"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mark Your Calendars for the Writer's Digest Annual Conference in New York August 12-14


Would you like to increase your creative options, your bottom line, and your contacts in the publishing industry this year?
Or perhaps you'd like to finish a novel, start freelance writing full-time, or simply move forward with your goals, with less trial and error.

The Writer's Digest Annual Conference offers everything you need to advance creatively and professionally as a writer, no matter what your genre or level.

Join Writer's Digest this August 12-14 in New York City for a powerhouse educational and networking program, including:
 (drum roll, please...)

  • Bestselling authors: Including Kwame Alexander and David Baldacci!
  • Five Dedicated Tracks of Instruction--Getting published, Platform & Promotion, Craft, Genre Studies and The Business of being an author-so you can construct the Conference experience most beneficial for you.
  • The Pitch Slam, the Conference's signature event, with over 50 agents and editors slated to be on hand scouting new talent. Available for the first time as an add-on to your conference ticket!
No other writing conference is equipped to offer you the breadth of education Writer's Digest can for the value.

To learn more, visit: Writersdigestconference.com

Pen and Prosper followers, if registering for this conference, please use the Promotional Code: PPWD16 to receive $25.00 off the basic conference price.


*Just a reminder that Pen & Prosper will resume its summer hiatus until August 25th.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Announcements, Resources & Links You'll Love

Good Morning, Readers,

Happy Friday! I hope you're surviving this oppressive heat and finding time to "chill."
Today's post will be brief, but meaty. Please feel free to add any of your upcoming projects, publishing opportunities, or good news in the comments section.

I always love to hear from you.
Now for today's post...

THIS JUST IN
 
Good News
 
Some of you may recall, back in April, where I posted a call for submissions from Women on Writing, for their "Short & Sweet" issue. This edition focused on tight writing, as well as tips and techniques for writers to master using minimal words for maximum impact. Well, I'm proud to announce that my article, "The Moral of the Mini-skirt" was selected out of many pitches, and was recently published. You can read more here:
 


Resources & Courses

Summer School for Writers--Most of us recognize the importance of education when it comes to our kids, or to the developmental needs of youth. Yet, we neglect it when it comes to our own career advancement or creative career goals. Why is that?  It's time for a paradigm shift. According to
award-winning novelist, columnist, and instructor, Victoria Grossack:
"Too often people assume that because they know how to read that they know how to write. Yet, there are so many artistic decisions to make, from which genre and which words, when to show and when to tell, the sequence of events and emotions, which point of view to use and how to get the most out of the point of view, that it is easy to get lost. Too many writers don’t understand the nuances of choosing verbs and tenses and the different ways of constructing sentences, paragraphs and scenes. They don’t know how to create character-driven stories. Master the tools and the rules, and use them to your advantage or break them when you choose, as you strive to give your audience a great reading experience.

If you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t expect to do well without training, would you? Most people train better when they have a coach and some structure. That’s what a writing class offers. "

Whether your goal is to finish a novel, start a blog, publish E-books, or quit your 9 to 5 job, Coffeehouse for Writers can help! Classes are provided online, are flexible and affordable. Sign up today at www.Coffeehouseforwriters.com. As a wise man once said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Submission Opportunities

Beyond Your Blog

If you have tips to share with writers, profile pieces on interesting individuals in the publishing industry, or success stories associated with your blog, BYB would love to hear from you. Susan pays writers $35.00 per accepted piece. Previously published work also accepted (but without compensation). And here's a bonus: response time is usually two weeks or less. For more details visit:http://www.beyondyourblog.com/work-with-beyond-your-blog/

Chicken Soup for the Soul

This ongoing, popular anthology has a few "calls" for some interesting titles, with various deadlines. Published authors to receive compensation of $200.00, as well as authors' copies. I'm determined to break in this year! To view their needs visit Chicken Soup.com.
If you'd like to increase your odds for publication here, check out the class taught by Linda O, "Beef up Your Chicken Soup!" at Coffeehouseforwriters.com

Pen & Prosper

Can I buy you a cup of coffee? Pen and Prosper is now a paying market. I pay ten bucks (the equivalent of maybe a Vanilla Chai or other fancy smancy drink at your favorite coffee joint), for quality blog posts of 250-750 words on writing, marketing, or blogging related topics. Submit to Gemsjen@yahoo.com.

