My essay is featured on the new Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast and how writers can raise their profile by having a podcast

Chicken

The editors at Chicken Soup for the Soul have informed me that they have just started a series of inspirational podcasts to promote their books. Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher, Amy Newmark, will discuss a different Chicken Soup for the Soul book each day and highlight one story that appears in that book.

My essay, “Short Distance Romance,” which was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game has been chosen to play a role. My story is on the website now under “Wow Wednesday,” and will continue to be available on the Podbean app—which is available for free from the app store—once it airs. It was neat hearing Ms. Newmark talk about me and my story. The podcasts are six or seven minutes long and provide entertaining stories as well as great advice and easy-to-implement tips for improving your life.

For writers, podcasting is fast becoming another medium for storytelling and bringing attention to published works. It can drive traffic to your website. There is tremendous power in being in a listener’s ear as well as before their eyes with the written word. It is also a way to introduce your writing to people who aren’t avid readers. They can listen to you while they’re driving, exercising, doing housework. They can listen to you while they’re multitasking.

We’ve all heard that creating videos is important for writers to grow their online presence—book trailers and author interviews are examples. For writers who don’t feel comfortable on camera, podcasting can be the right avenue. I understand that podcasting equipment is affordable and simple to use. The newer line of USB microphones and software are inexpensive.

Podcasting does require content production and a commitment of time in order to be successful. For writers, it could be worth pursuing.

Writing a novel calls for total immersion, sometimes with fruitful results

When I was a journalist in both newspapers and television, I embraced “immersion journalism,” reporting on a story by participating in it, immersing myself in the situations and the people involved.

As a result, I once climbed into firefighter turnout gear and crawled around on my stomach in a “smoky” building to search for victims using a thermal imaging camera, floated around in an icy pond until first responders threw me a rope and pulled me out, rode around with a state trooper stopping motorists for DWI one New Year’s Eve, and strapped on roller skates and took a few whirls for a story about a roller rink that had been in a community since the 1930s and was closing down.

I believe that immersion techniques also work well with novel writing. Author Heather Sellers writes about this in her book, Chapter after Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus you Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams. “If you don’t surround yourself with your book, you risk it creeping away from you—or you unintentionally creep away from it,” she says.

grilled_chicken240To avoid the drift that Sellers refers to and bring authenticity to my story, I recently borrowed from the library a copy of Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal, a cookbook written by restaurateur and Senegalese native Pierre Thiam. I was particularly interested in the recipe for Yassa Ginaar, grilled chicken with lime-onion sauce.

My unpublished novel features a Senegalese restaurant owner who makes delicious meals for the customers in the immigrant community where he lives. One of his specialties happens to be Yassa Ginaar. I thought it would be neat to prepare the recipe, just as my character would.

The recipe calls for juicing 10 limes and grating the zest from three of them. I never knew how hard it would be to peel limes. Their skin is very thin, far different from lemons. Also I had to cut up five onions, julienne style, something I had never done before.  I also had to get my hands on a habenero pepper, a tiny pepper that I had never seen before in the supermarket, but apparently has been there for quite some time.

After rubbing in the ingredients into the chicken I had to let it marinade for a few hours. Once I had my husband try it. I could tell by the look on his face that something was wrong. The taste of lime was overpowering. I had miscalculated the proportions. The meal was a disaster. I tried to save it by soaking the food in cooked white rice (my husband’s idea) but the next day the dish was as sour as it was the first. However, the effort wasn’t a total loss. I gained an appreciation for what goes into Senegalese cooking, particularly in Yaasa Ginaar. I gained more of an appreciation for the restaurateur in my novel and the effort he takes to create savory meals or the public. I kept this in mind as I revised the scene in which he prepares this (usually) tasty dish.

The Sun magazine shines the spotlight on published essays

I was thrilled when my essay was published in the “Reader’s Write” section of The Sun Magazine last year in the June issue. The topic was “doors.” I just found out that there’s a women’s project being organized by a local community theater grouThe Sun Magazine Logop in Pennsylvania. The Sun magazine editors have asked for my permission to have my essay be among the ones included in the informal play audition to be held in a few weeks. This project provides not only acting roles for women but gives my essay exposure to a whole new audience. This is an unexpected, and welcomed benefit of getting my piece published.

Publishing News: Read my essay in Northwestern magazine

Lisa and Qu'AmereMy essay, Trust Yourself,” appears in the fall 2015 issue of Northwestern, the alumni magazine of Northwestern University. It’s about my friendship years ago, with one of my first grade Sunday School students. Since that period of time, that student, Qu’Amere, has done quite well. He’s now an adult. He graduated from college this year and has become a preschool teacher. We stay in contact. When I was back in my hometown, Bridgeport, Connecticut, over the Christmas holiday, he stopped in to say hello.

