3 Reasons to Find Your Writing Mentor

I discovered an interesting tidbit the other day as I scanned an online calendar of fun facts: January is National Mentoring Month. Okay, maybe you take that sort of online info with a grain of salt, as I do (Really, National Crown of Roast Pork Day? It’s March 7, according to some.), but now and then I run across a factoid that stays with me and spins the gears.

Such is the case with National Mentoring Month. This struck me because I’m an advocate of mentors (and not just recognizing their usefulness for a month). This past year, I’ve been talking about their importance with my husband, whose business is expanding. As it grows, I’ve encouraged him to reach out to friends and colleagues who’ve already traveled similar paths, so he might learn from their experiences.

Why take this path:

Foggy path

When you can travel a clear path with a trusted advisor and friend:

Path to follow

But to be honest, I hadn’t thought of a mentor for myself as an author before now. I don’t know why. It took that chance mention to make me look at my career and realize how critical a mentor could be for a writer. And many of the ways in which a mentor helps say, an entrepreneur, are the same ways one would help a writer.

So, as ever on my kick about continuing to learn and grow, I searched around for more information. 🙂

Here are three ways a writing mentor can help you:

1—Experience. One of the best things a mentor can do is share the wisdom of their experience. I love the expression “work smarter, not harder.” By finding someone who’s attained the goal you’re aiming for and having them mentor you, you’ll benefit from their knowledge and hopefully will avoid their mistakes. An established writer will counsel you on both creative and business aspects of writing and will guide you along your specific career path.

2—Connection. Another benefit of your mentor will be access to their broader network of contacts. Though writing is usually a solitary effort, if publication is one of your goals, then connecting with others—readers, publishers, agents, editors, other writers—is essential. As an author looking to grow and reach an audience, having a mentor to open doors and offer ways to connect with people will be invaluable.

3—Inspiration and Input. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but for me, it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. With a mentor, though, you may be only a call, text or coffee chat away from the butt-kick motivation you need to flush out that sketchy scene that’s vexed you for a week. The right writing mentor will offer creative support and unbiased, constructively critical insights. And that’s huge for gaining confidence and thickening the skin to the rejection prevalent in the writing world.

So, readers, what do you think about writing mentors? I believe engaging with one is a great idea for anyone looking to grow their career or passion. Do you have one? Or would you consider mentoring someone less experienced? What would you hope or expect to gain from that association? Please let me know in the comments section. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Or feel free to email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Resolutions and Revisions—A Writer’s Reality

With another flip of the calendar, I find myself staring at a relatively clean slate. And so I decided to jump on the January-resolution bandwagon this year. Why not? The fact is, the changing of the year is a great time for people to reexamine goals, and I’m no exception.

A clean, snowy slate in NY

Since this blog is about my writing life, I’ll let you in on my writing resolution for this year. I made a small-yet-large-for-me pledge that pertains to you, dear readers and fans: My objective for 2017 is to blog more often and about more writing topics of interest to you.

To that end, I plan to blog twice a month. Yeah, no great shakes in the world of blogging, but in my world of chaos and distraction, doubling my monthly output is a major thing. Especially now, when I’m trying to power through the first draft of my second novel in the Found Mystery Series, still lovingly referred to as TB. ; )

As you may know, I believe life should be a continual learning experience, and I feel the same way about writing. I always want to learn more, become better at the craft, and I enjoy passing on what I learn.

Blogging isn’t my passion the way storytelling is, but the more I write in all formats, the better writer I become (hopefully). So, increasing my post output helps two ways: to give the readers what they want, and to sharpen my skills doing what I love.

In this first post of 2017, I’d like to share a link about one author’s editing process. I found this courtesy of Mary Ann de Stefano on the Florida Writers Association Facebook page, and I think it’s fantastic.

People often ask what it’s like to be a writer. Well, there are as many different answers as there are scribblers, but there’s a common thread: to write is to edit. And so, to learn to write is to understand you must edit.

This author, Patrick Rothfuss, was asked what it’s like to revise his own work. I think his answer is spot-on as he details the challenges we face, large and small, to make our manuscripts the best we can. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

As with writing, there are aspects of editing and revising that I love and those that I can hardly stand. But they go hand-in-hand. To be a better writer, I need to become a better editor. I’m working on it. 😉

Happy New Year to you all. Here’s hoping your resolutions are both fun and productive. Otherwise, they’ll be a pain to stick with. 😛

And with respect to my goal of blogging about your writing interests, please share what you’d like to hear about, either in the comments section, or by email: carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks and looking forward to your input.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Christmas Presence: My First Author Talk

My heart rate doubled. So many faces stared at me. In my hands, the pages of my speech shook, so I laid them on the smooth white tablecloth. Took a few deep breaths.

Did not imagine the audience in their undies or naked. TMI, for sure.

