Archive for '1st Turning Point'



Promotion & Time Management for Unpublished Authors – Finding a Balance
Saturday, June 12th, 2010 ♦ Leave a Comment »

Chassily Wakefield, Writer and 1st Turning Point Cabin Girl

Chassily Wakefield, Writer

by Chassily Wakefield
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield

*This post first appeared on 1st Turning Point

I suck at time management.  No, really.  That’s the lesson I’ve learned over the last two years, ever since I decided to (finally) take my writing seriously, but you can learn from my mistakes.

Writing for publication is all-consuming, even if you work another part- or full-time job and have a family.  I knew that would be the case, in a cerebral way, when I first started out.  Living it was another thing entirely.  I discovered I’m not as much of a multi-tasker as I like to think.  The laundry piles up to the rafters while I’m absorbed in my story world (or, if we’re being brutally honest, my email loops.)  I’ve given up any pretense of housework, and my kids have taken over the cooking to ward off imminent starvation.

I dove into creating a “writer’s life” with both feet.  I picked up piles of how-to books, registered for a million newsletters, took online writing classes by the hundreds (despite a degree in Creative Writing, which should have prepared me for some of this).  I joined a slew of writing organizations, including online sub-chapters, and gratefully soaked up the incredible depth of knowledge generously dispersed by fellow members.  I volunteered for positions and activities, and was flattered to be approached for others.  I threw myself into it all with unbridled enthusiasm.

Through it all, one message was repeated with distressing regularity: the need for authors to promote themselves—whether they were already published or not. Huh? How can we promote ourselves before we have anything to promote?

As it turns out, there are all sorts of ways to increase name recognition before having books on the shelves, many of which are frequently written about on 1st Turning Point (check the archives!), in the hopes that doing so will increase sales once we finally get The Call.

Luckily, I was already doing a lot of the recommended promotional items, such as joining groups and volunteering.  They were activities I enjoyed and gravitated to naturally.  But there were plenty more to consider, from getting a website to maintaining an author blog (yes to the first, not so much to the second – note the sporadic postings – but I *am* trying, I swear!)  I was determined—when I sold my novel, I’d be ready.  I’d be a promotional dynamo and knock the Jimmy Choos off my future agent and publisher.

There was just one problem.  Finishing the novel.  I’d gotten so caught up in doing everything I’d heard was important for my career that there was no time left to write.  I spent hours on email loops, volunteer activities, going to meetings or author events, reading all those how-to books and articles, following author and agent blogs, and taking online classes, which also provided networking opportunities.  Any free time had to be devoted to my family, or I would have had a mutiny.

As new authors, we’re overwhelmed with everything we’re supposed to know, do, be. The learning curve is steep.  There’s so much more to writing than sitting down to write a book.  But if we don’t protect the writing time, none of the rest will matter one whit. If we don’t protect ourselves from burning out through over-involvement, stretching ourselves and our time too thin, the writing won’t matter one whit, either, because it will be incomprehensible.

Even worse, we may learn to hate the new life we’re trying to create, missing out on the very thing that used to bring us so much joy—the writing—and any hope of seeing our finished books in print.  This is where effective time management comes in.  Key word: effective.

Effective time management and a little self-discipline can avert this disaster-in-waiting. If you’ve neglected your writing in favor of promoting the career you don’t have yet, try following these steps to achieve a better balance in your work and in your life.  I know I’m happier for it, and I hope you will be, too.

  1. Map out a 24-hour day and a 7-day week.  Sorry, that’s all you get.
  2. Block out hours needed for sleep, non-writing work, exercise, preparing/eating meals, bill paying, whatever HAS to get done, plus a minimum of 15 minutes daily for NOTHING. No writing, no reading, no family, no chores.  Keep it sacred. Fill it with something mindless if you want, like TV or Spider Solitaire (set a timer!), or sit silently and de-stress.
  3. Be realistic!  If you know it takes three hours to get through a Walmart run, don’t schedule two.  Allow for unexpected interruptions.  Don’t forget time with the people who love you.
  4. Add up the hours you have left.
  5. Now you know what’s available for writing and can make an informed decision about how to spend those hours.

Say you have 14 hours available per week.  You’ve committed to writing two hours every day, Monday through Friday, leaving four hours per week for promotion and writing-related activities.  You have an RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting which lasts for three hours, including dinner.  You’re down to one hour for the rest of that week.  Did you include drive time to the meeting?  Half-an-hour.  Uh-oh.