Money prize opportunity for Boston writers

Dorothy O’Connor Contest

The second annual Dorothy O’Connor Writing Contest is for Boston-area women who have published an essay or article of interest for her community and beyond in the past year (in a newspaper or journal; in print or online). Only WNBA-Boston members can nominate, but nominees do not need to be members. The winner will receive a cash prize of $500.

All submission are due on March 14th, 2015 at news.wnbaboston@gmail.com. Please submit the following: Author’s name, date and place of publication, and the essay/article (acceptable formats: .jpeg, .pdf, .doc, .docx, .pages).

Should you have any questions or have problems acquiring the essay/article do not hesitate to contact us at news.wnbaboston@gmail.com

Will you join me on my writing blog tour?

I have been invited by writer Barbara Beckwith to participate in a writing process blog tour. I have enjoyed getting to know Barbara through her work with the National Writers Union. During the years that I was the president of the Women’s National Book Association Boston chapter, she and I conferred on joint activities. Barbara is an accomplished essayist. You can read more about her on her blog. This tour has included Leslie Brunetta, Ken Wachsberger, and Adina Schecter.

Lisa Braxton’s Writing Blog Tour

What am I working on?

I’m working on a novel. I’m completing final revisions and plan to begin sending the manuscript out to literary agents before the end of July. The manuscript is set in the 1970s in a struggling New England urban community. The two sets of main characters are from different sections of the same town and are profoundly affected by an urban redevelopment project taking place. The novel explores issues of race, class, culture, and social responsibility.

In addition, I had a story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and have written three additional stories that I’ve submitted to the editors of the Chicken Soup Series that I hope will be accepted. I have also written an article for Guideposts magazine that I hope will be accepted.

Why do I write?

I enjoy expressing myself creatively through the written word. I write short stories, magazine articles drawing from my journalism background, and essays. When readers tell me that my writing inspired them, gave them hope, made them cry, made them reflect on their own situations, then I feel that I’ve done my job well.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My professors at the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University told me that no two people can tell a story the same way. I hope that I bring something unique to the reading experience.

How does my writing process work?

I write with my feet up in the bed. I write on the couch. I write in the library, during my lunch break at work, at the crack of dawn at the kitchen table, while I’m under the hair dryer at the hair dresser, while on airplanes. Whenever I can fit in a few moments of writing, I write.

So now it’s your turn. What do you think of the writing blog tour? Care to join me? How about some fellow alums of the Southern New Hampshire University MFA program. Let me know.

Here’s a tip for promoting your writing

Chicken Soup Door PrizeGypsy Kitchen is a gourmet wine and cheese shop near where I work. I like to stop by for the Friday evening wine tastings and chat with the owner, Lisa. The other day she told me about the special events the wine shop hosts–bridal showers, singles events, girls’ nights out–and I got an idea: why not offer a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, in which my story, “Short Distance Romance” appears, as a door prize. Lisa said she’d be happy to do it and that she would mention me along with the door prize in an upcoming issue of her newsletter.

I’m also giving a copy of the book away as a door prize for the next meeting of a women’s club I belong to in Boston. I’ve autographed the books, tucked my business card with my blog address on the page where my essay appears, and placed the books in decorative wrapping.

Door prizes are a great vehicle for promoting your writing and getting your name before the public. What do you think? If you have a great idea we writers can use to raise our profiles, I’d love to share it.

 

The inside scoop on “Chicken Soup for the Soul”

Chicken Soup Book on the ShelfWell folks, bookstore shelves are a little more full now that Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, which includes my essay, “Short Distance Romance” on page 227, has arrived. At the Barnes and Noble nearest me, the Braintree, Massachusetts store, the book is in the self-help/relationship section nestled between 10,000 Ways to Say I Love You and 101 Quizzes for Couples.

In the table of contents you’ll find my essay in the “Never Too Late for Love” section. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that at first; It reminded me of not only my age, but how long it took me to find my guy, but now I’m feeling more comfortable with the reference.

Sandra Briggs and me at Braintree Barnes and Noble

Sandra Briggs and me at Braintree Barnes and Noble

My good friend Sandra Briggs, who’s in town from Atlanta met up with me at B and N Braintree for some girl talk and to celebrate my part in Chicken Soup’s latest publication. We made a toast to future publishing endeavors over skinny peppermint mocha latte’s and hot chocolate. I had shown Sandra the essay long before I submitted it to Chicken Soup, when it was just a Word document.  To refresh her memory she reread it while we were at Barnes and Noble, chuckling at different parts and beaming when she got to the end.

Chicken Soup Lisa keeperThe Chicken Soup people tell me that  the “contributors,” as we writers are called, make public appearances all over the country, doing book signings and talks at bookstores, libraries, and civic group events. I understand that the new volume will get a lot of attention around Valentine’s Day. I’ve told them I’d be happy to hit the literary circuit. If they schedule me for events, I’ll let you know.