Monday, January 31, 2011

I Write. Therefore...I Write What?

by Priscilla Y. Huff

Priscilla Y. Huff specializes in writing on home-small business topics. She is expanding into travel writing; and writing for middle-grade children. Today, Priscilla talks about building your writing platform and honing in on a specialty area:

You like to write, but how do you find the genre or writing field that best highlights your talent and reaches an appreciative, loyal and hopefully, a buying readership? Becoming a published writer is similar to an entrepreneur starting a business. Here are some questions to help you decide what to write and the ideal markets for it:

*Your preferences: What type of books do you primarily read (other than school or college required reading)? Familiarity with an industry or a genre, will sustain your interest in that type of writing; plus you will know current trends and what appeals to those readers.

*Your background: What education, work, and-or personal experiences qualify you to write on topics with which you are knowledgeable? To improve your writing quality and content, join writers’ groups, attend writers’ workshops-conferences and enroll in related writing courses.

*Your market research: Who are your target readers? Research your potential readership and what they like. Study other competing authors and compare how your writing is both similar and different. Ask yourself, what will make your writing a standout from theirs?

*Start part-time. Like new entrepreneurs, most writers begin writing on the side to hone their writing style and craft and build a following. Writing short stories, blogs or e-books in your genre; submitting articles in your field or industry; and speaking to interested groups will all build your name recognition, establish you as an expert, and garner new readers. Publishers like writers who can demonstrate an established following and can use their networks for their books’ publicity.

*Build your writers’ network and contacts. Successful entrepreneurs and writers continually exchange information freely about their industry to help one another achieve successes. Meet new persons at conferences, trade shows, writers’ groups, and through various online forums. Some may become your mentors and-or provide you with potential publishing leads.

Of course, you cannot get published if you do not write. Your goal is to write and write daily. The more you write, the better chance you will have in finding your “voice” and a successful writing niche.

Happy Writing!

Suggested Related Reading:

Article, Blog:“10 Tips to Help You Build Your Writing Platform”“Platform

101 For Busy Writers: 3 Simple Steps”

Book: Ready, Aim, Specialize!: Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money! by Kelly James-Enger

Friday, January 28, 2011

Interview with Shirley Brosius

by Kathy Ruff

Shirley Brosius, freelance writer and speaker based in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, will speak at BDWN’s second Write it Right writers’ conference on April 16, 2011.

Brosius’ workshop, “Turning Memories Into One-Page Memoirs,” will guide you in writing stories about persons, places and things that have been important to your life. You will learn how a memoir compares to other writings and how to prod your memory for ideas to share. You'll also learn how to organize your thoughts and how to include your values so that you may pass on a legacy to your family and friends.

BDWN: How long have you been writing and what do you write?

BROSIUS: A former teacher and director of Christian education, I have been a freelance writer for 18 years. I am the author of Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories About Women Who Made a Difference, which was published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 2006. Each page offers a profile of an inspirational woman with a message from her life and a challenge for the reader. I have written hundreds of feature stories for newspapers, and my articles have been published in dozens of magazines and devotional publications. For my family I wrote and printed Persons, Places and Things: Memories from the 1940s and 1950s That Molded My Life, a 100-page booklet of anecdotes from my past.

BDWN: Where do you find inspiration?

BROSIUS: I find inspiration for my writing from life itself. You can draw spiritual applications from any object and experience. The people I meet to complete newspaper assignments always inspire me as they face adversity and challenges with courage. I love to capture personalities on paper.

BDWN: What advice would you give to writers wanting to break into the memoir genre?

BROSIUS: No matter what genre you want to break into, write, write, write and learn all you can. Write letters to the editor and and op-ed pieces for newspapers. Keep a journal. Start a blog. Submit articles to magazines and e-zines. Don’t worry about getting paid. Just write. Attend writer’s conferences and take writing courses online or at a college. Read books on writing. Read books of the genre you plan to write. Writers must be readers.

BDWN: What can attendees of your session at the conference expect to take away from your session that will help them to pursue their writing goals?

BROSIUS: My workshop will teach attendees how to leave a legacy through writing. You’ll learn how to organize your thoughts to write interesting anecdotes from your life. You’ll also learn how to prime your memories pump. Then you’ll practice writing one-page memoirs.

Brosius offered some closing thoughts:

BROSIUS: Whether or not you are published, writing allows you to express yourself and brings a sense of fulfillment. You may not be able to quit your day job, but as you hone your skill as a writer, you develop communication skills that will serve you well in every occupation. Besides that, it’s fun.

Check out more about Shirley Brosius and her work online at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011 Write It Right Conference Schedule

It's here! Below is the day's schedule for the 2011 Write It Right Conference!

