One Day Without Shoes is Today

Today is TOMS One Day Without Shoes 2012.  Cheekies and I are going barefoot.  Why go barefoot?  To bring attention to the shoeless epidemic.  Is there really a shoeless epidemic?  What is so wrong about going barefoot?  Is this really that serious?

I could write an entire blog post.  Wait, I did last year.  Below you will find a repost of a post I wrote last year that will answer all those questions.  If you need more answers, go to http://www.onedaywithoutshoes.com.  Tomorrow, I’ll write about Cheekies and my experience without shoes today.

It’s not book related, but I wanted to share one of my favorite activities with you.  Every year the gang at TOMS Shoes holds “One Day Without Shoes.”  I love being involved, but thanks to a doctor who doesn’t think it’s a great idea while pregnant, I won’t be an active participant this year.  I’ll blog about last year’s great experience while on vacation, and I’ll try doing as much as possible without shoes if I’m out on the 5th of April.

Why go without shoes?  To bring to light a huge epidemic in our world.  A lack of shoes.  Yeah, I hear a lot of people questioning why this is an epidemic unless you’re a woman whose best friend is the Dillard’s Shoe Department.  If only it was that simple.

Shoes are the most important things in the world.  Imagine living in a developing country where there is no sanitation.  The ground is covered with feces, soil with diseases, mud, used medical supplies, urine (human and animal), glass, sharp metal and other bits of trash.  Rocks so sharp they can cut your feet are scattered all over the ground.  And you have to walk miles upon miles to find clean water, medical help, food, and if you’re lucky go to school.  (Oh, and you don’t have the money or means to prevent or treat any disease you get from your walk.)

Imagine walking being harmful to your health.  Podoconiosis shows up from being exposed to an irritant soil, usually volcanic soil, day after day.  Your feet and legs swell to the point they look like they belong on an elephant.  Don’t click this link if you are easily offended, but Wikipedia has pictures of people suffering from Podoconiois.  Imagine being a child and living with the disease.

The worst thing is Podoconiosis is 100% preventable!  How can you keep yourself safe and healthy?  Shoes!  I’m not kidding.  All it takes is simply wearing a pair of shoes and you can’t get this horrible disease.  It’s not the only disease one can get due to a lack of shoes, especially in developing countries.

How can you help?  Glad you asked.  First, tell everyone you know about how important shoes are in daily life.  A great way to get the message across is One Day Without Shoes.  Even if you go for just an hour without shoes people will ask you lots of questions.  Check out the website and participate in a community event with other concerned people going without shoes for children around the world.

Get online!  Spread the message to your buddies via Twitter, Facebook, and your blog.  Email your friends and families.  Blog or microblog about your day without shoes.  I’m really thinking of doing some shopping without shoes, even if the doctor is against the idea.  Pregnant women in developing countries and in parts of the US can’t afford shoes to protect them and their fetuses.  Why can’t I do a few minutes in a parking lot without a pair of shoes on my feet?

Get the kit from TOMS!  It’s free, and the graphics are really, really, really cool.  Besides, you really wanted a new graphic for your Facebook account and your Twitter account.  Oh, and there are widgets for your blog, too.

Go a day without shoes!  I thought I knew what life without shoes would be like before I participated last year.  Turns out life isn’t all that great, especially when your grandma’s yard is filled with poky plants, not nice soft grass.  If for some reason you think going without shoes makes you look crazy, go to TOMS and buy a flag.  (It’s $5 off the website.)  Buy a necklace, and TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a kiddo.  (Which means for $28 you get a necklace and that great feeling of giving the gift of a healthy life to a kiddo.)  By a t-shirt, and the gang at TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a kiddo.    Or create your own t-shirt with the stencils online.  I’ll be in my really cool Threadless t-shirt from last year.  (Assuming it still fits, or I’m going with my TOMS shirt from 2 years back.  Get your friends involved and create an event.  Heck, TOMS even created a letter for you to use.  They believe in making it easy.