How can you reclaim some time?  Can you attend the RWA meeting, but skip dinner and buy back an hour?  You’ll lose the chance to socialize and network.  Is it worth it?

The choices get tough, but they have to be made.  You can cry over that half-hour per week, but it won’t change the fact that you only have half-an-hour.  Maybe you’ll cut your daily writing to an hour-and-a-half and free up 3 ½ hours per week.  You’re the only one who knows if the tradeoff is worthy.  If you commit to using those 3 ½ hours for promotional activities, volunteering and learning craft, they could be valuable hours. Three hours of Spider Solitaire?  Nope.

Maybe you actually only need one or two hours per week for promotion.  Funnel the extra time back into your writing or some down time.  The choice is yours.  Whatever choice you make, you will be in control of your schedule again, hopefully happier, and more relaxed.

You’ll also be practicing important time management skills for after you do get The Call. Published authors require a lot more promotional time and have to be even more dedicated to their schedules. Learn how to manage yours now, and you’ll be ready! Good luck!

And for your viewing pleasure (when you have the time…), take a few minutes to put yourself or your story inside this gorgeous photo. Where does it take you?

Cannon Beach, OR ~ photo by Mark Lemon

Cannon Beach, OR ~ photo © by Mark Lemon

1st Turning Point: Captain’s Log—March 2010
Friday, April 16th, 2010 ♦ One Lonely Comment »

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Pirate Queen

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Pirate Queen

By Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
www.1stturningpoint.com

Ahoy, mateys! Winter squalls are fast becoming sprightly spring winds wi’ a promise of smooth sailing fer 2010. Put yer Pirate Hat on an’ prepare to parlay wi’ the 1st Turning Point Crew. Get ready fer a purely profitable year of Piratical Promotion, sailing upon the open Seas of Publication.

Fer the uninitiated Pirates ‘n Parrots amongst ye, 1st Turning Point is a place where authors ‘n artists teach, share, and learn all about promotion. Published or unpublished, we don’t care – come aboard, tour the ship and sail away with us while we all improve our promotional skills. Sign on to become a subscriber—or Parrot, as we like to call our motley bunch. To learn more about 1st Turning Point, check out our About page.

Mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 1st, our one-year anniversary! Lots of doings are planned, and you won’t want to miss the fun. It’s been quite a year, but we’re just getting started!

Be sure to note the 1st Turning Point article, Beat the Promotion Learning Curve—Before the Call, in the latest edition of the Romance Writers Report. It’s the latest of many exciting ways Cap’n Jacquie Rogers ‘n Cap’n Ann Charles are getting the word out about 1st Turning Point and all the strategies the site can help you learn for the best methods to promote yourselves and your work. Our venerable Cap’ns also gave their “Get a Jump Start on Your Writing Career” workshop for the Rose City Writer’s Retreat in Portland in February, for writers who have yet to develop a platform.

Read on for an overview of the latest exciting developments on 1st Turning Point:

Our Current Schedule ~ Learn Marketing & Promotion Skills from the Best!

Sundays: Book Video Reviews

Mondays: Instructional Articles

Tuesdays: Featured Artists and Special Guests

Wednesdays: Reviews of Publishing Industry Books

Thursdays: Special Features

Fridays: More How-To Articles

Saturdays: Website Reviews

New for 2010: Make special note of our latest Saturday offering, Website Reviews, which debuted February 13th to wild acclaim. Interested in finding out how your own website rates? Send the following information to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with WEBSITE REVIEW in the subject line:

  • Your author name
  • Web designer name
  • Website URL
  • Plus an optional short paragraph on where you are in your career and a few items about your website that might be of interest.

What else is new, you ask? How about a sparkly new Forum! Cap’n Ann spent hours ‘n hours chained in the bowels of the ship to get the forum up and running January 1st. It’s a place for the Parrots to come together and share their wisdom, ask questions and have some pirating good fun. Be sure to stop in, sign up for the monthly contest, and stay awhile. There are always new topics and new Parrots to squawk with.

We love to share our Parrots’ ‘n Pirates’ GOOD NEWS on our Good News page, such as:

Amber Scott’s entry, Deuce Bigalow: Elf Gigolo, won an Honorable Mention in the Save the Cat! Last Logline of 2009! contest at http://blakesnyder.com!

Laurie Ryan won 1st Turning Point’s January forum contest. Laurie won a CD from January’s guest artist, Fiddlehead; a $5 giftcard to Starbucks; and an article slot for May on 1st Turning Point. Keep an eye out for her article in a few months. Congratulations, Laurie, and thanks for entering the contest! See you in the forum.

