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Have you ever gone to a conference or workshop that left you feeling invigorated, even in the face of apparent hopelessness?
At the Alaska Writer’s Guild’s 2012 conference http://www.alaskawritersguild.com/events?eventId=451830&EventViewMode=EventDetails this weekend, I learned that getting my memoir (about domestic violence and recovering my internationally abducted children successfully, fueled by the memories of my own kidnapping’s aftermath) traditionally published will be as likely as giving birth to conjoined twins. Post-hysterectomy. At age 48. Unless, of course, I do everything I can to have the book in perfect shape and develop a solid marketing plan before pitching it to agents.
It’s less discouraging than it sounds.
It turns out, I’ve been doing a number of things right already.
What I’ve done right:
- Participating regularly in a writer’s group for peer critiques.
- Creating a blog that covers key word topics that are emphasized in my book. Domestic violence. International parental child abduction. Finding missing loved ones.
- Blogging consistently
- Having guest bloggers to increase blog traffic. Publishing smaller articles on related topics, like What Happen With a Restraining Order. http://www.soyouwanna.com/happens-restraining-order-38630.html
But from each of the presenters I’ve heard thus far, there’s much more I must do.
From author/publishing guru Jerry Simmons (nothingbinding.com) I learned that it’s the breadth of writing that matters. Another words, my second book will boost sales of my first, provided their in the same genre. The third would boost the sales of the first and second book. And so on.
From literary agent Gordon Warnock from the Andrea Hurst Agency (http://www.andreahurst.com/) , I learned that that having a great pitch is key. He liked when an author of young adult lit told him her books was as if “David Lynch met Juno.” He gave some great websites I’d never heard of to assist debut authors to find an agent, and said writers should go to bookstores every week to look at titles and sales of books similar to their own.
Author Susan Meissner suggested fiction authors consider giving their characters the free version of the Myers-Briggs test and write the results so they can keep their characters consistent, and gave an outline of how to write 300 pages in 30 days.
Author Jan Harper Haines provided engaging writing exercises for writing both memoir and fiction, and gave out a handout that offered some challenges. My favorite? Dare to suck!
So, dear blog readers, you are an integral part of my future. I plan to follow the directions given, but will need your help.
What I can do better:
- My pitch: Betty Mahmoody meets Erin Brockovich. Does that sound alright?
- Commit to grow my blog traffic to 10,000 hits a month
- Locate guest bloggers on relevant topics to the book.
- Offer a short story on Kindle for the holidays excerpted from my book for 99 cents.
- Strive to connect with other writers and readers, and increase the number of comments left by my weekly blog readers.
|Agent Gordon Warnock|
|Publishing guru Jerry Simmons|
|Author Jan Harper Haines|
Tonight, I went to the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s (UAA) screening of Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary sponsored by Verizon Wireless after their long-time Pennsylvania employee was shot at point blank range in her home by her husband while her parents and her children waited for her outside in an idling vehicle.
Long before Amy’s murder ten years ago, Verizon invested in employee trainings on family violence, teaching their managers the three R’s:
3) Refer the victim to a local domestic abuse agency.
That’s more than most companies do, but it wasn’t enough to save thirty-three year-old Amy Homan McGee. After her life ended abruptly, her safe and sheltered Pennsylvania community was stunned. It wasn’t until police completed a fatality review in 2005 that family, friends, and coworkers interviews pieced together the pattern of control and intimidation she had been subjected to by her husband.
It’s surprised me that the film attracted more than fifty people in the Anchorage showing. It started at 5:30 at night, after work or school for most of us. But in Alaska, the prevalence of domestic violence is high in a state with otherwise relatively low crime rate.
Nationally, 1 of every 4 women in the United States has or will experience domestic violence, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2008 data.
In Alaska, it’s 1 out of 2 women, according to UAA’s Justice Center figures from 2010.
Of all the women murdered in America, 50% were killed by their current or former husband or lover, according to the Department of Justice in 2007.
For murdered men, that figure is 5%.
Telling Amy’s Storygives those in her life who outlived her a chance to process their devastation as they struggle to find where missed points for intervention occurred.
Most of us will have a friend, a daughter, a mother, or sister who will experience interpersonal violence within their lifetimes. Do you know what local resources in your community can help?
Pennsylvania Detective Deirdri Fishel said it best; “If you can’t be safe in your own home, does it matter if your community is safe?”
Your loved one in an abusive relationship feels plenty of judgment already. No need to add to the pressure.
A few explanations are necessary.
Why not tell her to leave her abuser?
Because more women are seriously injured or killed when leaving a violent relationship, not while remaining in it. She alone will live with the consequences of leaving, not you.
Limit how much time you spend listening to her vent. Now that’s always been a controversial one. I nearly burned through a couple of relationships, leaning so hard on a couple of friends I dared to share my scary secrets with. It’s a lot of pressure to put on the listener. And because we’re all human, it leads the well-meaning friend or family member to become invested in the choices of the abused. After all, how long do any of us want to hear the same version of the depressing story, over and over again?
Don’t cheerlead. By that I mean, don’t say, “I knew you could do it!” if your friend leaves her partner, or gets a job, or whatever. It seems nice. It seems harmless, right? But in the end, your abused friend, who wants your approval, may feel pressured to be less than honest with you when she waffles on her choices.
It takes most women several tries before she’s able to leave her violent relationship for good. Pace yourself. Take care of yourself. You’ll be a better support in the long run.
What tips do you have to maintaining your support of an abused friend while staying safe and staying sane? Leave a comment below.
Happy New Year, and welcome to my new blog.