writing

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”

writing

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”

writing

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”

writing

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”

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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.