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Author Interview – EDIE MELSON

 

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On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference will take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds.  So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers at the conference in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference) Hope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

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Please give a big welcome to EDIE MELSON. I had pleasure of meeting Edie at last year’s conference. She is a prolific blogger, as well as writing instructor with a focus on social media. Her blog, The Write Conversation, is loaded with guidelines and tips for getting the most from our online presence. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge MountainsChristian Writers Conference, the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts.org
and Senior Editor at Novel Rocket
“Edie Melson is a woman with a passion to share what the love of God looks like in practical application. Her heart to help others hear from God and find His path for their lives has connected her with women everywhere.”

 

rem: Thank you, Edie, for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised?

Edie: I was raised in Texas, in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

rem: And where do you live now?

Edie: I live in a suburb of Greenville, SC – in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

rem: We’re practically neighbors! Tell us three things about yourself.

Edie: I love to knit. I grew up with very creative parents, my dad was a classical musician & music professor at UTA (Arlington, TX) and photographer. My mom is an internationally known artist (watercolor & multimedia). I always say that I’m creative out of self-defense.

rem: Yarn seems to be a recurring theme, makes me want to dig out my knitting needles and crochet hooks! What’s your favorite cookie?

Edie: My favorite cookie is a decorated sugar cookie – decorated with royal icing!

rem: Sounds Christmassy! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Edie: I’m a hot tea drinker and I’m addicted to the Chai Tea Latte’s from Starbucks with a shot of sugar free vanilla syrup

rem: I’m not crazy about Chai but I do love a good cuppa English breakfast tea. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer? What are the names of your pets?

Edie: I’m equal – I have a dog, Jake, who’s 15 and is a German Shepherd/Chow/Mut. And a 10 yr old tortoise shell long-haired cat named Emily Dickinson

rem: That’s some longevity in your animal babies. What is your greatest fear?

Edie: My greatest fear is looking back and wishing I’d walked through more of the doors God opened for me.

rem: Me too, but I see it as a learning curve. What is your favourite quotation and why?

Edie: Therefore, if you extract the precious from the worthless you will become My spokesperson. Jeremiah 15:19. This reminds me that what I do isn’t perfect, I need to be willing to work to make it shine.

rem: That’s what He does in us, isn’t it? Extracts the precious from the worthless! What do you most value in a friend?

Edie: Loyalty and Honesty.

rem: Without that, it’s not much of a friendship, is it? When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

Edie: An unsatisfying ending. It doesn’t always have to be a happy ending – although that is my preference. But it needs to make sense and wrap up all the loose ends. I ALWAYS read the last page of a book before I buy it unless I know and trust the author.

rem: I try not to read that last page, but I agree about an ending that pulls things together. Else, what’s the point of the story? Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Edie: There are two that are tied: GIANT, by Edna Ferber and GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell

rem: GONE WITH THE WIND is a great classic! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

Edie: I love classic scifi – especially Isaac Asimov.

rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?

Edie: I truly think I’d shrivel up and die. I’ve learned that I process life through words – that’s what helps me make sense of whatever is going on.

rem: You’re not the only one who’s told me that. And I think I do the same! Tell us a little about your writing/blogging journey.

Edie: I began to get serious about my writing in the late 90s. I started my blog in December of 2009 and now get between 30,000 – 50,000 unique views per month and have reached over 1.7 million views. I began as a freelance writer because I needed to earn money and published over 700 articles in 2010 and also in 2011. I’d always wanted to write books, but I believe that putting my time in as a freelancer taught me so much. It also allowed me to prove myself as a writer and gave me time to build a platform. In 1996, I was turned down by a major publisher because of having no platform. I think that is what has made me so focused on building a following. As of the end of this year, I will 8 published books.

rem: I for one am glad you focused on building a platform—and share your knowledge with the rest of us! What is your writing routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Edie: I recently took over an upstairs bedroom for my office and love writing there. We also have a beautiful screened-in back porch and I LOVE to write out there when the weather is nice (about 9 months out of the year). I generally write creatively in the morning and edit/do email and things in the afternoon.

rem: Ah! The stuff of (my) dreams! What makes you struggle as a writer? How do you handle it?

