Tag Archives: writing

What 300 Calls a Week Taught Me About Rejection

When I was young and hungry and the mother of a newborn, I bought a book called “How to Make Money as a Writer.” It sounded like a pretty good idea to me. And it was–the book worked. It’s how I got my start.

But here’s the thing. What it asked me to do was hard. It asked me to make 300 calls per week. Cold calls. To people in the phone book who had never heard of me.

And that is precisely what I did. Out of those 300 calls, I’d get maybe 10 people to agree to meet me. Of those 10 people, I’d get maybe one of them to agree to pay me to write for them. Of that one, about half of them actually treated me with respect and paid their bills.

It sucked. Hard.

It also taught me a lesson that has served me well (and that I’ve had to re-learn over and over again, btw):

Rejection is not the enemy. Fear is the enemy.

If I had let my fear (and trust me, there was plenty of it–I know I seem pretty fearless from the outside, but inside I’m a quivering mess of jello every time I open myself up to rejection) get the best of me, I would never have made those 300 calls. I would never have gotten those 10 meetings. I would never have gotten that half a person per week to pay me for something. And I would not be a professional writer today.

This lesson has served me well throughout my career. I no longer make cold calls (thank all that is holy and good in the world because cold calling is the worst job ever), but my ability to embrace rejection continues to play an important role. I’ve learned to quote my work at a rate that will get “rejected” regularly… and as a result I have better clients who respect me more, and I get paid enough to make my ends meet. In other words, those rejections are what pay my bills.

Now, as I embark on the part of my novel-writing career that involves putting my work in front of people who have the power to accept or reject it, my comfort with rejection is a powerful ally. When you consider that even the most successful of novels can be rejected dozens of times by agents and publishers before finally finding a home, one has to be completely fearless (or at least fake it pretty well) to make it.

And what about you? Can you let go of fear and embrace rejection? You won’t regret it.

#fearless #orfakeit

This is Not a Complete Update But It’s an Excited One

Lift off 222x300 This is Not a Complete Update But Its an Excited OnePopping in to mention my new brand launch. I’m super excited about this next evolution in my business career:

Scopcity: Content that Connects

What the heck does “Scopcity” mean? I know you’re asking that in your head because it’s what everyone asks when I tell them the name of the new brand.

Long ago, far far away (from about 500AD to 1066-ish, Anglo-Saxon Britain), before the advent of the printing press or the postal system, news was delivered by a class of citizens called Scops. Scops were singers and storytellers who moved from city to city, charming the citizens, cross-pollinating knowledge, and drinking a lot of ale. They were society’s connectors. In modern corporate terms, they were the purveyors of content.

Scopcity does that for marketing agencies. Minus the ale. Plus the charm, plenty of connection, and lots and lots of content. What we do is create high quality written content to support the marketing programs our clients design for their clients. Web copy, press releases, blogging, case studies, white papers, etc. Writing. Words. Stories.

It’s an exciting evolution for me because I get to take my strategic marketing expertise with me, and then really hone in on the part of the marketing I like best: Writing. And I get to work with some of the smartest folks I know: Marketing experts. Serving the kinds of companies I enjoy getting to know most: Private SMB (that’s not nearly as kinky as it sounds: It stands for small-medium-business. If you knew that already, you will never quite hear the letters “SMB” in the same way again. You’re welcome).

And icing on the cake: I get to cultivate some of the best writing talent in the business world, finding, training, and setting loose awesome creativity on the world. How cool is that?

Since I Last Posted…

I’ve been busy. Here’s a basic round-up of everything I can remember having published since I last posted here. Which was… whoa. December. Okay. This may take a while.

Magazines:

Working in Your Best Interest: Profile of a local commercial fleet leasing company in Greater Charlotte Biz Magazine. These guys were so very kind–not your typical leasing agency.

Recycling the Human Spirit: LOVE this lady. I want her to join my personal board of advisors, if she can ever slow down for a moment. This is about getting back on her feet and back to business after the devastating loss of her husband. In Greater Charlotte Biz Magazine.

Branching Across Continents: Jimmy Lee’s story is astonishing. From a poor boy in China going without lunch at school, to internationally respected top lumber exporter… and a genuinely nice guy. I can’t say enough good things about him. Read his story–it’s good.

Painting the Town Red: Okay, I didn’t write this one, but I had a hand in making it happen by building a strong PR relationship with the magazine on behalf of my client, Rose Chauffeured Transportation. Oh. And I’m quoted in it several times. The print version was gorgeous, glossy, and photo-filled.

