My First Big Speaking Engagement!

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Are you an Aspiring Author or fan of The Butterfly Memoirs who resides in the Atlanta area? Well, this one is for you!

 I am pleased to announce that I am participating in the Author’s Workshop being held by The Virtuous Women, LLC and co-hosted by Barnes & Noble on August 17th where I have been asked to be the FEATURED AUTHOR! Talk about existed!!!

 But before I talk more about the event, let me give you a bit of history about The Virtuous Women, LLC.

 The organization was formed a by Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman, a Special Education Teacher for the Dekalb County School System. What started as a sisters and sister-in-law spa day quickly turned into more. The Virtuous Women, LLC is a Christian organization that looks to empower, educate, support, and help create businesses and opportunities within the community. They hold monthly meetings and events to share valuable information with the the goal of building a better community, one family and business at a time. For more information about to find out about upcoming community events, visit the website and get registered.

 The theme for this months event is The Author’s Workshop. The goal is to provide encouragement to aspiring writers who are looking to become published authors.

 Have you ever wondered what it takes to publish a book? Then this event is for you! There will be ten local authors who will be sharing their stories about why they chose to write, what motivated their project, and what challenges they overcame to see their project through to completion.

 During that time, I will have some great giveaways, and if you have purchased a paperback copy of either of my books, bring it and I will me more than happy to sign it! Got a Kindle or Nook and like to collect author signatures? I’ll sign that too! Don’t forget your cameras! For more information about the event, follow this link. I hope to see you there!

The Virtuous Women, LLC

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

 

MJ

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

blogThere was a time when I didn’t spend much time on the internet, much less read or follow a blog. Yet, in the last 3 years, I’ve become an avid blogger! Who knew? During this time my blog has undergone several revisions…from colors, to layouts, blogging platforms…and most importantly, what I blog about.

So, why did I start blogging? The answer is simple….to become a better writer.

Sounds crazy, right?

When I started blogging in 2009, I had no idea what I would write about. I mean really, at the time I was a stay at home mom who was attempting to write a book. What did I have to talk about? Hmm…kids, the community, my dogs. BORING!!! Who wanted to read that? LOL! In the beginning I had about 4 people who stopped by to read what I wrote. And that was only because I asked them to check it out. I had no idea how to format a blog post or how long it should be. Adding a picture was a hair pulling experience (did I mention I wasn’t THAT computer savvy?). Yep…suffice it to say I didn’t blog very often. Those blogs are still available if you’d like to read them:

 Four Miles and Counting….(my very first post!)

…Two Pit Bulls, One Paper Clip and a lap top to put it all in! (the next daring endevor!)

I know, I know, the big question is: did it actually help your writing?

The answer: YES!!!! (Seriously, take a look back then and now and you’ll see my writing technique has changed though my voice is pretty much the same.)

What are the benefits to writing a blog? As I stated above, writing a blog helped me find my writing voice, or rather, get comfortable with writing something, having people read it. Getting used to receiving comments and feedback about my blog post helped me get used to the idea of reading reviews as a published author. You can’t please everyone and of course everyone will not agree or like what you have to say. As writers, we have to get used to that idea. Why not do that with a blog?

And as they say about anything you strive to get better at: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and you will improve. I strongly suggest that if you are an aspiring author looking to practice the craft of writing, start a blog! Find a topic or subject that is important to you (your writing platform or niche), and use it!

As time went on, I gave up on my blog for several months until I discovered my blog niche was writing about my experiences as an aspiring author. The more information I ran across, practiced, or new technique I found, I wrote about it. Sharing my story led me to other writers who were doing the same thing I was. Forming connections with other writers lead to networking, networking lead to learning new writing techniques from more experienced writers…and well, here I am today! It took a lot of work and continues to take a lot of work to keep this blog going, but I am proud to say that as of right now, I have over 900 blog followers.

I guess what I have to say and share means something! Thank you guys!!!

The question I am asked most by writers who would like to start a blog but fear they will never have a following is: “I have something to say, but who is going to read it? How do I promote my blog?” The answer is simple. If you’re tied into the major social networking sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Stumbleupon, etc., your potential readers are right there waiting. Choose a snazzy topic, a witty title, develop your layout, and use those free social networking tools. Before you know it, you’ll have a blog following, too!

Good luck and happy blogging!

MJ

Recycle Those Old Manuscripts, Don’t Trash Them!

I posted this status on Facebook last week:

New authors: Does you manuscript lack the ‘fire’ it needs to stand apart? Don’t give up! Never trash those original ideas! Set them to the side and try again. You’ll be surprised at how new ideas will begin to flow…you may even find yourself reaching for the original ms, pulling bits and pieces from it, and finding a way to make it shine! Old manuscripts are not necessarily bad ideas…just really well thought out musings!

