Ace Goes International – Guest Blogging in Canada

Guest Blogging, eh?

I feel like such a rock star.

Last week, I told a story in front of a bar full of people, and it seemed to meet with positive results. Someone even came up to me today at Nordaggio’s, where I was working on my novel and having a coffee, to tell me she saw me tell that story and what a great job I did and how much she enjoyed it. Not to mention that for a while longer, I can actually walk around telling people “I’m working on my novel.” I mean, that’s pretty… novel. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, blammo – it does. Cynthia Frenette puts up one of my articles on her blog.

Cynthia is an amazingly talented illustrator, designer, quilter, seamstress, crafter, painter, etc etc. – she’s pretty darn awesome! We’ve never met, mostly because she lives about an hour outside of Vancouver, Canada. So it’s a bit of a drive from here. But it’s been fun getting to know her better this year and collaborating on some projects. Like, in case you missed it the first thirty times I mentioned it, she’s going to be illustrating a children’s story I wrote earlier this year. I can’t wait! So when an opportunity came up to write for her blog, I said “yes please!”

You can go visit her site to read the article – it’s about crafting for the holidays. And while you’re over there, be sure to check out her other blog posts and her cool artwork, design work, and quilt gallery! She even has some cool sewing tutorials available – for free! So go over there and say hi – tell her Ace sent you.

guest blogging for cynthiafrenette.com

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NaNoWriMo Update – the Art of Procrastination

NaNoWriMo is really NaProWriMo (National Procrastinate over Writing Month)

Well, here it is, Day 6 of National Novel Writing Month. You know, that’s where crazy people all over the world VOLUNTARILY decide to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in 30 days. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I thought I’d post a few updates throughout the month.

So far, I’m actually ahead of my daily word-count goal – My project is over 20% complete. More specifically, it’s 24.59% complete as of right now. Because I may or may not have created a spreadsheet to track this number… Overall, the writing is going well – I put together a fairly detailed outline, which I finished on 10/30. They say there are 2 types of NaNo writers – you’re either a “planner” or a “pantser” – you either plot everything out ahead of time, or you fly by the seat of your pants. Apparently I’m the former type – it seems to be so much easier to sit down and write when I know what information needs to be included in each chapter.

All that said, the theme of today’s update is PROCRASTINATION. Yes that’s right, the art of putting off till later what you should or may as well do now. It seems that trying to write a novel in a month is really bringing out my most supreme procrastination skills.

Here is a (partial) list of things I have done since November 1st to avoid writing:
Made a Summer Vegetable Bake. For fun.
Repotted some succulents and then gave all the plants some plant food
Went to the grocery store 5 times (and I still forgot eggs so I guess I’m headed out again later today)
Looked through the entire B-52’s catalog and played a few from each record
Vacuumed the closet
Made a spreadsheet to track my NaNoWriMo word count
Organized, dusted, and vacuumed my office, including wiping down my desks
Started knitting a hat
Dug out the sweater I started knitting in 2012 with the determination to FINISH IT (no more procrastination!)
Vacuumed the bathroom rugs
Cleaned the stove
Photographed some gloves
Logged into my Healthcare.gov web site and started looking for a new plan since mine is conveniently being discontinued
Went to the craft store to look for yarn – because you know, you always need more yarn

So as you can see, NaNoWriMo has been incredibly productive for me! Not only am I looking forward to seeing how my novel takes shape, I also can’t wait to see what else gets done around the house.
Honestly, maybe I should write a novel every month.
So even though I’m a “planner,” I also seem to be a “procrastinator.” But show me someone who is trying to write a novel in one month who isn’t procrastinating, and I’ll come over to bring you a vegetable bake, and vacuum your closet.

nanowrimo procrastination
Avoid Writing Your Novel: Procrastination Method Number 386: Play with and photograph your gloves

Follow my daily Procrastination Photos on Instagram: @ac_neil

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Let’s Write Now! Start Being a Social Media Boss

lwnren1Be a Social Media Boss – Write Now!

Welcome back to the Blog, yo! Last time, we talked about finding your writerly voice. Today in the Let’s Write Now! Series, we’re going to be talking about Social Media. Or rather, we’re going to begin a conversation about Social Media, because there’s a LOT to say about this topic. OMG! When I think about everything that needs to be covered, I kind of break into a cold sweat. OK. Let’s take small steps here.

Out of our (Peri)Scope
Here’s some things we AREN’T going to be talking about:
How to Double, Triple or Quadruple your Instagram following
How to Outsmart the Facebook Algorithms
Why Twitter is Dead
Periscope for Dummies
Best Ways to Photograph Donuts and Coffee for Social Media
I actually could teach a class on that last one, but for today, we’re going to take the 30,000-foot view, and talk about a few things you should keep in mind while you’re out and about on those Interwebs.

