Posts Tagged ‘Dorothy Allison’

Coach Teresa, do I really have to blog often to build my platform?

A gracious author emailed me a poignant question after today’s tele-roundtable discussions (sponsored by Linda Joy Myers and National Association of Memoir Writers http://www.namw.org ).

I will reveal her name if she wishes. For now, I’ll respond to Gracious Author’s concerns in a way that will hopefully help her and other hardworking writers to “reach out, not stress out, while building your platform.”

I’ll paraphrase  Gracious Author’s dilemma:

“Coach Teresa, you said we are experts of our experiences and to make our names synonymous with the themes/subject matters/issues we write about.  I don’t want to blog about my traumatic experiences; and, I’m writing a genre that makes me happy. What to do?”

Remember my closing statement at the tele-roundtable discussions?

“You deserve to make your dearest dreams come true. Wear your 2 hats:  polish the craft; building your platform to help your fans find you.”

If a task doesn’t give you joy, do something else.

Who was the author on the tele-roundtable discussions who said she has written a happy story (growing up in the 1950s)? This author could be blogging about other books, movies, music, art, world events from that decade. Or focusing on that city/town/neighborhood.  Be the expert. Be the resource.

You love writing screenplays or plays?

Who are the screenwriters and playwrights you respect?

What are the themes in their projects?

What are the themes in your project?

What if I blogged about these writers who inspire me and about their protagonists?

What if I blogged about the writers who inspired the writers who inspire me?

Blog about the music or the setting or the historical figures in your work and the works similar to yours.

Example:  I have many books in my library that I want to read. Bastard Out of Carolina (by Dorothy Allison) is one of them. Last year I was a presenter at San Francisco Writers Conference.   A month before the event, I found out that Dorothy Allison was going to be a keynote speaker. So, I started reading her novel. What a page-turner!

At the conference I ran into Dorothy in the hallway and I told her what page I was on. I saw her again when she was on a panel about banned books (moderated by Barbara Santos). Dorothy Allison is someone I wanted to blog about.

In my blog post What to Do Before Hiring an Editor for My Manuscript? under the section “Paying Attention to Language and Rules,” this is what I said about Dorothy.

In Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison’s protagonist Bone is a girl.  Bone’s voice is convincing in dialogue and in internal monologue. Brilliant use of dialect.

Then, when author Vicki Hudson told me that she created “I Sent Bastard to School” Fund, I blogged to show support.

Your blog posts, book reviews, movie reviews, stage play reviews, comments on other people’s blogs . . . can be short.  Talk about how the themes hooked you or what you learned from the characters; then sign off with your full name and your mission statement (by Day 9 in my workbook, you’ll have your brilliant mission statement)

A blog is just one of the “venues” for your fans to experience you. Fans can interact with you through your blog (the way you can interact with me with this blog–by submitting a comment). A blog keeps count of number of visitors.

What other venues keep count of number of visitors/viewers?

Websites (a blog is an interactive website)

YouTube !  facebook!   Twitter!  Here’s my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/teresaleyung

Name some more venues. . .

Gracious Author who is writing screenplays–perhaps instead of blogging, you’ll invest time creating one-minute videos of your articulating the themes in the screenplays that hook you; write a description for each video. Write reviews on Amazon; publish the same reviews on your blog or YouTube channel. You become a resource center.

More examples – why you want to help your fans find you:

Two years ago I went to see Carol Sheldon’s 15-minute play at Fringe of Marin One Act Plays. I invited friends. Carol’s play was delightful. I blogged about my theatre experience. Two weeks later, I received an email from a theatre goer who couldn’t find Fringe of Marin’s website but she found information about the theatre company from my blog!  She couldn’t find their website because there wasn’t one.  I am happy to say that Fringe of Marin has a lovely website now.

A week after beloved Effie Lee Morris (retired children’s librarian/visionary/advocate/author) died, I received an email from a reporter half-way across the country who wanted to talk to a family member of Effie Lee.   He said that even though he found many websites showing Effie Lee’s biographies and interviews, he couldn’t find anyone who knew how to contact her relatives. He found some of the information he needed through my blog posts; so, he emailed me to get more.  I was a resource.  I knew Effie Lee as the founder-president of Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter. She inspired the Friends of SFPL to create the annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture–to honor a children’s book author.

