Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Should Have Done This Post Years Ago..........How to Get Published

The title of this blog entry will speak for itself.

Over the years I have received hundreds of emails, letters, ( for those investigative types who dug deep to locate me ) phone calls, ( again, those that did their research, one whom knew what county I lived in actually called local law enforcement in search of my phone number, that they did not give, however kindly took a phone number and gave it to me ) to handing me manuscripts, and business cards at book signing or lectures.  This blog is for you!

The question that I am so often asked by people is "how do I get published"?  Whether it be a story for an article, newspaper, magazine or book.   For some reason many believe if I can connect with someone who has accomplished these goals, they are one step closer to their goal.  Sadly, I will respond that is not the case.

What I can offer you is a bit of wisdom and advice...I am happy to support your goals and effort.

I feel that it is my responsibility to first give you a bit of my background in the publishing world.  My professional education is in the medical field.  I worked professionally for years in this field.  After my son Michael was born I did not go back to work immediately.  I had planned to go back always as I loved my job.  Michael's Autism dictates our lives and schedules.  Shift work, long hours and the stress of the job were to much for our family to survive.  We were struggling to live our lives when I was home full time.  My absence fifty plus hours a week would have been detrimental to our lives.  It took me a few years to except that all of my hard work to get to my goals professionally, would never return.

I wrote extensively when Michael was younger.  I read an article from a top magazine looking for stories on Autism.  I decided I would write from my heart and submit it.  About three months later, I received a call from an editor about my article.  We talked like old girlfriends on the phone.  She had an Autistic nephew.  What started out as a conversation about the article rapidly became a Q & A about Autism and families.  We ended our "chat" with her stating that the article was fantastic, but after our conversation she really felt there was a "book" here.  She was going to network a bit with a few editors she knew in the publishing industry and get back to me.  Within twenty four hours, I was conversing with a book editor in Chicago. She had two girlfriends with children recently diagnosed with Autism.  She wanted to see more of work, ASAP.  I was a smooth talker, and said I would think about it, get back to her.  After a frantic phone call to my mother, I brought her up to speed on what my last twenty four hours had been like.  I had told no one before this is what I had been doing, not even my husband.

To fast forward,  my first book was published six months later.  My third is currently in editing and should be on shelves this March or April.  I do some freelance work, it is minimal by choice.  For me it is to competitive of a market, to stringent of a timeline, and if your work is good, they want more at a fast speed.  Opportunities can blossom ( and did ) and all of a sudden I had people expecting work from me that I struggled to deliver.  I remind publishers, editors and agents all the time I live the life they want me to write about.  Read my work, it is self explanatory why I have days that I am productive and days I can get nothing done.

Back to some advice.  First and foremost WRITE! Write at least everyday, even if is just a paragraph.  Go by the golden rule of writing "Write What You Know"!!  At least it will be passionate and honest.  The players in this industry can spot a fake at twenty paces.  Even if you work needs tuning, it is what you know.

Be prepared for rejection.  This is not a profession for those with a thin skin.  For every one success, plan for a hundred plus rejection.  I have learned and was advised to not ever take any of this personally.  It takes a lot to make me fuss about this, I just do not have the time.  I also believe that things happen for a reason and what is meant to be, is.  I have a publicist, she hears the rejections, I do not. This may be the reason I do not let it bother me.  I never hear the rejection.

Start a blog!  It is easy to do, research online and find the one that fits you best.  Blog and do it often.  I will confess, I do not blog that often, I am working on changing that.  There are comment sections on blogs that you can have open to public to leave a response.  I do not have my comments section open for the public.  Not as I anticipate negative comments.  I anticipate people searching for information, asking me questions.  I have email linked to my website, people can contact me for those that way.

Start submitting articles to newspapers and magazines.  Don't hang by the phone waiting to hear, if  they contact you consider it a plus.  Research and see if they except unsolicited articles, some do, some do not.

Find yourself an agent.  A Literary Agent. I state this as if it is an easy task.  It is not, be prepared for many a rejection.   If you can, get an Editor ( private is fine for now ) and a Publicist if possible.  If you write saucy articles or books, get an Attorney.  I have one on retainer at all times.  I write about politics and call it like I see it.  All three of my books held a level of liability to the education system ( liability on their part, not mine ).  I have all of the above listed.  They are the main reason I am successful at what I do. 

Many cities and campus's have writing groups.  It is a great way to network and hone your craft.  Take a writing class if that interests you. 

As I got successful in this profession, I became caught up in the fact that I did not hold a degree in the writing field.  I considered going back to college to obtain a diploma.  After much reflection and discussion with my colleagues, I reconsidered.  I would be doing it for the framed diploma to hang in my den.  My days of pleasing people ended some time ago.  I know far to many people who attended Ivy League Universities and hold impressive degrees, that I am amazed can dress themselves each day. They are no more interesting in a conversation to me then another.  I am not against college, my oldest is in his third year.  It just is not something I am driving for to be successful.  If I had all the time to give, I would probably go back.  I have not the time to give in my life right now.

I have had the grand privilege to meet and subsequently well enough over the years to call my friends, several big names in the writing world.  They have been a wonderful source of support and guidance for me.  Did you know that Steven King never uses punctuation, capitalizes nothing, but the title of his manuscript?  He uses no paragraphs.  He never spell checks.  Why you ask?  It is not his job.  His job is to write and discuss.  His editor does all of this for him.  First, it is her job.  Second, how is he suppose to know all the "correct" parts of proper writing.  His job is to be creative and write.  He does his job and allows someone else to do theirs.