Deborah Schneider took part in two big events: a St. Valentine’s Day Victorian Tea at the Bellevue Library, along with Megan Chance and Anthea Lawson, and the Romance Author Mash-Up at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, with Megan Chance, Rebecca J. Clark, Anthea Lawson and Shelli Stevens.

We’ve rounded up some new Crew members over the last several months, including Norman W. Wilson, Ph.D as Forum Moderator, and Diana Coyle for Website Reviews. Christina Arbini joined the ranks as a columnist, and Kris Tualla has been impressed into service –er, has signed on as well. We’re delighted to have them aboard! You’ll be seeing lots more of them in the coming months.

There are now a whopping 35 of us on ship, not counting frequent guests who swing by to share tales of their promotion and marketing adventures. If you’d like to come by and have one of your articles published, check out our Article Submission Guidelines page for instructions. We love new faces! We’re well over 1000 Parrots strong now, so if you’re not a Parrot yet, stick a feather in yer cap and fly on over. This is the best place to roost in all the seas!

Guess what? 1st Turning Point is looking into offering online classes! The first class is planned for May. Be one of the first to help us launch this new part of life aboard ship.

Upcoming Classes:

How to Build Your Platform

Location: 1st Turning Point Forum

Instructors: Jacquie Rogers and Ann Charles

This interactive workshop is FREE! Attendees will be chosen through a drawing, to be announced soon, so keep watch! To enter your name in the drawing, send an email to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with PLATFORM CLASS as the subject. It is designed for those who are serious about building their platforms. This class involves one-on-one interaction, and each attendee should leave with a plan to help themselves along the journey to publishing success.  Class size limited to 12. Stay tuned for more details.

Are you into podcasts? Meet the Parrots, hosted by Jacquie Rogers, is an hour-long, once a month round-table discussion on topics related to promotion and marketing for authors, musicians, and artists, by those who’ve learned from experience. Our latest podcasts:

You’ve Got It, Now Flaunt It: Creating Website Content

(December 16, 2009)

Rowena Cherry, Robert W. Walker, Ann Charles discuss how they determine the most beneficial content for their websites as they go through various stages of their careers.

Booksignings For Fun and Profit

(January 20, 2010)

Guests include: John Foxjohn, Deborah Schneider, Ann Charles and others.

Co-Promotion: If One Is Good, Is Two Better?

(February 17, 2010)

Guests include: John Klawitter, Eilis Flynn, Wendy Delaney and Ann Charles.

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Her Handsome Pirate Lord

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Her Handsome Pirate Lord

And that’s not all. What else have we been up to? Check out the treasure chest for a listing of all the fabulous articles we’ve published, and see below for the ones posted since December:

Internet Promotion:

Reviews (Books, Book Videos & now Websites!)

Marketing:

1st Turning Point has a new plug-in at the end of the articles, making it easier than ever to Tweet, Facebook and otherwise share article info with your friends and fellow writers. Feel free to help us get the word out!

Looking for more Pirate fun? On Facebook? Join our 1st Turning Point crew there, if you haven’t already. You can also follow us on MySpace, Ning, Twitter, LinkedIn and shop Zazzle or CafePress, where you can find the latest Parrot Gear.

Remember, whether you write novels, short stories, lyrics, or poetry, we’re here for you, and artists in all media, too. Come on board and take a look around, read some of the helpful articles, see what online and live classes/workshops are coming your way soon, check out the beneficial list of resources, and share some of your own experiences and wisdom with others via comments and the new Forum.

We have big plans for 2010! Cap’n Jacquie reminds us: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” (American poet T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965) Come visit and find out just how far you can go. See you there!

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Cabin Girl

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Cabin Girl

Bio: Chassily Wakefield holds a degree in Creative Writing/English Literature from the University of California at Riverside. She writes Mythic Romantic Fantasy and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three kids and three crazy kittens. She loves being 1st Turning Point’s Cabin Girl, volunteering as Membership Chair for GSRWA, and staying active in the many writing groups in which she is a member, including PNWA, RWA National, OlyRWA, and several online chapters.

*This article first appeared in the Emerald City Romantic Quarterly Newsletter, the official newsletter of the Greater Seattle chapter of RWA and is reposted here with permission.

