• April is National Poetry Month!

    Prose writers can click here to find one way to honor their poetry fellows. See what Pacific Northwest poets are doing in April here.
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    On 12.01.09, I estimated that I had about 32,000 words left to write to complete my first draft of the opening book in my paranormal mystery series, THE LOST & FOUND.

    Here's my progress updated 2.12.10:

    33% of 32,000 (10,648 wds)
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Richard Hugo House: Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century

I hope you’ll mark your calendars for this event. I’ll be participating on panels and in workshops on Saturday, May 22, 2010.  It promises to be one of the best literary conferences in the Pacific Northwest in 2010!

From the Richard Hugo House website:

Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
                                              —A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens was describing the era of the French Revolution, but he might as well have been discussing the state of modern-day publishing.  Bookstores are going out of business; publishing houses are laying off staff, and everyone keeps predicting the imminent death of The Book.

Meanwhile, writers soldier on, putting one word after the other, revising and revising again and wondering how, and if, anyone will ever read their work.

Well, it’s time to stop wondering and take matters into your own hands.

On the weekend of May 21-23, Richard Hugo House will be hosting its first writers’ conference. The topic will be: Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Our focus will be on exploring the changing literary landscape and the options available to writers for getting their work out in the world and into the hands of readers. While we will certainly look at traditional publishing models, what we’re really interested in is showcasing new possibilities that writers in our community may not be aware of, from the traditional to the off-the-wall. We’ll look at ways writers can promote themselves and their work directly to their readers, and offer hands on practical workshops on basic tools of the writing business from creating a pre-pub platform to building your own website.

Registration for Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century will open on April 5 for Hugo House members and April 12 for the general public.

Featured speakers:
Alan Rinzler
Barbara Sjoholm
Matthew Stadler
Jeff Vandermeer

Presenters:
Alice Acheson
Ryan Boudinot
Wendy Call
Karen Finneyfrock
Stacey Levine
Priscilla Long
Elizabeth Wales

…and many others!

We’ll be updating information about the conference as it comes in, so check back often for the latest 411.

*Program details, presenters and schedules are subject to change.

The Richard Hugo House
1634 11th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
206-322-7030 

Open Hours:
Monday-Friday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

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Upcoming live classes: Blogging 101 and Blogging 102 for Writers

 Check out my upcoming live blogging workshops for the spring session at BIMPRD. Sign-ups begin this Thursday, March 25! Don’t delay–these classes can fill quickly. Join the ranks of local writers who are giving the blog form the ol’ college try…

Blogging 101 for Writers” [223310-01] meets live on Sat April 17 from 10am-3pm at the Strawberry Hill Meeting Room via the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District. The class is $40. Call 206.842.2306 to get registered or log in at www.biparks.org, click on to Online Registration and enter the WebTrac portal.

This is a beginner’s class in that we will each build a free, brand new blog from scratch in Blogger. If you already have a blog, but need some guidance with its architecture, development and maintenance, this is also a good basics course. I have chosen Blogger because it is a very simple interface and is a great training ground for the beginning blogger. You can start out with a free blog and upgrade as you go. Though we will focus on the Blogger platform, I am also familiar with WordPress, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Besides helping you all set up a basic blog (which I recommend all bloggers use as their experimental “sandbox” until they become proficient), we will also discuss content development, building traffic, blog maintenance, and potential problems that all bloggers can face. I’ll sneak in a little history about blogging as well, for perspective.

Blogging 102 for Writers” [223311-01] meets live on Sun May 16 and Sun May 23 (two sessions total) from 1-330pm at the Strawberry Hill Art Room via the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District. The class is $40. Call 206.842.2306 to get registered or log in at www.biparks.org, click on to Online Registration and enter the WebTrac portal.

This is an extension of the beginner’s class that helps those writers who have already established a blog online but need to do something more actively with it. We’ll talk about best practices, nontechnical improvements for blog design, maintenance and upkeep, SEO (search engine optimization), content and frequency reviews and finding your “niche.”

Please know that I am not a web developer or a graphic designer. I’m a nontechnical person and a writer; I learned how to blog like any other ordinary person, by experimenting and doing the work outside a classroom. Therefore, I’m quite patient with students who are nervous about their technical skills; I was one of you, once, and I know what a humbling experience that can be. My workshop was created to simplify what can be a tricky and nonintuitive process for others who are not technical, so please take comfort in knowing that you’ll be explore blogging safely and without judgment in my workshop.

Change is a-comin’ at Writer’s Rainbow

Public domain image: "Dendritic Cells" by HaymanJ (2008).

Small businesses are microorganisms, growing and stretching and refining themselves.