How to Start Being a Boss
How many Social Media accounts do you have? Be honest now… How many? And out of those, how many do you regularly visit? And to how many do you actually post? The first thing to consider is narrowing down your focus. Do you have a favorite or two? Are some of your accounts neglected? If you don’t need them all, don’t bother with them! This falls under the “simplify your life” topic but it can also help to “simplify your voice” and save you a whole bunch of time. The idea here is to pick which ones you enjoy or need, and get really good at using them. And ditch the rest if you want. We don’t NEED to be everywhere, you know? So for the platforms we want to keep using, and use them LIKE A BOSS, let’s keep a few things in mind here.
1. Speak Clearly. In “Let’s Write Now! Part One” we talked about finding your Writerly Voice. A way of writing that’s consistent, clear, and uniquely you. So take that voice, and apply it to your Social Media accounts. All of them. It’s true that each platform has its own purpose,

2. Speak Slowly. I know a lot of times we’re in a rush when we post to Social Media. I strongly recommend taking just a few more seconds and reading what you’ve written BEFORE hitting “post.” Or at the very least, read it right after you post. Did you know that in most places, you can EDIT your posts, comments, replies, etc? If not, and you’ve posted a typo, consider deleting and trying again. Taking the time to do this up front will be better for your rep. It’ll be worth it.

3. Say it Shortly. Shortly? Yes shortly. Be succinct. As a general rule, if I post on Facebook and someone has to click “see more” to read it all, I feel like I’ve written too much. (Except for the Coffee Analysis Project posts – one cannot analyze coffee in 3 sentences, sorry). Do you need to write a novel about how you are feeling or the burrito you had for lunch – or how you are feeling about the burrito you had for lunch? Sometimes, the answer is yes. But the rest of the time – if you can shorten your post, you should. Even though we may spend an ungodly huge amount of time on Social Media, we are all “busy” and “rushed” and “don’t have a lot of time” – so think twice before you ask your friends to sit through a 479-word novel about taking your car to the mechanic.

Congratulations. You Are Now Boss.
The three pieces of advice above are geared towards your personal accounts. If you use Social Media for your business, well – that’s potentially a different ball o’ wax. We can go over that sometime too, if you like. But for today – we’ll call it good.

So remember – if you keep these three simple points in mind while you’re online, you will be well on your way to being a Social Media Boss. You got this!
And if anyone wants to sign up for my “Taking Boss Photos of Coffee and Donuts” let me know. We’ll do it live on Periscope.

Do you have any questions about writing for Social Media that you’d like to see answered here? If so leave a comment, I’d love to know!
P.S. A SUPER HUGE thank you to the ever-awesome Karen Bates for the adorable LWN logo!

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Let’s Write Now! Part One – Finding Your Voice

lwnren1Let’s Do This! Write Now!

Welcome to the first post in the Let’s Write Now! Series – wherein I offer you some handy, practical information on Writing.

Today we’re going to be talking about finding your writerly voice. Lalalala! Sadly I can’t carry a tune to save my life, please don’t ever ask me to sing anything, because, well… because it would be bad. However, when it comes to holding a tune on paper – well THAT I can do. And I can help you do it, too. So let’s talk about why it’s important to find your voice, how to find it, and finally, how to use it.

Why do I need to find my voice?
What you’re wearing can make a statement about who you are, just as your body language can, or how you speak. So it makes sense that how you sound on paper can make just as big of a statement – if not an even bigger statement – about the kind of person you really are.

Say you’ve written an email to someone you’ve never met before, but who you might want to go bowling with / work for / marry, and it’s full of run-on sentences with very little punctuation and even less personality. You have to admit, even under the most ideal circumstances (“In all fairness, I always try to get to know someone before I judge them to be an idiot”), what you’ve written will affect the impression this person makes of you. You’re the coolest person ever. Maybe even the Life of the Party wherever you go. But if your email sounds like wallpaper paste, how can they tell?

Let’s get your true personality and intelligence and wit out there for everyone to see!
To be clear, I’m not saying you have to be obnoxious or overly friendly or use 12,000 exclamation marks. I’m talking about letting your personality come through naturally in whatever you’re writing. And it’s easier to do than you think.

OK you convinced me. So how do I find it?
The voice you use depends somewhat on what kind of writing you’re doing, of course. There are all kinds of “Writing” we could mention – writing for your job, creative writing, commenting on Social Media, Blogging, Graffiti…

Modifying your voice to match your audience is something we’ll be talking about in an upcoming post, but not yet. Because before you can modify your voice, you need to be clear about what that voice is.