Writers Weekly

Seeks success stories on an array of writing related topics, and pays $40.00 (on acceptance) for approximately 400 words. You'll find more here at Writers Weekly:
http://writersweekly.com/writersweekly-com-writers-guidelines


Miscellaneous
 
 
Interview
 
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Karen Lange over at the fun and inspirational blog, "Write Now." 
If you'd like to learn a bit more about the woman behind the Pen & Prosper blog, feel free to check it out at:
http://karenelange.blogspot.com/2016/06/5-questions-with-jennifer-brown-banks.html

Welcome

Greetings to all my new followers this month; welcome! It's a pleasure to have you here. Please feel free to share a comment or question at any time.


Recommended Reads Around the Web

Here are a few sites that impressed me recently, that I believe you'll find interesting and informative as well.  Let me know what you think.

http://meerakothand.com/

http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/


Blind Bat Alert

F.Y.I--I recently purchased a new pair of reading glasses, to which my eyes need to acclimate. In the meantime and in between time... my apologies for any typos, misteaks,  or formatting issues.

Birthdays

Happy Birthday to all of you who share my birth month of June. I wish you many more.

Blog Break

For the first time in seven years, I will be taking a much-needed summer break!
Pen and Prosper will be on a summer hiatus from June 25th-August 25th.
I'll miss you. But, better a "break" than a "break down." :-)

Of course, this doesn't mean we can't stay in touch, right?

Email me at Gemsjen@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter@Penandprosper1
Snail mail me with cards, birthday wishes, words of encouragement, photos, or chocolates at:
 P.O. BOX 208704, Chicago, IL 60620-8704
   

Wishing you a safe and exciting summer!

Regards,

Jen

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

9 Reasons Writers Rock as Friends! An Infographic

 

Reasons Why Writers Make Incredible Friends

1. Writers are great plus-ones at dinner parties

Offer a writer free food and they’ll rarely flake out on you.
Some might be in need of a good meal, being that they survive near the breadline on a daily basis or have been trying to finish NaNoWriMo and preparing food simply wasn’t an option.
Others may well be well on their way to a successful career in journalism or travel writing, but have never quite shaken those nightmares about being strangled in their sleep by ramen noodles. A catered-for dinner party is like therapy for them.

2. It’s hard to bore a writer

Most of your friends are probably fed up with hearing about your ex or how unreasonable your coworkers are. Instead of venting to them, turn to your writer friend.
Writers lap this stuff up. For you it’s catharsis, for them primary research. They’re probably working on a series of essays about how the monotony of everyday life is crushing the creativity out of a generation. Get ready for engaged questioning – “but why do you think you feel that way? Do you think there are societal forces preying on your mind, creating an unrealistic image of who you should be?”
If your rant is their brainstorm session and you’re helping each other out, isn’t back scratching what friendship’s all about?

3. Writers are knowledgeable

‘Knowledgeable’ probably wasn’t on your list of most desirable traits in a potential friend, but think about it. Nobody likes awkward silence. Lulls in conversation tend to come about when there’s nothing to talk about, but writers are often repositories of information ranging from the random to the hilarious (and inevitably the tedious).
When you’re at a party, sit next to the writer and you’ll hit the conversational jackpot: they’ll not only be up to date on the latest world events, but will also fill you in on what Kim Kardashian’s booty has to do with feminism.

4. They’re great party planners

Writers tend to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and planning. So, when it comes to organizing something – whether it’s a book, article, or party– writers are meticulous and know how to sort out the important details.
If they help plan your party, they’ll pore over menus and choose drinks wisely (how many teetotal writers do you know? Any?). People will talk about the party for weeks, wondering where you got those little things with the gorgonzola cheese and the figs from. They were delicious.
Oh, your party planning friend will also be budget-conscious, so you’ll also end up with a perfectly planned bash, unique cocktails and canap├ęs, all of which cost a relative pittance.