But the thought made me smile, loosen up, and I dove in. This was it, my first speaking gig as an award-winning author. And my early Christmas present. Huge!

Christmas tree

I’ve done a good deal of public speaking in various forms in my previous life as a Manhattan ad woman. Those appearances had been nerve-wracking, empowering, frustrating. But none compares to the experience of speaking about writing and my indie publishing experience to a group of attentive, non-captive Florida Writers Association members and guests.

In November, I’d been asked by one of our St. Augustine FWA chapter heads (thanks, Nancy Quatrano!) to join a panel of speakers for our December holiday meeting. When she approached me, I immediately said yes, thinking of the honor it would be: The opportunity to speak about my love, writing. I felt the first flicker of nerves later, when I sat to brainstorm the specifics.

But the truth is, writing my short presentation turned out to be crazy easy. Sure, I toyed with a few different directions to start, but once I sat and began typing, the words flowed, the message clear and concise: I took myself from NYC newbie writer to FL published, award-winning author, and I learned a hell of a lot—about publishing and life—along the way.

Author Awarded 2016
2016 RPLA Trophy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My real anxiety didn’t hit until the morning of my talk. But the openness of my fellow panelists, and the welcome of the FWA heads and audience members helped mellow me. After the first couple of minutes, I felt like a million bucks.

One of the best parts? The questions and interest from the group after my speech. Holy smokes! People asked questions, sought my opinion on publishing, wanted to know more about how I handled the pressures, time-constraints, technical aspects of publishing on top of simply writing. I knew I’d learned a great deal over the past years, but I hadn’t truly realized until then how my insights could help other writers, at least in some small way.

So now, at the end of this incredible year of more firsts, I give thanks again for the unique and humbling ways in which my life continues to unfold.

The holiday season makes me as reflective and maudlin as the next person. The new year is around the corner, and that’s soon enough to contemplate resolutions and remedies.

For the last days of 2016, I plan to be grateful for the joys of this year. They are many, though interspersed with sorrows. Though we’ve lost a terrible number of artistic souls this year, my year has ended on a writerly high note. I hope the same is true of yours.

I’m sending all best wishes for a year of betterment, of love, peace, happiness, growth and wisdom. Let’s continue to strive for this.

By the way, if you’d like a copy of my speech and the list of online resources I found useful on my publishing road, please let me know in the comments section or email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Sharing = caring. <3

Thanks again and Happy New Year!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Attitude of Gratitude

I’m a slow-and-steady kind of gal, for the most part. That works for me.

That’s not to say I don’t tackle my share of things spontaneously. I do, but that’s not my go-to mode of operation. My life to this point has been more about better late than never: I changed careers in my late thirties, I married for the first (and only) time at 41, which is also when I bought my first house.

But on a smaller scale too, I tend to take my time with things, decisions, actions. Some might say I procrastinate a tad. ; ) I prefer to call myself “a thinker.” After which I add, “then a doer.” Don’t get me wrong; overthinking is not a good habit, so I do my best to take action before too much time passes.

Take this blog, for example. This is my Thanksgiving post, my attitude of gratitude. Of course, the holiday is already two days past (or more, depending on when you read this). Still, sometimes the important things take time. And writing this is an important thing.

I’m a very, very fortunate person. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, I think and hope you’ve discovered that. I try hard to let people know how thankful I am for their presence in my life, for all their help, support, love, guidance. I’m not sure I do a good enough job of that, but I continue to try.

This year, my husband and I—with the help of some great, dear friends—hosted our first Thanksgiving Dinner in our new home. Wow. The preparation wasn’t quite total mayhem, but it came close. And I don’t mean “mayhem” in the fully fun way I usually do. There were a few hiccups along with the happy.

But now that a couple days have gone by, I can look back and better appreciate everything that went into the planning, the help, the cooking, the entire day. Wow again. In the best possible way. Funny how the perspective of time gives me a better attitude of gratitude.

So thank you, all of you—friends, family, followers and fans—for all you do. And for reminding me of all I have. This life sure isn’t perfect, but there are times when it comes damn close. When I stop to think about it. : )

Happy Gratitude. See you again soon.

Oh, and PS: Here’s a photo of my RPLA trophy. Something else I’m grateful for:

2016 RPLA Trophy!
2016 RPLA Trophy!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lucky Work

Every once in a blue moon, the stars arrange themselves and surprise me with something ridiculously happy. I’m incredibly grateful for those alignments, and I’m aware not only of their rarity but of their fleeting nature. I also realize those configurations often occur through more mundane efforts. This adage, often ascribed to Thomas Jefferson, is one I really get behind: I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

I consider myself very fortunate in this little life o’ mine. Plenty of less-than-good inhabits my daily world, but I’m one lucky SOB most of the time. I’ve learned, though, better things come from when I work hard to reach my goals.

