Laura Hedgecock

LAURA HEDGECOCK is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and webmaster. Her passion is telling stories and helping others tell theirs. That passion led to her latest book Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life and her website and blog, TreasureChestofMemories.com. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two nearly-adult sons (and her Springer Spaniel), playing soccer, nature photography, and finding her roots—which might explain her messy house.

Apr 202015
 

Choosing a website building platform How do you know what the best website building platform is best for your blog and author site?

For most of us traveling down the road less written, blogging and developing a website is a necessity. For many, choosing a website building platform—learning about them and figuring out which one is best—is grueling. The options overwhelm.

As you investigate various blogging and site-building platforms, you’re not looking for the “best” product available on the market. You’re looking for a best fit. Continue reading »

Apr 132015
 
Author Judith Fein

Author Judith Fein (Photocredit: Paul Ross)

If anyone personifies “The Road Less Written,” it’s travel-writer and author Judith Fein who “lives to leave.” You can find her articles in nearly 100 different publications, and she and her husband, photojournalist Paul Ross, share their travel adventures at GlobalAdventure.us. And, she’s a co-founder of the group travel blog, YourLifeIsATrip.com, the “#1 website for experiential storytelling and narrative travel writing.”

Judith is also the author of Life is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel and a new memoir, The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands. I came to know Judith’s writing through the latter. Her voice and her ability to connect with the reader, her past, and well…everything else in her path, made me yearn to ask her a ton of questions. Being polite, I limited it to a few. Continue reading »

Mar 232015
 

The RedwoodsSociety will soon be TheRoadLessWritten.

Like the butterfly, we’re maturing and finding our wings. But the caterpillar is still crawling around in there. We’re staying with our original calling—promoting fellowship with other writers who, like us “attempt to enhance the varied experiences of life through writing.” We’re just refocusing a little. Maybe our wings will look a little prettier–which means we have a new logo.

The Redwoods Society grew out of a group of aspiring authors that met at the San Francisco Writers Conference in 2013. Since that time, we’ve supported each other as we’ve each moved from aspiring to finding our routes to publication. We’ve not only watched each other succeed; we’ve been a part of it.

In fact, we writers are lucky to work in a field where even our competitors can give us a boost. Spreading the love of another author doesn’t cost us a single reader. One good book can make them eager to buy another—by another author.

We are uniquely qualified to help each other to achieve new successes, improve our craft, and to find our voice. We help each other with tips and tricks on everything from fight scenes to social media. We encourage each other when we’re attacked by trolls or slighted by agents. We advise, cheer, challenge, console, and promote.

In short, as writers seeking to better our craft and to find our individual path, niche, and voice, we help each other along the Road Less Written, with all the rich metaphors that implies.

Your road less written probably won’t look like ours does. It might be curvier, less traveled, or more traveled. But wherever it goes, we hope you have companionship, sustenance, and someone to bounce ideas off of. And we hope it takes you to places you want to go, even if you don’t yet know where those places are yet.

Stay tuned. More good things are coming.

Jan 262015
 

The best way to irritate and alienate other authors is to brag about your accomplishments.

For most of us, however, that’s not a problem. We deplore the self-promotion aspect of marketing our books.

That’s one reason we should have tribes. We need writer cohorts, such as you’ll find here at this site, who don’t just cheer us on, but celebrate our achievements. Which is a ‘round-about way of introducing a fact that I want to scream from the proverbial rooftops of the blogosphere. Continue reading »

Jan 052015
 

WordPress.org Plugins.

The writing life should be about sitting in front of your keyboard and creating. Even better if a roaring fire, quietly content children, and an adoring dog and spouse are thrown in.

But, for most of us, it’s not that simple. We blog. We take to the blogosphere, not out of a desire to create and communicate, but because it’s good for business. Website builders and their plugins can boggle the creative mind.

When I decided to get serious about blogging, I looked to my small business and non-fiction authoring idol, Stephanie Chandler. Back in 2011, she had published 8 Favorite WordPress Plugins for Business Blogs. Although not all her favorites are my favorites, I found it a great starting place.

Of course, the plugin landscape keeps changing. It’s time for a fresh list. Continue reading »

Oct 232014
 

cloud of cereberal liesOne thing I’m learning— “I’ve learned” would be a lie—is that there are no short cuts on the Road Less Written. That is, unless you do actually want to take a road to writing less.

But when it comes to listening to gurus, we’re always tempted by the most unreliable one: our brains. Our so-called centers of higher thought, the very organ that should be busy helping us plot out an optimal path to success, can sabotage us.

Sure, it provides inspiration, strategy, and common sense. However, it also peppers us with false rationales. We get caught up in delusions of grandeur, denial – not to mention feelings of hopelessness and discouragement.

So why do we buy into the load of shit our rationalizing cerebral cortex spits out…?

Continue reading »

Sep 102014
 
Learning by doing

Learning by doing isn’t the hard way; it’s the only way.

Writers, by definition, have to learn by doing.

“A writer writes.” Yeah, duh…

It’s that “doing” that separates the dreamers from the aspirants and achievers.

