What If


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

What If

By Nandy Ekle

  1. What if . . . every night after you turn off the television and lay down in your bed, you hear whispers. You don’t find anyone in your room, or house. So you walk out on your porch and the noise is so loud you can almost make out words. That’s when you realize the stars are talking to each other.
  1. What if…you went on a picnic with your significant other. After your sandwiches, chips and cookies you lay on the blanket next to each other and watch the white fluffy clouds laze across the sky. Suddenly they begin to bunch up and split apart. That’s when you realize they are spelling words.
  1. What if . . . you listened to the dedication hour on the radio. You don’t really pay that close attention to the stories the callers tell about their loved ones, you just like the songs they ask for. Then a voice comes on the radio dedicating your favorite song to you. That’s when you realize the voice belongs to someone you knew a long time ago who has passed away.
  1. What if . . . you planned a vacation to another country. You’ve never had a passport before, so you start the process to get one. You dig through the drawers and find your birth certificate, but it’s become tattered and faded to the point it’s completely unreadable. You go to the courthouse to get a new certified copy. They take your money and pull the certificate out of the printer. That’s when you realize that everything you knew about your birth up until now was a lie.
  1. What if . . . you decided to buy new bedroom furniture. You shopped the furniture store and found exactly what you wanted–bed and mattress, nightstand, and dresser with mirror. You come home and get the old furniture ready to be taken away. As you clean out your bottom drawer, you discover something you thought was lost. That’s when you realize your life would have been totally, completely different if you had known the object was there.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Music to Write By


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Music to Write By

By Nandy Ekle

 I love all kinds of music and this time of year is rich with tunes. There are hymns to God as well as love to fellow man. There are songs about the magic of the season and joy of children learning about Christmas. And there are always love songs because this time of seems to inspire romance.

For the past few mornings I have woken up with a certain song in my head that I’ve heard on the Christmas radio station. It’s not necessarily a happy song, and that’s why it continues to play through my brain. I know there’s a story in that song.

When I hear the words, its’ easy to slide into that zone and visualize the confusion and torment the singer feels. I hear, see, and feel the whole thing play out. I can even smell the scents in the room where the holiday party is taking place. The character in my head picks up a nibble from a tray and I taste the morsel as he/she pops it into his/her mouth.

My job now is to write down what my character tells me through the song. I need to let go of the reins and let the zone overtake me completely to get my own words on paper.

Listen to one of your favorite Christmas songs and let your senses take over. Let the magic of the season write the story for you.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Getting Out the News


Outtakes 33

Getting Out the News

At one time or another, we volunteer to help with an organization’s fund raiser or special event. Once the committee learns we are writers, we are appointed to serve on the publicity committee. One would think writing press releases or commercial copy would come easily to a writer.  And of course we’re naturals for appearing on TV and radio. Not necessarily so. Even the experts have problems preparing quality announcements.

One only has to watch television ads to realize good spots are scarce. I’ve watched commercials that did not sell the product or service. Sometimes I didn’t even know the point of the advertisement. If the viewer is scratching his head at the end of the spot, the copy writer has failed his client. I’ve written copy over the years, some good, some not so great. This is what I’ve learned about writing ads and press releases. Simply approach the release as a story.

That’s it. Give it a beginning, middle, and an end. Ad classes say we should create the need (beginning), provide a solution (middle), and seal the deal (end). Keep it simple. Don’t leave out the details. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to call a client to get event dates, location, times, or contact information. Omit this vital information, and the reader or listener is still in the dark. Proof read your copy for typo’s and transposed numbers. Phone numbers, email addresses, website information, street addresses and dates are easy targets for errors. Finally, make sure you submit the information at least 48 hours prior to the media’s deadline. Early submission gives the media reps the opportunity to verify information before the ad hits the air or newspaper.

Radio and television stations often provide slots on morning shows or talk news for non-profits and community organizations to promote events. Seize the opportunity! It’s not as frightening as you might think. Send a press release to the station so the producer has enough information to properly schedule your appearance. Make a few notes on index cards and keep them with you during the interviews. Arrive early so that the producer or interviewer can review the press release with you before going on the air. Relax. Be open and friendly. Listen to the interviewer’s questions before responding. Thank the interviewer for their time, and write a thank you note afterward.

One of the things I’m slowly learning is the value of social media. Press releases may be posted on Face Book or any of the numerous social media sites. If you send the message out to all of your friends, one of your contacts might share with their friends, who will share with their contacts. The potential is amazing. Linking to friends’ websites provides another avenue to promote the activity. Above all, it’s free publicity.

Good promotion takes time to prepare. It can make or break your event so don’t wait to the last minute to get started. Now if you will excuse me, I have a PSA and press release to write for Frontiers in Writing’s Let’s Write Weekend to be held June 29-30, 2012 at the Amarillo College Washington Street campus in Amarillo, Texas. Additional information may be found on our website, panhandleprowriters.org.

Cait Collins