Chauffeur Celebrates 80 Extraordinary Years: Gerry St. Onge is quite the character. And his is quite the story. I wrote most of this as a press release, which was picked up as a story by Limo Digest (so, no byline).

There were other magazine pieces, but not all of them are live online any longer (sad face). Most were in limo/chauffeur industry trade mags, on behalf of my client Rose.

Marketing Content:

Waypoint website. Tony Shannon, one of the partners in this great company, asked me to work with their web developer on the new site. It’s live now and it’s gorgeous! I planned the content structure, wrote most of the copy, and repurposed & revised old copy to fit the new vision. I also wrote those terrific case studies–they were fun! This is a great company and I’m privileged to have worked with them on the project.

Beanstalk Case Studies. On the topic of case studies, I wrote these too. I think it was this year. Geez, I don’t know. Also a really smart, forward-thinking company, with terrific people at the top.

Rose Chauffeured News. I run the blog/news section on this website, so most of what is here (unless it specifies otherwise) is my work. We’ve got more great content coming out soon!

Lewis Farm. I LOVE this family and this farm. I have had the privilege of watching them grow the tourist side of their business tremendously in the past few years, and am proud to have played a role in that. Carey and I set up their website on a very simple WordPress platform a few years ago, and I’ve worked with Cathy Lewis in training her to run the website. I still write much of the static content, though I’m tickled to see that Cathy is starting to keep the blog updated regularly. We’ve added wedding pages, birthday pages, and several other pieces of static content since December, and most of that is my work.

I’ve actually written and published way more marketing content this year than what is listed here. Some of it is covered under client confidentiality agreements, so I won’t post it here, obviously. Some of it is not yet live, as there are many moving parts involved in getting a marketing project off the ground. Some of it is no longer live, as some forms of content are just that ephemeral. Much of it is in the form of downloads and offers that you only access via special email links, or in the form of emails themselves. I’ve written guide books, and white papers, and more case studies. Press releases and direct mail copy, marketing plans, and dozens of blog entries for clients. I hardly realized myself how much I’ve written these six months until I compiled this and looked at how much more there is too.

Edited to add: I’ve also written educational and training materials for my own company. These proprietary materials probably will not ever be publicly available. Still, I’m pretty proud of them. (If you’re a writer or journalist and interested in building your marketing content skills and/or landing more freelance business, get in touch with me. The timing has never been better.)

My Blogs:

Curiosity Cat, Gratitude, and Sharing the Love. I won’t bore you by listing all fifteen entries I’ve posted this year. Just take a look at the latest one if you like, and browse backward if you feel so moved.

Writer for Life and Failing the Test. I started a new blog (because who doesn’t need another blog?) just for writers. Check out the latest post, then the rest if you feel moved to do so. I’ll be writing about my journey as a novelist, as well as posting snippets and videos of my favorite authors giving my favorite writing advice. And probably links to author blogs I like, too.

I’ve also written more than what is represented on my blogs. In particular, I’m 50k+ words into my first novel. Debating whether I will post teeny bits of it on Writer for Life, or keep it close to the chest until it’s done. Regardless, I’m as proud of it, if not prouder, as I am all the things I’ve already published this year. Which is an astonishing amount, now that I look at it. Yay me.

A Short Story

For your amusement. A short story I wrote a while back called Peppi.

Peppi

Everybody says I was raped. But they’re wrong.

This is what Mother doesn’t understand: The first time *I* let a man take me, I made darn sure he was single and had something to offer. Now I’m the queen and she’s… what? Servant of mankind. Peaceful do-gooder. Get a life, Mother.

This is how it happened.

Helenis or Perseis or Doris or someone—by gods there are so many of that lot I can never keep them straight—and they’re supposed to keep me entertained, company, bah! Anyway, one of those ocean sisters blew up a giant fish bladder and started a game of catch down by the creek. Everyone thought that was great fun. They’re easily entertained.

Mother is always saying, “Don’t you roll those big blue eyes up like that at me, young lady,” but she wasn’t there to say it that day. By the gods, she’s almost never there because there is always some starving country in need of her special touch. She’s that important. Yeah, don’t tell her how high my eyes are rolling now.

So she also wasn’t there to see how far off I wandered from my “playmates” that afternoon. I wanted to be alone, away from their prattling and ridiculous giddy laughter. I was a woman of 16, and bloody sick of talk and silly games. I needed space to think.

