Tag Archives: Doylestown

Write-On Wednesdays: Lucas Mangum Gives Authors a Forum

I am excited to have my writer friend on, Lucas Mangum.

He is the author of “Abhorrent” (Death Head Grin, February, 2011) and “Welcome to Video Babylon (Splatterpunk is Not Dead, forthcoming). Read his blog, The Dark Dimensions, at http://www.lucasmangum.wordpress.com or find him on Facebook or Twitter @LMangumFiction. He lives in Bucks County and holds the bi-monthly Awesome Reading Fest in Doylestown. You can read about his most recent successful event here at the Author Chronicles blog. He is also newly married – congrats Lucas and nice to have you on!

Lucas Mangum

Today Lucas talks about building a writing community.

On Community
by Lucas Mangum

While at the last Awesome Reading Fest, I was asked by one of the attendees why I put these things together, because they are a lot of work – I’ll back up a minute.

For those of you that don’t know what Lucas Mangum’s Awesome Reading Fest is, it is a bi-monthly event that I host in Doylestown where local writers have the opportunity to read their work in a public setting. The event is usually videoed and posted on my YouTube channel. (http://www.youtube.com/user/SubterrestrialKing?feature=mhee) Last Saturday was the third one I’ve put together.

Oddly enough, today at work, my boss asked me the same thing. Why do I do it?  The number one reason is networking. Anyone who takes the field seriously knows how important networking is. Taking the time to get to know people who do what you do can lead to some truly magical relationships and opportunities for growth.

My belief is that as useful as social media is, all the Facebook and Twitter in the world is no replacement for meeting with someone face-to-face. For example, through events like the monthly Writer’s Coffeehouse in Willow Grove I have met some really awesome people. I know I’m not the only one who has. So it’s important, for us as writers, to unite within the community because as Mike Ventrella said in his excellent blog post, it takes talent, hard work and meeting the right people (and impressing them) to be successful.

And we definitely live in the right community for it!

Through some unexplained phenomenon, there are writers of all levels of experience residing in the greater Philadelphia/Bucks County area. Among them there is a lot of talented and tremendously dedicated individuals. I believe that bringing us all together in regular events can inspire great things like contacts, support and constructive criticism.

So while I believe social media is vital to a writer’s existence –actually to anyone who takes their work seriously—I also believe that it’s equally important that we don’t underestimate the power of live person-to-person contact.

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Writing Resources

Write-On Wednesdays! Self-help author Jerry Waxler reaches out to other writers

Jerry Waxler, M.S.

Jerry Waxler, M.S. author of “Four Elements of Writers,” considers himself a writing-activist, trying to convince people that if they want to write, they ought to overcome obstacles and “just do it.” Jerry answers questions today about how he became interested in helping writers help themselves.

Why are you so passionate about reaching out to writers?
When I was 18, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, a doctor. By the time I was 24, I was living in a garage, preparing to move to Costa Rica to sleep on the beach and eat fruit from the trees. At the last minute, I steered back toward civilization, but it took me another 20 years to put my life back together. Years of being in therapy, and studying self-help books culminated in a graduate program Counseling Psychology at Villanova. After I earned my Master’s degree I wanted to write what I learned so I could help other people achieve their own goals.

When I became serious about writing, I was fortunate to find a club in Doylestown called the Writers Room of Bucks County, where writers congregated and learned from each other. The storefront club for writers turned out to be a powerful incubator for learning about writers and the writing life. The experience made me realize how much writers can offer each other, in support, craft, and also “moral authority,” empowering each other to believe in what they are doing.

Why do you think writers need self-help tools?
Aspiring writers start with the desire to create something entertaining, or beautiful, or informative. That in itself is a lovely goal, but then most of us discover it’s not easy to sit at the desk hour after hour. The blank page is daunting. How do you justify the work when it won’t earn money for years, if ever? Other, easier or more urgent tasks call. In the end, self-management is as important a part of being a writer as the writing itself. And then even after the work is complete, writers face another round of psychological challenges when they have to overcome shyness, and try to present their work to the world.

I realized that many of the strategies that I had been learning to help overcome obstacles in other aspects of life could be applied to writers. For example, writers have to set priorities, establish healthy habits, improve attitude, and steer through a variety of social interactions.

How did you decide to write your self-help book for writers?
Most of the workshops at the Writers Room were directed to improving craft or selling books. There was hardly any training about overcoming psychological obstacles. The directors of the Writers Room in Doylestown, first Foster Winans and then Jonathan Maberry, gave me the opportunity to give workshops to help writers. I developed handouts for those courses, and the handouts grew longer and longer until I finally made them available in a book.

Why is your book only available from your website?
When I finished writing the book, I spent some time trying to find an onramp into the book publishing industry but soon realized that it was going to take a lot of time to find a publisher. I was intrigued by book production and thought I could learn a lot by putting the book together myself. I hired a book designer, cover artist, and editors, and printed the book and sell them directly from my website. That was before the revolution in electronic publishing. A few weeks ago I bought a Kindle, and everywhere I go, I meet people who just bought an e-reader or going to soon. This is all happening so fast, I am only now gearing up to re-publish the book.