My First (Personal) Interview!
Sunday, March 28th, 2010 ♦ 2 Comments »
Chassily Wakefield

Chassily Wakefield

The text of the following interview first appeared in The Emerald City Romantic Quarterly, the official newsletter of GSRWA, and was conducted by my friend and fellow writer, the very cool Lori Lyn. I’ve made minor tweaks to it again since then (and added some extra photos for fun), but it’s essentially the same. I want to thank Lori again for inviting me to do an interview, it was a lot of fun, and also Michele Staci, fabulous editor of the newsletter, and her terrific staff, for all the hard work they put into creating such a beautiful piece of art. Thank you, everyone!

The interview:

  • What genres or sub-genres do you write?

Hi, Lori! First, I want to thank you for the interview, how fun! This is my first one, ever.

I always thought I was writing romance, either contemporary or historical, usually with paranormal or fantasy elements. Then I had a heart-to-heart with the fabulous Mary Buckham, who very kindly asked what I was writing. After I described it to her, she looked me in the eye and said, “Well, you know, that’s not really romance.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, we continued talking. By the end of the discussion, I had a new answer to the “What are you writing?” question: Mythic Romantic Fantasy. A Hero’s journey. A Medieval setting, plus a new Fantasy world. Epic battles between good and evil with a strong romance throughout, BUT (brace yourselves…) not necessarily a happy ending.

  • How long have you been writing with the intent of becoming published?

I wrote my first book when I was 8 years old – 200 pages on my life plan, now unfortunately long lost – my kids would have loved it – and went on to earn my degree in Creative Writing and English Literature, but I didn’t get serious about writing for publication until about two years ago.

Since then, there have been many starts and stops and missteps along the way. I have four or five partial manuscripts moldering away that I will probably never revisit, but I learned a lot from each one. The fantasy series I’m working on now, and am committed to finish, is based on a story I started when I was a freshman in college (24 years ago! OMG!) and have fiddled with over the years. I have enormous files of research and notes on it that I’m now trying to organize and make sense of, and of course it has changed dramatically – hopefully for the better – since then, too.

  • How does a story first come to you?

My stories usually first come to me as one particular scene and almost always start off with the heroine, not the hero. For example, my WIP originally came to me as a scene of the heroine nearly drowning. A novel I was working on last year (one of those moldering away) came to me as a scene of the heroine running through an apple orchard, on her way to meet a group of her friends. Another one started with the heroine breaking into her cousin’s house. Then it’s all about figuring out who this person is, and why she’s doing what she’s doing in those initial scenes. The plot grows from there, with the hero taking shape based on who would be the best man for that heroine.

*Extra Note: Since the original interview, I have completed Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s FABULOUS Plotting Via Motivation online course (available at WriterU), and TWO rounds of her Master Class and… The WIP is fully plotted! Hallelujah! Laurie is an incredible teacher, and I highly recommend her classes. She helped me achieve what has eluded me for decades – a truly, 100% completed plot outline. I’m over the moon! Not only that, I actually have two completed outlines, the WIP and a Contemporary YA Romance I began specifically for her class. TWO BOOKS! Yes, yes, yes, they still have to be written (and the WIP still requires tremendous amounts of worldbuilding), but the outlines are there: 25 and 22 chapters, respectively, of 3 to 4 scenes each. And I have the skills now to go back to the aforementioned moldering manuscripts and whip them into shape, as well! Whooooohooooooo!!!

  • Tell us about something that inspires you.

My kids inspire me, nature inspires me. A beautiful piece of fabric, a painting, a clever phrase in a good book. A song lyric. But the biggest dose of inspiration I receive on

My gorgeous kids

My gorgeous kids

a daily basis comes from the people right here in GSRWA and my other writing loops-n-groups. I’m constantly amazed by the depth of generosity from writers as a group. The knowledge, the support and the willingness to share is just incredible. I’m inspired by the notes of success when members post their good news, and by the notes of support that flow in when the news is less happy. I’ve learned so much, and gained so much in friendship and support, since joining RWA just over a year ago. I can’t even verbalize the difference it has made in my life. I am not at all the same writer I was in January, 2009, nor am I the same person. My life has been enriched by these associations, on a deep, cellular level.

  • What is your workspace like (do you have an office, use headphones, have a whiteboard/plotting board, use candles)?

Oh, my workspace. <laughs> Our main computer is in the family room, where everyone congregates. There is NO privacy, no door to shut. Our three kittens are constantly crawling all over the desk. It’s a family computer, so everyone has their piles of work alongside mine. The book shelves in the hutch are stuffed with books (those are almost all mine, I admit, but they’re a total mess.) My husband and I both have overflowing inboxes, there’s the family calendar, the drawers are full of household files rather than writing files, which are all in boxes, some of which are not all that accessible. Filing and organizing for the writing life has been an ongoing problem for me. I’m hyper-organized in every other aspect of my life, but for the writing accoutrements, I need an intervention!