So you see how blogs connect people and serve as resource centers? Make your blog whatever you want it to be.  Julie Powell cooked one Julia Child recipe each day–that in itself was already an accomplishment.  Guess what? Julie blogged about cooking a Julia recipe each day.  Publishers found her.  She received a big advance to write the memoir.

Your platform-building style is unique. Developing a new habit though, does require effort/consistency.  That is why I designed a workbook with exercises for at least  21 consecutive days. The 22nd day is celebrations.

To participate in this blog post, submit a comment by: clicking on the blue title bar of this post, scrolling down to get the boxes, filling in the boxes and click on “submit comment” button — so that thousands of my fans will see your name, URL (your website/blog address if you have one), what themes/subject matters/issues hook you, and, what themes/subject matters/issues you want to spotlight.

I wish you joy, light, and a dancing heart.

Sincerely,
Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan

http://writingcoachteresa.com

Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW (the fun workbook)

 

What is the “I Sent Bastard to School” Fund created by Vicki Hudson?

Hi Teresa,

Thanks for the update.
I’m working on a project I wanted to let you know about and ask that you send it out to your network. This came from hearing Dorothy Allison and the Fremont High School (California) teacher and student talk at the last San Francisco Writers Conference about Fremont school board censoring Dorothy’s  book. I’m raising funds to purchase books. Please check out the site: http://www.indiegogo.com/Send-Bastard2School

Thanks!

Vicki Hudson

 

Bastard out of Carolina

by Dorothy Allison

 

I salute Dorothy Allison for writing books that inspire hope for children and adults. I salute Vicki Hudson for creating the “I Sent Bastard to School” Fund.

Sincerely,

Teresa LeYung-Ryan

Manuscript Consultant

Writing Career Coach

author of Love Made of Heart

author of Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW

 

To comment on any of my columns (blog posts) or to contact me, just click on the blue title bar of the post, fill in the boxes and press “submit.”

 

What to do before hiring an editor for your manuscript?

 

My advice for narrative non-fiction writers is the same for fiction writers.

“Look at Your Manuscript with an Editor’s Lens”

by Teresa LeYung Ryan–Developmental Editor/Manuscript Consultant/Writing Career Coach


Since writing a story with the intent to engage the reader is so much like meeting a stranger and wanting him/her to be interested in us, I will focus on “how to make the first quarter of your story a compelling read.”

I love working with diligent writers who want to transform their manuscripts into page-turners. However, there are things you can do before you give your work to an editor. Let me show you how you can help yourself.

Does your manuscript pass these tests?

  • Planting hook(s) or story-question(s);
  • Grounding the reader with the three Ws and the big C (Who?  When?  Where? Circumstances);
  • Showing (not telling) what the protagonist wants;
  • Paying attention to language and rules

Let’s learn from the pros.

Planting Hook or Story-Question:

In The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong Kingston hooks us with the first line: “You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you…”   Then, Ms. Kingston transitions into her story with:  “Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that ran like this one . . .”

Grounding the Reader with the Three Ws and the big C:

In Woven of Water, while the story timeline spans from 1957 to 2005, Californian author Luisa Adams brilliantly shows us who she was as a girl (not with a year-by-year narrative, but with a single exquisite chapter).  Because she grounded us with “who, when, where” and the “circumstances” as to why she had left her love affair with water, we eagerly follow as she takes us into her enchanted world of a “cottage in the forest.”  Another device to ground the reader is the employment of sensory details (not long descriptions).  Sensory details put the reader in the scene/story world.  Re-read one of your favorite author’s books. Study from the masters.

Showing What the Protagonist Wants:

In The Other Mother, young Carol Schaefer wants to ask questions:  “Was there any way to keep my baby?  Was there anyone who would help me find a way to do that?”

