Monday, March 9, 2015

Nancy's Writing Tips

March is Blogoversary month here at Write Now. Year number 6! It's hard to believe that I've been blogging that long. It's been a wonderful adventure, and by far the best part has been the people that I've met. 

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway today. (Details below.) In addition, two author friends stop by later this month and have offered to give away copies of their books

I hope you'll indulge me while I reminisce and share about someone (besides my Mom) who helped foster my writing journey. This writing "cheerleader" was found in an unexpected place. I met this inspiring woman about 26 years ago, and our initial contact had nothing to do with writing. I needed info on homeschooling, and my search led to a lovely woman by the name of Nancy Plent. She was the founder of the Unschoolers Network, New Jersey's only state homeschool organization at the time.

We became acquainted through phone calls and emails (we lived 2 hours apart), and before long, I was writing occasional articles for the Network newsletter and helping with parent support services. Working with Nancy was a pleasure; not only did she become a good friend, she offered opportunities to write and build other skills. The experience was priceless. 


Nancy was the one who encouraged me to write and self publish a booklet for homeschool parents. She offered advice on content, formatting, and marketing. I would not have taken that step had it not been for her support. The booklet eventually became Homeschool Co-ops 101, my first book published by a traditional publisher. 

Her advice, even back in the days prior to the social media explosion, is timeless and applies to other writing too, such as articles and blog posts. 

Nancy's Timeless Tips

1) Be real.  Down to earth, approachable, authentic - people relate best to these qualities. Nancy's friendly, conversational, and encouraging writing style taught me a lot. 

2) Give people something they need. Content must have audience appeal and be user-friendly. What info can my reader apply? 


3) Use examples. Well chosen nuggets illustrate a point and help readers say, "Yes, I can do this!" 


4) White space is important.  A balance of text and white space is key for a pleasant reading experience. Clean, clear text is appealing; clutter and disorder distracts. It ties in with #5: 


5) Employ digestible blocks of text. Large sections of text can overwhelm and potentially lose readers. Not that they must be spoon fed a few sentences at a time, but a good balance helps readers process content. 

I am grateful for friends like Nancy who take time to share and encourage. Although Nancy passed away in November of 2011, I still use and treasure her advice, writing and otherwise. 



Blogoversary Giveaway Details

I debated about what to give away as a small token of appreciation for your faithful support and friendship. Chocolate? A sports car? Books? I finally settled on a $15 Amazon Gift Card, since they offer most anything you might enjoy. Except maybe a sports car...

To enter, I need you to do two things:

1) Leave your email address.
2) Be a Google Friend Connect Follower (see Followers on sidebar).

That's it - no jumping through hoops or posting on social media. It's low key because I want one of my actual, faithful followers to win. I don't want someone who stops by just to enter a giveaway. Not that I dislike them; I appreciate their time too, but you've invested more time with me here and I want to express my thanks to you. Make sense?

Deadline to enter is Friday, March 13 at noon Eastern Daylight Time. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 16.


Who has helped encourage your writing journey? What have they taught you?

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Free Images

33 comments :

  1. Great tips from Nancy. And awesome that you've known her so long. I'm a follower and my e-mail is natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com. Happy Blogversary!

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  2. Hpppy blog anniversary. wolfeock AT earthlink DOT net

    Give people what they want. That's the key to everything. Nancy had some wise tips.

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  3. Natalie,
    She was a good friend who knew her stuff. :) I still miss her. Got your name down on the list!

    Diane,
    Yes, we do have to tune into the audience. She was one smart lady. Added your name to the list!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  4. Nancy was a blessing!
    Being real and approachable is important. And it can't be faked.

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  5. Happy Blogoversary! And thanks for sharing Nancy's tips. Very helpful and succinct.

    I'm a follower! srdietze at sbcglobal dot net

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  6. Alex,
    She really was. I treasure her kindness and help. I agree, you can't fake real. :)

    Susie,
    Thanks so much! :) You are welcome. Nancy was such a blessing to me and those she knew. Added your name to the list, thanks!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  7. I thought I already was a follower, but I guess not. Well, I am now. :) lisa.r.claro@gmail.com

    The first person to really encourage me was my high school English teacher, Joan Mountford. She was amazing, and I've never forgotten her.

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  8. Happy Blogoversary! And thanks for sharing Nancy's tips. Sorry, I thought I was a follower because I always read your posts. But thanks for this reminder as it made me check! email is ksteel952@gmail.com

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  9. Lisa,
    Well, thanks for officially following!I thought you were too. :) It's interesting the imprint teachers can make on us, isn't it? I've a few favorites like that too. Your name is now on the giveaway list.

    Kelly,
    Thank you. Glad you liked the tips. :) No apologies necessary; I thought you were too. So now it's official, right? Added your name to the list.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  10. Happy Blogoversary! Friends Connect is so weird now. I use to be able to just add myself with my blogger account, now I can't. I have to re-sign in and my pic is gone. One day, I'll take the time to figure out what is going on. :)

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    1. I totally meant to comment on you buddy's tips, but got distracted by GFC! One of those days I guess. Those were awesome tips that still hold up!

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    2. Instead of leaving an email address, may I leave my contact page in lieu? (http://www.iamhrsinclair.com/contact/) I'm a chicken.