I have candles that I forget to use, and tons of instrumental music in my iTunes folder that I forget to play. I prefer to write in silence (not that I get a lot of that), but I will pull out the earphones if I’m trying to work while anyone else is home. I try to avoid that as much as possible. In the past, that has led to not working at all on school holidays or when my husband takes a day off work. Having dedicated myself to becoming a professional, producing writer, that doesn’t work anymore, so I’ve been looking for solutions. I know a lot of writers go to cafés or Starbucks to write, but I’m too self-conscious for that, so now I’ve started taking my laptop into the dining room and using the earphones in there. It’s still not ideal, but it’s better than being in the middle of everything in the family room.

I do have plotting and whiteboards for drawing out my world, but they’re locked up so the cats can’t chew on them right now. I love those little furballs, but I’m ready for them to morph into stately older gentlemen!

Our "kittens" who are now HUGE and into everything. Gibbs keeps a lookout, while Jack & Norrington inspect the fridge.

Our "kittens" who are now HUGE and into everything. Gibbs keeps a lookout, while Jack & Norrington inspect the fridge.

  • How do you handle family and/or friends requests for your time when writing?

With a snap and a snarl. LOL It depends on what it is, really. If it’s homework help (especially math!), that often has to, uh, wait until I’m done… or forever. If they want to take me out to dinner, I’ll make the sacrifice to leave right away. (Kidding! I’m kidding.) We’ve worked out a system. They know that I’m working in the morning, until at least 1 PM, Monday through Friday. During that time, they try not to disturb me unless it’s an emergency.

  • What is your daily writing regimen?  Are you more of a morning worker or a night owl?

I’m an insomniac and a total night owl, but that doesn’t work so well with family, or with trying to write, at least for me. If I don’t get the words in first thing, they don’t get done. So, despite my natural tendencies, I get up and write, and I don’t do anything else until I meet my daily word count goal. After that, if things are moving along I’ll keep going, otherwise I switch to dealing with online classes, email, things for 1st Turning Point (where I’m the Cabin Girl) or Membership Chair duties or whatever.

Once my family is in bed for the night, I go back to work until my eyes glaze over. By then, I’ve spent so much time on the computer that I can’t really tolerate any more for the day, so I’ll work at the kitchen table, going over my plotting, character sketches, drawing maps of my world, things like that. I am trying to turn my schedule around a little bit, though, because I have trouble staying awake to write when I’ve been up until 4 or 5 AM, then have to get up by 8 AM to get the kids to school.

  • Do you use any audio or visual aids when writing?

This lovely photo (taken by my hubby, the photographer), has something to do with my WIP. Shhhhh... it's a secret.

This lovely photo (taken by & © my hubby, the photographer), has something to do with my WIP. Shhhhh... it's a secret.

I use photos of movie stars or models out of catalogues and magazines as references for my characters, and I have piles of pictures I’ve collected over the years of everything from lingerie to a baby’s stuffed animal to a castle above the sea. Now I’m working on drawing up the world I’m creating.

  • What is the most important thing you need to have happen before you can begin writing a story?

Hmmm, tough question. I’d say it depends on the story and the day. I’m a pantsing-plotter, so I can go at a story both ways, but they each have drawbacks. If I get too caught up in minutia, I can do detail work forever and never write. I once created a 400-member family tree, not just with their names, but their dates of birth and death, the name of the hospital, city, state, country where they were born, the cemetery where they were buried, the college they graduated from, the church they got married in, where their kids were born, why they moved there… I mean, it went on forever, for characters three or four generations back (including aunts, uncles and cousins and all of THEIR spouses – I had to make up my own genealogy forms, because the standard ones only deal with direct lines of descent!), who were never going to be seen or mentioned in the book.

However, if I just start writing, I can get 50 pages down pretty fast, but then come to a screeching halt because I have no idea where the story is going or who the characters really are or need to become. I’m taking an online class with Laurie Schnebly Campbell this month – Plotting Via Motivation – that is helping me identify the critical things I really need to know before I start writing, while keeping me from getting too bogged down in irrelevant details. We started with a brand new story idea for class, but I’m going to take her Master Class in March (through WriterUniv) and apply the concepts to my WIP to identify and resolve any plot holes or problems with characterization.

