The Poison of Jealousy

The Poison of Jealousy

 

This week I have been suffering with an affliction known as poison sumac. Not to be confused with poison ivy, sumac is a woody plant, and in my case it was a tree-size. I encountered it during a rescue mission on a 50-year-old-farm and because there were no leaves, I mistook the vile thing for a popular tree and promptly dug it up and then rescued a bucket load of daffodils scattered around it.

I told the doctor, all of my itching is worth the discomfort.

As someone who can dig poison oak without so much as a blemish, this affliction both surprised me and had me sitting at the doctor’s office begging for a shot.(and pills and cream). Back home, I sat on the couch I replayed a conversation with an author friend of mine. She is a veteran author who has written for several esteemed magazines and recently released a charming book. However, like me, she has encountered quite a bit of what I call jealousy.

This year, as an effort to encourage readers to shop local, sustain local booksellers in the community, and feed starving authors (including myself), I am writing a quarterly newsletter featuring up to four books. Featured authors do not know I am choosing them and I have not been paid to write about them. In most cases, I haven’t personally met the author.

I provide that backstory, because I recently learned that some authors have crossed their arms, pooched out their lips and are pouting. Yes, the jealous authors who-I’d bet money-don’t even know me, nor have they taken the time to know me.

Jealousy, you see, is like those tiny blisters on my arms. Jealousy starts small, with a pooched out mouth. Then it begins to itch. So we scratch it.

I included all four authors in the email mailing of my newsletter and those authors shared my newsletter with their readers. I don’t use a secondary carrier. Instead I paste the newsletter in my blog, AND, I send the newsletter in a personal email to the readers I have met during my years of traveling. (FYI: Your contact information is always safe with me).

Shouting out the books others have written is what I do. Again, I invest my time, for free. Here is an example of my blog posting last year featuring Susan, Jolina, Ann, and Karen. None knew of my plans. No compensation for my work. My newsletter is my gift, a valuable one, to my readers.

However . . .

Like the sumac blisters, jealousy festers. It collects and annoys until one either must scratch, or explode. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my newsletter sparked an email from an unhappy author.

Yes. It. Did.

Not from the authors I featured, but one I did not.

I am writing to her today. No one shared your name with me but you need to know this. Lean in close because this is important. You do not understand how badly jealousy is damaging your career.

There. I said it. You are sabotaging your career.

I am not “always” promoting one particular author. I am promoting authors who have written books I like.

Lean in again. Support others. Be nice.

Readers who know me trust my opinion. I read several genres and you-missus unnamed author- must understand that we authors are in a big ole gumbo pot together.

We are not in a competition. There are plenty of readers out there. That is why I pick several different types of books. I do not surround myself with people who read only what I read.

I want to grow. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better writer and a better friend. I want to make a positive impact on this earth. Most of all I want to help people.

Now I ask how did your remarks another author benefit you?

Did your remarks about another author make a reader want to buy your book?

Did your remarks make anyone want to help you sell your book?

Again, let me whisper. Stop it. Just stop.

Don’t scratch the jealousy blisters my friend. Treat them. Cure them. Stop scratching.

And yes, several people are going to think this blog post is harsh. But it is past time that rude and jealous authors be called out. Because here is the truth, I can be that author. We all can. Authors are afraid. We are loosing contracts. Publishers are dropping us. And readers mistakenly think that Amazon is making us rich.

It isn’t. None of my author friends are wealthy. None of them. Most have two jobs.

Jealousy is inside all of us, the fear that we aren’t selling enough books. We look at Facebook (which is you believe that hype you should really get a reality check), and we believe that we deserve the same sales as someone else.

We do deserve success. We have worked hard. And that is why I help others. Unprompted. Unsolicited.

If you are an author who has experienced jealousy, do your friend a favor, tell them to stop. Tell them how badly they are hurting you and their own career. Or, just forward them this blog.

 Perhaps the all-consuming jealousy is keeping you from attaining the success you crave. If you are wondering why aren’t my books selling? Here is one possible reason: your attitude toward others. You can’t act on fear, or jealousy. Instead, WRITE A GREAT BOOK. If you have a good book your colleagues will support you, IF you play nice.