Book 1-A Heart Not Easily Broken – completed: all notes and handwritten ms.

When I started writing three years ago, I thought my first manuscript was perfect. The characters were engaging, the dialogue witty and flowing… the story line engaging. Then I realized I didn’t know what platform I wanted to use, much less what genre I was really in. All I knew is I had a story to tell. I wanted it to be a coming of age story but still be a romance. The characters were 18-21, so the story was more Young Adult. Because of the subject matter of the book, sex scenes were necessary, but I didn’t want it to be labled as YA and didn’t want to remove the love scenes  because they were pertinent to the story.  After listening to advice from my ever helpful critique partners, I decided to step away from the story and try something new.

Book 2- Jaded-editing: Original notes, scenes, new outline, 1st manuscript draft.

The next writing attempt followed  characters who were in their mid- to late twenty’s, well established in their careers, and old enough to have as much sex as I felt comfortable writing about. The story line was completly different, and once again, I thought I had it nailed. Then I realized the characters were not real enough. I hadn’t put in enough effort to make them believable. I didn’t know their back story, didn’t have a history to pull from to make my characters three-dimentional instead of two-dimentional. After sharing the first chapter with close confidants and having them nearly bored to death, I forced myself to listen to their honest feedback. They said, it was missing description in the scenes, and didn’t grab their attention….I put that story aside as well.

Book 3 – Lonely Heart- wip:Notes from original ms and current rough outline.

After taking a writer’s class, I found my writing platform. As a result, I pulled out the original manuscript, (thank god I didn’t trash it like I started to!), focused on the heart of the story, and re-wrote it with older characters….after peeling back those ‘onion’ layers to discover who they were. As a result, I ended up with a much better story by ‘resurrecting’ bits and pieces of the original manuscript.

As I went through the previous manuscripts, I discovered various portions of the original stories can be recycled. I’ve enjoyed fitting the ‘pieces’ from the ‘old’ and and putting them together with the ‘new’. I’ve been able to do this without pulling out the original pages to refresh my memory of the tale being told.

Book 4- Nobody’s Business But My Own- planning:Notes, rough outline.

One thing I must point out: if you put down a manuscript and begin a complete re-write of the story, do it without reviewing your original work. Step away from the story for a few days, or weeks and let the old story line leave your thoughts. This is vital. Why? You don’t want to end up writing the same stuff over again. As an author, the concept or idea should be imbedded on your mind without having to read it word-for-word. Doing so will allow the story to emerge from a fresh prespective. Switch up scenes, events, and add in more conflict, goals, and motivations. Before you know it, the story comes forth, and you discover certain events, dialoge, or even partial scenes connect to your original manuscript. You’re original scenes can become back story to your current work.

Book #5-Untitled- planning: Outlines, notes, scenes. Book 6 is still buried deep in my head!

It’s amazing how your creative mind can work!

One thing you must remember: Don’t get impatient or discouraged! From what I’ve learned from my own writing journey, and all of the other authors I’ve had the opportunity to meet along the way, the average time it takes to write a good story is at least one year. It seems like a lot, but think about the steps it takes to write a story:

  • Create the basic plot. (goals, motivation, conflict)
  • Design the location, backdrop, or world for the story to take place.
  • Create the characters that will inhabit this world. (names, back story, goals, motivations)
  • Research jobs, topic for the story, etc., so the story can be as realistic as possible. 
  • Write a story outline. (rough draft/final draft)
  • Write first draft of manuscript.
  • Read first draft, then write second draft, and third, and fourth, as many as it takes to get it as good as possible.
  • Edit.
  • Read manuscript again.
  • Edit again.
  • Wait for your beta reader/critique partners to read and send back their thoughts.
  • Read/edit again.
  • Eventually get work professionally edited/proofread. 
  • And yep, edit again (I swear this step never seems to end!!!)
  • Eventually, when you look around, time has passed, and yep, a year has gone by! 
Now of course, everyone has their own way of doing things. Some are better, some are not. In the end, it’s all about the amount of work willing to put into your masterpiece. Sometimes its a matter of trial and error. One thing I can be sure of, and I’ve gotten this from self-published, indie authors, and New York Times Best Sellers, you never stop learning or growing as a writer. With every book you write, your storytelling improves. I know mine has. Writing and editing my second book has not been near as hard as it was the first time. Why? Because I’ve learned a lot and have implemented the techniques. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard work, but the rewards of seeing the evolution of my work are priceless!

Remember, with hard work, creativity, imagination, perseverance, and patience, a lot of patience…you’ll make that original story become great. Good luck!!

M.J.

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