And when it’s all done, and you really want to slip back into your shoes, don’t let it stop there.  Tell your friends and family and your online community what you did during your day.  Let them know how living without shoes changed your life.  Pass the word on that shoes are one of the easiest ways to stop diseases.

PS: Can you tell this is one cause that’s really close to my heart?

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Blog Moving Day!

Hi!  Notice something different about the blog?  Like, a funky new layout?  Or a cool new background image?  Or those really interesting menu options that are totally different than they were yesterday (March 29th) morning?  Or the blog roll suddenly going missing?  (It’s not missing.  Don’t freak!)  Wondering what is up?

Well, little ol’ me decided it was high time for my domain name to do something other than sit there doing nothing.  Nothing but hosting my very small, itty, bitty site that no one ever saw.  Ever!  (Well, maybe one or two people a month.)  So, I decided that it was time for a move.  And since I just renewed my domain name (at a cost of $7.08 a month) plus renewed my hosting plan ($4.50 a month) it was time for that little ol’ site to earn its keep.

That led to Moving Day for the blog!  The new blog addy is http://myblog.amandanicoletrisdale.com.  Good news is that the old blog address will still work.  So, if you’ve got the blog bookmarked it’ll still get you to the blog.  Yeah, it cost me a few bucks for the forwarding process.  A single dollar a month is what WordPress charges for the subdomain mapping.  When you add everything together it is only costing me $12.58 a month, which isn’t bad.

What do I get for my $12.58 a month?  More traffic to my website.  That means my SEO goes up, not just the WordPress SEO.  Plus, maybe, just maybe, it’ll give me a great excuse to actually work on the poor red-headed step-child known as my website.

What non-changes can you expect?  Well, if you subscribe via email you’ll still get updates via email.  You can still comment directly from the blog.  (And we all know I love comments, so comment away!)  New posts will still go live at 6:00AM Mountain Time.

What’s new and different?  Well, you’ll come to my site instead of WordPress.  The blog roll over here has always had a page dedicated to the cool blogs I follow.  The blog roll isn’t on the Sidebar, but on the Fave Blogs page.  Since the blog is really a journal, I changed things to look like a journal.  The menu bar is a short menu bar of what you’ll find on the rest of the website.  (There are a few things that don’t appear on the blog page’s menu that you might find interesting.)  At the very top you’ll see links to my Facebook page and my Twitter page, instead of links on the Sidebar.  The background image matches the rest of the website, which means clouds and sky.  And a couple other things.

Oh, and my blog button coding.  A few of you have the button on your blog.  Thanks for that.  It’s code has the old addy, but as previously mentioned the old addy gets redirected here.  No need to replace those buttons with a new code unless you really want to redo the button on your blog.

Welcome to the new neighborhood!  Hope y’all enjoy it over here!

 

One Day Without Shoes: April 5, 2011

It’s not book related, but I wanted to share one of my favorite activities with you.  Every year the gang at TOMS Shoes holds “One Day Without Shoes.”  I love being involved, but thanks to a doctor who doesn’t think it’s a great idea while pregnant, I won’t be an active participant this year.  I’ll blog about last year’s great experience while on vacation, and I’ll try doing as much as possible without shoes if I’m out on the 5th of April.

Why go without shoes?  To bring to light a huge epidemic in our world.  A lack of shoes.  Yeah, I hear a lot of people questioning why this is an epidemic unless you’re a woman whose best friend is the Dillard’s Shoe Department.  If only it was that simple.

Shoes are the most important things in the world.  Imagine living in a developing country where there is no sanitation.  The ground is covered with feces, soil with diseases, mud, used medical supplies, urine (human and animal), glass, sharp metal and other bits of trash.  Rocks so sharp they can cut your feet are scattered all over the ground.  And you have to walk miles upon miles to find clean water, medical help, food, and if you’re lucky go to school.  (Oh, and you don’t have the money or means to prevent or treat any disease you get from your walk.)