In Eat, Pray, Love, Elisabeth Gilbert says: I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

In Love Made of Heart, my protagonist Ruby Lin prays: Please don’t end up like Grandmother (while witnessing police officers escorting her own mother out of her apartment).

Paying Attention to Language and Rules:

Read the first five pages of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and you will see how this wordsmith plays with language and rules. (You can “bend” the rules to create flow, but you must not ignore them.)

In Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison’s protagonist Bone is a girl.  Bone’s voice is convincing in dialogue and in internal monologue. Brilliant use of dialect.

Sentences Deserve Your Attention:

Remember Groucho Marx’s line “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas…”? That sentence got a lot of laughs.  But, what if you didn’t want to be funny (ambiguous in this case)?

How would you rewrite these sentences?  See the misplaced modifiers?

  • He likes to fish near the Farallon Islands, they jump when they’re hungry at dawn or dusk. (the islands jump?)
  • She insists on knowing when I come home and leave, not to be nosy, but for safety reasons. (who is not nosy?)
  • Being cautious as not to step on the dog’s tail, the children tip-toed away from him while sleeping. (who’s sleeping?)

To improve your sentence structure and other skills, I recommend these books:

  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • Woe is I: Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

More Advice:

  • In all the stories I referenced above, the authors present memorable experiences by employing authentic details, unusual story-worlds though real, and poetic language. You want to do the same for your story.
  • Also, these stories have another vital component–all the plotlines have what Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple, calls “Cause and Effect” linked scenes.  Another must-read blog:  http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/search?q=first+quarter
  • When you’re writing non-fiction and you do not have the luxury of rearranging the sequence of events to create a page-turning plotline, you can engage the reader by using concise expositions to leap over blocks of time in order to focus on the core themes and fast-forward to the next scene.  A helpful website for memoir writers: http://www.memoriesandmemoirs.com
  • You the author must show the reader what the protagonist wants, even if the protagonist doesn’t know at first.
  • We don’t have to “like” a protagonist, but, we do need to connect with him/her on an emotional level. Perhaps what he/she wants is also what we want.
  • Story-telling is a skill learned, practiced, and mastered. May you practice with joy.

In the fiercely competitive arena of the publishing world, how does one stand out in a crowd?  Building relationships is one key to success in this business. Another key is to know how to translate the themes from your life to your writing and articulate those themes as community concerns.  I want to see all hardworking writers realize their dreams. My best wishes to you!

To read other posts in my blog (about writing contests, publishing opportunities, more tips on platform-building), click on [ Home ] and scroll down  OR key in words in the search box to find specific posts. Example: if you key in the words: poetry anthology 2011 into my blog’s search box and click [search], you will see my post containing info about the  Las Positas College Anthology and other contests for other genres (Thank you, Poet Laureate Deborah Grossman!) To read the entire version of a post, click on the title bar of that post.

To see my website for all my books, go to:  http://writingcoachteresa.com

Reach out, not stress out!

Sincerely,

Build-Your-Writer’s-Platform Coach Teresa

Teresa LeYung Ryan–Developmental Editor/Manuscript Consultant, Writing Career Coach, Author, Publisher

Teresa specializes in editing fiction and narrative non-fiction with themes on the human condition.

She likes spunky protagonists in thrillers, women’s novels, memoirs, and children’s literature.

Love Made of Heart is:
• recommended by the California School Library Association and the California Reading Association

• read by students at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, CCSF, and many other colleges and high schools.

• used in Advanced Composition English-as-a-Second-Language classes
• archived at the San Francisco History Center

Teresa says: “The more you read, the more your own writing will flow.”  
Please click here for my blog’s home page  http://lovemadeofheart.com/blog/

My fun workbook is now available through Amazon!

BUILD YOUR WRITER’S PLATFORM & FANBASE IN 22 DAYS: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW

http://www.amazon.com/Build-Your-Writers-Platform-Fanbase/dp/0983010005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297630400&sr=1-1

http://lovemadeofheart.com/BUILD-YOUR-WRITER%27S-PLATFORM-&-FANBASE-IN-22-DAYS.html

 

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