Edie: I’m my own worst enemy. My internal voices are fearful and condemning. I have to work to overcome the negativity in my own brain.

rem: I am well familiar with those voices. Thankfully they are mostly silenced now. How do you balance the demands of speaking, writing, and coaching?

Edie: I’m still working on that, I definitely haven’t arrived. But I try to use what I call the chunky method. I break tasks into chunks of time and focus on one thing at a time, even though I do several things a day.

rem: Isn’t that the nature of being a creative? (And do we ever really “arrive?”) What do you enjoy most about being a writer/blogger?

Edie: To paraphrase Eric Lidell (Chariots of Fire) “When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.” It’s not always easy, but writing brings me joy. I also love working at home and setting my own hours.

rem: Love that quote! ‘Cause I feel the same way! What are your top 3 social media and networking recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

Edie: To Do:

  1. Be consistent. Small, consistent steps will get you much farther, much faster, than spending hours once every week or so. (And spend no more than 30 minutes a day on social media.)
  2. Don’t make it about you. I have what I call, Edie’s 5 to 1 Rule. For every 5 social media updates, you’re only allowed 1 about yourself or your product.
  3. Find your social media sweet spot and spend the bulk of your time there. We all have to do Facebook and Twitter (because that will net you almost 100% of your audience) but we don’t have to like them both. I’m a Twitter fan and get more interaction there, so I spend more time there. I still do FB, but I spend more time on twitter because I get more bang for my buck there.

Not To Do:

  1. Don’t chase every new platform. Do the basics, don’t try to do everything.
  2. Don’t use any picture but a headshot for your social media avatars and make sure they’re consistent from network to network so people can find you. (rem: by the way, I’m doing this now because I remember you saying at last year’s conference!)
  3. Don’t wait to build a social media presence. I have a friend who waited until after she had a publisher interested in her book and while they did eventually offer her a contract – it had NO ADVANCE. The reason was because she had no social media platform. Yes, spend the bulk of your time learning to write well, but DO NOT neglect doing social media at the same time. Remember, small consistent steps!

rem: Slow and steady, seems solid advice to me! Tell us a little about your books, Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle and While My Soldier Serves.

Edie: In 2006, our oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corps Boot Camp, and on to Iraq as a frontline infantry Marine. I promised God if He stuck with us and helped us survive, He could do anything He wanted with my story. The first book, Fighting Fear, was published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Eddie Jones (the publisher) helped shape that book. It’s a unique blend of devotional and anthology. Each chapter has several true stories of how someone coped with fear while their soldier was at war. It covers time from WWII through the Iraq conflict.

 

From there, I got the opportunity to start blogging with Guideposts as their Military Family Blogger.

 

That led me to my next book, While My Soldier Serves, with Worthy Inspired. I’ve been so blessed to work with Pamela Clements there as she shaped this book. This book is simply prayers for a soldier, written from the point of view of someone who cares about them. It’s appropriate for an individual or to use in a group setting. A lot of it was taken from my deployment prayer journal that I kept during our son’s two deployments. It’s been an amazing experience to be able to write an entire book of prayers.

rem: So touching and poignant, thanks for joining us today, Edie. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

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You can find Edie at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edie.melson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdieMelson

Website: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com

Guideposts Blog: https://www.guideposts.org/users/egmelson

Amazon Fighting Fear: http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Fear-Military-Devotional-Veterans-ebook/dp/B0065QXICK/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451431330&sr=1-6&keywords=edie+melson

Amazon While My Soldier Serves: http://www.amazon.com/While-My-Soldier-Serves-Military-ebook/dp/B00TRAAZ90/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451431330&sr=1-1&keywords=edie+melson

 

 

#ediemelson, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #blogger, #TheWriteConversation, #novelrocket, #socialmediacoach, #whilemysoldierserves

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“I’ve been thrown in the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave. …

Since the release of Tessa, I have sought to broaden my writer’s presence. I have joined writer’s pages and groups, I have subscribed to other author’s pages. I started a blog and revived another one, and this robin bird finally decided to tweet.”   [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

 

When I wrote Tessa I didn’t know for Author page – Facebook or Amazon – hadn’t even heard of Goodreads, avoided Twitter, and wasn’t blogging at all, at all. I wrote. That was it. Only AFTER she was released into the wild did I plug myself into the unique community of writers. A year ago, I was “ … learning to swim. And I think my feet are touching some sand in the murky waters, and I’m starting to wade through this media panoply.” [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

