• The Importance of Writer Networks

    “If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
    —Peter Handke

    The longer I go along in the field of writing, the more I come to understand the absolute necessity of having writer friends. There are certain topics that will only resonate with those who sometimes love, sometimes hate but always obsess about words, and the meanings behind them. There are three things I can say about most writers I know: 1. They’re master thinkers. Two writers could sit around contemplating, for example, the life of a moth for hours on end without ever getting bored. Indeed, they may actually find such imaginings and contemplations entertaining. 2. Most are supersensitive, superobservant and experience things fully. Things move us, make us wildly curious, vex us immensely, frustrate, overjoy, overwhelm and delight us. Conversations are never flat, always animated. 3. Those who make a living writing are fierce and fearless. We’re hardscrabble, agile, quick, forward-roving, indefatiguable, adventurous little creatures with mighty hustle in our blood. Babies, we were born to run, wild and free, at that.

    When I was invited recently to join a blog tour, by my writer friend Sarah Klein (see her website here, SarahKleinWrites), and to connect with new writers, I steadfastly agreed. As you all know, I rarely blog on my own site these days. Why? Well, I write every day, a lot, for others. It’s how I make my living. And when I’m not pouring from the well, I must take time to fill the well (aka step away from the keyboard and live life, gather some material). But, today I have a purpose–and three exceptionally cool, hip writers to introduce you to! According to the Blog Tour plan, I’ll first answer a few Qs about my writing process, then present three standout writers you want to know about to you. Game? Cool, let’s get started.

    1. What am I working on now?
    Ha! So, for me these days, the better question is: What am I not working on? About 1.5 years into running my own thriving content business, my schedule remains jam-packed–but not always with paying work. And that’s how it needs to be. No matter your queue, a working writer must know: You never have time to get bored and you never have no work to do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every week must include paying as well as nonpaying work. Paid work can be anything from consulting on content development and strategy, content auditing, editing, story pitching and writing for print and web and other, blogging, reporting, researching, social-media strategy crafting and social-media management as well as writing eBooks (others’, as a ghostwriter, or my own. I am attempting to finish my second book by April 15, God help me). Unpaid work lays down the cobblestones on the path to moving forward: Attending events, meeting with editors and writers for lunch, dinner, drinks, tea, coffee to stay active in the mix, marketing my business and book, connecting with potential new editors and clients, pitching, reading, writing books. This is the face of writing in 2014. My work spans many areas, and that’s just the way I love it. If it’s written, you can bet your bottom I have, or at some point will have, dabbled in it.

    2. How does my work differ from others in its genre.
    My work is very voice-y and opinionated but whenever possible backed by research and reporting. I have a strong background in research and reporting and, to me, including those steps is what makes good writing great. Of course, many clients do not now want to pay for the time required to research and report. Still, my healthy lifestyle books will always include these steps. I don’t follow advice that hasn’t been tried and proven. I don’t expect readers to, either. I am, at heart, an insatiable geek.  I find research and talking with experts (even with anecdotal sources, for that matter) fascinating. I read and write so I can learn and understand more, or sometimes, just think about and experience things in new and different ways.

    3. Why do I write for a living?
    I am one of those people who tried other things and always came back to writing. At one of my jobs, as a health researcher, I’d sneak out of the office to the business center at the hotel across the street to blog on my lunch breaks. Writing just felt like home to me. It always has. It also makes me feel alive. I was the person who finally had to admit that there was just no other work that stimulated me, challenged me, intrigued me, overjoyed me as much as writing (while it admittedly also haunts, teases and jabs me at times, too). I don’t wish this way of life on anyone except those whose primary goal in life is achieving true happiness, keeping wonder alive, those who value experience over every other thing in life. I’m a Virgo – I always want to do better, and more, to know more, to get to the next level, and I like forming and doing things according to my own vision.

    4. How does my writing process work?
    There are certain things that have remained constant about the way that I work. There is always music. I choose the music based on the mood I want to set or be in (Bach to Bon Iver to Bob Marley to Sanitgold). My best work is also done in my own space, which I strive to keep a creative, free space where I can stand up, sit down, dance, chop up veggies and make salad, talk on the phone, read aloud while walking about. If it’s late at night, I’ll break for a walk to get a treat (often green-tea ice cream, chocolate or those dang salty potato chips). Even when I had office assigns, such as writing cover lines at Elle, I’d always have to take the pages home overnight, so I could scribble ideas on a yellow legal pad in pencil (another trick to get ideas flowing). Home was where I could push myself creatively, bounce ideas around and, perhaps most importantly, have fun with it without the fear an impending deadline can impose. We go into this because creating and playing with words is fun. It should remain so. It’s up to you to create the space and vibe. I also take breaks when I need to: walk, to run, to hit the gym, to grab lunch with a friend, to read, to hit the museum (got to fill that well). Most of us in this line get consumed by what we’re doing and are workaholics at heart, so I force myself to get those breaks in and to listen to my body as much as my mind.

