Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I wrote an article for iMediaConnection with tips for creating a successful e-mail newsletter -- along with common mistakes to avoid.
Here is the first cringe-worthy mistake to steer clear of:
1. Spamming and privacy concerns
Never, ever spam your newsletter to people who have not subscribed. There is no quicker way to make yourself look unprofessional and obnoxious.
Similarly, be careful not to broadcast the email addresses of your subscribers to your entire subscription list. If you are sending out your newsletter using your own email service (rather than an HTML service), make sure to put your subscribers' addresses in the "BCC" field so their information will be kept confidential.
It is acceptable to send your contact list an email announcing you will be publishing a new e-newsletter and asking if they would like to subscribe. Make sure your website has a place for visitors to enter their email addresses to your subscription list. Most importantly, when it is time to send out your newsletter, only send it to those people who have indeed subscribed.
You can read the rest of the article at the iMediaConnection site: http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/24532.asp
Please feel free to comment! And keep me posted if any of these tips are helpful to you!
You can also sign up for my free e-newsletter by sending your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
When you find an author who really "knocks you out" -- as Holden Caulfield says in another one of my favorite books, Catcher in the Rye -- it is such an exciting, invigorating experience. Lorrie Moore came into my life at a time when I was struggling with my writing. My "voice" felt static, used-up, cliched. I felt like I was writing the same story over and over. I was frustrated. I had trouble coming up with ideas.
Self Help was like a giant jolt of energy to my dead car battery. All of a sudden, a wide world of creative possibilities opened up in my mind. Her widely-anthologized story "How to Be a Writer" is a must-read for anyone who has ever tried his or her hand at the writing life.
Amazingly witty, darkly comic, and both smart and wise, Lorrie Moore is, in my opinion, one of the best writers around. To put it simply, when I read her work, I fall in love with writing all over again.
Her latest book, a novel titled A Gate at the Stairs, has just been released to wide acclaim. On Thursday, I got to listen to Moore give a reading and interview at the Los Angeles Public Library. She was charming, funny, gracious and insightful. After her talk, I was actually acutely nervous as I waited in line for her to sign my copies of her books. I felt like a tween girl meeting her favorite celebrity. What would I say? What could I ever say to express to this woman how much I loved her work?
I love my name for many reasons. I am named after my paternal grandfather, who is incredibly special to me. I also love that my name is unique -- I don't meet many other people named Dallas. And I love how my name is a great conversation starter when I first meet people. Lorrie Moore went to sign my book and asked, "Dallas? Is that your name?" I explained how I was named after my grandfather and had just visited the city of Dallas for the first time. And the door opened for a nice, albeit brief, conversation with my author idol.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Have you been able to meet them? I'd love to hear your stories!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
A neat thing about flash fiction is the freedom it gives you to push your boundaries, step outside of convention, and try something completely new! What do you have to lose? Only a few hours of your time! Surprise yourself! When I am feeling stuck in a writing rut, I often start a new flash fiction story. My imaginative spirit and love for writing is rejuvenated.
Want to read some flash fiction? There are many great resources. Flash Fiction Online and flashquake are two terrific online journals. I also love the anthology Sudden Fiction -- look for it at your local library or here's a link to the Amazon page.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Some of us are born rich; some strive hard to achieve affluence; others stumble on wealth through sheer luck; and yet others struggle all their lives looking for prosperity and financial comfort without really being able to go past the boundaries of this elite status. The art of writing is similar – you are either born with the ability to weave magic with words or you aspire to learn the craft. The latter is not as easy as it sounds.
Just so I’m not mistaken, I’m not talking about writing in good English using perfect grammar and punctuation – anyone with determination and dedication can learn how to do that. What I’m referring to is the art of telling a story, one that has a compulsive beginning, a solid middle and a comprehensive ending, using words with a mastery that has to flow in one sweep from your mind to your fingers to your screen.
Some people choose writing as a way to earn a living, but in my experience, it’s those who stumble on it by chance who actually taste great success at this career. The dormant bug stays inside them, and when necessity or boredom forces it to make a reluctant or reticent appearance, the applause is tumultuous because the butterfly from the chrysalis is beautiful beyond words.
So how do you know if this talent is hidden within you? Only by trying! Choose a topic and give your mind free rein, or better still, the topic comes unbidden to your mind and begs to be explained further in the form of words. If thoughts tumble into your mind with a speed that makes them all tangled up, if your fingers itch to give concrete form to these ideas using words, and if you can heave a satisfied sigh of relief on reading the finished product, you know you have it in you to be a good writer.
Of course, you may have to hone your skills by reading more, analyzing your own work, comparing it with that of others, and keeping your ideas fresh and new. You may also suffer from the occasional writer’s block, but that is no cause for concern, because writer’s block is not that you cannot write at all; it only means that you know your creativity is being stifled by extraneous factors and circumstances. It may also happen when you know in your heart that your writing is not up to par and that you need to continue revising.
Writing is an art that must be viewed in depth in order to appreciate it – just a cursory glance or two is not enough. It also takes a person with a flair for the written word to appreciate you, and one man’s meat is always another’s poison. So don’t be disheartened if you receive more brickbats than bouquets – write for yourself, because you want to do so and not because others demand it; only then is the art of writing truly sustained.
By-line: This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of christian colleges online: http://onlinechristiancolleges.net. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: email@example.com.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I always tell students I work with that writing is something that will benefit you no matter what your dream career is. Writing, at is essence, is communicating. Job interviewers, no matter what career, are looking for someone with good communication skills. It makes you a better person! For example, my mother works in an engineering firm, and they are always looking for engineers who can also write well. Writing also encompasses so many different genres and fields -- you could be a novelist, a playwright, a business writer, a copyeditor, a grant-writer, a newspaper reporter, a memoirist, a medical journalist, a poet, a children's book author ... the list goes on and on. Not to mention, writing can be great therapy because it allows you to express yourself and connect with others in a healthy, genuine way.
I do want to make a career as a writer. What is your advice?
Read and write every single day. Even writing for only twenty minutes really adds up if you do it every day. Also, if you want to make writing a career, it is important to research the business of writing. Subscribe to Writer's Digest and The Writer magazines. Read writing newsletters. Get a copy of The Writer's Market. Learn how to write query letters and proposals. Attend writer's conferences. There might even be a writer's group in your area that you can join. Tap into the writing community and learn from other writers. Most of all, don't be discouraged and don't give up! Good luck!