Write It Right Conference
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Best Western Genetti’s, Hazleton
8:00-8:50 a.m. Registration

8:50-9:00 a.m. Welcome

9:00-9:50 a.m. Breakout Sessions
Jodi Webb, “The Nuts and Bolts of Magazine Writing”
Jennifer Hill, “Altered Pages” (Poetry)

10:00-10:50 a.m. Breakout Sessions
Maria V. Snyder, “Maria’s Nitpicks”
Kelly Butterbaugh, “Marketing for Writers”

11:00-11:50 a.m. Breakout Sessions
Jodi Webb, "Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: Freelancing Beyond Magazines"
Josh Berk, “Writing for YA Readers”

12:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch
Keynote Speaker: Maria V. Snyder, “The Path to Publication”

1:40-2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions
Josh Berk, "Getting Your YA Novel Published"
Shirley Brosius, “Turning Your Memories into Memoirs”

2:40-3:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions
Lisa Miller, "Keys to Crafting a Mystery Novel: Knowledge, Inspiration, & Imagination"
Kelly Butterbaugh, “Stepping Over Your Writers’ Block”

3:40-4:30 p.m. Door Prizes and Book Fair

Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview with Jennifer Hill

by Kathy Ruff

Jennifer Hill, speaker at BDWN’s second Write it Right writers’ conference on April 16, 2011, authored six collections of poetry, two collections of prose and several collections of bewilderment. She is editor and designer at Paper Kite Press, and co-owns Paper Kite Press Books, an independent bookstore.

Hill’s conference workshop, Altered Pages, explores a combination of the visual and language, an exercise in literary production by destruction, a session of creation by elation, a chance to make the process of writing as fun as you remember finger painting was.

Jen shared some of her thoughts on writing with us.

BDWN: How long have you been writing and what do you write?

HILL: If I say "I've been writing for as long as I can remember" does this make me more relevant? What if I said "I've been writing poetry since last week"? That said, I'm 41 years old and I've been writing poetry, short fiction, and plays with joy and abandon since I was about eight. I used to write in the back of my closet. Now I write at a desk in a room that is at the back of the house.

BDWN: Where do you find inspiration?

HILL: People are inspiring to me, considering the lives of objects, sharing ideas, watching clouds, the pattern of gum on sidewalks, questions that have no real answers, the writing and artwork of others. I like to watch people who are good at what they do work. I'm inspired by a lot of things. It's acting on that inspiration that really matters, I think. You can see something amazing, be inspired to make something and do nothing with your idea. Then what?

BDWN: What advice would you give to writers wanting to break into the poetry genre?

HILL: Read a lot of other writers. Write. Then read some more.

BDWN: What can attendees of your session at the conference expect to take away from your session that will help them to pursue their writing goals?

HILL: What we will be doing in this workshop will help you to see the page in a fresh way. This workshop will un-knot the knotted, rewire the uninspired and delight the curmudgeon.

Paper Kite is located at 443 Main Street, Kingston, Pennsylvania, or online at Check out Jen’s blog at

Friday, January 21, 2011

What? You Want Me to Talk?

by Priscilla Y. Huff

If you have had stories, articles, poems, or books published, many other aspiring (and published) writers want to hear your success “secrets.” One way to share your writing success tips is giving talks to writers’ groups and at writers’ conferences. Not comfortable doing public speaking? Maybe you were thinking of past oral reports you did for high school and-or college, and how you dreaded them. But talking in front of adults is not the same as giving a report to teenager classmates. Your audience generally wants to be there. They want to know how to succeed like you did, so they will be eager to learn and hopefully, not sending text messages while your are speaking.

Here are some added tips to make your talk or workshop successful:

*Know your audience and the reasons they came to your talk or class.
*Dress professionally and appropriately for your audience.
*Open with an anecdotal problem related to your experience or another person’s. End your talk with how this problem was resolved.
*Involve your audience by asking them questions, having them briefly working together and encouraging their input.
*Provide useful information, with handouts that reinforce your talking points; and also sheets that list your published works and contact information, including your web site, and business e-mail address. Include order forms if you have books to sell; and any information about upcoming workshops you might be holding.
*Allow some time at the end of your talk for audience questions or further discussion.
*Practice, practice your talk or speech.

Speaking to groups, helps establish you as an “expert” on your topic, garners publicity for your writing, and often provides leads for more publishing opportunities. You will have also the satisfaction of encouraging your attendees and helping them to reach their own publishing goals.

Suggested Resources:
101 Secrets of Highly Effective Speakers, 3rd Ed.

Controlling Fear, Commanding Attention by Caryl R Krannich

Priscilla Y. Huff led two workshops at 2010's BDWN’s writer’s conference

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview with Jodi Webb

by Gary Blake

Jodi Webb has built an impressive list of writing credentials, including articles in Pennsylvania, PTO Today, Grandparents, Birds and Blooms, American Profile, and GRIT, to name a few. Jodi is also the co-author of Pennsylvania Trivia: Weird, Wacky, and Wild, and a contributor to Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Salutes the Armed Forces, among other publications. Among her many writerly hats, Jodi is also a blog tour editor for WOW At this year's Write It Right conference, Jodi will be giving pointers for The Nuts and Bolts of Magazine Writing and Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: Freelancing Beyond Magazines. BDWN member Gary Blake chats with the versatile Ms. Webb about writing, blogging, and finding story ideas:

Q: When did you start writing for magazines?