*Extra Note: as mentioned above, I’ve completed Laurie’s wonderful course now, and the truth is that I’m really a plotter. The pantsing never worked out well. Thanks to Laurie, I’m now a happy plotter!

  • What is your most embarrassing moment regarding your writing career?

The most embarrassing moment I can think of (among many. Eh-hemm), happened in my very first writing workshop when I was in college. The workshop involved, by turns, each student bringing in copies of a completed short story for everyone else in the class to take home and critique over a week’s time. The following week, we’d deliver our critiques for the class. The first problem turned out to be length. Everyone else in the class believed “short story” meant no more than 10 or 12 pages. Mine were never less than 30, so my classmates really hated me when it was my turn, LOL.

But the really embarrassing moment was listening to my first critique. I could tell something was up when I walked in the door, because my classmates were fairly bristling in their seats. They couldn’t wait to let me know what they thought, and what they thought was that I was a complete and utter idiot! They loved the story. Loved it. Until the very last page, when I made the ultimate newbie-writer mistake by killing off all my characters in one fell swoop because I had no idea how to end the story, and I knew I was already way over my page count. They were positively furious. Then the instructor jumped on the bandwagon to let me know how very uncool that was and how I was to never, never, ever do such a thing again. I think it took a solid week for the blood-rush to drain back out of my cheeks.

  • What is the best moment regarding your writing life so far?

There have been a lot of great moments, but the very best has to be a tie between my first GSRWA meeting and first OlympiaRWA meeting. Oh, and the Emerald City Conference. And being asked to join 1st Turning Point. Becoming GSRWA’s Membership Chair. Too many to count! Though I have to admit that getting The Call will probably jump to first in line when it happens. I know you guys will understand that one!

  • What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chocolate is the only possible answer to that question.

  • What’s one of your favorite words?

Again, chocolate.

  • What’s a word you hate?

“No.” ‘Nuff said.

  • What are some of your writing career goals or plans for the next few years?
    The pirate garb is the favorite in my family

    The pirate garb is the favorite in my family

My goal for this year is to complete, polish and send out my WIP. My dream, five or so years from now, would be to have the third book in my series coming out, to wild acclaim, of course. I’d also like to develop an online workshop. I enjoy taking them so much, I’d like to try my hand at giving one if I can come up with enough content that would be beneficial to people. I’d also like to get the nerve up to do some live workshops or public speaking, but that’s a phobia of mine, so it will require serious work on my part to be ready for anything like that. The writing is #1. If I’m lucky enough to do some sort of book tour/signing type thing, I’d love to include a signing booth at a renaissance or fantasy faire. That would be a blast, and let me make use of all my favorite costumes, many of which were made specially for me by my middle daughter.

  • What words of wisdom would you like to leave us with?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the last year is to write your story your way. Don’t try to force it to be something it’s not, or something that doesn’t feel right to you. If you fight yourself too much on that, it sucks all the joy right out of the process. Writing should be fun, even when it’s hard.

March 2010 Bonus Question:

  • What is the first American city to put police on bicycles?

In its modern form: Orange, New Jersey. (Thank you, Google!)

Answer to January 2010 Bonus Question:

The first soft serve ice cream machine was located in an Olympia Dairy Queen!

Interpreting the Muse—An Interview With Artist Carol Nelson
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 ♦ Leave a Comment »

This interview first appeared on 1st Turning Point

Posted By Chassily Wakefield on February 23, 2010

Carol Nelson, Artist

Carol Nelson, Artist

Interviewed by Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield and Carol Nelson

I’m delighted to introduce 1st Turning Point’s February featured artist, Carol Nelson.  Carol’s work has been described as “a bold exploration of both realism and abstraction.  Each piece probes the essence of color, surface texture, and structural mass…her abstract compositions often suggest geologic elements with the use of natural and man-made materials such as metals, plastic, and numerous acrylic mediums.”

I’ve known Carol since I was a little girl.  It was a real joy to interview her about her work and have a chance to reconnect with an old friend.  Thank you for being with us, Carol!

CW: Tell me about your background in art.  How did you get started?  When did you know you were meant to be an artist?

CN:  Art was always my best subject in school.  I started out as an art major in college, but was worried that an art degree would not provide me with a sure income.  I ended up changing my major to medical technology, where I knew a job awaited me when I graduated.

When my kids were little, I had a stained glass business out of my home, but it wasn’t until 1998 that my career as an artist actually began, following a chance discovery of Maxine Masterfield’s book, Painting the Spirit of Nature.  Standing in the middle of Hobby Lobby thumbing through that book, I thought, “I can do that.”

