While I was away . . .

I’m still in the process of Organizing My Office (note the capital letters, please). It’s a convoluted task. While I was away this summer, messmaker elves (a breed similar to the shoemaker’s elves in the old fairy tale, but nowhere near as helpful or benign) were hard at work. Or at least I’m pretty sure they were involved–I have no idea who else would’ve left stacks of notes jotted on crumpled scraps of paper, piles of mail (opened, but not dealt with), and mountains of miscallanea across the region called (in fond remembrance) my desk.

While other writers are in full fall mode and have already written inspiring posts about new energy to pursue goals and freshly scrutinized, revamped plans, I’m pulling out another trash bin. However, there’s been some progress. My keyboard is cleared (I do have my priorities), my year-at-a-glance calendar is updated (yes, I consider September the first month in a new year), and I’ve pulled down my corkboard (not sure that was a good decision) to replace with two new ones . . .

Before digging into my day’s work though (editing and writing a column, then organizing if I get to it ;-)), I wanted to share two exciting things that happened while I was away (no elves are involved this time): (1) I had a story accepted by AlienSkin Magazine. “Red Bird” will appear in their December 2009/January 2010 issue. (2) I got an e-mail about how well Cleavage – Breakaway Fiction For Real Girls is doing. It’s gone into a second printing and is listed in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens 2009, as well as in Resource Links Best of 2008 for Grades 7 – 12. The editors Deb Loughead and Jocelyn Shipley continue to promote it and the book now has a trailer. I know my story is just one small part of the anthology, but I’m very excited about how the whole book has been received!

Autumn is re-energizing, but even more inspiring than new post-it-notes, colour-keyed schedules, and the like, is the fact that bit-by-bit I’m starting to amass a body of fiction. I’ve published non-fiction for awhile, but I’m eager to share my stories. Slowly, slowly it’s happening. It’s happening! And I don’t want to rush my year, but I’m already wondering what nice surprises I’ll look back at next September.

INK WELL, edited by Ev Bishop, launched today

INK WELLThe young writers’ club that I head up at Centennial Christian School here in Terrace, Writers’ Ink, launched its Spring 2009 issue of our magazine, INK WELL. We’ve come along way since the days of cutting and pasting and photocopying! Check us out and make sure you click to preview – you can flip through each page, very cool! I’m especially excited, because I did the design work – a bit of new branching out for me.

And if you’re into desktop or print-on-demand publishing for any purpose – to put your own creative work “out there,” or for business, non-profit, or special interest work you’re involved with – look into MagCloud. I’m very impressed with the quality of their end product, their prices, and the overall site set up.

The Internet in all its glory – friend or foe? Time well spent or time lost?

For all my going on about how I spend too much time on the Internet, I really don’t (spend too much time)–and the time I do spend is valuable.

I’ve already shared my love for how technology has enabled formerly unheard of methods for professional development, so I won’t go on that tangent again. But I wonder if I’ve ever voiced my appreciation for the community and connections my Internet life brings me? As I’ve also said before, I live in a small town–quite fortunately, it’s a vibrant place with a varied and talented arts community. As great as that is, the sheer lack of population still dictates reality. Often if you have a specialized niche up here (or in other small towns across the province), you are the niche, and while you can find friends and colleagues in similar or complementary areas of work/interest, chances are, you’ll be the only one doing _exactly_ what you do. When I go to big conferences, I hear numerous writers complain about isolation being one of the biggest problems in their writing life.

On one hand, I’d argue that for writing (or any other creative endeavour, be it painting, building websites, fly-tying, whatever), a lot of alone time is not only the norm, it’s a necessity. But on the other hand, humans, even the most introverted of us, are social beings. We can’t survive, stay motivated, inspired, stay sane in a vacuum. It’s this other hand that itches to slap the face of the complainer (lightly and kindly, of course–for drama not meanness πŸ˜‰ ) and say, “Get thee to the Internet!”

