There is nothing worse than the unexpected death of a young person at a high school. During my 33 years in education I coped with students who had died in car accidents, students who had been murdered and students who had committed suicide. I had just finished reading this book prior to the inaugural meeting of Writers as Readers. As a retired high school educator, I found this book to be a compelling read and wanted to talk about it with others who had read it. Thirteen Reasons Why is a Young Adult book by Jay Asher, which explains the rationale behind Hannah’s choices, a high school student who has decided to end her life. Clay, a fellow classmate of Hannah’s, has received a box with 7 cassette tapes that Hannah taped before she died. On the tapes are the explanations for her decision. Clay listens to the tapes as he follows Hannah’s words through his home town and what he discovers changes his life. I think that this book can save lives.
Writers as Readers, WaR, met on March 4 at the Barnes and Noble at Cherry Vale Mall to discuss this debut novel by Jay Asher. This was the first Young Adult book chosen to be discussed and a range of opinions regarding the characters, plot, and the dual narrative were discussed.
This month’s resources come courtesy of our featured guest speaker, Paula Hendrickson. She gave members a list of freelance writer resources. Here are some websites she recommended and – of course – you can follow Paula herself on Twitter.
All Indie Writers – Jennifer Mattern’s site is a must for both fiction and non-fiction writers and has one of the best free writers forum around.
Productive Writers – John Soares always has great, practical writing advice that even the most experienced writers can learn from.
Words on the Page – Lori Widmer focuses a lot on the marketing side of freelancing. She’s also the brains behind the Annual Writers Worth Week event each May.
Writers Weekly – Angela Hoy is a champion of writers’ rights; Whispers and Warnings is a great place to see if other writers have had problems being paid by your potential clients. Be sure to register for the free weekly newsletter.
Paula Hendrickson was the featured guest at the March In Print meeting. She said there is a glamorous side to being a freelance writer. One example was having the opportunity to interview Oprah Winfrey. There is also a non-glamorous side, such as spending several hours transcribing an interview so it can be turned into an article. Paula has been a full-time freelance writer for seventeen years. However, she has not spent all that time writing.
“Only ten to twenty percent of my time is spent actually writing,” she explained. “The rest of the time is running the business.” This includes staying organized, paying bills, and sending out letters to get future work.
“You have to stay in balance,” she said. “You have to send out letters while you’re busy so that new work will be coming in when you’re finishing up the current work you have.” She did have some warnings about keeping track of your own expenses for tax purposes and occasional problems with dealing with late-paying (or no-paying) clients, but – for the most part – her experience as a freelance writer over the years has been primarily positive. Paula provided In Print members with a resource list, designed to help new freelance writers to find the good sites to work for and avoid the “content sinks” where writers are not respected nor paid well for the content they create.
“Ultimately your name is the only thing you own,” she said. “You have to make sure it’s associated with places you’re proud to be linked with.”
In Print Radio recorded this show live in front of an audience at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Cherry Valley, Illinois, on February 22. Sandy Colbert interviewed humor writer Chris “Bull” Garlington and took questions from the audience.
Wish you had been part of the fun? In Print Radio plans to record more shows with an audience in the near future. Sign up to receive information on upcoming show guests, dates and locations. Dates and times will also be posted on this website and the In Print Facebook and Twitter pages.
Paula Hendrickson is a freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to several national consumer and trade publications including Emmy Magazine, Variety and American Bungalow.
As she writes on her website, Create from Scratch, “Some people seem to have an idea that creativity is something restricted to artists, designers, musicians and poets… It might be the neighbor who always finds dramatic new ways to plant her window boxes, the kid who invents detailed biographies for his favorite stuffed animals, or the relative who constantly seeks ways to adapt favorite recipes to accommodate family members’ dietary restrictions… Creativity is all around us. We make new ideas and new objects everyday.”
The February meeting was an intimate affair with only seven in attendance. A smaller group allows for more in-depth discussions (and an early dismissal). The prompt was to write a story inspired by a picture. These stories are always good because the only limitations are in the mind of the writer (so, none!). This was – by far – the most amusing Prompt Club meeting ever. You should have been there. Really. Ever.
The Prompt Club is proud to announce once again that two of its members’ stories have been publicly acknowledged! Congratulations to Caryl Barnes! Her story, Hectorette Sings to the Dead, was selected by a panel of readers as a semi-finalist in Ruminate’s Short Story Prize. And Ray Paul‘s The Learning Purse, a winner in the In Print Fiction Contest, has been accepted into the Midwest Prairie Review, a Madison based Midwest publication. Congratulations again, Ray! Keep writing and submitting!
The next meeting is Tuesday, March 18, at 6:00 pm at the Cherry Valley District Library. The assigned prompt is number eight on our list: And the first shall be last. Start the story with a line and end it with the same line. Bonus points if it means something different at the end than it did at the beginning (note: no actual points given). The first and last lines are up to you. The prompt just states they should be the same.
The Prompt Club is currently at capacity. If you would like to get on a waiting list should an opening become available, please contact Mary Lamphere (LiteraryMary@comcast.net).
Bolivar Lopez – author of the “Z and Brad” series of children’s books – sat down with Sandy Colbert at the East State Branch Library in Rockford to talk about how he started writing and illustrating his own books and how he gets them in front of kids. He also read his book, Z and Brad Meet Doctor Nose. His reading and interview will be featured in a future episode of In Print Radio.