Learning NEW Technology: The Ugh! Then The Ahhhhh!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to learn a NEW piece of software, something you either need to use or just want because a trusted source recommended it? Unless you're young and grew up in the technology age, your mind is just not programmed for this kind of understanding. Well...I guess I should speak for myself. I really have to work at it to make it happen. And the learning curve is always rather bumpy.

Last summer, blogger guru, writer and friend, Carol Baldwin asked me and one of my critique partners if we would learn WIKI, a collaborative website that allows you to communicate directly sharing files and conversations, even class assignments and homework. At the time, Carol was preparing a presentation for a September, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
(SCBWI-C) conference and she wanted to be able to use our experiences as new WIKI users.

"It's really easy," Carol insisted, "once you get the hang of it."

Well, isn't that true of everything?

With a certain amount of reluctance, I agreed to participate. Timing was perfect because I was in the process of working with critique partner, Gretchen Griffith, to combine a presentation related to my We Bought A WWII Bomber book, with new research she had just completed involving the City of Lenoir, North Carolina's WWII contribution to the war effort. The Historical Society of Lenoir had offered us a meeting date and we were excited to be working together on the project.

Our first WIKI lesson involved learning to share messages back and forth. Unlike Dropbox, at least what we knew of Dropbox, WIKI allowed us instant back and forth as if we were talking face-to-face. As soon as I saved a comment, Gretchen was able to see my comment and give an immediate response. Our initial discussion centered on where her research would fit into my PowerPoint presentation slides and what visuals would we use.

Next we had to learn to share the PowerPoint slides. It didn't take but a few minutes, with Carol's expert guidance, to post, insert and even change my slides to accommodate Gretchen's work. Later it involved tweaking those changes and even the PowerPoint slides for consistency.

To our surprise, WIKI was working well, almost better than if we were sitting side-by-side, making the decisions and initiating the changes. The best part was we were able to do all this without one of us making the hour long trek to the others home, and fitting our time working together within a specific schedule. We were able to do it all at our convenience each sitting in our own home office.

For our project, Gretchen and I just touched the surface of all WIKI has to offer. Carol utilizes it to a much great extent when teaching writing classes, to keep track of students, their work and grades as well as a direct avenue to read, correct and critique assignments. She, as the administrator, can critique one-on-one or allow the entire class to see and critique each others work.

WIKI can also be used when sharing work in a critique group. Each critique partner can view, read and insert their suggestions for a given body of work.

So if you're looking for a way to share information, teach a class or collaborate on a project, you might give WIKI a try.

Thank you Carol for forcing me out of my comfort zone to learn a new program.

Favorite WIKI resources posted by Carol Baldwin following her SCBWIC presentation:

Check out Carol's amazing blog:

Sandra Warren
We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Oh The Places You'll Go...One Author's Reality

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Life as an author is never what you expect, at least that's been my experience.

Years ago, when I first dreamt of becoming a published author, I had visions of television interviews and paid book tours, stops in big cities and long lines circling book stores anxiously awaiting my arrival. That does happen and has for one or two of the many authors I know. But the vast majority of authors, myself included, experience a different reality; one that involves ingenuity and creative marketing strategies to keep their books in circulation and in the forefront of prospective book buyers.

                             Never give up an opportunity to promote your work! 

In my 25+ years as a published author, I've had the pleasure of speaking and exhibiting my books in a number of very different venues from book stores to libraries, historical museums, aviation museums, senior communities, schools, book clubs, colleges, book fairs, Spring, Summer and Fall Festivals, Holiday Bazaars, churches, a luxury resort and even a coffee shop or two. The quirkiest place and the one where I sold the most books ever, was a Donut Den in Wyoming, Michigan!

                Think outside the box when identifying interest groups for your book! 

In search of an audience, I've shared my books and writing journey with multiple organizations including veterans groups, church groups, all the typical community groups like Rotary, Kiwanis and  Ruritan, historical societies, senior groups, elementary, middle school and high school students, life-long learning groups, retired nurses and even to members of an aeronautical historical society. Audiences have included all age groups from preschool to great-grannies with attendance numbers from two to in excess of two hundred.

       Always give the same presentation for two as you would two hundred! 

One of my most memorable speaking engagements involved a female business owner friend of mine. She invited me to be the luncheon speaker to her "little business group." I didn't realize what I'd gotten myself into until we were riding up the elevator in a very swanky office building, crowded with gentlemen wearing three-piece suits and wing-tipped shoes. My friends "little business group," turned out to include all the movers and shakers in a major city, a group in which she was one of two female business members. I quickly revised the speech I had prepared and talked about the similarities between being an author and a small business owner. Afterward, all I could think of was, thank goodness I wore a suit that day!

              Promoting a book is the job of the Writer not the publisher or agent! 

When you have a book published, it's up to you, the author, not the agent or editor, to do everything in your power to see that your book remains in circulation. The only way to do that is to get out there and promote your work and yourself.

                An author without a box of books in their trunk isn't doing their job! 
Being an author has taken me places I never would have imagined, throughout the United States, from Florida to Alaska, London, England and British Columbia. I can't wait to see where it leads next.
                        No one can promote your book better than you can! 

Where is the quirkiest place you've promoted your work?

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Leave a comment before Dec. 1st and I'll send one lucky winner a copy of my new picture book, Spivey's Web which is due out mid-December.

Contact Sandra Warren at one of the following:

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About Me

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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