more accessible digital self-publishing media. It goes on to say that the result of this is the creation and expansion of a huge library of poorly written stories that are neither engaging nor coherent in some cases. The ease-of-access through the Internet and the minimal fees charged for these e-books (which in many cases are little more than barely paginated PDF's) make them a minimal risk for consumers looking for something to read. After all, if you pay $2 for a bad story you wanted to delete after five pages, what have you really lost?

But this discussion begs the question of what the larger effect of this phenomenon has on the general reader, and authors as well. The article says that the common reader will soon become well acquainted with the "slush pile," which is the stack of bad manuscripts that come across book editors' and agents' desks on a daily basis. These professionals are paid to read through every new vampire romance, western, mystery, space adventure, horror story (yes, often all in one manuscript) that is sent to their doors.

Out of a pile of hundreds, maybe one will stand out as being something that is written well enough to warrant publishing expenses and appeal to widespread audiences -- if the moon is blue and the editor dances naked under it beseeching the blessings of the gods. But at least, they get a paycheck for their often futile efforts.