Just be nice, or as my grandpa used to say, “Be somebody!”

Stop scratching the itch, or soon you will be poisoned with jealousy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

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Author Conference at Kennesaw, Georgia May 18, 2013

May and June are typically the busiest months for book releases and writing conferences. This year I have the honor of leading a workshop titled, Creating Memorable Characters Through Dialogue. 

Dialogue is an excellent way to describe a character without saying, “she had red curly hair,” or “she was angry.”

Remember, words are power. While it is the author’s job to create believable characters, they should also develop memorable characters. Dialogue is an excellent way to do that.

For those who can’t attend the conference, here is one of the many tips I’ll share. This is an excellent way to find the voice of your protagonist. Sit down, literally, with them. Have a discussion. Ask questions. Listen for their response. Interview them. Document their responses.

What you don’t want to do is force your protagonist, or antagonist. Making them bend to your will is a recipe for disaster.

Now, regarding using dialogue. Under the show, not tell category, my beloved friend and mentor, Wilma Dykeman, could have written Lydia was desperate, hungry to read books.

Instead she used dialogue in her book The Tall Woman. She used it brilliantly I might add, in the following excerpt:

Lydia speaking after learning she was denied access to books.

“No need to be down-hearted. I always say if you can’t go to town in a buggy, use a wagon, and if you don’t have a wagon, use shank’s mare. Now where’s that first book on the world’s geography?”

This dialogue shows the reader that Lydia was desperate, and determined to read even if she had to walk ten miles and collect a single book. This my dear friends, is how you use dialogue to develop your characters.

For those in the Georgia area, please click the links below to register for the conference. Only a few spots remain. See you there!

Red Clay will be held on Saturday, May 18th in the Social Science Building at Kennesaw State University

Red Clay Potter

This Conference will host workshops in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, mystery and thriller, teen fiction, and book publishing and marketing. Workshops will focus on molding and shaping one’s craft Furthermore, each workshop is designed to leave writers with techniques, tips, and tools to apply to their own craft.

We have an outstanding list of speakers for you at this years event! Terry Kay, 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, will offer the keynote speech at 9:00AM. Afterward, attendees will be able to choose the workshop that is most applicable to their writing endeavors. Clickhere to view the workshop times. Our speakers are covering everything from the writing process to publishing. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts and connect with other writers!

Click here to read more. Stay informed by joining our mailing list.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of  In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

My Thoughts on Being Thankful…and Sending Books to NJ

I was recovering from surgery when Hurricane Katrina hit the south on August 29, 2005; physically unable to do anything but weep as men like Hardy Jackson from Biloxi, MS suffered devastating losses. You may not remember his name, but I know you remember his face. For those who have wondered what happened to Mr. Jackson, he has stage IV cancer. View his story here.

I remember my heart breaking, my resolve building that I would do something should another tragedy hit. However, when Superstorm Sandy came to shore on the Northeastern Coast I found myself unable to contribute. The Red Cross won’t accept my blood (I’m too short, and a cancer survivor); and, like many American families, struggling financially. Then a thought entered my heart, you can coordinate a book drive.  The one thing I have plenty of is books, not just the one I’ve written, but stacks of books from bestselling authors. For those who haven’t read the original post about the drive, you can find it here.

Since the original post complete strangers have come together. Authors, readers, book reviewers and complete strangers have sent books to libraries that were severely damaged. I was also shocked at the naysayers who said that the books wouldn’t be wanted. I had spoken directly to the COO of the library who was moved to tears that someone…anyone was thinking of them. I understand that insurance will cover some of the costs. However it is the end of the fiscal year and the particular library chosen was already operating on an anorexic budget. They needed books…now.

I should also mention that I have withheld the address from my blog to protect the library from unscrupulous people who have their own best interest at heart. Already someone offered free books but the fine print read that they expected the library to pay shipping. And, I was discouraged when the United Parcel Service who, when I contacted them via FB, would not issue a call slip for the book reviewer who had several boxes of books she was willing to donate. Still, we pressed on and books arrive at the library every day

In the posts that follow I will include images from those who sent me pictures of books. I know I will overlook or forget someone and I apologize in advance. If you didn’t receive the mailing address of the library, kindly send another email to me and I will  send you the address. Your books bring smiles. They bring hope, and for that I am very thankful.