The woods around there were always a great place to escape. They were peaceful and dark, and you could imagine that you were queen of all the shadows and that everyone there had to do your bidding. At least they left you alone. The ground was always rich this time of year with wildflowers. All sorts—yellow daisies, purple violets, forget-me-nots and tiny little multi-colored pansies. When I was a little girl, I used to pretend they were all my servants and I made them dress like that to make them look ridiculous.

I knew them all, of course, so imagine my surprise when there was something new. And it was actually quite beautiful, even to my refined taste. If this flower had been a servant, she would have been dressed in a gown of honor. She wore a deep blue skirt, kind of the color of my eyes—so blue they’re almost black, but with iridescent flecks of deep ocean, the color of my Uncle P’s eyes, echoing the depth of his violent passions. I used to worship that uncle. Sadly, he was already married, not that it kept him from messing around plenty. But not with me! I knew enough to wait, to bide my time. No single motherhood for me—Mother’s example at least taught me that much.

This flower I found, she was wearing that deep blue skirt, kicked up in high spirit, with a fringe of matching silk floating out from her waist. People call me cold, but that’s because they’re too shallow to touch me deeply. This flower though—it touched me.

I knelt and placed my long, elegant fingers beneath the petals to feel its texture and admire how the dark silkiness contrasted with the creamy background of my skin. I wanted to pluck its beauty and adorn my own sinuous waist with its sumptuous curves. I wanted to kiss it with my plump, deep red lips. I wanted to watch myself kiss it, watch those soft, curving lips part moistly and touch the satin darkness and press it, bruise it. I wanted to see how my golden curls cascaded down to embrace the petals as I bent to crush the flower, I wanted to see how I would devour its beauty into myself and rise again even more ravishing than before.

And that is when he spoke to me. “Do you like it?” Tones of silk, deep and powerful. “It’s for you, Persephone.”

I knew who he was immediately, of course. But that didn’t stop a thrill of expectant shivers from descending my spine. I froze to compose myself, then let my long thick lashes lift, and the color rise to my cheeks. I saw the tartarus-black hooves of the horses first and then I noticed the hot sound of their breathing as my gaze followed the slate-blue line of their legs bulging with muscle and veins, up to their flanks, streaked with sweat. Then those faces. Smoke curled from their nostrils and their eyes were blood red.

Of course. They were the horses of Hades, after all.

He stood holding the reins, steaming under his ebony fingers, only two steps away from me. I turned up the corners of my sumptuous lips in enjoyment, as I took in the sight of his royal blue robes trimmed in black fur and finished with buttons made of polished human bone. His eyes matched the color of the steeds.

Uncle Hades. Single. Sexy. Powerful. HOT.

I plucked the narcissus as I rose, twirled it in my fingers with their nails of crimson, faced him fearlessly, a thrill of expectation racing through my blood. The moment would have been perfect if Cyane, or one of the other nymphs—there was a tiresomely large multitude of dryads—hadn’t moved into the clearing at that moment and begun screaming some nonsense about a trap. Ice virgins, every one of them. Oh, the melodrama.

But there was nothing she could do. I turned toward the sound of her keening, and in the same split second, Hades’s strong right arm had encircled my waist and the next thing I knew, we were in the chariot, my golden curls streaming behind and the steeds galloping forward, striking sparks with every touch upon the ground.

And that is how I came to be the Queen of the Underworld.

Of course, there was a big to-do about the whole thing. Mother got mad and took her plea to Father, master of the Universe and blah blah blah, who had masterminded the whole thing in one of his endless schemings, and he felt bad and told Hades he’d have to give me back. Ha! When I heard that news, I grabbed the nearest thing I could—it was a pomegranate—and started gobbling it down as fast as I could, red juice dribbling down my delicate chin. You don’t ever really feel hungry in the Underworld, but if you do eat something there you can’t ever leave, at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, so that’s what I did and they couldn’t get me back up there for anything.

Well, I did finally agree to go visit Mother regularly, and I even help her with the endless sowing and harvesting and making things grow so people don’t starve to death. All of which is pretty pointless since they all end up in my kingdom eventually anyway, but it makes her happy. And as long as they keep procreating up there, it ends up being more people for me to rule down here. Everybody wins.

So now you know.

