16
Apr

Guest Author Blog: Traci Sanders

I'm pleased to hand over my blog today to my friend Traci Sanders, award-winning author and creator of the Readers Review Room, an on-line review site for authors, which provides fantastic indie books for lovers of reading.  Traci is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children's, romance, and nonfiction guides.


Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.  Here, she provides one of her writing tips from her newest release, "Living the Write Life".  Without further ado, here is Traci's Tip:

 

The following tip can be found in Living The Write Life, now available in digital and paperback format.

https://www.amazon.com/Living-Write-Life-making-writing-ebook/dp/B01MUXVIAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490634364&sr=8-1&keywords=living+the+write+life

 

Have any of you who are authors noticed that your circle of friends grew smaller once you published your book(s)? I’m not only talking about the friends who still haven’t reviewed, much less read, your books. I’m referring to the ones who seemed to have disappeared once you began even talking about your books.

 

Don’t feel alone. It happens to many authors.

 

In fact, it happens to many people in general, for several reasons:

  • Some people feel threatened when their friends aren’t on the same “level” (socially, financially, or career-wise) as they are.
  • Some people back off because they are afraid you will ask them to read/review your book and they are afraid of being honest with you if they end up not liking it. In other words, they don’t want to be put in an awkward position.
  • Some people feel threatened by anyone who has goals.
  • Some people are selfish and only want their friends to be happy if they are happy. (It’s the same with the friends who only want you to be single when they are single.)
  • Some people aren’t interested in anything to do with reading or writing. Yes. They do exist. (Breathe. Breathe.)

 

Many authors enjoy talking about all things related to books and writing. However, their friends and family do not.

 

Sure, they may be supportive and buy—and if the planets align, maybe even review—our books. But this doesn’t mean that they will ever be as invested in the process as we authors are. It’s not their passion. They don’t lose sleep over a certain line of a story. They aren’t tormented by the fate of characters. Even if they are avid readers, it doesn’t mean they care about the writing process as much as authors do.

 

So how do we deal with the ones we love, who don’t love what we do?

  • Don’t bring up the subject of your writing or anything related to writing unless asked. And even then, learn to gauge if the person asking is truly interested in learning about it, or if he/she is simply being polite.
  • If you do mention your writing, be sure to talk about other topics as well.
  • Ask your friends/loved ones about their lives. Remember, whatever is going on in their lives is just as important to them as your writing is to you.
  • Don’t ask your friends/loved ones to read or review your books. If they offer, great. Otherwise, leave that to avid readers who will appreciate your work.
  • Don’t try to coerce your friends/loved ones into reading your book by giving them free copies, thinking you are doing them a favor. If they are truly interested, they will ask you how to buy a copy to support you.
  • Don’t hold it against them if they don’t want to read or even talk about your books. Keep in mind that they knew you before you began publishing, and that person is who they built a relationship with, not the author you became. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to talk about things in your life that don’t involve them.
  • Remember to balance your time between your writing and your friends/loved ones. It’s hard. As authors, we get an idea in our heads and want to run with it, damned the rest of the world when we’re in the writing zone. But as humans, we can’t do that too often or we will burn some bridges we don’t want to burn. Make time for your spouse, other than getting him/her to read your latest synopsis. Make time for your children. Yes, it’s great for them to see you going for your dreams and goals, but don’t make them feel as if they aren’t as special or important to you as your writing. No matter what book I publish, writing award I win, or celebrity status I ever reach, my ultimate achievement in life is being a great mom to my children, and wife to my husband. They will always come first.
  • Don’t correct your friends/loved ones’ grammar on social media or in person, unless you have that kind of relationship with him or her. No one likes a know-it-all. Whether they are being lazy or simply naive, it’s not your place to judge them or correct them.
  • Don’t forget to thank your closest family and friends who do support your writing journey, whether it’s your spouse who cares for the kids so you can write, your best friend who reads your worst crap before you rewrite it, or your children who learn to wait “just a few more minutes” to eat dinner because you are trying to wrap up a chapter. Just because they don’t materially participate in your writing, doesn’t mean they don’t play a huge role in your process. Thank them in your books, and in person.
  • Don’t buy books for your friends/loved ones who you know don’t enjoy reading, thinking you will convince them how great it is. Or worse, buy them books you know they won’t enjoy so they will give the books to you. That’s just wrong. (smile)

 

It’s hard for us authors to remember sometimes that there are people in this vast world who don’t enjoy and appreciate the written word as much as we do. When I hear someone say, “I simply don’t enjoy reading,” I want to claw my eyes out. But it’s not my place to force it on them or judge them for their lack of interest.

