Writers New to Blogging – Handy Tips 1#

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Photo by Ivanneth, Creative Commons

Ivanneth Creative Commons

So you’re a writer and have started a blog because everyone has told you to do so. Now you’re wondering how to go about it.

1) Pick your theme. With themes it’s a good idea to check what they look like on phone and tablet as well, as some themes translate better across devices and people may read your work on their tablet rather than laptop or pc. Personally I like clear uncluttered layouts. The theme used on this blog at the moment is sketch.

2) Choose interesting and related topics. 1)How you researched or created your book (really interesting for historical books) 2)Typical days in your writing life 3) Interview with a character or expert in your field 4) Interviews or reviews of works in your genre that you admire 5) Great news you want to share (be humble though). I currently have a memoir focused blog, a poetry blog and my After Yasi blog.  I appeal to different readers on each blog, and feed it back into a homebase blog (via reblogs) to people who like to follow all I’m getting up to in multiplatform storytelling.

3) Think about your readers. Often writers new to blogging wonder who will read my blog? Key groups are: readers  and writers of the genre, potential future publishers, other bloggers and people following a tag online (wordpress, twitter). ie topic of interest #cricket #wellbeing #diet #australianhistory #youngadultwriter

4) Adhere to WordPress Advertising Guidelines. Don’t create a blog that is just a book tour blog consisting of already written publicity material to just sell books, but do feel free to blog about your book (as above) and link to where to buy it.

Read these WORDPRESS ADVERTISING GUIDELINES. You absolutely can share the journey and views on your own original book and reviews. The key to this is that you are not sending people off to just buy the work of others (running a publicity business) all the time or doing anything terrible like promoting pirated books and get rich schemes.

On the After Yasi blog I have a wide variety of material, how the book was created, extensions of stories in the book, interviews, and any interesting news.There are side links to resources people reading the book will find interesting. It is as much a resource as the ebook.

5)  Edit. Considering who will read your blog, always try to edit your work well before putting it up on line.  Although I also like to share drafts of work to give insights into the creative process.

6) Keep it short and regular.  Be aware most people don’t read a post over 500 words.  If you are going to write something longer (which I do sometimes), you need to keep the reader hooked in with techniques like placing interesting images throughout the post, or posting it in parts.

(c) June Perkins

(Future posts to cover- innovations in blogging- blogging as an art form –  legal  and ethical considerations, blogging for a daily writing habit )

Climb that Wall into Creativity

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June Perkins – Obstacle – not with climbing gear.

May your week be full of things that spur you to climb any wall keeping you back from achieving your dream, and don’t forget to have the climbing gear you need on hand and the perfect climbing boots…  

I’m busy writing a chapter book and finding out lots of things about famous people and their pets.   Audrey Hepburn and a fawn, Mozart and a Starling, and Abraham Lincoln and a pig…   Non fiction genres definitely calling.

I love being in the flow of writing on a daily basis, but there’s always walls to climb … even if it’s for the characters.

June

Day 4 PiBoIdMo

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Taken by June Perkins – Rocks Riverside Park, recent expedition

Day 4 of PiBoIdMo, hanging out at my keyboard and my online homes, staring at the dragon my daughter made me and thinking about a weekend full of a social catch up and meeting up with Write links- the wonderful writing group for children and young adults I have connected with since moving to Brisbane.

We were all very inspired by our guest speaker, Nicholas Lochel,who shared the journey with his sister to self publish, market and sell the  – Zarkora series.  His presentation was packed with practical advice such as how to self publish and about the joy of going to conventions with a stand to publicise their book.  The first step is to create a product you are proud of in terms of content, and physical look of the book.  Writelinks Professional and Development sessions this year have been great for teaching us the ins and outs of writing and publishing. We’ve had guests who judge literary competitions and presentations from members who know a lot about pitching to publishers as well.  They all have such wisdom to generously share.  Another wonderful aspect meetings is the sharing of news of when people make a breakthrough with their writing or publishing and the critique groups.

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My daughter checking out the Lochel’s portfolio – Write links Meeting Nov 2014

My son is playing some blues and country on his guitar and his Dad told him someone from the high school who is a gifted guitarist wants to meet him and play some guitar. When he sings, he sounds like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. His voice has that country feel to it, even though it might not be his most favourite genre to sing. He does like the man in black, Mr Cash though.  I think I could create lots of characters who have a passion for music,  with a central challenge of how to make a living out of it to be able to do it full time.

It’s a colder morning, which means wearing a light cardigan and drinking a cup of warm Earl Gray tea (which I always put a drop of milk into.) I had a good nights sleep last night, the first in a week.  I love soothing cups of tea and keeping myself hydrated whilst I write.