I don’t think the Internet matches the benefits of meeting up with like minds face-to-face, but it can foster community and connection nonetheless, and for the writer-for-hire or freelancer, it can build a great support network of working writers and people in related fields that you can turn to for information, advice, and job leads. And more and more, being online is a boon to your actual earning potential.

Today geography has very little limiting effect on those offering creative services. It’s expected and assumed that most, if not all, communication and work will be done and transfered via e-mail. Forums, chat rooms and online video conferencing allow for business meetings, brainstorming sessions, and collaborations. Things like Twitter, Facebook, etc., make promoting yourself and your services inexpensive (free!), with a unheard of reach (global!).

I confess, I mostly use the Internet for its personal connection/inspiration aspects. I’ve made close friends with other writers over the years, and unlike say, The Inklings (Lewis and Tolkien and their crew), we can’t meet up with weekly for port, good cigars, and writerly chat. However, we can get together whenever we like and have, I flatter myself, similarly interesting, growth-inspiring conversations online in the forum we created for that very purpose. I can’t see this primary benefit being subverted by another, but in recent months I’ve been very impressed and excited by how my online obsession has helped my business grow and led to opportunities I might not have had if not, for example, for this blog. Yes, personally and professionally, the Internet = two thumbs up.

And guess what? As often happens when I’m excited about something–I suddenly hear/see things about it everywhere–I was just notified about an upcoming seminar being put on by Small Biz BC (who else? ;-)). Guess what it’s about? Oh, you did guess. Good for you! Social Media – what it is and how it can build your business. They’re covering tools like Blogs, Facebook, RSS, Twitter, and social bookmarks, and I’d love to attend, but unfortunately I have prior commitments. I’m going to see about shuffling things, but I’m not sure I can. You, however? Nothing’s stopping you. If it’s not advertised as being available in your region, contact them and see if they can contact the Community Futures in your area–Terrace isn’t on their list of available places, but it is available here!). And if you do go, do me a favor and let me know how it went and what you learned.

Now go, pour another coffee, and spend a bit more time online before you get down to work. It isn’t time-wasting; it’s a powerful networking strategy for your small businesses. πŸ˜‰

To combine my blog with my website or not to combine…

So I’ve pretty much decided on the template I’m going with in my latest update-my-website obsession. I don’t want to give any clues about its style or design features until it’s all pretty with my personal content, etc. Suffice it to say – it’s a WordPress theme (of course – ha ha), designed by itheme.com. I’ve perused a lot of template providers over the past few days, and I have to say ithemes remains my first recommendation for people who want a WordPress CMS site that _looks_ like a website, not just a blog (not that there’s anything wrong with sites that look like blogs/are blogs – it’s just not what I want, you know?). And that last bit about blogs brings me to my reason for posting today.

I’m trying to decide whether I should keep Write here, write now (this blog) at the address it is right now or if I should amalgamate it with evbishop.com. Are there advantages to having your blog separate from your official webpage? I can’t really think of any disadvantages to putting them together. If anything, perhaps more people would find my blog…. If you’re reading this and have any thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear them.

πŸ™‚ Ev

Video conferences – so great, so good!

Today I got to take part in business workshop in downtown Vancouver for just $25.00. The location and price are only noteworthy because I sat in a cozy boardroom five minutes from my house in Terrace, BC, taking part via video conference. Normally conferences, workshops, and seminars cost me hundreds of dollars in time and travel.

I love how technology opens up the world, creates great opportunities for professional development and education, and helps forge connections with others who do what you do. I’ve never minded working alone, which is a good thing considering my occupation, but at the same time, sometimes you just really want to hear people pontificate on the things you’re passionate about, vent about the issues that drive you crazy, and laugh at inside jokes that usually fall short because you’re the only one at the party who’s inside that particular field.

So yes, WRITING FOR THE WEB (focusing on the do’s and don’ts of effective webcopy) with Rick Sloboda from Web Copy Plus was great. Small Business BC is doing a real service in bringing high quality workshops to people across the province. If you’re off in the boonies somewhere (or even in the lower mainland), you should check them out online and see what they’re offering via video conference in your area.