That said, I try to remember to be grateful for all I have (especially when it’s hard to remember!), and I really try to share that appreciation with all those who have supported me on my somewhat-randomly chaotic ride.

So, where am I going with this? A big shout-out to all of you for championing my first mystery novel, Emerald Obsession.

The latest, brilliant news for me and my book is that we just won 2nd Place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards for Published Mystery!!!!

Emerald Obsession in print
Emerald Obsession in print
RPLA, 2nd Place, Mystery
RPLA, 2nd Place, Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wooo hooo. I am beyond over the moon! And still—a bit—in a state of disbelief. On a fun-factoid note, my win came on October 22, 2016, which is the one-year anniversary of Emerald Obsession’s publication! Unreal. October 22 also happens to be the birthdays of my Uncle John and Aunt Marge, so I think it’s a pretty fabulous day on many levels. : )

What a wonderful shock, a needed jolt for my next challenge. I’ll do my very best to keep up the hard work, to use this win as motivation to continue writing, especially when the brain spews sludge or simply dumbs down into temporary oblivion. ; ) (Don’t worry: I spew, therefore, I edit.)

Before I sign off and get back to writing EO’s sequel, TB, I’ll say one more quick thank you. Who knew where my novel would take off to all those years ago? In my wildest dreams, perhaps I’d thought of winning an award, but wow. In reality, all I’d like is for more people to enjoy my stories. I hope that continues. Thank you for helping make this ride possible. <3

I’m happy you visited. Please spread the word and tell your friends about my website, so they can sign up for my newsletter and read all the latest. See you again soon!

PS—Wishing you all an early, fabulous and Happy Halloween! Want to see what the hub and I are dressing as this year? Be sure to visit again soon. : )

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Is a Writers Conference Right For You?

Each September for the past nine years, St. Augustine, Florida, has hosted the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference. Since I’m fortunate to have my lovely, artistic town present this writers conference and book fair, I do my best to attend. I’ve made it two out of my three years here (couldn’t last year, as the hub and I were full-on into our house renos).

Let me give a quickie explanation: The FHBF is both a writers conference and a celebration of books and authors Floridian. It’s organized around critique sessions on Thursday, a full day of conference workshops and lectures on Friday and a series of author talks on Saturday.

I decided to attend only the Friday conference this time around. My Saturday was full-up with another FWA meeting (great tips and tools for writing press releases, courtesy of Nancy Quatrano) and more house-y everything. Yep, one year later, and we’re still finishing the renos. You know, those whole-house remodels really take some time when you’re not working on them full-time. Here’s hoping we’re done before next September. : )

As many of you know, when I’m not renovating, I’m writing my second adventure-mystery novel, the sequel to Emerald Obsession. I’ve been struggling with it here and there. Partly from a time perspective, partly from an exhaustion perspective, partly from a distracted-creative-brain perspective. I think many of you can relate; we all have things we like, want or need to do, but we don’t necessarily have the bandwidth or energy to do them (or do them well). At least, not as much as we’d like to. The rest of life often disrupts our best intentions: family, work, home, friends … all grab and hold our attention, stealing it from our other endeavors.

Well, that’s where a writers conference can help. I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions how incredibly helpful my critique group is. Well, picture a writers conference as a critique group on crack. Super-charged and offering valuable advice and information.

FHBF Sign
FHBF Sign

This year’s FHBF conference offerings resonated with me, and I knew attending would fire my imagination and rev up my commitment to writing. Several sessions were geared toward: scene development, plot building, and characterization, as well as writing strategies and book marketing. Two presenters I enjoyed for their engaging, entertaining and truly informative presentations were Roy Peter Clark and John Dufresne. So glad I heard them, but sorry I couldn’t make the concurrent sessions. So many workshops, so little time. ; )

So, is a writers conference for you? Obviously, I can’t make up your mind, but hopefully these few items in a “pro” list will help you decide in favor of attending:

  • You’ll learn so much on a wide range of writing topics. The whole idea of a conference is to share ideas and knowledge. You want to be a better writer? A single conference can cover a huge spectrum of information; it’s like one-stop-shopping on both the craft and business of writing. Fabulous!
  • You’ll meet lots of people with the same interests, so networking and sharing ideas can happen almost automatically, even for introverted writer-folks such as we may be.
  • Being with other artists can energize and inspire you and your writing. Plain and simple.
  • The experience of a new place can provide excellent writing material. And even a familiar location can come alive when you view it with a new perspective.
cell-download-2-2014-2078
Stairway at Markland House, where sessions were held.
One of the classrooms; caveat, this photo is from a previous conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise, there are more factors to consider when deciding. Two important points are location and cost. But something to keep in mind is there are many conferences of varying sizes and across hundreds of locations for you to choose from. You may even find free workshops or seminars to get you started. By the way, don’t forget to talk to your accountant, because you may be able to write off your conference expenses.