Below are some of the authors and readers who have contributed with more images to follow later.

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Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Friend Bologna Sandwiches will be released soon. Learn more about her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

Southern Authors Ready to Send Books to Libraries Damaged by Sandy

Images from hurricane Sandy are in and they are heartbreaking. Our Northern brothers and sisters have been hit hard. Homes destroyed. Unimaginable loss. Desperation.  It is during these times that we feel helpless asking, “What can I do?”

Photo credit: Reuters/Adreeslatif

We empathize with those who have lost everything and those working hard to restore the area. We understand that compensation from insurance companies will come, but may not cover all the damage.  That is why many churches and schools are hosting food drives, delivering water, food, batteries and love-filled hugs. The Red Cross is boots-on-the- ground as are our military and regular everyday folk who just want to help. For those who can give financially, please do so either to the Red Crossarchitectureforhumanity.org or Because We Care Ministries who arrived in New Jersey days ago.  I mention these three charities because I personally know people who work there and because there have been reports of people with less than noble intentions are already taking advantage of folk. C’mon now. Let’s work together.

Today I write asking  my fellow authors and readers to participate in a book drive. Realizing that times are tight and some people can not write a check; I urge authors, book reviewers, and readers to give what they already have . . . copies of books. Plenty of helpers will rebuild neighborhoods, but who will help the libraries? Prior to this storm, libraries had already experienced deep cuts; they were doing more than ever with limited resources.  That is why I need your help.

If you are an author, please help me send copies of your work to Sandy victims. If you are a reader or book reviewer and have books in PRISTINE condition, you can help also.  I am one woman on a mission to give books to those in need. This little project is not a quick fix. Yes, I realize that people need homes, but they will also need books. I figure if students can send coats, authors and readers can send books. If we all do what we can then every little bit will help. This book drive is my “little bit.” My hope is that every person reading this post will send at least one book. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

When I mentioned this idea to local booksellers and my NYT author friends, I quickly realized that southern authors and readers were ready to ship tons of books to our friends up North. I have collaborated with George Eberhart, Editor of American Libraries Magazine who kindly helped me locate libraries in need of assistance. If you are inclined to help please send me your information and I will forward the mailing address of the library that is in need. If you’re an author, or library staff, my goal is to build a relationship that benefits readers.

For Librarians and Media Specialists along the coast: North Carolina, New Jersey, Long Island, Delaware.  If  Sandy damaged your library and you would like to add books to your permanent collection, please contact me using the address below.

Authors, readers, and book reviewers: Please follow the instructions and include all information requested  to add your title to the list.

Add your name to the list using the contact information below.

Please email me at: Reneawrites(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE, DO NOT SHIP BOOKS TO ME! Contact me through the above email.

Authors, please include the title, ISBN, CIP, Genre, URL link and, of course, contact information. Readers and reviewers, I just need contact your information.

From my heart to yours, thank you. Remember, every book counts.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes.  In 2012, she was named the Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year.   She is passionate about literacy. When she isn’t writing, she shelves books at the public library. She is currently seeking representation for her third book In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches, and her first novel currently in progress.  Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com. To learn about Pen Women in your area click here.

Social Media 101

Social Media 101

Today a friend posted this on her Facebook wall: Gentle hint for the day: While you need to sell yourself via social networking, overselling works in a negative way and turns readers off.

How true.

Today, instead of writing multiple posts to Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, Twitter (and anything else that is created before I have finished writing this blog posting), several companies offer programs authors can use to manage their multiple media accounts. This service allows you to enter one post. The program then, (for a fee) cross-posts the content to all of your accounts and, in theory, expands the author’s market.

However, I do not recommend subscribing to this methodology in order to sell books.

Yes, I have a Twitter account. You can follow me at ReneaWinchester. Here you will find monthly, never daily tweets. Why? First, I am busy writing and leading workshops. Second, Twitter and other social media outlets have morphed into a commercial machine. Shortly after activating my twitter account, I decided to unfollow someone. Each day, her tweets consumed my screen. Links to this, copies of that. Could your retweet this? Please check out this link. I do not know how it was possible for this person to perform her daily activities. Her behavior was annoying and rude. So what did I do with Suzie over-tweeter?

