Sunday, August 25, 2013

Website Tips

By Fred Fields

I have a website, and its purpose is to get my name and book before the public.
Last year, at the SCWW Convention in Myrtle Beach, I learned something about blogging. There were several seminars dedicated to the subject, and here are some of the basic tips I remember and am using, about developing an active website:
·  Post blogs to your site regularly. Try to have a new blog posted on the same day every week. Although your site should have a theme, you don't have to remain true to it every issue. My site is mainly about golf, but come Monday, if I have something else that may interest my readers, I'll write that. Sometimes I'll put in a joke, golf related or not; or write a tip on some other subject. I wrote a blog about how I lost 20 pounds and have kept it off for 6 months. This week I wrote about the value of experience and studying history. Anything to keep my audience coming back for more, and always on Monday, so they know they can count on its regularity.
·  Associate your website with others, so that anyone arriving at your location will learn about them, and vice-versa.
·  Keep your blogs short and sharp. Three hundred words should be your maximum. Don't bore your readers. If you can tell stories or add humor, that's a good way to keep them coming back for more, and mentioning your site to their friends.
·  Use artwork whenever possible. Visuals attract attention. Drawings or photographs, both are good. Color is better than black and white, but either is better than words alone.
I have made one serious mistake with my website. Efco Publishing Co. is the name I have chosen for my publishing company, and it will market all the books I try to sell. My next book, however, is planned to be a cookbook, and will require a separate website, not tied to the golf format. So I am planning to expand to a master website for the company, and separate sites for each book, or at least every category of books. The company site will, of course, direct readers to the internet location of their interest.
This plan is possible because we are not limited to only one website.
Blogging is effective and inexpensive. Once your website is up on the internet, it is free advertising. Your only expense is the time invested to inform your readers who you are and where you are, and find ways to entice them back to you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

No Kind of Expert

By Laura P. Valtorta

It’s a spiritual experience when Marco and Dante head off to mass on a Sunday, leaving me alone with my MacBook Pro, a headful of ideas, and a novel to work on. I fill the bird feeder, set up on the dining room table, and put on some music – maybe the album Avalanche by Sonia Jacobsen, the saxophonist and composer who’s working on scoring my latest short film, Disability.

Writing is necessary. Even when I’m working on films and thinking about directing them and producing them, with all the hyperactivity involved in producing (the funding, the scheduling, interviewing, shooting, editing, and promoting), a filmmaker still has to find time to Make Art. Also run a law office.

Without art, we would be nowhere in the filmmaking business. I worry about Clabber (that’s not his real name). He is my partner in making these films. The one who does all the “Real Work,” as he calls it; The Real Work involves set building, shooting, and finessing the sound and lights.

Good old Clabber. He wears shorts and a baseball cap to work, but he’s so far from the land of Laid Back that once in a while it sends him a postcard. But that’s it. With a business to run, three small children at home, and several casually-clad employees to shepherd, he has very little time to write. I worry about this. Keeping Clabber happy is something I want to do. Because he’s a nice guy, and because he’s my studio executive.

Although I’m no kind of expert, I believe that Creating Art is one of the five pillars of happiness, along with Family, Work, Exercise, and Charity. Art is pure communication. Someday, when I’m not scripting films and writing novels, I want to learn how to take better photographs and paint portraits along the lines of Modigliani and Frida Kahlo. Art should always be a part of Family, Work, Exercise, and Charity. And vice versa.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Keeping a Writer’s Day Planner

By Sarah Herlong

This year, I decided to get a business day planner to help me achieve my goals with regards to writing. It helps me see writing as a business instead of a hobby. And like any good business you need to see where you’re going and where you’ve been.

I keep track of how many hours a day I spend writing.
I’ve noticed that after entering times like 1 hour a day, I became shocked at how little writing I was actually doing. Without really noticing it, I started working harder, and my time entries have started ticking upwards. I realized this by flipping back through the planner and seeing how far I’ve come.

I make notes about what I’m working on each day.
This has made me appreciate how much work I put into each story. I make a special notation when I finish a story. This means I can keep a quick count of what I’ve completed through the year. I’ve already written as many stories this year as I did all of last year. This day planner is really helping me!

I use it to keep track of who, what, and where.
I keep track of which agency, and the specific agent, where I send my writings. I keep track of contests I enter, including the date when the winners are announced. You would think this would be depressing to read if I’m not landing an agent or winning that contest, but it’s not. It shows progress. The year before, all I did was attend a conference. The year before that, I did nothing. At least that is all I can remember since I didn’t have a writer’s day planner.

I use it to plan my goals.
Holding the year in your hand makes it easier to conquer. I make a list of goals, and plot them throughout the day planner. I leave notes referring to the goal in the pages leading up to the important date. That way it isn’t a complete surprise what your goal is, the one you set up 6 months ago. That wouldn’t do anyone any good. Another handy tip is to have a master list briefly stating your goals attached in the front of your day planner. Then you’ll never miss a goal. Who knows where you’ll be in a year? You will.