My work here for Writer’s Rainbow is maturing as well, and I’d like to call attention to a few changes in my services and programming in 2010.

For one thing, I will no longer handle poetry, unless it’s prose poetry and only prose poetry. However, most of the content of my past workshops will remain the same: I’ll still be offering programming for magical realist writers, writing parents, short story writers, bloggers, and those up for the NaNoWriMo challenge.

It’s just the way the offerings are structured and scheduled that will change.

I will be phasing out all copyediting, manuscript review, and manuscript critique as individual services starting in June 2010.  I am still going to work as a developmental editor, but I’m keeping those tasks in conjunction with my platform consulting and coaching services. Platform consulting and coaching are natural counterparts to the developmental editor’s job and it makes better sense for a writer, who wants to invest in an editor, to get the best “bang for their buck.” I also find that I’m a more loyal devotee to my clients’ work when I know I will be part of the larger picture.

Editing, after all, isn’t only about dotting Is and crossing Ts, but about bringing forth the best narrative the author aspires to write.

I am also cutting out my online class lineup in favor of 1:1 mentoring arrangements. It takes a lot of extra time to put together online workshops that function well, primarily because there are time zone issues (as my clients come from all around the world), but also because a class can only work if there’s a good live meeting time and place.

While I’ve been able to structure some of these in the past, they end up being scheduled when I should be sleeping or spending time with my family. However, 1:1 mentorship arrangements guarantee that you, as the client, will get all my attention, and that classes will never be canceled due to shifting enrollments. Future students will find added value in the simplicity of this arrangement.

Along with the shift in my services, I’m revamping the website itself, and there will be some additional changes to the overall scheduling and registration.

Check out the following FAQs to see where things are improving, simplifying, making the process simpler for both client and mentor. Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, I will be highlighting some of the upcoming 1:1 mentorships, coaching opportunities, writing clinics and consulting services starting in June 2010. Make sure and subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the news!

  1. When can I sign up for coaching and/or consulting services?
    With the exception of email-only generative 1:1 workshops and special clinics, all coaching and consulting services now operate on a quarterly basis. This means when you sign up, you are registered for a full quarter (3 months) of services.Winter quarter begins in Dec; Spring quarter begins in March; Summer quarter begins in June; and Fall quarter begins in September.

    You can sign up at any time but you must prepay (or preschedule, in the event you are a repeating client) so that your slot for that quarter will be reserved. 

    Deadline to sign up for Winter quarter is November 15; for Spring quarter, it’s February 15; for Summer quarter, it’s May 15; and for Fall quarter, it’s August 15.

    You must go through the review process before registering (this is where I take a look at your work and see whether we’re a good “match”), so please don’t delay. If you contact me after that deadline, and you want to sign up for that quarter, I’ll see if there are any slots available. Chances are good there won’t be open slots, however, because there are only a limited number of them and they fill up fast (with repeat clients, in particular). If I can’t fit you in for that quarter, we can look to the following quarter to see if there are any spots there.

    Repeat clients will have priority for future quarters, as they are likely to be finishing projects, and I won’t abandon them. But if there are spots available, and I’ve determined we’re a good match, I will fit you in, I promise.

    Keep in mind that if you are interested in a generative writing class, these are handled via email only and they are offered all year and can be started at any time. The special NaNoWriMo session has its own registration deadline as well.

  2. What is a good match?
    Working intimately with another writer’s work demands that I be interested in and excited about their manuscript. I have my favorite genres of writing and I have some dislikes, like anybody else. I’m more likely to take on a manuscript which has a speculative fiction quality to it than I am a manuscript which is a romance story, for instance. Since I don’t read romances, I’m not the best person to help you, as I may not be on top of all the specific “rules” of romance writing.If I think a manuscript is ready for the review of an editor, but I’m not the right person for it, I’ll usually send you a referral, as I know many editors who handle different kinds of work.

    Also, I might turn a manuscript away because it needs more development. I am mostly interested in work that is maturing and needs a careful second set of eyes to bring it to its best potential. Manuscripts riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes are also usually riddled with narrative imbalances, careless POV shifts, faulty dialog, pacing issues and other Big Picture problems, so I will likely reject those manuscripts.

    Developmental editing is not just about mechanics and grooming, it’s a holistic approach to story building. When I work with writers, we work together from the inside out. I can only afford to take on those clients who have put a great deal of care into their work; therefore, I will not work with sloppy writers.

