Write Your Book!

Glenys O'Connell's Naked WritingMany of you will remember Glenys O’Connell from her Naked Writing class—now you can buy a copy of her book, whether or not you’ve taken the writing course.

Available in paperback and Kindle editions, Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book is a terrific resource for any level of writer, and a book I’m personally pleased to recommend we all add to our writer’s toolboxes.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

From a recently-received press release:

Sign up now for Clarion West’s ninth annual Write-a-thon!

The ninth annual Clarion West Write-a-thon is open for participant sign-up now through June 16. Every summer since 2004, famous authors and emerging ones have announced their six-week writing goals on individual web pages hosted by Clarion West. People publicly state what they’d like to do for their own writing over the six weeks that the workshop runs — either word count, pages written, chapters edited, anything writing related is perfect. And then Clarion West gets donations from their supporters when those goals are met.

Michael Swanwick and several others have offered Tuckerized story appearances to their supporting donors, and award-winners Vonda N. McIntyre, Rachel Swirsky, and Nisi Shawl are already signed up. The goal is to have at least 200 participating writers by June 16; four supporters have offered to give Clarion West $2000 if that happens.

If you were looking at a way to encourage yourself to write this summer — for a good cause, no less! — the Write-a-thon is it. More details on how the Write-a-thon works and how you can take part are available at www.clarionwest.org/writeathon.

Clarion West is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization which presents writing workshops for those preparing for careers as professional writers in the fantastic genres.

Writing Web Copy

Copywriting for the Web for a wide audience

by James Guill

More and more freelance writing opportunities occur in the digital realm, as more print publications seem to be closing their doors every year.

Providing copy for an online resource is obviously not as simple as it seems. If it were, there would be many more writers on the Web making a living. Many writers tend to be very focused in the specific topics they cover, and as such tend to have difficulty finding and retaining work. So let’s talk a bit about writing Web copy for a wide audience.

When writing Web copy, your writing needs to reflect that you have in-depth knowledge of the subject and you understand current trends in the area you are covering. For example, up until around 2007 anyone that wrote copy for poker sites could get away with just being knowledgeable in Texas Hold’em and the popular players of that game.

However, trends changed around that time and other poker games began to make a comeback. It was no longer enough for a Hold’em specialist to write content on Hold’em. Readers would begin to go elsewhere and look for content on Stud, Omaha, and other games. As such, those that have a broad range of knowledge and kept on top of the pulse of the industry were the ones that prospered.

Web copywriters need to get away from the notion that frequent posting and quantity is what matters. Going back again to the poker industry, several sites have proven that quality reporting and informative articles will draw just as well as regular updates.

Subject: Poker was a website that gained a large following after the events of April 15th of last year when the major online sites were indicted. Their objective was to bring hard hitting and informative reporting regarding the issues surrounding what was known as the Black Friday poker indictments.

There were periods of time where the site did not update for days or even weeks at a time. However, when they did update, their content was among the best in the industry and they quickly became the main source of news and legal information surrounding online poker in the United States.

While I don’t recommend going for a week or more at a time without posting, there is no need to update numerous times a day with every little piece of fluff news or information. After a while, viewers get tired of having to sort through the fluff and will go elsewhere. Remember: quality over quantity.

Every Website has its own approach when it comes to web content writing. Some Websites do things better than others. However, those that keep their fingers on the pulse of their industry and provide quality content are the ones that tend to survive over the long term.

James Guill is an online content writer who writes almost everything under the sun. He publishes numerous articles for travel, food and gaming sites as a freelance writer. As a freelance reporter, James has covered the poker world for the past five years.

Creative Frustration?

If you’re new to writing, you might not know this yet—and even if you’ve been writing for a while, it never hurts to stop and remember:

You know that feeling you get when the words you write just aren’t as compelling as the story in your mind? That’s normal.

Ira Glass says one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard anyone say about the creative process, and even though this link has been kicking around for a while, it seemed like a good reminder for an April Monday.

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.

There is a gap that we spend our entire creative lives working to close. And that’s as it should be.

For more detail, here’s the Ira Glass interview on storytelling.

Adrienne Rich (1929–2012)

Adrienne Rich’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Adrienne Rich was one of the first poets whose words made my heart falter.

While some of her politics are very different from my take, many years later, her essay from 1980 “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” had a very profound effect on me, since I read it as a student, just figuring out what it meant to be a woman and an adult in a culture that wanted to restrict my choices.

Rich became more moderate with time, but there are some powerful ideas in that piece, and even those I didn’t agree with, made me think very hard about how I wanted to be.

Her poetry is incredible. “Diving into the Wreck” was the first thing of hers I read.

The world is a poorer place for her loss, but richer for her words.

Requiescat in pace Adrienne.

Win Two Tickets to Seminar from Backspace Writers Conference!

SEMINAR is the provocative new comedy from Pulitzer Prize nominee THERESA REBECK (Mauritius), directed by Obie Award winner SAM GOLD (Circle Mirror Transformation).

See JEFF GOLDBLUM (Pillow Man, Jurassic Park, Independence Day) star in Broadway’s smash-hit comedy SEMINAR beginning April 3.

Joining him are JUSTIN LONG (He’s Just Not That Into You, Going the Distance) in his Broadway debut, ZOE LISTER-JONES (NBC’s “Whitney,” The Little Dog Laughed), JERRY O’CONNELL (Jerry Maguire, Stand By Me) and HETTIENNE PARK (Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide).

In SEMINAR, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), an international literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon and hearts are unmoored. The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious as innocence collides with experience in this biting new comedy.

For more information, visit the page for the Backspace Writer’s Conference Logline Contest.

In Search of Great American Writers

Happy Tuesday, AWers! This press release just arrived in my inbox, and I thought some of you might be interested:

Saturday Evening Post logo




Indianapolis (February 6, 2012) — On the eve of the 110th birthday of John Steinbeck, a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post and the acclaimed author of classic novels including The Grapes of Wrath—the Post announces its first ever “Great American Fiction Contest.” The competition offers aspiring novelists the opportunity to join the ranks of other renowned Post contributors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Louis L’Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe.

“Good writers help us understand who we are. And The Saturday Evening Post believes that supporting and encouraging writing is all the more vital in a universe where media is evolving so rapidly,” said Editorial Director Steven Slon.

Sponsored by the nonprofit the Saturday Evening Post Society, the contest is designed to promote fiction and creative writing, while seeking America’s next great, unpublished voices. The winning story will be published in the January/February 2013 issue of The Saturday Evening Post and on the magazine’s website. The winner will also be awarded $500, while five runners-up will receive $100 each and have their stories published on the Post’s website.

Entries must be character- or plot-driven stories in any genre of fiction that falls within the Post’s broad range of interests. Entrants must be previously unpublished authors (excluding personal websites and blogs) and stories must be 1,500-5,000 words in length. All submissions should be made electronically in Microsoft Word format with the author’s name, address, telephone number and email address on the first page. The Saturday Evening Post editorial staff in consultation with the magazine’s fiction advisory board will judge the stories. There is a $10 entry fee and all entries must be postmarked by July 1, 2012.

For more information, or to submit a story, please visit saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-contest.

Remember: Write hard. Write true. And write on!