“A writer writes,” uttered with conviction by a fictional character, was one of the catalysts that induced me to commit to full-time writing. I wrote now and then for non-profits. I reveled in the fact that my cousins all thought I should write a book after they read my annual holiday letter. Strangely though, it was the urging in the young adult novel Sahara Special that made me start taking risks.

“A writer writes,” struck a chord with me. Ability, creativity, ideas, and aspirations didn’t mean anything if I wasn’t actively writing and developing my craft. Finding my voice.

Redwoods Society and Learning by Doing

“I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” With that, John Kingston pretty much summed up the Redwoods Society writers’ experience with launching a group website. Blogging and curating a website require different skill sets than writing a book. The Redwoods Society writers are also learning by doing—and by adjusting and growing to find our collective voice and to refine our focus.

We could try to do all that based on others’ expertise. In fact, we did—try that is. But, we didn’t know… you know… all those things that we didn’t know.

What we didn’t know

Redwoods Society grew out of a meeting of minds and purposes at the 2013 San Francisco Writers conference. We expected writers from the West Coast to join us. One of those things we didn’t know then was that four out of five of us would live in Michigan.

We also didn’t know that the mantle of “expert” or “teacher” would sit heavily on our shoulders. We’re all learning and experimenting. All of us are much more comfortable with sharing our journey as writers and authors than telling others the right way to do it.

What we’ve learned

Writers aren’t bound by a geographic region.

Writers can help themselves by helping each other.

Looking forward

This site will continue to be a site full of content for writers by writers, a meeting place for writers to share content and thoughts.

In addition to our blog, we’ll be rolling out some additional resources pages and prompts. No matter where our travels might take us, we look forward to meeting you here to share the road less written.

Aug 082014
 
Car stories reveal personalities

In real life or fiction, cars tell a lot about a person.

Cars are more than nuts and bolts. Because of their ability to evoke memories (See Car Memories and How to Write About Them), cars are a powerful tool for writers. They’re a setting in and of themselves. That’s probably why fiction writers think carefully before they go into details about their characters’ vehicles.

Here in the environs of the Motor City, kids cut their teeth on cars. Cars aren’t the backdrops for stories. They are the stories.

Though I’ve lived here over twenty years, I’m not a child of Detroit. As a teen, I looked upon cars as a mode of transportation. That’s something that separates me from my teens, who were somehow able to recognize car models before they knew the alphabet. Continue reading »

Aug 062014
 
Compelling story dictionary

A compelling story according to Macmillan’s.

All writers consider writing about the episodes of their past. It’s not just the aspiring memoirist that wonders, “Is my story compelling enough?”

What started me down this path was reading Anne R. Allen’s How to Write a Publishable Memoir: 12 Do’s and Don’ts.

DON’T include every detail because “it’s what really happened.” Just because something is true doesn’t mean it’s interesting. Your happy memories of that idyllic Sunday school picnic in vanished small-town America will leave your reader comatose unless the church caught fire, you lost your virginity, and/or somebody stole the parson’s pants.”

Continue reading »

Jul 162014
 

Recognizing writing flaws helpls with editing Over the last sixteen months, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of having my proposal and manuscript edited and proofread. Through working with multiple editors, I came to see patterns in their corrections and comments. Recognizing my writing flaws has helped me edit and proofread.

I get wordy.

I do it in life and on the page. Now, as I edit, I look for ways to state things more succinctly. I challenge myself to reduce my word counts, even on shorter posts.

My self-doubt results in over-editing.

In life, I tend to start my paragraphs in the middle. When I’m half-way through an anecdote, I’ll remember that I left out why the story matters or is relevant to the conversation. In trying to prevent this potential writing flaw, I go too far in the other direction. I over-edit.

In fact, editors had to edit-out what I had, in a fit of self-doubt, edited-in. In other words, the final version was close to the original. Now when I evaluate an introduction or explanation, I think to myself, “You can lead a horse to water, but you need to give him or her credit for having enough intelligence to drink.”

I use vague referents

My that’s and which’s don’t always refer back to a concrete word or phrase. Or, if they do, it’s not clear to those who don’t have direct access to my thoughts. This one is another result of my jumbled brain, but it’s more laborious to fix. Particularly if I try to write, edit, and proofread in setting, I miss those. Whenever possible, I try to let my writing simmer before I edit and proof.

I like to list things in threes.

I know; writing is not like flower arranging. Things aren’t always better with an odd number.

I like adverbs.

There, I said it. In the above paragraph, I’d prefer to state, “A disturbingly high number of edits…” Now when I edit and proof, I’ll evaluate whether using the adverb brings something other than a lack of grammar to the table. Sometimes I’ll leave them, but often I find another way to structure my sentence.

I don’t vary my sentence structure enough.

For me, proofreading and editing don’t mix. A by-product of reading each individual sentence for errors is failing to evaluate the flow of a page. The fix: one more pass through the piece.

Your Turn:

What are your most common writing flaws? How do they change the way you edit and proof your work?

 

 

 

 

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