I bought all the supplies I needed, and started producing art that was well received almost immediately.  Then followed a four or five year learning period of art workshops with local and nationally recognized artists.  I experimented with different styles of painting and every media from watercolor, acrylics, oils, to pastels and collage.  Gradually, I narrowed my focus to acrylics, oils and mixed media.

CW: Tell me about the type of work you do.  What inspires you?

CN: I love to paint.  My style varies from realism to abstraction.  My paintings reflect my emotional and responsive connection to the world around me.  Nature provides patterns, rhythms and textures that stimulate my creativity, and there comes a point when the energy of the painting emerges and the materials themselves offer suggestions and direction.  My goal is to be responsive to the process and guide the work to an expressive interpretation of nature’s spirit.

As a child, I loved creating colorful pictures.  Now, I make a living doing what I love.  Visit my blog for the latest work, with tips and comments on the painting process.  On my website, all of my work is categorized according to subject matter and style.

CW: Are you willing to modify your subject matter to help promote your work?

CN: My entire portrait project is a promotional effort that has doubled my blog traffic.  I don’t normally paint portraits, but it occurred to me in a dream (true story) that doing 100 portraits in 100 days would be a good promotional project.  I’m about one-quarter done with the portraits and can see my skill as a portrait painter has increased with all the practice.

Some people (my husband being one) look at abstract paintings and don’t recognize the skill of the artist.  They feel painting a recognizable subject, where they know how it’s supposed to look, is the true measure of an artist’s ability.  My portraits are shown right next to their reference photos, so it’s easy to see how well I captured the likenesses.  This has given my work a certain validity with people who only appreciate realism.

I love producing many styles of art.  When I’ve done realism for a while, my inner child calls out to create an abstract.  I actually feel that a well composed abstract is more difficult to achieve than anything that is realistic.

CW: What promotional tools have you used or do you see yourself using in the future?

CN: My membership in an online gallery called Daily Painters has really launched me on the internet, and my internet sales have greatly increased.  When someone sees a painting of mine on DP, they’re directed to my blog, where I post every painting as I complete it.  I often talk about the painting process, various techniques and materials on my blog.  Every painting on my blog has a link to my website, where all my paintings are categorized according to subject.  Paintings may be purchased directly from my website with a PayPal button.

CW: What is your ultimate goal?

CN:  I suppose my goal is to be featured in a national art magazine, but I create my art for my personal satisfaction, not for the notoriety.  I’m fairly well known in art circles in Denver.  I’ve conducted several workshops and demonstrations for local art groups.  It’s satisfying to be recognized by one’s peers for one’s work, but the real joy is in the creating.  I have the luxury of not having to support myself from my art sales.

CW: What is your take on the art world today?  Has the economy affected the atmosphere and sales?  What strategies can an artist use to overcome a tough economy?

CN: The art world, like everything else, took a big hit when the economy went into recession.  Lately, I’ve noticed a significant increase in art sales, so I’m hoping things are turning around.  People have to have disposable income available to buy art, and there seems to be more people willing to spend on art.

CW: Anything else you’d like to share?

CN: Art, like any creative endeavor, e.g. music, writing, must be done for the joy in creating.  If I never sold anything, I would still paint and be happy.  There are literally tens of thousands of people trying to express themselves with paint or music or the written word.  Living in the age of the internet is so unbelievably fabulous.  The opportunities to communicate with others around the world involved in the same creative endeavors are endless.

CW: Very true!  Thank you again for being here, Carol, it was so great to talk with you.  All the best to you and in your work.

1st Turning Point Divider

Carol’s Representation:

Spirits in the Wind Gallery, Golden, CO     (303) 279-1192
The Bradley Art Gallery, Stoughton, WI     (608) 873-9026

Columbine Gallery, Frisco, CO     (970) 668-5041

West Southwest Gallery, Denver, CO     (303) 321-4139

Contact Carol at:
Email:  carolnelsonfineart@comcast.net
Phone: 303-699-2542

Fiddling With the Muse – An Interview With Musician Anthea Lawson of Fiddlehead
Sunday, January 31st, 2010 ♦ Leave a Comment »

Posted By Chassily Wakefield on January 26, 2010

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Fiddlehead, with Musician/Author Anthea Lawson

Anthea Lawson of Fiddlehead Celtic Band
Interviewed by Chassily Wakefield
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield and Anthea Lawson

This interview was first published on 1st Turning Point on January 26, 2010, as part of our featured artist schedule. 1st Turning Point’s January featured artist is musician Anthea Lawson. Anthea Lawson is the pen name for a husband and wife writing team, co-authors of spicy Victorian-set romantic adventures. Anthea has contributed an article to 1st Turning Point in her role as Romance Author, but she and her husband are also accomplished musicians with their own Celtic band, the popular Northwest group known as Fiddlehead. Lucky for me, she’s also a friend, so I was able to pelt her with questions over brunch.