One reason I self-published was because it was my first book and I wanted to learn from my mistakes. One mistake I made with that book was the fancy title, Four Elements for Writers. The title refers to  the way I organized the self-help tools into four categories, action, attitude, story-of-self, and audience. Each of the sections corresponds with the alchemical notion that everything is made up of earth, air, fire and water. The title is too abstract and when I republish it, I want to change it to something more straightforward.

So what else do you write?
I blog about memoir reading and writing and treat each post with the same respect as I would if I was writing for a literary journal. Most of the essays on the blog have been through dozens of revisions, including feedback from critique groups. Keeping up with the blog is a crucial part of my goal as a writer, because it lets me publish material at the same time as I’m developing expertise.

In addition, I’m working on two books. One is about the value of reading and writing memoirs, which I propose is one of the great cultural breakthroughs in the new century, allowing people to understand themselves and each other in a more authentic way than any other time in history. And I’m working on my own memoir. This is particularly daunting first, because it is hard turning a life into a story and second, because at the same time as I’m trying to make sense of my life I have had to learn the craft of storytelling.

And at the same time, I continue to connect with writers. In the old days (3 weeks ago) you could be a successful writer by associating with the big publishing houses. That might still be the case for some of us, but the rest of us find our public through the internet. It’s time consuming but I don’t see any way around it. Writers need each other, and these online groups give us a way to connect. I also maintain a yahoo group for memoir writers and I’m on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Writers Conference and volunteer at other groups. I’m always trying to stir up writing community because I enjoy the camaraderie and mutual support.

Why do you push yourself to do all of this?
Like most people who write, I can’t imagine not doing it.

To read more about “Four Elements for Writers” and to order your copy, click here. http://jerrywaxler.com/four_elements.html

To read Jerry’s blog, click here. http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog

Jerry’s Home Page: http://www.jerrywaxler.com

7 Comments

Filed under Authors, Memoir Writing, Writing Resources

Write On Wednesdays! Linda Wisniewski “Stretches Herself” Through Memoir

Today I am excited to have Linda Wisniewski  talking about her memoir OFF KILTER, writing advice and her new jump into fiction.

Linda Wisniewski

We met up in June at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference where she presented a workshop on writing memoir. More recently we met at Saxby’s coffee shop in Doylestown, PA where I chatted with this lovely lady who also hails – like me –  from the Capital District Region of New York.

Linda writes for the Bucks County Women’s Journal and Bucks County Herald. She is regional representative of the International Womens Writing Guild and a board member of the Story Circle Network. She also teaches workshops on writing memoir. Linda’s memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage , was published in 2008 by Pearlsong Press.

Linda, thanks for sharing today! I was drawn to your book as I could painfully feel your disconnect with your mother.  But it was hopeful that in seeking  a connection with your mother all of your life you finally discovered one with her after her death.

How did you first know you wanted to become involved with writing?
I was a librarian and after my second child I started my own business of providing online market research mainly to pharmaceutical companies. From there I moved to doing freelance features and book reviews.

For everyone who's known the emotional loss and the surprising beauty of being fully who you are...

How did you get interested in writing memoir?
I took writing workshops and wrote personal essays – of which I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Then a teacher inspired me to turn my one personal essay into a memoir.  I began by writing different pieces of my memoir and then connecting them all together once I saw a flow.

In Off Kilter you talk about stretching yourself. What do you mean by that?
I have stretched myself to write in different genres. I’m writing my first novel now. Very different from memoir! I am also working with children for the first time vs. adults. I’m working with teens to help them discover their stories. This has been a year-long project working with 12-14 year old girls. I’m helping them look at their lives and discover what they want to do with their lives in moving forward from their past.

What was it like growing up in the insulated Polish town of Amsterdam, NY?
Growing up in Amsterdam was a bag of mixed messages. It was a very supportive community and you “knew where you belonged” but when you stepped outside there was prejudice.

Did you learn new things about yourself through writing your memoir?
I learned what’s important to me. I learned what I want to do with my life. Most importantly, I discovered what I wanted to leave behind and want I wanted to carry forward with me.

Do you feel your memoir has a message for others?
Yes, that you can look at your whole life and see the losses are a small part of it and realize the joy that was experienced.

Have you visited Poland?
I visited for the first time in 2010. I toured with an elder hostel which was a fascinating learning experience. Each morning we had a lecture on Poland and then an afternoon tour.

Did any new projects grow out of your Poland trip?
Actually, my new novel is a time travel tale about an ancestor from Poland called “Memoirs of The Queen of Poland.” One of my ancestors from the 20th century time travels to the 21st century because she prayed to the Black Madonna, falls and hits her head and wakes up in the 21st century.

What do you enjoy about teaching most in your memoir classes?
I am intrigued by the stories of others. Their fascinating details, trouble, and loss and how they have overcome tragedies and losses.

Writing Advice:
Write A LOT. Don’t be discouraged if first pieces aren’t published. Don’t take it personally. And just “tell your story.”

How are you involved in the local writing community?
I’ve had half a dozen flash fiction pieces published in various print and online publications. I’m currently in a writing critique in Princeton called Sharpening the Quill that is helping me craft my novel.

Visit Linda at:
www.lindawis.com

Or her blog:
http://lindawisniewski.blogspot.com/

Purchase Linda’s memoir here: Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Memoir Writing