You got it, I stopped following.

The same will happen to you when you cross the line from informing readers about your work into the category titled blatant self-promotion, or BSP. BSP is an atrocious illness that attacks many fledgling authors. BSP can damage your writing career faster that a sentence ending with five exclamation marks. Yes, I realize that someone said, “you must get a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, and a YouTube account.”

Did they tell you why?

Did they really explain why? Or did they just say, “start tweeting everyday several times a day.”

Let me be honest, a tweet that says, “A new review of my book is available on Amazon,” will kill your writing career lightning fast. If you are guilty of doing this, stop it. Stop it now, please.

The purpose of social media is to build your (good) name and expose readers to your work. Social media is your chance to make an excellent first impression. Somehow, someone misinformed authors that social media is a race to accumulate the most followers, tweets and Facebook friends. Let’s embark on a mission to set the record straight. You do not need to tweet ten times a day, and follow it up with a few dozen Facebook postings.

No. No. No.

If you flood readers with too much content, they might remember your name but odds are they will not buy your book?

Why not?

This might sound harsh, but you appear desperate and rude.

Can we slow down the BSP train? When I asked this friend (who is a famous book reviewer) what triggered her Facebook announcement. She said, “I am drowning in self-promotional tweets and posts of reviews. This is nothing but ads for them.”

Heed her words Dear Ones.

Sympathetic and eager to teach these fledgling authors that their behavior is offensive, she invested her valuable time and sent the offenders messages. She offered a gentle nudge to go easy on the tweets. The BSP continued…daily, times ten.

Weary, she solved this problem. She no longer receives their tweets. She is no longer a Facebook friend, and she probably won’t review any of their future books.

This is the result of flooding readers, and reviewers, with too much of what you believe is a good thing. Trust me, once someone clicks the unfollow button, the damage is done.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author. She was recently named the 2012 Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year. To learn more about her books, or to schedule a workshop or individual consultation visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

Not “loving it” at McDonald’s

Recently I caught up with author friend, and award-winner extraordinaire, Ann Hite at the place where authors hang out…the McDonald’s. We chatted about her beautiful book, Ghost on Black Mountain and her upcoming novel, Barren Soul. We chatted about my work in process, In the Kitchen with Billy. We chatted about books we love and the importance of  marketing. If you are a writer you realize marketing is a “must-do” prior to the release of your manuscript. Hopefully, this blog entry will also provide a teaching moment.

Connected by words, we communed like long-time best girlfriends. Before Ann corrected my mistake, I was certain she had grown up near the western North Carolina mountains. She probably believed I had grown up in North Georgia. Gardening, farming, and family members with calloused hands tied us together.

An hour into our conversation we were interrupted by a man sitting in the next booth who asked the question, “are you familiar with Casey Anthony?”

Since my back was to him, Ann responded in the affirmative. He had obviously overheard a majority of our conversation and in a blink of an eye asked the question, “can I have your opinion on something?”

Mistakenly, I opened the floodgate by saying, “sure.”

“I’d like you to have a look at something,” he said while passing his laptop over my shoulder and into my hands.

Note to authors everywhere: please do not do this. Ann and I had been cooped up in the house for who knows how long; writing, sweating, praying. We needed a little girl time. Authors don’t get out much.

As proper southern manners dictate, I opened the Google search window as he instructed and begin typing the title of his work in progress, “Catch Her in the Rye.” He was making a point, that his work is ranked high on the web. Admittedly, I held my breath when the ever-helpful Google search window completed the words “catch herpes” instead of “catch her.”

I didn’t look at Ann. I just kept typing (really fast) the words, “her in the rye.”

Side note: Please, do not give your title a quirky little name.

“Casey Anthony is innocent,” the man professed.

He did not give us his name. We both knew better than to ask. “The court found her innocent. She’s a free woman,” he continued.

His obsession was clear…. crystal clear. Then he said, “I’ve written a play on words account using sentences from Catcher in the Rye. You’re familiar with Salinger?”