Imagine walking being harmful to your health.  Podoconiosis shows up from being exposed to an irritant soil, usually volcanic soil, day after day.  Your feet and legs swell to the point they look like they belong on an elephant.  Don’t click this link if you are easily offended, but Wikipedia has pictures of people suffering from Podoconiois.  Imagine being a child and living with the disease.

The worst thing is Podoconiosis is 100% preventable!  How can you keep yourself safe and healthy?  Shoes!  I’m not kidding.  All it takes is simply wearing a pair of shoes and you can’t get this horrible disease.  It’s not the only disease one can get due to a lack of shoes, especially in developing countries.

How can you help?  Glad you asked.  First, tell everyone you know about how important shoes are in daily life.  A great way to get the message across is One Day Without Shoes.  Even if you go for just an hour without shoes people will ask you lots of questions.  Check out the website and participate in a community event with other concerned people going without shoes for children around the world.

Get online!  Spread the message to your buddies via Twitter, Facebook, and your blog.  Email your friends and families.  Blog or microblog about your day without shoes.  I’m really thinking of doing some shopping without shoes, even if the doctor is against the idea.  Pregnant women in developing countries and in parts of the US can’t afford shoes to protect them and their fetuses.  Why can’t I do a few minutes in a parking lot without a pair of shoes on my feet?

Get the kit from TOMS!  It’s free, and the graphics are really, really, really cool.  Besides, you really wanted a new graphic for your Facebook account and your Twitter account.  Oh, and there are widgets for your blog, too.

Go a day without shoes!  I thought I knew what life without shoes would be like before I participated last year.  Turns out life isn’t all that great, especially when your grandma’s yard is filled with poky plants, not nice soft grass.  If for some reason you think going without shoes makes you look crazy, go to TOMS and buy a flag.  (It’s $5 off the website.)  Buy a necklace, and TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a kiddo.  (Which means for $28 you get a necklace and that great feeling of giving the gift of a healthy life to a kiddo.)  By a t-shirt, and the gang at TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a kiddo.    Or create your own t-shirt with the stencils online.  I’ll be in my really cool Threadless t-shirt from last year.  (Assuming it still fits, or I’m going with my TOMS shirt from 2 years back.  Get your friends involved and create an event.  Heck, TOMS even created a letter for you to use.  They believe in making it easy.

And when it’s all done, and you really want to slip back into your shoes, don’t let it stop there.  Tell your friends and family and your online community what you did during your day.  Let them know how living without shoes changed your life.  Pass the word on that shoes are one of the easiest ways to stop diseases.

PS: Can you tell this is one cause that’s really close to my heart?

The Elevator Pitch: One Sentence to Explain the Book!

The Elevator Pitch is one of those great technical terms which should scare any writer.  The idea is to boil your entire book down to one sentence.  Yes, that 80,000 word novel needs to be turned in to a sentence.  Fun.  Exciting.  Shoot me now, please!

The phrase comes from elevators across the country.  (Or best I can tell that’s where it originated.)  For our specific purposes, what happens is an author meets an agent in the elevator of a building.  (Imagine during a writers’ conference.)  The author has the couple of seconds between floors to give the agent the gist of the book.  In those seconds, the author must show there is a story, and tell about the story.  Hence the term “elevator” pitch.

It’s everything about the book.  What’s the genre?  (And, no, agents don’t want you to say “family saga” in the sentence.)  A pretty good post on pitches can be found over on QT’s Blog.  After showing a winning pitch from one of QT’s contests, the agent goes in to what type of bad pitches she’s seen.

The pitch isn’t easy.  The whole idea of creating a one sentence pitch is a little daunting.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who works over the pitch multiple times before I find it.

My pitch for the blog is the tagline; a writer’s journey to being published.  That’s what the blog is all about in a nutshell.  The blog is about my journey and we’d all like to see it end with me being published.  From the thoughts in my head, to the computer screen, to BR’s computer screen, to the agent, to being shopped to publishers writing is always a journey to being published.  That’s just what the tagline/pitch offers you.

Same idea holds true for the book pitch.  The idea is to tell you what to expect in two seconds.  So, if I was to give you my first attempt at a pitch for SWEET SIXTEEN it would be something like this: Most sixteen years old kids dream of leaving home, but Alexandria Houston dreams of finding a home.