Here are some tips to find your Voice:
Notice what your speech sounds like. You are a clever monkey. You can hold a conversation, use complete sentences and are not a sociopath (this is an assumption and a hope of mine). You understand that a conversation flows, your speech flows – and so should your words on the page. Next time you write something, take a minute to read it out loud. What does it sound like when you speak your writing? If it sounds a little flat, or the sentences don’t make sense – consider re-writing it to simply sound more conversational. You don’t have to sound like a Valley Girl (like, totally, you know?) but you also don’t have to sound like a typing manual from 1965.

What’s your personality? Do you like to use humor when you speak? Do you naturally smile when you talk to people? Of course you do. You’re charming! Intelligent! Engaging! Why not let all that come through in your writing, as well as your speech? You can do it.

Personality traits that may not translate well to the page (unless it’s REALLY your intent, so think carefully here)
-Upspeak
-An overly negative attitude / Eyore-itis
-East Coast Fast Speak
-Loud despondent sighs at the beginning or end of sentences
-Use of the word “like” more than 5 times in one sentence
-Nervous humor

OK well actually that last one seems to be my specialty…

Think about who you’re writing for.
Who is going to read what you’re writing? Obviously you’re going to write a letter to your boss in a different style than your Guest Blog Post for HamsterAficionado.com (not actually a thing). But in both cases, don’t you think your audience would appreciate reading something that has some personality in it? And more importantly – YOUR personality?

I found my awesome voice! How do I let it loose?
Patience, patience! Let’s take baby steps here. How about the next time you send an email at work, sneak into the supply closet to read it out loud to yourself before sending. Did it sound conversational, or more like you’re playing that improv game where you can only speak in two-word sentences? Were your sentences complete? Did that last line you wrote make you laugh AND was also HR-compliant?

Or how about the next time you comment on your BFFs latest Facebook photo of her coffee. I mean cat. Did your brilliant humor come through intact, or is she likely to misinterpret your comment because you sound like you just woke up, poured a bucket of glue over your head, and it dried all over your brain, clogging up your synapses?

You don’t have to completely overhaul your writing, that’s not what this is about. It’s simply about giving your words a little more thought before you write, and making sure that what goes on the page truly represents your awesome personality. You can totally do it.

Unless you want to completely overhaul your writing. In which case, call me – we’ll have coffee to discuss.

 

How would you describe your Writerly Voice? What, if anything, would you like to work on in terms of writing? Leave a comment below!

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How to Write Stuff: Let’s Write Now!

Writing? Blech!
Not everyone enjoys writing.
Sometimes it depends on what you are writing – maybe writing a poem for your dog is way more fun than writing an email to your Homeowner’s Association asking them FOR THE SEVENTH TIME to send you a corrected invoice for this year’s dues.
I like writing…but maybe I am weird. For some people, writing is not on their list of fun activities. I get that, I really really do. But it’s something most of us kind of NEED to do from time to time. So wouldn’t you want your writing to be the best it can be? You don’t want to, you know, put people to sleep while they’re reading your brilliant prose. Or you don’t want to make them laugh when you weren’t trying to be funny, either. What – and how – you write says something about you. So let’s take a few minutes to think about this.

Death, taxes… and writing.
Writing stuff is inescapable. Maybe you don’t have to write that much for your job – maybe most of your writing is on Facebook or other social media outlets. But maybe you have a job that relies heavily on communicating in writing with customers or colleagues. Some of us even make our living by writing.
Whether you’re typing away furiously all day, or pecking away on your phone to heap tons of praise on someone’s FB photo of their coffee (ahem), keeping a few basic rules in mind is always a good thing.
That’s why I’m starting this Let’s Write Now! Series. Every so often, I’ll be coming at you with a different topic to think about, as you are leaving your legacy all over everywhere for everyone to see forever.

LWNlogo

What you can expect from this here project
In the LWR series you’ll get some handy tips on how not to be a total doofus when you’re writing. Unless being a doofus is your thing – in which case, you’ll be able to pick up tips for being an even better doofus.
Some topics we’ll be covering:
Think Before You Write
Common Writing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
How to Be Funny On Purpose
How Not to Be Funny On Purpose
Dealing With Criticism
When It’s OK to Use Inspirational Quotes On Social Media
Capitalization For Beginners

Why, Andrea – WHY?!?
It’s true, I like writing. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. All of us need some inspiration sometimes, you know?
All communication, including what we write, is storytelling. I like storytelling. I believe in storytelling. I’d love to help you tell the best story you can. Because I like you.

Do you like to write? If so, what kinds of things do you enjoy writing? Do you write an opus with every Instagram post, or are you a “less is more” kind of person when it comes to the written word?

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