We nod, smile, and notice that his thumb and forefinger display permanent nicotine stains. At least we hope it is nicotine.

Coming around to the edge of our table, he leans over our drinks and locates his work in progress on the screen. His work isn’t displayed on a word processing program. Instead, it is posted on one of the billions of “free” author sites available to those who don’t realize the risk of posting your words online. Were his work-in-progress phenomenally fantastic, it would already be “published,” which most publishers consider a significant no-no. While he pointed out the number of “hits” his work had received, I notice a sentence from Catcher. I am certain Ann noticed it too.

Crossing thin arms across his chest he said, “I’d really like to know your thoughts.”

I hear this sentence often. People who utter this phrase rarely want feedback. They want affirmation, which we (eventually) politely provided.

“You don’t have quotation marks around this sentence,” I say pointing to the Salinger quote. Ann moved our drinks away from the laptop.

“Don’t need ‘em,” he replies. “I’m just using a sentence from Catcher here and there. That’s not copyright infringement.”

As he broadcast Casey Anthony’s innocence and name-dropped reputable attorneys from his home state of Florida, his words sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. The positive energy Ann and I had shared earlier rapidly evaporated.

“I’m moving a word around here and there,” he defended. “I’m not quoting Salinger directly, but people will know who I’m quoting.”

He wanted to talk. He did not want to know “our thoughts.” He did not listen. Eventually we said what he wanted to hear and then it was time to go.

“I’m sorry,” I said pointing to the time on his computer screen. “I have to teach a class in a few minutes.”

Standing, Ann and I wished him the best.

What are your thoughts about this man’s actions? Please feel free to share your comments.

Welcome to those New to Facebook Timeline

For the nonconformists who thought they could hide from Facebook and escape the required Timeline let me say, “Welcome. I feel your pain.”

With the old system, you could easily find posts made by your friends, but with Timeline users are given more control over who can see what. This means that you (and your friends) must identify the depth of your relationship in order to receive the latest posts. Failing to do this crucial step means the all-knowing Facebook computer will overlook your posts and bury them below others it views as more important.

Those with Timeline who may have wondered, “where are Renea’s posts?” This is why. All users must tell Facebook’s mother computer the posts they wish to see. To do this visit your friend’s page, hover over the word “Friends”  and click the words “Close Friends.” You can also identify people as an Acquaintance, or other group such as  friends who live nearby.

In order to view posts, you also need to click “Show in News Feed.” An important point is that your friend must also do the same for you. If they do not, your posts will fall behind others the computer systems identifies as having a higher priority. If you have a friend who posts every twelve seconds you might want to designate them as an acquaintance or opt out of showing them in the news feed.

As an author, I meet many people while traveling and conducting workshops, therefore I communicate with a variety of “friends” who –most likely- do not share a common relationship with other Facebook users. Unfortunately, Facebook frowns upon users who send friend requests to people who are outside a circle of friends. (I know, that statement doesn’t even make sense does is?) Apparently some people have so much time on their hands that they randomly try to friend as many people as possible. Now if you meet someone and wish to connect with via Facebook, you should type a message along with your friend request. Failing to do so could result in the system identifying you as a spammer. Also, having unaccepted friendship requests (request that go unanswered) can also label you as a spammer. If that happens, Facebook will block your ability to make new friends for 30 days.

Insert frown.

I think the biggest feature that I miss with the new Timeline is the posts. I feel disconnected now, unable to reach out to as many people as I once did and for that I remain discouraged. Others must feel the same way as I have noticed a dramatic decrease in comments and “likes” to posts.

In the end, aren’t we creatures of habit? Aren’t our eyes programmed to search the same place on the screen for updates? Do we really have time to learn a new system?

I can’t recall what was so spectacular about the new Timeline, and that speaks volumes. So welcome, those who were forced to accept the Timeline. Months after I switched, I am still as confused as ever. Remember to designate me as a “Close Friend” and “Show in News Feed” and I will do the same for you.  At least we can feel lost and confused together.

To learn more about the Timeline features visit Facebook’s blog here.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author and In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. She travels throughout the South teaching emerging authors how to market their books. She is available for individual and group consultations. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com