    Up next, please allow me to present three contemporaries to you:

    Nicole Bonia
    Website/Blog: Writes Linus’s Blanket: Books. Food. Comfort. Culture.
    Publishes: Bloggers Recommend: The hottest books. The bloggers your trust.
    I met Nicole Bonia at a party in Brooklyn through a mutual friend of ours. I remember thinking how cool it was that she wrote song lyrics. Since then, we stay in touch and work in collaborative writers’ groups online and sometimes meet up to grab food or drink and dish. Nicole Bonia is a powerhouse! She’s a freelance writer and songwriter living and working in New York City. She writes the literary blog, Linus’s Blanket, and publishes Bloggers Recommend, a monthly magazine dedicated to new book recommendations and literary culture.

    Diana Kelly
    Website: DianaKelly.com
    Blog: Her first post is coming soon Here
    Diana Kelly and I met at a networking happy hour in New York City organized by a magazine-writer duo. We hit it off instantly seeing as we’re freelance writers covering similar health/fitness topics. Diana Kelly is a freelancer writer and editor living in New York City. Her specialties include weight loss, fitness, health, and healthy lifestyle topics, in addition to dating and relationships, travel, happiness, pregnancy, and sports. Diana Kelly previously held editorial staff positions at WeightWatchers.com and Prevention.com. Her articles have appeared in print and on the websites of Shape, Health, Fit Pregnancy, Weight Watchers Magazine, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Daily Beast, CNN, espnW, ESPN The Magazine, UpWave, Fox News, Men’s Fitness, Reader’s Digest, Yahoo!, MSN, How About We, and more.

    Yvelette Stines
    Website:  YveletteStines.com
    Blog: CalmingCorners.com
    Children’s Book: Vernon the Vegetable Man
    Yvelette Stines and I met at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Boston a few years back. After the conference, our connection grew significantly when we started weekly accountability calls, something we came up with at the conference as a way to help keep us both on track to meeting our (personal, often last-on-the-to-do-list) writing goals. We’ve since joined forces in other fruitful ways including a build-your-business challenge with a group of like-minded writers nationwide. We still have accountability calls, depending on the month and how much we need a little extra boost to action. Yvelette Stines is a writer, author and holistic health educator based in Michigan. You can find her work in Essence, Heart and Soul, Green Build and Design, The Grio, and Jones Magazine just to name a few. Her blog Calming Corners encourages readers to live a calm and healthy lifestyle and her book Vernon the Vegetable Man motivates children to choose healthy living and eating habits. Her background in communications has led her to work for many clients including TNT and OWN.

    I hope you’ll take a moment now, or at some point in the near future, to check out some of the cool projects these talented ladies are working on. And, if you’re newer to our game, I sincerely hope that you will take time to build a strong and fortifying peer-writer network of your own. It is through social connection that we all grow, and to share such a passion with a fellow human being is  a very special thing. Remember, this game rewards the sharers of opportunity, not the beady-eyed hoarders.

    Happy Writing!
    –Julie

  • My Debut Book, Real Is the New Natural, Is Now Available!

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    At last, after what seemed like an eternity, I have gotten over the next hurdle in my writing career and released my debut healthy living book. For me, taking this next step, that had been haunting me for quite a while, felt as intense as completing a marathon (and its related months-long training). My first healthy living book is called, “Real Is the New Natural,” and takes a girlfriend-to-girlfriend, punchy, no-nonsense approach to silencing the noise of negative and confusing messaging under the guise of promoting health to puncture, instead, the heart of what is really healthy, really safe, really happy and really smart.

    You can now find “Real Is the New Natural” available as an eBook on Amazon here.

    It’s a fast, clutter-clearing read that can put you on the fast-track to healthy thinking, and thus, by extension, living. Please do check it out, and share your thoughts with me, by leaving a review or dropping me a personal email. I wrote this for all the people out there stuck on the vicious trying-to-but-can’t-get-healthy cycle, imaging readers as my closest and dearest friends. Real Is the New Natural is now available now as an eBook and will soon be available as a paperback book.

    Thank you for your support of and interest in my writing work! Any and all support of my writing endeavors is deeply appreciated.

    XoXo,
    –Julie



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