5. Writers ‘get’ rejection

Even when they professionally benefit from your pain, writers are compassionate. Not because they’re inherently better than regular civilians, but because they’ve been through it all too: mind-melting jobs in call centers, getting dumped for spending too much time on their work, and being isolated from human contact for days or weeks at a time while writing.
Writers know your pain. Most of all, though, writers get rejected a lot.
You got turned down for a promotion this week? Your writer friend probably got turned down for three article pitches today. When you need a shoulder to cry on, writers are there to be your friend. But most importantly, they’ll insist you get back up on your feet and try again.

6. You might get a character named after you

Look at your friendship with a writer as a potential investment in future notoriety. If you’re in your writer friend’s inner circle while they’re working on a novel, you might get a character named after, or even loosely based on, you.
There are many examples of this, known as Tuckerization, but a notable one is Philip K. Dick naming fellow author Poul Anderson in his short story “Waterspider”.

7. Writers are low maintenance

This might be the best reason why writers make great friends. Writers are busy but flexible, sociable but focused.
They find it difficult to be there for needy people, as their timetable doesn’t allow for it. But on the flip side, when you don’t call them for three weeks, that’s okay by them. In fact, it’s probably appreciated when they’ve got deadlines to meet.
You may not see a writer friend very often, but the time you spend together is usually pretty awesome.

8. They write great birthday cards

Some friends choke at the prospect of writing something witty on a birthday card, but not writers. They’ll probably recite something truly embarrassing about your childhood, but it will be perfect. The card will be the best part of the present.

9. Writers are good looking

In high school most writers passed their time by reading books, and actively not dating. But some have since blossomed into decent looking creatures.
While the daily yoga session is theoretically designed to keep writers from morphing into Quasimodo as they type away on their computer all day, it’s not too bad for the abs either. Add to that their tasteful, hipster wardrobes, and they’re basically solid nines all around.
Anyway, writers have to be good looking these days it seems.

 

So go out and meet some writers!

The bonus reason that writers make incredible friends is because the good ones love paying it forward.
Successful writers were all once a student or waitress on minimum wage. Many found their inspiration and resilience in those days, and while none of them can give you the nonexistent "secret" formula to success, they can commiserate, support, and offer insights.
If you’re an aspiring writer, go out and make friends and find your support group.

Websites like meetup.com can be a great start, and also check out groups for writers on social media. If you’re a location-independent ‘digital nomad’, like I am, connect with local writers and editors.
And remember, once you experience some success in your own professional writing life, be the kind of good writer we’ve described here. The one who everyone wants to be friends with.

Comments, friends? Agree or disagree?

About Global English Editing

Global English Editing is a leading online editing and proofreading company that provides book editing and proofreading services for all sorts of writers (even the miserable ones).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Tribute to Black Music Month...



For as long as I can remember, I have always been a big lover of music. All kinds. Beethoven can bring me to tears. Aretha reminds me of what it is to love hard and have a resilient heart.  Prince makes me want to move to the beat. And John Denver's "You fill up my senses" fills up all of mine. Music is often part of my creative process; whether I'm penning pieces to get those juices flowing early in the a.m., or feel blocked and frustrated when creating poetry. 


So what does music have to do with writing?  I'm glad you asked.

1. It can stimulate and enhance the creative process.

2. The lyrics can inspire poetry, a fictional love story, etc.

3. Music can elevate your mood and contribute to greater productivity. 
Read more about how music can impact the creative process at Huffington Post:


Which is why I'm excited to share and celebrate Black Music Month.
Black Music Month was originally established in 1979, by President Jimmy Carter.
And of course for me, it's every month.

HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE BLACK RECORDING ARTISTS (in no particular order)
  • Stevie Wonder
  • India Arie
  • Prince
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Ruthie Foster
  • Tony Braxton
  • Phyllis Hyman
  • Nat King Cole
  • Al Green
And in tribute, I'd like to leave you with a video of a song by a new artist that I hope you'll enjoy.
I don't typically do much with videos, so my apologies if you experience any technical glitches here.

Now for you...
Who's your favorite? Do you listen when you write?
Do tell.


Let me know what you think of the video "The Way That you Love me."
 
 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

3 is a Charm! Anniversary Offers for my Readers...



This month marks my 7 year anniversary in the Blogosphere!
And I'm tickled pink to have you as members of my blog community.

