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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 Published or unpublished, we don’t care – come aboard, tour the ship and sail away with us while we all improve our promotional skills.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!