Okay, bad attempt.  I admit it.  I did get the main character, and she’s sixteen.  But what else did I tell you about the book?  Nothing!  Why is Alexandria looking for a home?  Does she find a home?

Let’s try another idea: Sweet Sixteen Alexandria Houston dreams of a Forever Home, but when she finds a place that might be the right fit the foster child in her wonders if she’s good enough to earn the love of a family.

It isn’t a hook.  But it tells you about the plot.  Alexandria, a foster child, wants a Forever Home, yet when she finds a home she wonders if she’s worth the love her new family gives her.  Tons of information about the plot.  A couple of questions, but this is an idea I can work with.

It’s closer to what I need for the agents.  It’s closer to what my future agent needs for the publishing houses.  Closer is always good.  The best part is my elevator pitch doesn’t fit in the query letter, so I’ve got a couple more days to work on the pitch than the query!

So, any of my writer friends want to share the pitch for their latest books?  For their blogs?  Comment below.

 

I Broke Down and Did It.

I mentioned this post last week.  I got a Facebook Fan Page.  I finally decided to take the plunge after reading a post by Nathan Bradford.  I mean, I was teetering on the idea, since I’ve got a good feeling that this is the time. This book is gonna be the one that gets picked up, and I’m gonna need to control my image.

Control my image.  Isn’t that what most social media is about?  Authors buy websites with their names.  They control their Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages.  Because if you don’t, someone else will.  And then you’ve gotta call up Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare, or wherever and mention it isn’t you.  You’d like them to take down the fake account.  You gotta show it isn’t you.  Even when you get it taken down, there is a cached version on the web, somewhere, and you gotta explain it isn’t you.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Everyone else is gonna mention that social media is all about gaining fans and marketing.  If you aren’t controlling your image, you can’t work on the marketing.  (I say this almost daily to politicians.  Daily.)  Besides, in today’s world, marketing is your image.  Okay, that’s always been true.

Think about Katherine Hepburn.  Everyone thinks of her as this glorious woman who was beautiful and the definition of female sensuality.  Uh huh, the woman who refused to wear skirts and dresses before it was socially acceptable.  A woman who controlled her image as a feminist and turned it from “bad” to something women held up to their daughters as a blueprint for their lives.

Skip up to bad image.  We’ll ignore the obvious choices (say: Charlie Sheen) and look at say Eminem.  Now, Eminem understands his bad image gets him money.  He’s a punk, and his audience is filled with wannabe punks.  The more people think Eminem isn’t mainstream and isn’t “an angel,” the more dollars come in to his pocket.

Image is marketing.  Marketing is about image.  (Yeah, I say this a lot.)  You have to control the image or you lose the marketing.  Which is why when I decided to start this journey I bought a web domain, and got Twitter.  This is just the next logical step.  If I control the Facebook fan page about me, and about my books (to come along when books are in the calendar to be released), then I can use that as a marketing format.

Kinda smart, even if I hate mentioning I broke down and got a Facebook Fan Page.  Tomorrow I’ll discuss how I plan to use my Facebook Fan Page.

 

To Put the Blog in the Query Letter? Or Not to Put the Blog in the Query?

That is the question, isn’t it?  Every author asks themselves what to put in the query letter.  One of the biggest questions seems to be around the blog.  Do you mention it?  Do you use it as a reason an agent should see you as marketable?  Do you ignore it and see if an agent Googles you?  This is my personal thoughts on including Amanda’s Blog in my query letters.  (Just an analytical look at the blog and numbers, not a pity party.)

I love the people who follow my blog.  Seriously, they are the best readers in the world.  The only minor problem is how small my following is at the moment.  I’ve got 25 people who have signed up for email updates.  (Did I mention I love my readers?)  That’s not a pity party, just information that is needed for the rest of this post.  I’ve got 25 subscribers.  Remember that is a tiny number.