To say thanks, I am offering three valuable services to my loyal followers today for just seven bucks!
Collectively, they would cost potentially hundreds of dollars; for this reason, it's an opportunity you don't wanna' miss.
This offer will save you money, help you to successfully brand your blog, make passive income, and "work smarter, not harder!"

I'm sure you'll agree it's a great deal!

THREE'S A CHARM OFFER...




CHOOSE ONE OR ALL THREE. SEVEN BUCKS A PIECE...


1. BLOG AUDIT---Let's face it: many of us see our blogs with "loving eyes." We don't view them as potential advertisers, outsiders or influencers do.
I can show you what you need to know! As an award-winning blogger (for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I can evaluate your blog from a strategic perspective and provide a written report with recommendations and opportunities specifically designed for your strengths, and your blog's focus. For testimonials on this service, feel free to see the "testimonials" tab on this site.

2. TAG, YOU'RE IT!--- Branding is crucial to your blog's success and to separating you from the vast competition in the blogosphere. For this reason, it's important to get it right! Think of it as the equivalent of jingles for TV commercials. It helps others to remember you and create brand awareness. I can help. I'll give you 3 choices of slogans and taglines individually created to use for your site.
And I'm good. :-)

3. BLOGGING CLASSES---Choose either "SMALL BLOG, BIG RESULTS" or "BLOG FOR FUN OR FOR PROFIT," both are filled with checklists, actionable tips, tools and "hacks", that are not always featured on the Pen and Prosper site. Don't fret. There are no tests, no long commutes, or labor-intensive assignments--just two days of online fun and informative interaction.

Again, thank you for your faithful readership and support.

Remember to act now. This limited offer ends this Saturday
(6-11-16) and is available to the first 50 people to respond to this offer.

For questions, please contact me by email or leave your question in the comments section of this blog.
 
To take advantage of this limited offer now, send $7.00 per offer (along with your designated choice) to PAYPAL:
Gemsjen@yahoo.com
Even if you don't have PayPal, you can send payments via this method at www.Paypal.com



I look forward to working with you to create the recognition you desire and deserve with your blog!

Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pen & Prosper Celebrates 7 Years in the Blogosphere!





Dear Readers,

I hope you'll join me in celebrating the 7th year anniversary of the initial launching of Pen and Prosper!  YAY! Who would have thought...?

It's been a beautiful, difficult, enriching, interesting, ever-evolving journey.
Though I have had a few "detours" and roadblocks along the way, I continue to press forward.
And I am humbled and honored to have you accompany me here.

Truth be told, I was a reluctant blogger. I wasn't sure I wanted to take the plunge. Wasn't really certain that anyone would really be interested in hearing this writer's "voice," particularly amid all the online chatter and big personalities.

And for many of the beginning years, that belief was substantiated by the small number of "followers" that subscribed to this Blog. Ha!
But, with the help of a faithful few, I stuck it out.
And I am so glad I did.

As the name implies, I have truly "prospered."
And I hope you have too.
I have made many blogging friends; have grown as a writer; have laughed and learned; met and made clients; and I am continually excited to connect with you each and every month. Year after year.

And that can't often be said about a seven year relationship. True? :-)

 For nostalgia sake, here are a few stats and some interesting trivia:
  • Since 2009, I have published over 600 blog posts on an array of topics and themes.
  • The current collective page views for Pen & Prosper is over 320,000.
  • Pen & Prosper has garnered "Top Blog for Writers" honors for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 consecutively. 
  • I originally considered calling this blog, "Jen's Joint."
  • According to Google Analytics, Pen & Prosper is read in several different countries: U.S.A, France, Russia, Germany, U.K., China and Poland.
  • The original colors were beige and brown.
  • The original motto was: "Helping you to hone your craft and increase your cash!"
Hopefully that gets you up to speed here.

In closing, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, for your support, faithful readership, ideas, comments, and online love.

Whether you're an old friend or a new fan, I appreciate your role in this blog's success and continuation.

I'm looking forward to the possibility of seven more fun-filled years..
A girl can hope, right? " :-)


Warm Regards,

Jen

P.S. Stay tuned for an array of contests, guest posts,
and/or discounts to celebrate this anniversary month.


Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.


Friday, June 3, 2016

A Recipe for Making Rejections More Palatable!




---“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
 
 
Okay, admit it. There’s probably one or two editors that your need to prove yourself to has kept you pounding away at the keyboard with dogged determination---month after month, year after year.

In entrusting them with the task of improving your work and reducing your creative errors, they reduced your spirit.


Their words were harsh. They left more red on your rejected manuscript than at a crime scene. They doubted your ability. They made you doubt yourself.
Or they told you that you had no business in this business.

You intend to prove them wrong…with a best-selling book, award-winning blog, publication in Huffington Post, or huge publishing contract.
And then they’ll be sorry they didn‘t see your worth; just like the ex that left you! (Or maybe that’s just me, sorry).  :-)
 
It happens to the best of us. But, don’t let the fire they lit under you cause detriment. Use it to cook up greater success and ultimate profitability.

 
Here are 5 practices and principles to consider:

1). Don’t be bitter, be better.

According to experts at MayoClinic.org: “Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to: healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, less anxiety, stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression, and a stronger immune system.” A better alternative to bitterness is to channel that energy into something more constructive.
Say like journal entries, or a healthy “vent” session on your blog?
Then let it go. And move forward.



2). Eat some “humble pie.”

See rejection as a learning opportunity. When you give things a little distance and space, revisit your rejections. Is there any merit to the editor’s criticism? Was there a “kernel” of something useful that can be garnered to enhance your writing and increase the odds for future publication? Be open and humble yourself. For example, in the infancy of my writing career, one of the first editors I worked for, and for whom I owe a tremendous debt, taught me to be more analytical in my work. She helped me write from a reader’s perspective. To make a long story short here, I had sent a piece to her about the experience of a woman who was a struggling single parent, but I neglected to address some of the major 5Ws of journalism in my feature story. She called me out on it.
I never forgot that again. This situation increased my awareness and my bottom line for years to come.

3. Don’t “stir the pot” unnecessarily.

Let’s face it: we don’t always agree with an editor’s assessment of our work. Heck, as a former senior editor myself, I’d like to think I know a thing or two. Still, from where I sit, some editors’ criticisms can come across as…well, a little petty. I remember years ago, when an editor I worked with on numerous occasions, “raked me over the coals” for what she considered “excessive use of exclamation points.” Imagine that! You’ll get no argument here. Often I write the way I speak. And I’m excited about many things! Should passion be penalized? I never made mention of it in our ongoing communication. Instead, I just made a special mental note to myself that she could be a bit “anal.” And consequently, I should be particularly observant when submitting the next pieces for her review and consideration. The moral of the story here? No matter how “half-baked” you might view their perspective, the publishing world is smaller than you think. Even when you have to part ways with an editor or publisher, (due to creative differences), exit with class and professionalism, when possible. Don’t engage in name-calling, or heated social media feuds. You’re better than that.

4. Follow proven recipes and formulas to “work smarter, not harder” and increase the odds of acceptance.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember all the rules, strategies and steps that go into a well-crafted, marketable piece. For this reason checklists can prove to be extremely helpful. Here’s one I crafted for optimizing my blog posts. You should try it, too.

Modify and season to taste.



Checklist I use for my Blog posts
 


Engaging title?
    Topic relevant to readership?

    Professional image to accompany post?

    Word count between 200-800 words (or divided into a 2-part series)?

    Paragraphs between 2-6 sentences?

    Bullet points and bold text to emphasize key points?

    Related links and resources where applicable?

    Post printed out and proofread prior to publishing?

    Call to action for readers?
     

5. Remember that we all have different “palates.”

Don’t personalize rejection.

It‘s simply someone’s professional opinion; it’s not a reflection of your value as a human being. It should not diminish nor define you. And certainly don’t let it stop you. What doesn’t appeal to one editor’s taste will likely suit another. In some instances, I have sold a previously rejected article within 24 hours. And you can too. Regroup, research more markets, then resubmit elsewhere.

Don’t get burned by rejection! It’s an integral part of the writing experience.
Follow these five tips to become a hotter, more empowered, profitable writer in 2016.
Bon Appetit!