Heather Today May 28, 2012

Memorial Day! We spent most of the weekend finishing up our Minecraft-rendered cover version for “The Magician King Song” contest. So much FUN, so much WORK. With great fanfare, we introduce, “The Four Thrones of Castle Whitespire: Minecraftia Edition”:

Seriously, please check it out. The kids poured heart and soul into it. We are very proud, and it’s fun. Watch it. “Like” it. Comment on it. Make two hard little workers very happy. 🙂
We also spent time with friends Cathy & John and daughter Brittney, hung out with the abandoned dog they rescued and we’re considering fostering and MAYBE adopting (oh boy. Yes, it’s true… more on that later…).
Gunner 1 224x300 Heather Today May 28, 2012
Black pitt-lab mix... the combination is a death sentence at animal control... lucky he's got Cathy and John. And maybe us?...
Memorial Day is also time for this:

Our college friends Tracy and Michele had us over for this bit of fun & the old-fashioned cookout. Yum! And then a great game of cards in which I TROUNCED everyone. Also the food was awesome. Thanks, Michele!
And also this:
(via my Facebook feed) On this day 70 years ago, a young American soldier watched his comrades dig a shallow grave for a sergeant who had gone berserk. The men who had been stabbed to death earlier that day on the long Death March toward POW camp, didn’t even receive that much honor. Remember their sacrifice. Honor Memorial Day all year long by following one young soldier’s three-year journey, reading about each day as he lived it, 70 years ago.

May 28, 1942

On May 28, 1942, we were made ready to march to our new camp. The Jap in command told us that those of us who had canteens would be permitted to fill them with water, and that they, the Japs, would not carry any water for us. We had very little time to fill the canteens and to fall in columns of four to start the march to our new Camp. We did not know how far we were to march, but we did know that we would march without any rest. In May the sun is very hot there and the temperature got well over the hundred degree mark. We found out later that it was twenty kilometers (12 1/2 miles) to Camp No. 3. (After comparing notes with men that had been on the Death March to Camp O-Donald after the fall of Bataan, we went through a part of what they suffered.) I cannot give full details of this march because we were many in number, and from where I was in the line of march, I could not see all that went on. I do know that two of the men died on the March. Others drank their water too soon after we started, and some of them fell out of the line of march and drank water from buffalo wallows along the road. I did see men fall with weakness and sickness, only to be prodded on with the bayonets of the Japs. I have stated earlier that I was not one to drink much water, so my canteen saw me all the way, and I shared a little with one other man. The two men that died on the march were killed by the Japs, because they were too weak to get up. After seeing them beaten and stabbed with a bayonet, we made every effort to carry those that were too weak to walk. We passed by Camp No. 1. Our men in the Camp waved to us, but we were not allowed to talk. The same thing happened when we passed by Camp No. 2. Finally we arrived in Camp No. 3, where I stayed until September 17, 1942… Read More…

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Yesterday’s entry on POWdiaries:

  • May 27, 1942
  • On May 27, 1942, we were marched out of Bilibid, own [sic] to the railroad track, and there we were put into box cars as if we were cattle. The railroad cars were about one-third the size of the box cars here in the U.S. One hundred of us were forced into one car, and then Jap guards were put on top of the cars. We started our trip by rail which took us to Cabanatuan. We stopped many times on this trip, but we were not allowed to get out of the box car, and we had to stand all the way as there was not room to even sit or lie down… Read more… Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012

 

From Curiosity Cat:

  • Altogether Heather

    Memorial Day Weekend! Woo-hoo! Time for barbeques, swimming pools, fun in the sun, relaxation, and — oh yeah — remembering people who died to serve our country. It’s also the perfect time for totally self-absorbed activities like creating a website about nothing but ME. So that’s what I did yesterday and today.

    It’s called “Altogether Heather” (haha you see what I did there? I rhymed with my own name. Get it?), and it aggregrates all the different things I do online into a central location. It’s also got video of me on the very front page. I mention that because apparently everybody loves video and I figured that might convince the fence-sitters that it’s worth the click over there. It’s cool. Oh, and it’s really easy to find because it’s just heatherhead.com. That’s important to know for all those times you’re out and about with a borrowed computer and you’re thinking, “Crap! I don’t have my bookmarks. How am I going to find out what Heather’s been doing for the past 15 minutes?” and you can just say, “Oh yeah. I know her name. Add a dot com and I’m there. Woot!” You see? You’re welcome.