  3. How do I get my worked reviewed for a future arrangement with you?
    I generally ask that an interested writer send me 10 pages of a book-length manuscript with an informal summary of their book so I can get a feel for their goals as well as their writing level. Check with me first to see if I’m even available to review your work, and if I am, please allow 2-3 weeks for me to give your work the most careful review.
  4. Why must I sign up for 3 months’ worth of services?
    Experience shows that it takes, on average, 3 to 12 months for most of my clients to finish a first or successive draft of a novel. I have yet to work with a client who has needed less than 3 months of assistance to get their manuscript into working order.
  5. Why biweekly meetings (versus weekly)?
    Far and away, my past and present clients prefer this schedule because it allows them enough time to complete their work and still allow it to “incubate” before we discuss it. It means the writing process moves along more slowly, but a really good book is never written overnight.
  6. Where do we meet?
    Online. I use Google Talk, as it’s private, free, secure, easy to use, and the notes are instantly transcribed. If you’re not familiar with Google Talk, just let me know and I can take you through a practice run before our first meeting.
  7. Why not meet live? 
    Live meetings are only available if you live in Kitsap County and/or are willing to travel to Bainbridge Island for the meeting, as my rates do not reflect off-island travel time and transportation costs (i.e. ferries, gas).Even then, online meetings are a far more effective solution for both mentor and client as they offer a paper trail of notes and links that can be referred to long after the meeting is over.

    If you really must meet live, we’ll discuss options then, but be aware that such requests will result in higher fees.

  8. Why must the first 3-month session be prepaid in advance? 
    Two answers: my schedule fills up fast, so your prepayment guarantees your time slot, and I don’t have time or energy to chase down unpaid clients. I’m a single owner LLC and my resources are limited.
  9. Do you offer payment plans?
    If you’re a returning client, you can choose prepayment of your next session with a discount, or break your payment into a 50/50 schedule, or go month to month. All first sessions with new clients must be prepaid.
  10. Why is your schedule so specific?
    There is work I need to perform before and after each meeting I have with a client. The schedule helps me to stay on task and give each client the attention they’re paying for.I also have other commitments, as a writer and teacher, and budgeting my time accordingly makes it possible to maintain these commitments.
  11. Why don’t I offer a schedule that includes evening and weekend times?
    I wish I could be available to all people, all the time, but that’s not the reality. I have a family and other interests and I need my own mental health break during these times (which includes not answering email or my business calls on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). I also sometimes teach on evenings and weekends (this is the nature of adult continuing education). Thanks for your understanding.
  12. Do you have a different schedule in the summer?
    Yes; the summer schedule is a little lighter as I do a lot of my own writing during this time, plus I travel a great deal and spend a lot of my time with my family then. The schedule for the month of December is also decidedly lighter for the same reasons.

Do you have any other questions that haven’t been answered here? Contact me directly at tamara@writersrainbow.com. I’ll be posting these FAQs in a separate page later, should you need to revisit them.

March monthly dispatch: Writing platforms–3 building blocks you can work on right now

Public domain image: “Column of Alexander I of Russia in scaffolds. Saint Petersburg” by Grigory Gagarin (1832–1833)

I’ve been developing a program for the writer who has completed (or neared completion of) a novel and is now looking for ways to find a home for their work. This is called the Writing Platform and it consists of a long list of things that writers can do to help bring attention to their work and be found by the right publisher, agent or editor and… ultimately… their intended reader.

There are three main parts to the basic writing platform, which I’ll touch on below. [more]

New for Seattle-area bloggers: let’s build us some content!

Blogging regularly can be difficult over the long-term because it demands that you generate fresh post material on a regular, deadline-oriented basis. For writers who lack self-motivation or butt up against writer’s block from time to time, this can spell doom for the blog. However, most bloggers don’t set out to fail and wish they had some options in their back pockets for keeping their content fresh and alive even when it’s not forthcoming or even possible in a certain time frame.

Enter Content Building for Bloggers! Content Builder for Bloggers is all about giving bloggers structural templates and themes for blogging.  Should a blogger run dry of fresh ideas, he or she can then turn to these templates and themes as prompts for inspiration.

Now’s the time to sign up for a fun and motivating class on generating new blog content!

Content Builder for Bloggers is a weekly meetup in which an assignment is detailed and given to each student/blogger. They each then spend the following week writing their own blog entries in answer to the assignment. In live or interactive workshops formats, students/bloggers also their peers’ blogs and leave comments, wherever possible, in reply. The following week, students gather live or interactively to discuss how the assignment went, and then a new assignment is detailed and given. 

Each series meets for 4 weeks, with each session offering a new strategy for content building. I have enough themes, ideas and templates for bloggers to fill a full year (52 weeks) of classes.

Currently, I offer this as a 1:1 mentorship service (available year-round) and NOW, for Seattle-area bloggers, as a live weekly workshop!