CW:  Tell me about your background in music.

AL:  I grew up in a very musical household: my mom is a professional classical viola player. It was not a question of if I would play an instrument, but which one. I came home from school in 4th grade and announced I wanted to play…the trumpet! I ended up settling on the violin. In high school, I began to play fiddle music, and in college really got into Irish fiddling. I’ve also always sung, and I love the richness of traditional Celtic songs and ballads.

Lawson took some guitar lessons in high school, then tucked his guitar in the closet when he left home for college. After we met, he called his parents and had them send his guitar to him—it was obvious that he was getting involved with a serious musician and needed to be ready!

CW:  You play music and co-write novels with your husband, not to mention being married and raising a child. How does so much togetherness feed your creative muse? How do you handle creative differences?

AL:  We have the temperaments for working closely together—luckily! Creative collaboration keeps us connected, and over the years we’ve worked out how to communicate about our projects. There’s a lot of similarity between playing in a band, writing novels, and raising a child.

There are inevitable differences of opinion. We each have our own vision of where we’re going. Usually, whoever feels the most strongly about something can talk the other one around to their point of view.

We have to respect one-another’s opinion, recognize we’re both contributing to a whole that’s greater than both of us, and keep the ultimate goal in mind: A solid and lyrical song arrangement, a book that delights readers, or a competent and confident kid.

CW:  You also teach violin. What’s your favorite part of passing on your musical knowledge?

AL: Getting people hooked on playing the fiddle. I love the traditional music idioms (Irish, Old-time, Quebecois, Contradance) and the way people can go out, have fun, and make music socially with only a handful of tunes under their fingers. It’s a very satisfying job.

CW:  Do you have a manager? How is promoting your music different from promoting your novels? Is there overlap between the two fields?

AL:  I manage the band—we’re not commanding the kinds of fees that would justify involving a manager, plus we’re not able to tour extensively. That said, we’ve played all over the Northwest and in Canada as part of various Celtic Music Festivals.

In terms of promotion, we apply to festivals and concert series with a promotional pack that includes a CD, band bio, and glowing reviews. A number of local gigs come our way because we’ve been playing for quite a while, are known in the area, and have a specialized niche. March is a busy month for us, with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations giving us lots of performance opportunities.

We could do more as a band with a website, though we are online at CDBaby.com/cd/fiddlehead, where you can purchase our music and read a little about the band. Eventually, we’d like to make a page at our home site of anthealawson.com that focuses on our musical lives.

I think the overlap between promoting a band and promoting an author comes in the big areas like branding, word of mouth, and taking the opportunities that come your way.

CW:  How has the economy affected the band? Is it harder to find paying gigs? What strategies do you employ for overcoming those obstacles?

AL:  The economy has definitely made it harder to find gigs. We didn’t play any weddings last summer, and usually we do at least a handful of those. A few venues have folded or are not hiring as many bands. Or people want you to play for free, which doesn’t work out that well when you’re trying to make a partial living by playing music. We’re playing less and waiting for things to come around. We still have our regular gigs—St. Patrick’s Day, the Seattle Folklife Festival, etc.

CW:  What are your musical goals, personally and for the band?

AL:  It’s not that difficult as niche musicians playing traditional Celtic music to find work if we’re motivated. I think it must be similar to self-publishing in nonfiction to a tightly targeted market. We don’t need national distribution. Stores that specialize in Celtic items or folk music are willing to carry our CDs. We have played national (and international) music festivals and made a lot of people happy with our music. What could be better? Ok, maybe selling another thousand CDs, but the music is only a part of what we do. We’ve always quilted together a bunch of smaller projects to make a creatively fulfilling life.

CW:  Anything else you’d like to share? Where can local readers see you play next?

AL:  We usually announce gigs on our website at anthealawson.com, so take a look there, especially in early March when we know what our St. Paddy’s line-up will look like.

Thanks so much Chassily and 1st Turning Point for having us back, this time wearing our musician hats!

CW:  Thank you for being here, Anthea! It’s always a pleasure to talk with you.