 

That was media. The other, and perhaps more enriching, branch of this tree I’ve climbed, is writer’s groups [and yes, I’ve attended] and conferences. And this is the more troublesome branch for me, because… it involves money. [‘nother story, ‘nother blog post, ‘nother time – think testimony] Money: I haven’t had it. Not to spare, barely enough to meet living expenses. Ergo, definitely not there to pay for a conference, let alone travel to and from, or accommodations whilst there. I longed to go, to attend, to rub shoulders with the who’s who of writing. I viewed pics posted on Facebook wistfully, hoping – praying – for my turn.

 

MY TURN CAME!! Weekend with The Writers [WWTW] was right here in Greenville, SC!!! I could walk it I had to…. [so glad I didn’t have to]

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http://weekendwiththewriters.com/

 

Let me take a moment and share how this came about – and the utter and incomparable value of networking. I was part of a thread in one of my writer groups, talking about memes. I do a decent meme, and promised to create a meme tutorial on my process. [haven’t forgotten that, ya’ll!!] One of the participants and I were later having a private IM conversation about it, and she asked me where I live. Because she was coming to a conference in Greenville, SC. That was the first I heard of it! I clicked on the link, Father God made a way for me to pay for it, my new friend offered to let me room with her, AND they picked me up. [oh yeah, I’m not driving right now – long story, also money related… ] And I only heard of the conference on 25 February – THREE WEEKS before the conference!! I shared with a friend how it all came together, and me watching it happen; she said, “Favor looks good on you.” To which I replied, “It feels kinda good too.”

 

So I got there, and it was amazing. I was at a conference!!! On the one hand, it felt as natural as if I did this every day. On the other hand, I felt like a five-year-old at Disney for the first time. [I kinda was!!]

 

Headlining our event were Kristen Heitzmann, DiAnn Mills, Edie Melson, and Lynette Eason, all names I’d seen and at least read blog posts. Only one, Kristen, had I heard of before I dove into my own writing career, having read Freefall, a few years ago, declaring her to be one of my new favorite authors. All of them personable and approachable, willing to interact – not sure what I expected, not divas with body guards, I’m sure! I felt as an associate, if at entry level, with their stellar multi-published careers. Quite heady for this former invisiblet!!

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Gotta give a SHOUT OUT to the WWTW staff, who were amazing, catering to the needs of each of us in the room – even providing chocolate for us at the mid-afternoon doze-off on Saturday – and making us all feel welcome.

 

My take-aways from the event – and I benefitted from each one:

  • DiAnn Mills and Characterization [possibly my weakest area] – let’s see, she covered a good gamut – body language, color symbolism, sensory perception. The stand-out statement for me, “Transfer my emotion to my character point of view.” [altho, I think my tendency is more that I pick up the emotion of my characters.]
  • Kristen Heitzmann and Writing a Compelling Story – “A compelling story compels me to write it.” There’s more but I don’t want to give the whole conference away for future attendees!! *wink wink And yes, when I’m writing, I’m compelled to do so.
  • Lynette Eason and Queries and Proposals – For me, more of a review. Bottom line, be professional about it.
  • Edie Melson and Social Media – Hot topic for this writer! Remember the “Drowning” references above? Edie also covered a good gamut in her topic, and made me feel good that I’m doing the right things, media-wise. Mostly. I need to up my “presence” on Twitter, with #hashtags [yeeps! they’re missing from this post!!] and some great suggestions for tweeting on the regular.

 

And the biggest take-away: no two authors’ path is identical. Every article written, every conference workshop, offers something of value; and every author gleans from this tidal wave of information the splashes and puddles that best fit his or her career. I was very happy to hear a consensus that if you are an edit-as-you go writer, which I am, then OWN IT. Yes, thank you.

 

I take that back. The best take-away from this conference are the friends and connections I made. Now if I could just get my pics to upload from my phone…..

 

 

#WeekendwithTheWriters, #writersconference, #kristenheitzmann, lynetteeason, ediemelson, diannmills, #FORWARD

 

 

 

 

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