NEW! The Bainbridge Island Park District has opened up a new live series for this class! If interest is high, it could potentially continue weekly throughout the year. This is a fun, affordable and useful way to learn how to be more prolific with your blog without having to scrape out your brain every time you sit down to right a blog post. Plus, you’ll meet other area bloggers and develop a readership among you, as well as discover other great writing out in the blogosphere.

Let me help you generate fresh material for your blog in this affordably priced class. For details:

LIVE CLASS:
Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District
Title:
Blogging 103: Content Builder for Bloggers
Class Code: [BIMPRD #123312] REGISTRATION INFO HERE
Meets:
Sundays from 12:30p-1:30p from February 7 through March 7. [No class 2/14]
Location: Strawberry Hill Center large room
Tuition: $40 (that’s $10 a session!)
Description:  Island blogger Tamara Sellman shares fresh ideas for developing content for bloggers who feel tapped out or challenged to keep up with their posting schedule.  Students write one new post weekly based on prompts delivered in class, then respond to their peers’ posts in class and online. Bringing a wireless enabled laptop and power supply is optional.

1:1 MENTORSHIP: Click here

Upcoming class information: “Blogging 101 for Writers” (Live) and “Silencing Your Inner Critic” (Interactive)

This coming Fri Jan 22 is the registration deadline for theSilencing the Inner Critic” workshop, which meets live and online through a private interactive forum from Feb 7 through Feb 28 (Sunday evenings) between 8-9pm Pacific Time.  The workshop is $100.

Registration info

In this four-week interactive workshop, you’ll use your time to discuss the inner critic: how it manifests in your life and what to do about it. Participants are expected to join in all 4 live private chats, which I will moderate and direct, and will be given “homework” which essentially assists with behavior modification and awareness of negative self-talk issues. During these chats, you will be expected to answer specific questions related to your inner critic and offer brief responses to your “homework” assignments.

My aim is to use the very small and focused live group discussion to show participants that they are not alone, that they all have good solutions to share, and that together we, as writers, can help each other through the pitfalls of the creative life.

This class is appropriate for all creative people at all levels of ability. My specific focus will reflect creativity coaching training I’ve received from the Eric Maisel program. Handouts will cover different aspects of the inner critic. This class is limited to 6 members and will meet with me through a private platform online initially, then again in the live forum.

There is an orientation period so that participants can familiarize themselves with both the platform (which is pretty easy to use) and the live forum feature. Participants are encouraged to be honest and open-minded about their problems with the inner critic in this safe, private, and nurturing environment.

The “Blogging 101 for Writers” workshop meets live this coming Sat Jan 23 from 10am-3pm at the Strawberry Hill Meeting Room via the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District. The class is $40.

Registration info

This is a beginner’s class in that we will each build a free, brand new blog from scratch in Blogger. If you already have a blog, but need some guidance with its architecture, development and maintenance, this is also a good basics course. I have chosen Blogger because it is a very simple interface and is a great training ground for the beginning blogger. You can start out with a free blog and upgrade as you go. Though we will focus on the Blogger platform, I am also familiar with WordPress and Live Journal.

Please know that I am a nontechnical person and learned how to blog like any other ordinary person, by experimenting and doing the work outside a classroom. Therefore, I’m quite patient with students who are nervous about their technical skills; I was one of you, once, and I know what a humbling experience that can be. My workshop was created to simplify what can be a tricky and nonintuitive process for others who are not technical, so please take comfort in knowing that you’ll be explore blogging safely and without judgment in my workshop.

Besides helping you all set up a basic blog (which I recommend all bloggers use as their experimental “sandbox” until they become proficient), we will also discuss content development, building traffic, blog maintenance, and potential problems that all bloggers can face. I’ll sneak in a little history about blogging as well, for perspective.

Registration now open for Winter 2010 online classes!

Due to a busy travel schedule in January 2010, I am not offering classes during his month

February 2010 class 
•WRAIN 500: Silencing the Critic (group strategies for dealing with the inner critic)
In this four-week interactive workshop, you’ll use your time to discuss the inner critic: how it manifests in your life and what to do about it. Participants are expected to join in all 4 live private chats, which I will moderate and direct, and will be given “homework” which essentially assists with behavior modification and awareness of negative self-talk issues.
Starts: February 7, 2010
Registration Deadline:  January 22, 2010

March 2010 class 
•MRC 101A/B: Rabbit’s Hat: (for magical realist writers)
In this four-week online workshop, you’ll use your time generating new work and learning strategies for incorporating literary magical realism into your prose. My aim is to nurture your understanding of literary magical realism so that it becomes a natural and organic direction for your writing.
Starts: March 5, 2010
Registration Deadline:  February 17, 2010

Sign up now before they fill up!