It seems every author has a blog.  It’s part of the new social media marketing schemes.  Every single agent interview I read says the same thing: If your blog is about your life, kids, and everything else (plus a little writing), don’t tell me about it.  The blog isn’t a platform to gain fans for your work.  It’s about you and everything else about you.  (It makes sense if you blog is all over the place people visit for the parts they like, but they probably aren’t interested in your novel.)

If your blog is about writing or what you write about (ie, about the law and you write legal thrillers), tell me about it only if you have a decent following already.  The more followers the better!  Less work for the marketing guys and gals over at the publishing house.  People who follow your blog about writing or what you write about are already fans of yours.  They don’t have to be convinced to go buy your debut novel.  And, they are more likely to Facebook & tweet about your novel without any prodding.  A niche blog is great for marketing.

Agents want your blog to say “I’ve got a platform!  I’ve got people who like my writing style!  I’ve got everything to prove I have the tools to market myself and become the next NY Times Best-Selling Author!”  They want proof that people you already know will rush out and buy the books.  Twenty-five people won’t do that.

But, the fact I usually get a comment (or two or three), does favor me ever so slightly.  Comments show my readers (y’all) actually enjoy interaction.  Yay!  One thing in my favor is that y’all aren’t just reading the posts, but showing up over here to talk about the posts.

So, what’s my magic number of subscribers before I’d include the blog in my query letter?  Oh, let’s say 200.  Why 200?  Because it’s a gigantic increase that won’t happen in 30 days.  The reality is that the blog won’t be big enough to include in the query letter before they go out.  But, I’m okay with that.  I like the blog as it is at the moment.  I wouldn’t change the blog just to get an agent interested in me.

Just wait until the post next week about my brand new Author Page on Facebook and what it means for authors & query letters.

Querying Agents: My Plan

I am getting closer to querying agents again.  Have I mentioned that lately?  Oh, I have?  Sorry!  But, getting closer means I must have a plan.  I had a plan last time, and I threw it out the window almost immediately.  And we all know how well that went.  No agent.  No book contract.

This time I have created a plan and shall stick to it.  To give myself some accountability, I’ve decided to share my plan with my loyal readers.  Y’all can help me stick to the plan.  Oh, and feel free to let me know what you think.  Comments, anyone?

1)      Query no more than three agents a week.  One every other day.

2)      Have a list with information on each agent’s preferences to work off.  Likes, dislikes, things they want in an initial query, what they like to see in a query letter, usual time for response.

3)      Prioritize the agents.  There are currently 56 agents accepting unsolicited queries for Family Sagas.  List them 1-56, placing dream agents in the middle of the list.

4)      Assign each agent a number for discussing submissions in the blog.  Add numbers and assigned dates for querying to a new page on the blog & website; along with response.

5)      Tailor query letter & package to each individual agent’s tastes as based off stalking.  Keep copies on the computer to refine before sending out query.

6)      Work each query in Word before moving to an email client.

7)      Reread each word in the email before pressing the send button!

8)      Remember, working one query to perfection is better than twenty horrible queries.  Therefore, one query every other day, Amanda Nicole Trisdale!

9)      Check in at Query Tracker with who I’ve queried and their response so other newbies can use the information in their stalking

10)   Continue to revise SWEET SIXTEEN and writing new material.

11)   Not cry over rejection.  The right agent will come along.

12)   If no requests for a partial after first month (12 queries), back off and rewrite query letter.

13)   Try literary fiction agents once I’ve exhausted family saga agents.  There are 394 of those.

14)   Keep a running journal on the blog, including usual response time for agents and my response time.

15)   Refer to agents by assigned numbers so no one knows the agent’s real names.  Example: Sent Agent 10 a query today.  Received a reply from Agent 5 requesting I send a partial manuscript.  Agent 1 sent rejection notice.

16)   Find an agent!

Novel Finished? Now the Business Begins.

Someone told me that once you write a book the business of writing starts.  While all authors would love to spend their days writing, you have to dedicate some time each day to the business of writing.