JODI: I had to check up on this first magazine article about the Reading Pagoda was published in Pennsylvania Magazine in February 1994. I had just spent 3 years writing 1 1/2 novels and decided that maybe fiction was not my niche so I decided to give nonfiction a try.

Q: Did they give you leads or article ideas?

JODI: No, I sent them a short letter and the editor Matt Holliday generously agreed to take a chance on me. Because I had been focusing on fiction I knew nothing about the business of nonfiction(queries, SASEs, etc.) aside from what I'd read in Writer's Market. But somehow I managed to produce a printable article and photographs.I'd like to say that after 17 years my favorite editors are always emailing me assignments but, even now, I rarely receive article ideas from editors. I only wrote for one trade magazine, Toy Directory Monthly, where they would contact me each month and say, we want you to write articles on A, B, and C. Occassionally, editors that I have an established relationship with will contact me if they receive a press release about a subject that is similiar to something I've done for them in the past. I've also become the go-to girl for a few editors when the assigned writer has to back out. I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse because working with a short deadline can make life very crazy!

Q: How does copy-writing differ from magazine writing?

JODI: I suppose the end result you're aiming for is different. To me magazine writing feels more entertaining, you're telling a story while copywriting is sales, you're selling a product, a company, a person. They're both interesting in their own way. I think having a lot of different types of jobs is the best way to avoid writer's block. If you get bored with one type of writing you can switch to something else.

Q: Is blogging easier than the other forms of writing you do?

JODI: I do a lot of different types of writing and I can't pinpoint the one that is easiest, each is different and demands different things. Compared to article writing, I'm very new to blogging. So I am still learning. I guess my biggest challenge is blogging is a more personal type of writing and I'm still getting comfortable with interjecting so many personal stories with the facts. I write for three blogs and have different experiences with each. I write for The Muffin about writing 2-3 times a month and I'm assigned my days about a month ahead of time so I have time to think about my post and contact people. That feels more like traditional article writing although sometimes I feel like I can never hit the write length...I'm either too long or too short. I have a personal blog Words by Webb 3-4 times a week that is partly about books and partly about writing. Because it's a non-paying blog, it always ends up at the bottom of the to-do list. I'm always, "Oops, don't I have to write something for my blog?" I'm amazed by bloggers that can come up with a post day in and day out. Then for Schuylkill VISION I write Schuylkill Matters ( ) three times a week on Schuylkill County events, people, and history. That one is fun since I learn about so many county events and people I might never have really noticed before. Occasionally, VISION requests that I write on a specific subject but mostly I just find topics on my own. The best part of blogging is it's so flexible. Short, long, photos, opinions, interviews,'s like having your own little magazine and you can write one section each day. The worst part is when you look at that comments section and no one has commented. Instantly, you're asking yourself "What was wrong with that post? Was it boring? Was it too long? Is it a repeat of someone else?" What has surprised me about blogging is people are so willing to work with you. I have about 20 followers(so sad, follow me!)and I thought if I contacted authors they would be all "Seriously? I don't have time for a pipsqueak like you." but not only have authors been willing to answer interview questions they've also sponsored book giveaways. For little ole me. Imagine that!

Q: Do you do your own research for your articles?

JODI: Definitely. Every once in a blue moon an editor will send me a list, "You might want to contact A, B, and C." But mostly you agree on a topic, a format, a word count and it's "So long, contact us when it's done." I like the discovery of research. For me it's a treasure hunt. I enjoy reading books, visiting historical societies, going on field trips, interviewing people so I love the reserach part almost as much as the actual writing. In fact, I'm teaching an online class about finding experts and interviewing them this January.One of the best research tools I ever learned about was where you can put out a free request for any kind of expert you need. Once I was writing an article about small business write offs and submitted a request and dozens of accountants contacted me. So forget about "write what you know". It's "write what you can learn about". And with opportunities like profnet you can learn about anything.

Q: What can we plan to learn during your conference sessions to help us become a published or better author?

JODI: When I tell people I'm a writer the first thing they want to know is the titles of my books. But truthfully, much more of my time is spent on non-book projects...and that is what my conference sessions will be about. The Nuts and Bolts of Magazine Writing will help everyone avoid all those mistakes I made as a new magazine writer and get some ideas to jumpstart their magazine writing career. I hope Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket will give everyone a good laugh with some of the wild writing jobs I've had and, if you're feeling crazy, some tips on how to get those types of jobs. If you're feeling more tame, I'll also include advice about my tamer copyrighting, blogging, and public relations jobs.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Write It Right Conference Updates

Due to a scheduling problem with our original location at the Ramada in Pottsville, we've had to change the location of our conference.

The 2nd Annual Black Diamond Writers Network's Write It Right Conference will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at the Best Western-Genetti's Inn, Hazleton.

Early Bird Registration is now open, and will close on February 28th, 2011. Cost is $50; $45 for students and seniors.

After February 28th, registration is $60; $55 for students and seniors.