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  11. Hello Karen...I can't enter the giveaway because I'm not a Google Friend Connect follower. Sad but true. But congratulations on six years of blogging. 2015 is going to be my 6th year, too (in October.) Isn't that exciting?

    One of my mentors was a Roman Catholic nun from high school. She thought I was a good writer and encouraged me to write! I'll never forget her wonderful belief in me.

    Hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. And Karen, thanks for the visit. Susan

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  12. Happy 6th Year Anniversary! Wow!

    It was wonderful learning about Nancy and how the two of you became friends. She sounds like she was very wise and she had excellent advice for you (and us). So glad she helped to inspire you on your writing journey.

    I am lucky to be writing with my friend and co-author, Stephanie. She has always been a support to me with my writing.

    Thanks for the lovely giveaway. You are so kind. I am an old follower via GFC: Jess Haight and my email is haightjess@gmail.com

    Have a great day-
    Jess

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  13. Holly,
    That is fine - I just need a way to contact you if you win. Several years ago I had a difficult time locating a few winners, so I won't enter someone unless they provide a way to contact them. It's just easier. :) Thanks for hanging in there with me!

    Susan,
    Looking forward to seeing your comment with your email address now that we established you are a follower. :) I think you were one of my first followers. Blogging is wonderful; we met, didn't we?

    Jess,
    Nancy did have a lot of wisdom on so many things. She was an inspiration, for sure. :) It's wonderful that you and Stephanie work so well together. Your book will be out before you know it! I've added you to the list.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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    1. Karen- Thanks again for the amazing giveaway. What a treat to win! :)

      You are right- our book will be out before we know it. It may seem like a long way away now- but it will be here in the blink of an eye.

      Have a lovely weekend-
      Jess

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  14. Karen: I had a Jr./Sr. Composition teacher back in the day (high school) who tried to encourage me. She couldn't understand why I kept holding back. I was unsure of myself in several ways.

    cll4him(AT) sbcglobal (DOT) net

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  15. Such a blessing was Nancy for you. And it sounds like you just fell into the writing from this encounter! I have a friend who is my biggest encourager, telling me how talented I am all the time. And should be writing a devotional. Maybe one day!

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  16. Cecelia,
    But look where you are now, right? Wonder what she would say about your writing now. :) Added you to the list!

    Lynn,
    I was a writer before that, although didn't think of myself so much in that way. She surely helped light the fire along the way. :) It's great to have these encouragers, isn't it?

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  17. That is sound advice. I know I appreciate it when a writer does all that. Thank you for the giveaway. Happy blogiversary. sharif(at)sharifwrites(dot)com

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  18. Very good and informative tips from Nancy :)

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  19. Medeia,
    I thought so too. Nancy's advice has served me well over the years. You are welcome- added you to the list! :)

    Keith,
    I agree. Nancy was one smart cookie. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  20. Thanks for sharing Nancy's tips. Its all great advice.

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  21. Happy anniversary. I've been blogging daily since December of 2005. You have good tips here.
    Rick, your latest follower.

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  22. Hi Karen - that's amazing and how wonderful to have such a supportive friend around - I can understand you must miss her. Congratulations on your 6th year ... and we've been friends for many a year now ...

    Cheers and good luck with the writing years ahead ... Hilary

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  23. No sports car, huh? Okay, I'll comment for the gift card. =0) Love Nancy's advise and sorry she's gone. Have a great weekend, Karen. God bless and may you long blog and prosper!

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  24. Nas,
    You are welcome. I agree; Nancy's tips are great! Good to see you. :)

    Rick,
    Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by and following. So you've been blogging for ten years - that's quite a milestone. Appreciate your visit!

    Hilary,
    She was a wonderful friend, that's for sure. I still correspond with her husband and he has the same sharp wit that she did. We often share memories of her. Thanks so much for the congrats. Yes, we have been friends for some time, and I am very glad about that! :)

    Susan,
    Well, maybe next time on the sports car. You know, when my ship comes in. :) You have a good weekend as well. Sending some of the warmer weather we're having your way! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  25. No sports car? *sigh* Okay. I like Nancy's tips. Happy Blogiversary. I'm at: lin AT ldmasterson DOT com

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  26. Linda,
    I am sorry about the sports car thing. LOL When my ship comes in, okay? :) Glad you liked the tips!
    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  27. My late husband was my biggest cheerleader. He encouraged me to attend writers conferences, write, and submit my work. The whole process intimidated me, but every time I took a baby step he was there to support my efforts.

    Later, people in the writing community, stepped in and filled the void left by his death. I have the best critique partners (including you) that I trust with my writing babies.

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  28. Karen I have been following and reading your blogs for some time- finally, due to your give away, i have registered. Not so much for the win ( although wel....) but to acknowledge my presence. Thank you for the valuable tips, hints, advice and fun reading to date. I too hope my reader numbers will increase as my 'expertise' on writing good blogs grows. Congratulations on your 6th year.....!

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  29. Yes, we need more Nancys in our lives. Thanks for sharing your Nancy, Karen. What an awesome story.

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  30. Susan,
    He was a winner, wasn't he? He'd be so proud of where you are now. :) I'd have to say that you are a pretty good critique partner too!

    Anita,
    Thanks for following, I appreciate it. :) You are so welcome, and I am sure your blog will grow over time. It does take a while. :) Thanks so much!

    Joylene,
    You are right; we all need a "Nancy" or two or three. :) Our journey is so much richer because of them, isn't it?

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!