Today, I am serene in that my children have found their life passions, things they can do either professionally or in their spare time, but which will sustain their joy in life. One is into music and social conscience, another art and graphic novels and another sport and movies. I feel like all the sacrifices made for them to be the best mother I can be are starting to show fruit.  Cross fingers, it continues.  Most of all I am proud of their values. They aren’t clones of me, by any means, but they’re their own people, with a strong core of values from Mum and Dad.

I am excited about writing this morning.  A chapter book I was struggling to start, but for which setting and character have been quite clear in my head for ages, has finally taken off. As soon as I leave this blog today I will be back onto writing it. I love that although I have an outline dynamic things are happening where the characters are also dictating the action. Other writing projects I am editing, are progressing.  I feel more confident they are closer to completion and sharing time.

I am searching for some part time or full-time paid work, or wanting to create project work to bring in some more income for the family and to be able to build a more secure future.  So happy to have writing to continue whatever else happens in this regard.  As for PiBoIdMo  loving the online community inspiring each other to generate ideas and develop them.  My inspiration today might be real life stories of heroes and heroines in everyday life, that haven’t had much shared about them but who would be great subjects for children’s books.

All the best, especially to other creative parents in my position.

aka June, Gumbootspearlz

Note: we are a day ahead of American readers, so it is indeed day 4 PiBoIdMo

Off line, wised up and loving those that show respect

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A lot more of my creative work is happening off line.

I can’t share it with you yet.

It’s secret creative business.

The people who are seeing it are reading mentors, otherwise known as beta readers.

They are making suggestions and asking me questions.

They are people who like my ideas, but are skilled at seeing what can make it even more effective. I am growing so much through their mentorship.  They are so honest and constructive.  Writers if you don’t have beta readers, find them!

Soon I am to send work off to traditional publishers, now knowing that it is the best I can possibly do.

As for my art, when someone told me they printed one of my pictures and put it up on their wall, without asking me, I was a little upset they didn’t buy a copy of it from Red Bubble to help support my creative work.

I was also extremely upset when I did some volunteer work using video and photography as a favour for a friend, for some unnamed group and they then later freely used it without attributing it to me or linking to any of my sites and showed an absolute disrespect for my creative rights and a lack of understanding of the creative process.

The friend was wonderful their organisation was not!  That said I have done volunteer work for many organisations who have treated me well, later given me paid work and have trusted, respected and thanked me.  I love supporting others, and supporting causes I believe in, but can I continue to do it when some act this way and when I need to pay for the education of my children and my paper, printing, internet, etc.  Being altruistic I don’t do it to be thanked, but because of my love of humanity, but people being incredibly rude and using you now that’s not justice!

Over the years I have noticed that often volunteers are treated badly!  People who work with volunteers, especially when you are a volunteer yourself, ask yourself why do you do this?  They are people who are putting their heart into supporting your organisation when they may be doing lots of other things, looking for a full time job, raising their children, retired, unemployed, and want experience and they should be treated at least as well as normal employees.

My advice to others always gets written aggreements before undertaking voluntary photography/video work and make sure they communicate with you clearly, respect your rights and creativity and understand what you are wanting to do and if not DO NOT DO IT, even as a favour.  Read through their guidelines for their volunteers and if anything seems off, don’t work with them.  See how other volunteers have enjoyed working with them or for them.

Reflecting on my many years of voluntary work, for all those who make use of artists, photographers and musicians, you have to not take advantage of us and stop expecting us to give without respecting us, understanding the time, skill and love involved in our work , thanking us, and the fact that many artists do not make their full time living from art because of such attitudes.

People fund raising with art, rather than asking for a donation of art for an auction, purchase it for its cost price, with a small profit to the artist and then add costs above that.

If you have the opportunity to pay us when you hire us, even if it is extra work for you do it! Better still build a project with us, build a bridging relationship that can grow over time.

Copyright, is such an issue for artists  and writers online, bloggers, memers, make sure you have permission for your images and words!  I nearly always use my own photographs on this blog.

Watermarks, putting up images at low resolution, not putting it on line if wanting to fully protect it, these are just some of the options.  Respect for artists who willingly work in the community is another.

I was really concerned when I read a beautiful meme without the poet’s name on the work.  Just great-quotes,  actually she had a name and that wasn’t it – and so many people liked her work, I wonder if she even knew.  I punched the words in and found out the name of the poet, and attributed her to her meme.  I hope people support her to write more.  Sometimes I don’t know about pinterest.  How many memes might not be properly attributed?  I love the concept, but can I be really sure of the copyright on all the pins.