 

So, keep your relationships with those you love by remembering what brought you together in life in the first place. Focus on that and let them know you cherish their presence in your life … even if they don’t enjoy all the same things you do.

 

 

Traci Sanders

Award-winning author of parenting, children's, and romance titles
         
5
Mar

Working with Young Writers

One of the things I look forward to each year is my after-school Writing Club.  For 10 weeks, middle school students (aged 12-14) sign up to spend an hour after school with me just...writing.  Luckily, my district recognized that not all students are involved in sports so they agreed to allow me to host a club that focused on creativity and writing skills. It's not STEM, it's not homework, it's not chess.  It is just a keyboard, an idea, and a bag of pretzels.  We talk while we write. We talk about ideas, about characters, about showing and not telling, about really cool names for antagonists and protagonists, about plots and conflict and appropriate topics and inappropriate ones.  And we write. We laugh, too, and build relationships and trust.  We need to trust each other since we rely on one another to offer true constructive feedback on our writing pieces.

This is the fourth year we've had our Writing Club.  I'm hoping to expand it next year to include a second session for younger students who have reached out asking to participate. In that group, I'd focus more on writing skills as we write, as opposed to content.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on working with young writers. Feel free to comment!

22
Oct

November Writing Challenge - K-8 (modified NaNoWriMo challenge)

If you haven't heard of it, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It's a time for buckling down, setting some word count writing goals, and spitting out an entire novel in one month's time. While I admire anyone who can actually do this (and it would require almost 2000 words a day!) while holding down a full-time job, I think the idea behind it is too good to waste on just, you know, authors.  So, I've adapted the idea to implement a NaNoWriMo type of event in my school.

Since I'm wearing the hat of "writing coach" now, I feel it's my duty (much to the groans of my already over-worked and overwhelmed colleagues) to introduce great writing opportunities for them to use in their classrooms. The school is a Kindergarten through 8th grade school, but with some adjustments, we've now got ourselves a November Writing Challenge.

The Kinders are working on their letters, so their goal per day is to work on certain letters. They'll track their progress on a chart that they'll display in the hallway. If they can practice 2 letters a day, for example,  we can probably have them writing their names legibly on papers by the time the holidays roll around!

First and second graders are working on sentence structure. They have goals to write (x) number of sentences per day. They'll keep track of what they write as a class (See? Throwing some math in there as well!) and will keep track of their number of sentences each day to see how many they write by the end of the month.

Middle grades, 3-5, are working on stories. They'll be tracking word count, and will try to reach personal goals. Since the students in these grade levels have writing binders, they'll have individual trackers to keep a word count per day. They also use chromebooks which allow for easy access to word count totals. The chart is just a November calendar that they'll keep in their binder, and they will write their own daily numbers on it. Some of the more confident writers will commit to a word count per day, and others will just simply track what they do. Either way, they are writing, and that is what counts.

Our Middle School students, grades 6-8, will be writing stories and tracking word count. One of our Common Core Writing Standards is to "write routinely over extended time frames". Well, here is a perfect opportunity for that.  I'm most excited about the 7th and 8th graders - they will be attempting to end the month with a long story that may reach novella length!

Oh, and the teachers? They aren't passive observers in all of this. In the middle of our main hallway will be a chart to track their progress as they write each day as well. Hey, we walk the talk in our school.  Good sports, all of us, allowing everyone to watch as we color in the squares indicating that we have or haven't been reaching our individual goals each day. (As if we don't have enough pressure grading papers on time, right? *wink*)

Each of the classrooms will celebrate on November 30. And they should. If we can get our students excited about writing, and they improve through this challenge, then the effort put into this event will have been well worth it.

Pictures will be posted of how we tracked, and how we did. Stay tuned!