I have made many a mistake in my writings, I own them,  Each and everyone of them.  I have an editor who handles my writings that will go to a freelance project or for a manuscript for a book.  Outside of that, you take what I give.  It is mine you see. I am not a perfect writer.  I am cautious of anyone who believe anything they do is perfect and error free.  Let's face it, I am not trying to split the atom here.  I write what I know, I tell a story or have a conversation with someone, in writing form.

People so often think that writers are these fascinating people.  I know a few who I believe would fall into this category. People think our lives are so jet set and exciting.  I am here to tell you different.  Yes, I have days I am on a T.V.- in a studio rubbing elbows with high profile people, I meet Senators and people who are members of Congress.  I have been on major news networks.  I am on talk radio often ( by the way- is my favorite place for a discussion---I need my own show or as a co-host--someone help me make that happen ) and meet power players in the entertainment industry.  I have photo shots for my books, hair, make up and wardrobe. I have reporters calling me for quotes on our Governments health care debate, educational cuts, taxes, you name it. 

I must be honest and tell you, all of the above is the smallest percentage of my life.  When I am promoting a book or a cause I am passionate about then yes, that is my life.  Otherwise, I am a mother to two sons, one is twenty two years old away at college.  My other son, is ten years old and Autistic.  I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister-in-law, aunt and a dear friend to many.  That is my life.  I write to better the lives of all of those listed above.  Some where in all of that is me.  Once in a great while, I am allowed to be me.  When I can, I write.  I am forthright and very honest.  I find that because of these qualities, people are interested in what I have to say.

With the upcoming elections politics is back on the table for me.  I am starting a second blog in October.  A political blog.  I am excited!  I will report more as it is closer to going live.  It is currently in the design mode.  I know little more then that at this time.  I am not a solo projects.  I have great people that I work with, I let them do their job, I do mine. 

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.  Please let me know if I can provide more.   A quick shout out to Robbin from Ontario, Canada.  My best to you as you reach for your writing goals.  A big thank you for all of your work.  Robbin works as a Instructor Therapist. She provides services to families with children diagnosed with autism that include: ABA, verbal behaviour, DTT, DIRFloortime Play Therapy, NET and sensory diets. She also provides parent training to assist and train parents with behaviour management techniques.  She is leaping into the pool as a Freelance Writer to help people.  Feel free Robbin to send me something to read.  I would be glad to help a fellow writer.  Let me know if you get published.  I will be the first to purchase your work.  We help one another. 

My best to each of you.  I am off to roast a chicken for dinner, snuggle with my man and cheer the Vikings on! 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11-- 10 years later

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  We are surrounded by the media coverage of that tragic day. Future terrorists attacks remain ever present, heightened by the anniversary date. 

I always find a personal story very interesting.  I recall my grandmother, telling of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.  My mother's story, sitting in her classroom when the announcement that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I recall, in a elementary classroom, a teacher, crying as she entered our classroom to announce that President Reagan had been shot ( actually, she blurted out in her tears that he had been assassinated and was killed ).  I recall watching the Space shuttle Challenger explode, while standing in my high school commons area.  All of us remember a tragic event that has altered our lives ever remaining in our memory, never to leave. 

September 11, 2001 is no different.

It was a beautiful fall day here in Minnesota.  Ryan our oldest son was twelve, just starting the seventh grade.  Michael was eight weeks old.  Jim had left for work early that morning.  I had a window of time to drive to town, a twenty minute jaunt, get my shopping done and arrive home before Michael would need to be fed again.  My mother-in-law had offered to watch Michael while I shopped.  As I was driving, there was the announcement on the radio that there had been a plane crash in New York.  Little more was said at that time.  By the time I arrived at my mother-in-laws, images of Word Trade Tower One were on CNN.  At that time, the report was that it was a small single engine plane.  Keeping on schedule I left. I continued on my quest to shop and do my best to be back to take Michael home in two hours. 

Much happened while I shopped.  World Trade Tower Two was hit and had collapsed.  I arrived to pick Michael up, in my short time away, our country was under attack.  The Pentagon had been hit. As a public we were still unaware of the tragic ending of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  I did not stay at my mother-in-laws house but for a few minutes.  I watched CNN standing in her living room and just wanted to go home.  Quickly, I loaded Michael up and tuned into the radio.  Once home, I got Michael into his crib and unloaded my shopping bags.  I put what needed to be refrigerated away, got Michael a bottle, changed him, poured a large cup of coffee and settled into a chair in the living room, Michael cradled in my arms.  Michael now fed, I watched in horror the images and reporting on CNN.

Jim called me from work.  He had no television coverage where he was at, he wanted me to describe to him what I was seeing.  It was indescribable, I told him.  I asked him if he was coming home?  He said no, he needed to stay at work, he would be home this evening.  I sat there, feeling all alone.  After some reflection, I realized thousands were not ever coming home.  It is interesting how we immediately take a situation, and make it about our self first.  I was thirty-two years old.  Older and a bit more wiser, I am much more focused on a life where in almost every situation, it is not about me.  I am a better person for that, I try to reflect that each and everyday, with each situation and person I meet.

I add this next thought, in reflection of something I have struggled to do.  I have a cousin ( many of them to be accurate) whom since 9/11 has married.  I have only met his wife a few times.  I have a wonderful picture of her taken in 2000, dancing at my wedding, with a smile that is contagious.  Her brother was one of the many heroes of Flight 93, that crashed in Shanksville, PA.  Names are not something I have any right to share .  I have not sent a letter of condolence, yet.  Unsure always of what I would say, if it was appropriate to say anything, or that to much time has passed to put pen to paper.  I have taken the cowards way out and done nothing at all.  I realize today, I shall find the words and pen that letter.