    Oh, and for anyone who has already seen this on Facebook and whatever, I’m sorry for bugging you about it. I’ll probably bug you some more today as I post it on my other blogs. But then I’ll stop. That will be it. After that, if you want to know something that’s going on at heatherhead.com, you’ll have to go there directly. K. Go check it out now, if you like. You can totally subscribe if you want, and I won’t think you’re a stalker, though subscribing to that feed is exactly what a stalker would do, but I’m the trusting sort so I’ll assume you just think I’m awesome and want to see all the funny, cool, awesome stuff I’m doing every day.

    And on Tuesday we’ll return to our regularly scheduled program here at Curiosity Cat. New funny stuff! See ya then!

     Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012  Heather Today May 28, 2012


    That’s it. See ya tomorrow!

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Epiphany!

I’ve been at it all weekend, building this site. Most of that time has been devoted to trying to get social media integrated into the site. I still haven’t figured that out. But I did figure this out:

If you’re here, it’s because you care about what’s going on in my life. Wow. That’s pretty potent stuff. Thank you.

Which also means this:

I can post almost anything, and you’ll be glad to hear about it because, well, you care about me. That pretty much makes us friends, except the part where you don’t necessarily tell me about your life too. Which you can totally do in the comments and I will totally read them and it will almost be like a conversation. Grab a coffee and let’s talk. I’ll just look at this gratuitous cute photo of my son and our friend’s daughter, and muse on the differences between boys and girls while you’re gone.

photo 1 768x1024 Epiphany!
Everett and Jannie by the pond

Got coffee? Okay. The first thing I’m going to do is add a bunch of categories, so you can sort through stuff if you like and only listen to ramblings on topics that interest to you (ohmygoodness this is BETTER than friendship). Topics may include: Fiction (my little stories and half-stories and ill-conceived story ideas), Life Updates (just stuff about, you know, what I’m doing, stories about the kids, cute stuff, funny stuff, just stuff about us), and… well, that’s all I can think of at the moment. I’ll add more maybe. Some of them will probably already be there by the time you read this.

AND, because I installed this nifty little digest plugin thingy (that’s the technical term), sometimes this random rambling or whatever will be at the top of the daily digest, which I’ve changed so that it now comes out at night instead of morning, you know, so I can write about my day before I hit “publish.” And then at the bottom there will be a list of everything else I wrote or uploaded or whatever that day. Which kind of defeats the whole point of being able to sort through which bits you want to listen to. Sorry about that.

Anyway. If you’re here, thank you. And watch out. Once I get going I can seriously run my mouth. Be sure to step in and get your words in edgewise in the comments!

Heather’s Daily Digest for May 27, 2012

I stay busy online. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to today.
  • The Technical Genius.MPG
    Go behind the scenes of Minecraftia: Whitespire Edition and meet the technical talent that made it all possible. Stars sexy hot geek guy (yes, I’m totally sleeping with him. Wanna make something of it?) and also gratuitous footage of our glamorous laundry room. Don’t miss it.
  • Heather on Minecraft Technicalities and Stuff.MPG
    Part Three in the Making of Minecraftia Whitespire (or whatever it is we’re calling it): Whew. We’re in hour 17,642 (I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate count) of the project. It would probably go faster if I didn’t suck at technology. And if I weren’t always shouting at people for my own mistakes. Here’s me talking about my crucial importance to this project, and demonstrating my superb technical abilities.You can view Part One here: http://youtu.be/NCDHMyaEJis
    And Part Two here: http://youtu.be/203_c6hlMEw
  • Zombies in the Hedge Maze.MPG
    Part Two in the “Making of Minecraftia: Magician King Music Video” series, “Zombies in the Hedge Maze” shows what happens when you spawn monsters inside, well, in the hedge maze. Also, some warm and fuzzy moments about the joys of working together as a family.Part One is available here: http://youtu.be/NCDHMyaEJis
  • Young boys talk about dung beetles.MPG
  • Rolling in The Dung.MOV

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This isn’t really a blog

I already maintain a dozen or more blogs, between the two I write for myself, one I write for my company, one I maintain for my late Uncle Pierce, and a bunch more I produce for clients. So I am not starting a new one here.

Mostly, this is here so I can fill up my tag cloud because I think tag clouds are cool.

I’ll also post here whenever I post elsewhere (except for clients–confidentiality agreements and all), so if you want to keep up with me all in one place, this is it. Subscribe on the right. I think. I’ll check my widgets.