Developing Your Author Brand

This is the second post I’ve written about what I learned from the Atlanta Writers Club December 2019 meeting that featured literary agent Caroline George as a guest speaker. The first article covered her talk about pitching to literary agents. This time, I’m covering her second topic of that day, entitled You, the Protagonist: Developing Your Character (Author) Brand.

The conversation began by Ms. George asking the audience to recall their favorite protagonist. Looking around the room, I saw eyes flicker and smiles appear as she encouraged us to share aloud some positive attributes of that character.

We shouted adjectives such as brave, empathetic, quirky, and relatable. Next, Ms. George postulated that we all embody those endearing qualities ourselves. And just as we appreciate the idiosyncrasies of our favorite character, so too will our audience appreciate our own unique characteristics. My takeaway from this activity: an author should be intentional about creating a brand which authentically shares who they are with their readers.

Aspects of a brand

Ms. George went on to explain that an author’s personal brand includes more than a unique voice Continue reading “Developing Your Author Brand”

Review of Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood

As we enter into a new year, especially a new decade, many of us are reflecting on what we learned from the past as well as how we want to change for the future.

From the very beginning of the previous decade, I felt like I was hit over the head with tough lessons and massive obstacles to overcome. For the most part, I was able (sometimes barely) to keep my head above water. I struggled and staggered and persisted. In the end, I stumbled out of a decade in the trenches with a much clearer understanding of the world and my place in it. After having spent a lot of time wrestling with big picture stuff like health and wellness and love and relationships, I’m ready to shift my perspective to the small daily changes I can incorporate that will have a large impact on my productivity and growth in the new year and decade ahead.

It was with this mindset that I picked up Good Habits, Bad Habits by Dr. Wendy Wood, a Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California. It’s a 300-page look at “The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick.” The book is divided into three parts: How We Really Are, The Three Bases of Habit Formation, and lastly, Special Cases, Big Opportunities, and the World Around Us. Continue reading “Review of Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood”

Prescriptive vs. Narrative Nonfiction

As I continue along my journey down the path of writing my first book, a memoir, it’s taken me months of trial and error to figure out how to do it, and although I’m still struggling, today I made real progress.

You see, back when I first started trying to figure out how to write my book, I thought I’d begin by reading similar books in the memoir genre in order to understand their structure, conventions, and obligatory scenes. 

My first choice was Becoming by Michelle Obama. I admire her greatly and would love to read about her life. 

Enter problem #1…

Continue reading “Prescriptive vs. Narrative Nonfiction”

Five tips for pitching to literary agents

As I struggle to better understand the world of writing and publishing, I frequently encounter the topic of pitching.

What’s that?” you ask.

A pitch is the author’s means to persuade an agent or editor that her book is marketable and worthy of their time and effort to get published.

Recently, the Atlanta Writers Club facilitated a seminar titled “Pitch, Please: An Agent’s Guide to Pitches and Queries” by Caroline George, who is an Associate Agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite.

I enjoyed Ms. George’s seminar because, in addition to sharing a loads of useful information, she was funny, relatable, professional, and encouraging. She definitely came across an agent with whom most people would want to work.

The statement she made which I appreciated most was this: If you stay in the (writing and pitching) game long enough, you will be successful.

So here are my takeaways from Ms. George’s seminar about pitching to literary agents:

Continue reading “Five tips for pitching to literary agents”

Ten things I’ve learned as I struggle to write a memoir

Oh boy, this is so much harder than I imagined it would be. I figured after returning to the U.S. from four years living in Qatar, I’d whip out the story of my experience and voila! Book. After all, I am an English language specialist, a grammarian of the pickiest kind (yes, you need to use the Oxford comma; no, you cannot place a semicolon where a regular comma belongs unless…). Writing a book should be pretty easy, right?

No, so much no.

1. There are loads of different genres within memoir

Love, grief, coming-of-age…. Who knew that all of these genres have obligatory scenes that must be included for the book to work? Who knew that metaphors in writing can be considered “too happy” in their connotations for a dramatic scene to work (laying at the bottom of a stairwell like a broken Christmas cookie left on the baking sheet: too happy to show rock bottom).

2. Transcendence is everything.

A memoir has to show how the writer transcended during the main event of her memoir. She has to be a changed person, for better or for worse (and both draw readers). So how was I changed by my experience in the Middle East?

For starters, I’m definitely a better teacher. The quality of colleagues I was working alongside and projects I was involved in made that happen. Also, I know I’m a better person because I’ve re-evaluated some of my personal values regarding relationships thanks to a hard lesson learned.

What else?

Continue reading “Ten things I’ve learned as I struggle to write a memoir”

My Current Struggles

We’re all struggling through life. The truth is, not one person out there has it all figured out; Some people are just better at hiding it than others.

That’s why Struggling through it was created: to build a space where we share our challenges and declare our determination to find a way through them.

struggle [ struhguhl ]

to contend resolutely with a task, problem, etc.; strive: to struggle for existence.

The word struggle is a verb that communicates effort, intention, power, and force. A verb form which ends in -ing shows the actor is in the process of the action at the moment. For example, at the moment, you are reading this blog post.

Struggling is battling something right now, and through it shows forward momentum.

Whatever we’re struggling through, our desire is to forge ahead and build momentum so that we overcome the obstacles between us and our goals. We’re not giving up. We’re not idle and apathetic. We are determined and active.

Notice the emphasis is on movement, on putting forth effort, on battling to make progress. It’s deliberately grappling to reconcile where we are now with where we want to be. In the end, our reward is the growth that accompanies discovery what lies on the other side of struggle.

My current list of struggles are as follows, in totally random order:

  1. I’m struggling not to pee my pants every day. Literally. Every. Day.
  2. I’m struggling to write a book that works.
  3. I’m struggling to compromise with my long-term boyfriend as we begin living together.
  4. I’m struggling to walk longer than 30 minutes without tripping and falling.
  5. I’m struggling to figure out how to start my own business as a freelance writer and editor.
  6. I’m struggling to understand where a unified American identity has gone.

This list could go on forever, but the goal isn’t to air all of my problems. It’s to choose which battles are worth fighting for.

Right now, I’m identifying these five as worthy of my mental and physical energy. I’m going to write about each struggle I’m facing, the actions I’m taking to work through them, and what I’m learning in the process. Hopefully you can find a nugget of value in my struggles that applies to, or is relatable in, your own life.

Are you currently struggling with similar challenges? Do you have something completely different you’re trying to get through? Be sure to comment below. Let’s get the conversation started!

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! Struggling Through It is my latest attempt to make a positive contribution to the world. My intention for this space is to create a community where we have conversations about being proactive in our struggles to figure out how to get the most out of life. This is NOT a place where negativity is encouraged. Instead, this is a place to:

  1. acknowledge a struggle you’re currently wrestling with
  2. explain what about a particular struggle makes it most challenging
  3. describe how you plan to move ahead through it
  4. take action on your plan
  5. reassess or pivot from the plan when necessary
  6. share what has and hasn’t worked
  7. support others by sharing resources or words of encouragement

The goal of this blog is to promote the positive value of a commonly unpleasant emotion: struggle. As we share our struggles with others, we’ll feel less alone and more connected. And hopefully, our shared efforts to struggle through challenges will encourage and motivate us to keep on going.