You have to spend time building a following.  That means website, blogging, tweeting, or Facebook fan pages.  (No, I’m not doing the latter.)  And, no, I’m not talking about blogging about your family and your hobbies.  Those blogs are great, but they don’t give an agent any reason to believe those people might read your books.  I’ve researched this, and every writer needs a writing blog and a website dedicated to their writing.  That takes time out of the day.

Then there are the revisions.  Writing the book was fun, but revisions hurt as you cut things you were in love with.  Besides, you’d rather write the next book.  Revisions take time and effort.  It’s hard work!  Yet, the writer must do revisions if they want their book to sell.

Don’t forget stalking agents to find someone to rep the book.  That takes time and effort, too.  Hours on the web learning all there is to know about the agent of your dreams.  What do they want in a query letter?  Just the story?  Information about the specifics of the story?  Information about you and your writing?  Do they want to know you have a blog?  Or does that depend upon the number of people who follow your blog?

(Great time to mention I always welcome new subscribers and followers.  Feel free to pass on the blog to your friends and family.  I know.  Shameless plug.  But I haven’t done one in a while.)

And let us not forget networking and trying to figure out how this whole business works.  Books to study.  Blogs to read by the experts.

Someone mentioned this to me when I began, but I was too excited to listen.  This time, with a new book, I have learned from prior mistakes.  If anyone needs me between the hours of 9-4 I will be working.  You can find me writing, revising, working on query letters, stalking agents and coming up with a plan for taking the publishing world by storm.  Oh, and of course I will continue to blog.  Maybe others can learn from the mistakes I’ve made.  After all, what good is a journal if no one learns from it?

Two Quick Reasons Bed Rest & Blogging Do Not Work Together

One would think bed rest would mean I would have plenty of time to write.  There are two flaws in that logic.  The first flaw is the assumption that I have the energy to think!  I am under the impression the doctors were lying about why I am on bed rest.  It might be because I am so exhausted I fall asleep mid-sentence and standing up.

The second flaw is assuming that creativity works best when lying in bed.  It seems lying in bed doesn’t get the creative juices running.  But, it is great for convincing your body to fall asleep.  If I could just connect the laptop to my mind to record my dreams, I would be good.

My plan for today includes staying awake long enough to work on my query letter.  Let’s see if that actually happens.  This parasite inside is taking way too much energy to grow.

 

What I Did Over My Christmas Break

Are the holidays finally over?  Can I go back to querying agents without said agents going “Don’t you have family that you want to see this time of year?”  Great!

Let’s start off the New Year with the usual questions for someone you haven’t seen over the holidays.  How were your Holidays?  Did you get to spend a lot of time with your friends and family?  Get everything done that you wanted to?  Mine were fine.  I twisted my ankle Thanksgiving Night falling off the arm of the sofa.  (FYI, it turns out sitting cross-legged on the arm of a sofa right by the credenza is a bad thing.)  I gave myself a concussion on the doorframe of my Explorer.  (There were too many packages in my arms for me to remember to duck before putting said packages in the Explorer.)  Oh, and a nice bruise from my eyebrow to my hairline.  Luckily, I had makeup in my house from some event back in April.  Three days after Christmas I broke my foot when a bottle of rootbeer jumped out of the fridge and landed on the arch of my foot.  (Luckily, the bottle didn’t break, so I didn’t have to clean up glass on top of everything else.)

Let it not be said I spent my break hurting myself.  I did manage to write a few short stories that I ran on the blog.  I found a beta reader.  I decided that it would be a great idea to revise SWEET SIXTEEN; again.  I happened upon a blog post on how to write a query letter that made me go “Ah, that’s what agents want in a query letter.  Why did I waste money on those books that confused me?”  I revised a short story I want to submit to a contest.  I got three people to participate in my Holiday Short Stories.

All in all I think I had a pretty productive Holidays and Vacation.  I am refreshed and ready to get back to blogging.  Hopefully, y’all are ready to read my posts again.  Oh, and let’s hope this year I find an agent!  Fingers crossed, and lots of work ahead.

Happy New Year’s, Everyone!