I can’t reiterate enough for people reading this  blog to respect the copyright and imagination of those generous (some would call us naive) to share our world with you online.

Why do we do it?  Because we love connection, growing as artists, reaching out to others, developing an audience through online means, overcoming isolation, reflecting on our creative processes.

So please new or quiet readers of this blog, be of that group who respect the writers and artists who share online,  When you love our work look at ways you can financially support us, we often give you hints of how to do that.

And to all those who do any of the suggestions here already, bless you and your sincere hearts.  I will be posting my wishlist soon.

All those that know me personally know I have a big heart, but I also want to stand up as an artist and writer and say please show us some love and respect.

(c) June Perkins

Regional Festivals Matter

In the lead up to the Cairns  Tropical Writing Festival  (Sept 14-16 2014) I caught up with Diane Finlay, one of the driving forces behind it, to ask her just why a writing festival is so important to the building of the Far North Queensland Literary Community.

June:  Why is a writing festival so important to Cairns/North Queensland?

Diane: It’s not called Far North Queensland for nothing!

We are along way from many things and for a lot of writers the cost of air travel, hotels and festival attendance simply make it to difficult to do. So bringing a festival to the region seemed like the most logical thing to do.

Writing is often a lonely experience and even getting to a writers’ group can be quite a trek for some. BUT writers are willing to make the effort to travel to a writers’ festival if they can simply drive there.

The festival offers valuable networking opportunities, workshops and for the more confident writers a chance to present in the Public Arena.

 Diane and Tropical Writers Festival banner

June:  How long has the festival been going ?

Diane: The festival began in 2008 with huge enthusiasm from the regional writing community. The festival was so well received that meant it had to be done again

June: What are you planning for the upcoming festival and who is involved in organising it and  sponsoring it?

Diane: The festival committee has everything in place for an amazing line up of both local and interstate talent with some of the presenters recognised internationally.

As always the Public Arena forms the hub of the festival. This is put together by asking regional writers what they themselves would like to present and what talent they would like the committee to attract. In saying that who we want and who we get are two entirely different things!

BUT even in that there are wonderful serendipities – who would have thought that our literary dinner speaker would be Geraldine Doogue?

The Biggest Book Club has become an integral part of the festival – it is a wonderful way to capture the interest of readers. After all writers wouldn’t get very far without readers. We now have this event locked in on Sunday morning.

A great way to start the day – grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy the discussion/ dissection of three wonderful books – Heart of Darkness, Burial Rites and The Rosie Project.The Poets’ Picnic on Saturday lunchtime is sure to capture an audience. There will be poets, storytellers and open mic sessions and an opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch in the gardens.

The festival is organised by a dedicated team of volunteers some from Tropical Writers Inc – the writers group who started this whole thing and others who are either connected with JCU or like myself heavily involved in the local writing community. Added to the mix for the first time is Melissa Robertson who has come on board as Events manager and Sonja Anderson as a late arrival to lend her skills as a communications specialist to widen the awareness net for this festival.

We have an amazing line up of festival sponsors and partners – those who have either tipped some cash our way or have lent valuable in-kind support. Thala Beach Lodge, Rydges Tradewinds, Cairns Airport, Cairns Regional Council and Cairns libraries, JUTE, Tropical Writers Inc., JCU, ABC Open, TTNQ, Ramsay Health Care, BDO, Collins Booksellers, Blackbooks, Screen Queensland, Queensland Government, Cairns FM 89.1 and last but by no means least – because they have been with us from the very first fledgling festival – the wonderful QWC.

June: What would make it easier to put on more festivals?

Diane: Long term events funding and that is now up to us – we’ve proven the festival’s viabililty and we have an established audience and the big picture in moving forward is very clear in the heads of those involved we just have to commit it to paper and make it happen.

June: What will help the festival survive?

Diane: The willingness of the regional writers to support it – their ongoing enthusiasm and the fact there is a real need to have something like this happening in such an iconic tourist destination. Look what happened in Bali – surely we can do that here?

June: How do you support regional writers?

Diane: The festival supports the regional writers by bringing in workshop content. Whilst QWC does have its regional program that one small organisation has to cover a lot of ground year after year so the festival can help fill the gap.

Also this year we have introduced “Snap up a Local” which is a book launch and book sales event designed especially to support the many talented writers who have published whether it be self published, partner published or mainstream published.

We would hope to keep this as a feature in future festivals. Any tourists attracted to the festival will be blown away by the huge writing talent this region produces.

For more details on the festival head to  their website : Cairns  Tropical Writing Festival  FRIDAY 12- 14th SEPTEMBER 2014