Here’re three good conference listings to get you started: http://writing.shawguides.com/ and http://thewritelife.com/28-fantastic-writers-conferences-authors-bloggers-freelancers/ and https://www.awpwriter.org/wcc/directory_conferences_centers. But be sure to google for yourself, especially based on the type of writing you do. And don’t forget to check your local library for info.

Another big thing to consider is what each conference offers. Most present a broad variety of activities to participate in, but among the usual suspects are: focused lectures, keynote speakers, workshops, critique sessions, agent and/or editor appointments, discussion panels, author signings, writing prompt activities and pitch sessions.

With so much fun and thought-provoking stuff going on, you’ll wish you could attend every conference. : )

How about you, friends and readers; have you been to a writers conference? If so, which one(s) and what was your favorite takeaway? : ) Please share your experiences in the comment section. I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve found helpful.

Thanks for hanging, and don’t forget tell your friends about my website, so they can sign up for my newsletter and read all the latest. See you again soon!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

6 Easy Travel Activities to Enliven Your Writing

August is a popular time to travel, and the hub and I jumped on the bandwagon this month. Our recent trip to see family and friends in NYC allowed us to revisit old haunts and try new ones on for size.

Freedom Tower and Empire views from the SI Ferry
Freedom Tower and Empire views from the SI Ferry

The trip prompted me to write this post about my version of travel writing.  : )

I love to travel. It’s one of my favorite things, right up there with eating, sleeping, reading, writing … you get the idea. The thing is, travel is an incredible learning experience. It gives you the opportunity to discover so much about other places, other people and cultures, other ways of life. And you can learn a great deal about yourself along the way, too. Bonus.

On top of those—in my opinion, fabulous—reasons to traipse the globe, there’s another. If you’re a writer like me, when you return from your adventures, you have the incredible opportunity to share them through words. Which is one of the reasons I call the books I write “adventure mysteries.”

I love incorporating elements of travel, food, people into my stories to add character and depth to the tales. To add a greater level of intrigue and excitement a reader might otherwise not get, or expect to get, from a book.

In my first novel, Emerald Obsession, Lexy explores a Bahamian island, Eleuthera, then returns to Manhattan to solve the mystery of cursed pirate jewels. How fun for me that my vacation in the Bahamas sparked an entire novel. Of course, when you see photos from my stay, you’ll understand the inspiration. Check out this picture, then click the link to my Photographs page for more.

Eleuthera Sunset 2
Eleuthera Sunset

I’m continuing the trend with my second book—still called TB for now—which is set in a couple of fun places, namely the Turks and Caicos and St. Augustine, Florida (shocker, right?). Wait till you read it! ; )

In the meantime, have a look at these six tips for bringing travel to life in your writing.

1—Take lots of photos. They capture the essence of a place, a people, and will refresh your memories and evoke the emotions you experienced while traveling. Besides, you already carry your smart phone, right? So snap away. ; )

2—Keep a travel journal. I find this easiest when I journey solo, but even noting in your cell where you went and when is a good tool for setting scenes, recalling distances and understanding time. Jot down relevant details and pull them out later for a dose of believability.

3—Become a temporary locavore. By far my favorite. Eat, eat, eat and savor the unique flavors and spices, colors and scents of the regional food or cooking style. Use them to saturate your stories with local authenticity.

4—Meet the locals. When possible, have a resident show you around their hometown. Who better to give the inside scoop on all the fabulous particulars of a place than someone who lives there?

5—Stop by specialty events and places; do things you can’t elsewhere. Walk the High Line, a park built on a section of elevated former rail line on Manhattan’s west side. Take in a free beach-side rock concert. Unique experiences are everywhere.

6—Track your journeys on a map, either digitally or old-school-wise on paper. Use your cell’s GPS to get up close with where you’ve been, or stick pins into your wall map to plot your journeys for a great overview.

Brunch
Brooklyn-born brunch
Ferrara
Ferrara’s, Little Italy

 

Night skyline
Night skyline
Ft W
Fort Wadsworth and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

And here’s an extra tip for when you can’t get there in person: use Google maps and zoom in to the street view to get a feel for a place. A note of caution: though maps are accurate, the street-view photos can be out-of-date, so double-check your findings with a second or third source. Try Trip Advisor. So many travelers there, happy to share their favorite, current photos. Have fun with your online journey, too.

Now that you’ve heard my tips for using travel to enliven your writing, please tell me about your experiences. What’s your favorite destination? Or your favorite thing to do while visiting a new place or an old fave? And always a good question: where are you going next? More than half the fun is in the planning and anticipation, right? : ) Share your thoughts in the comment section. I can’t wait for some new travel ideas.

Please tell your friends about my website so they can sign up for my newsletter to read all the latest. And stay tuned for more travel adventures!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail