Monday, 11 July 2011

A Platform . . . Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

SheWrites - Blog Ball #5 

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

Welcome - My name is Nancy MacMillan and I joined SheWrites in April to learn more about Marketing.  This is my first blog hop . . . what a fascinating idea!

My blog is my Uncharted Journey into Publishing my First Book, "Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," a completed memoir.  I share tidbits of myself, my thoughts and the steps I'm taking along this path to reach my goal.  Included are my query letter, table of contents from my book proposal, and an exerpt from my book.  

Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to look around and leave a comment to say hello, so I can be sure to visit your blog this weekend.

Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!  My head is buzzing with everything I need to do . . . but I don't.  Instead I push these thoughts aside as I continue to pursue my dream, my passion . . . on the road to publishing my first book.
I used to be a perfectionist! Ask my children. That’s the way I was raised, it’s swimming through my veins, playmates with my genes . . . I guess that’s why these pangs of guilt.   
The house is picked up . . . though my office looks lived-in like an old pair of slippers with stacks of books and layers of research. I see dust silently gathered in spots I missed with my Swifter . . . my quickie.  My windows don’t sparkle, my floor doesn't shine, but I do vacuum . . . my carpet is white.  My bulletin board is a rainbow of Post-Its like . . . book flight for reunion and load recycling into car.  Speaking of my car . . . my raincoat and a pair of slacks for the cleaners have been passengers for a month, and my oil change is 1000 miles overdue.
Okay, now that I've had this little rant I feel better . . .     
I had to learn how to fit writing into my daily schedule, whereas marketing and research are more of a challenge with a complicated appeal.  But blogging is like chocolate . . . delicious and addictive.  Do I have a problem?  Maybe . . .   
Now can someone tell me how to fit my daily schedule back into my writing?
Platform development is important for authors, and crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors.  -Christina Katz

In the past, a writer could dream of being picked up by an agent and/or publisher who would woo them with the promise of fortune and fame.  But not anymore . . . Today, it's the writer's job to root through the rubble and bang on doors . . . after years spent refining their words, followed by countless revisions, finally giving birth to a piece of work that stands on its own.

My problem, like many others, is that this is my first book and I'm unknown!

No one has analyzed the complexities of a writer's life so painstakingly as Virginia Woolf in her many volumes of diaries.     Joyce Carol Oates

I find the most intimidating part of marketing a book to be the endless avenues that I must travel publically to reach my goal.  If rejections don't toughen a person . . . marketing will.  It's time I step out of my hallowed space of creativity into a world of crashing cymbals and blaring horns.  Not really . . . but the contrast can be equally as stressful.   
I've been reading GET KNOWN before the BOOK DEAL by Christina Katz, and her down-to-earth approach has desensitized some of my trepidation.
Random notes:  Your personality is just the raw material you have to work with when it's time to get out in the world.  You need to physically get your buns out there.  You need to get your real face out in the real world and you need to interact with real live people.  Like rocks in a tumbler, we grow smoother by rubbing up against each other.  Don't hide out!  Come out and play.
See why I like her? . . . Make a beginning.  No launch is too humble when we are talking about stretching yourself as a reader, speaker, and performer.  You have to start somewhere.  So why not try speaking or reading even if you're totally untrained. 
Her words sparked confidence as I clearly saw my "humble beginning" had already been achieved.  My writing class in Santa Barbara, and the first time I read my work outloud in front of a class of 46 students.  I was petrified . . . but each time I read it was easier.

She also suggests: "Children's Story Time" . . .   A few years ago, when I was working on my children's writing, I talked to a local librarian about reading at story time, to observe children interacting.  She said, "Come by anytime."  But I got busy and never followed through.  This goes back on my to-do-list!

She also recommends literary events in your local area.  Fill a chair at one literary event each week.  Take notes on how you might adopt the speaker's skills and strengths in your own presentations.  It could be fun!

A few weeks ago, I learned a church nearby holds a 6-week public speaking class.  I'm waiting for the dates and time.  Once I get over this hump, I should be on my way . . .
Lesson Learned . . . My Two Cents
Below is a recipe from a fellow writer, Lori Robinson, who leads Safari's in Africa, when she's not writing.  She takes these nuts with her on safari for snacks in the bush, serves them to friends as appetizers, and basically can't stop eating them herself.  I plan to make a batch this week, once I shop for ingredients.

Safari Nuts . . .
Recipe:  In bowl mix 2 c macadamia nuts (raw) with 1/4 c maple syrup, 1 1/2 t ground chili pepper, 1 t curry powder, 1/2 t cayanne pepper, 1/4 salt.
Spread evenly on parchment paper covered cookie sheet and roast at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Keep turning to brown evenly and keep from burning.  Once cooled, they will be crunchy.
You can visit her unique blog at . . .

Please note:  I've decided to post every other week for a while to focus more time on marketing and research.  SheWrites Marketing Group has posted excellent material and ideas I want to impliment.  Will miss our weekly visits.   


  1. Wonderful post, and something so many of us writers can relate to...if we could only get a few more hours every day, how much more we could achieve. But, those of us who have the determination somehow make it happen, as will you!

    Katz book is a good read, one of the many marketing books I have read in the past few months. If you're interested, I'm actually in the middle of a marketing series on my blog. Hop on over and give it a read.

    Baby steps is how we get there, you can do it!

  2. Just signed up to follow. Note: It isn't easy to get in the door even if you have been published. Memoir is a new genre for me, and I haven't gotten involved in the Memoir Group on She Writes bugt I intend to.
    You said you are hoping to get your book published one way or another. Are you considering self-publishing?

    Signed up to follow

  3. Darin - Thank you for you your encouraging words. Yes, we can dream of more hours but know we'll never get them. My goal - learn to savor the time I do have, and use it wisely, yet kindly. To myself and to others. And I will definitely hop to your blog . . . always open to ideas. And I love your blog address :-)

  4. Thelma - I'm so pleased you to welcome you on my journey. Maybe we can help each other. I've joined a few groups, each supportive and authentic. To answer your question . . . Yes, Im considering self-publishing, if I'm not picked up. The reason why I'm cramming for marketing ideas . . . "If I self-publish, how will readers know I exist? If I'm picked up, a publisher will see I'm serious about marketing my own book. It's a win win situation. What's your blog address?

  5. Loved this!! I can so relate to posting every other week, because of time limits and all the other writing commitments. I am currently in schedule reschedule and life shifting to fit everything that I NEED and MUST do. I still owe you an email (forgive me) I am recovering from being overwhelmed (that sounds like a life confession, it's not. The writer in me coming to terms with my own limitations. Thank for you inspiring words today.

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  7. Brenda - I love being inspired . . . and I'm thrilled when I can pass it on. Thank you. Of course you're forgiven (see last blog)! Email when you can. Writing lets me fly free like my seagulls until reality grabs me by the ankles. I've learned I need credibility down the road for press releases, etc, so I'm going to submit short pieces to magazines and see what happens. Might even get paid . . . Are you published? Your work is so good!

  8. It's all a crazy balancing act, isn't it? I am still trying to figure it out, and there's always the tug between what I want to do/write, and what I think I should.

    Take the time you need, for what you need to do, and no guilt allowed! :-)

  9. Beverly - A balancing act it is. Sure glad my feet are planted on the ground instead of a tightrope overhead. I'd have landed on my head by now. I believe guilt-free is a learned skill that I haven't mastered yet . . . but I'm working on it.

  10. I'm such a sucker for yummy recipes. I will definitely try this one! It's great to meet you!

  11. What an interesting angle for your book; so many people have written about PTSD, but I've never seen one on being the partner to the sufferer. I wish you much success with it!

  12. Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for stopping by. I'm always looking for the perfect quote to fit the occasion

  13. Shelley - Thank you for dropping by and your kind words of encouragement! The fact that you saw my book being unlike all the others nudged me to continue my search for an agent / publisher . . . self-publishing was on my mind. I only need one person to see my story through your eyes. Thank you again!

  14. Nancy, I'm here from She Writes. Good luck with your book. All the best with it - and enjoy what's left of the weekend.

  15. Helen, Many thanks for stopping by. I've been to your site and I love time travel!