6-week Mom Writer Mentor course beginning September 1, 2010
I am preparing a syllabus for a six-week writing course for homeschooling mothers who have always wanted to be a writer or who are just starting in their writing careers. As a homeschooling mother who has been writing for publication for over 20 years I am a firm believer that learning doesn’t stop with a diploma and that each of us can learn what we need to learn when we need it, with or without a teacher. I am proof of that, since in the last two years I have learned how to design a press kit, write a book proposal, and write agent query letters, all through extensive research and a bit of trial and error. That said, I believe strongly in mentors. Having a mentor who has gone before you and can show you the way can save a lot of research time and faltering steps. I’ve had a certain amount of success with my writing, but I’ve also made every mistake in the book. You don’t have to make the same mistakes.
Where am I in my writing path? I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1985 with a degree in Psychology. I have had over 125 articles and essays published in newspapers and magazines such as The Sun, Home Education, Backwoods Home, Back Home, Our Iowa, and the regional magazine Julien’s Journal, among others. I have essays in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul, Homeschool Open House, Voices of Caregiving, Women Reinvented, and Love is a Flame. I wrote features and a monthly column for the Independence Bulletin Journal newspaper in Independence, Iowa in 1992-1993. I won third place in The Writer magazine’s “Take Joy” contest in 2003 and received Honorable Mention in Brain,Child magazine’s essay contest in 2002. Quotes of mine appear in the books, The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, and The First Year of Homeschool by Linda Dobson. I have one book published, Homeschooling From Scratch, released by Gazelle Publications in 1996. I have a completed cancer memoir that I have been pulling from for anthologies and am currently working on a nonfiction ethnological research of extreme couponers.
What can I do for you? I have always wanted to take an online course or workshop to improve my writing but the cost has been prohibitive. The majority of the courses I have been interested in have cost at least $250, an amount not in the budget of any homeschooling mother that I know, since most of us live off of one income. I can offer you an affordable option and a jump-start of sorts for your own writing. Depending upon your level of expertise you will either explore genres or concentrate on one genre. You will learn about editing and revising, researching markets, creating an online presence and building your platform (essential in today’s publishing world) and, together, we will revise and edit at least one piece for submission. Either way, the goal at the end of the six-week course is the same: you will either have submitted, or be ready to submit, something for publication. All of this will be done online in a weekly course that will begin September 1, 2010. Each of you will get the same lesson through the e-mail every Wednesday, with an assignment that will be due by the following Monday.
Why should you sign up for this course? Only you can answer that, but I can tell you one thing: if you think you have to wait until your children are grown up before you start writing, you are mistaken. If I’d done that, I’d still be waiting. My youngest is 7. As homeschoolers we tell our children that life is learning, so why not show them the truth of that example. If God gave you a natural talent, you need to develop it. Just like any talent, writing needs practice to refine. You don’t need a degree or a big investment to get started in freelance writing, just some raw talent, paper and pens. As for the time commitment, if I can find the time all these years, so can you. It might mean forgoing television watching or getting up earlier than your children, but it can be done. My methods of finding time have changed throughout the years, from getting up at 5:30 a.m. to driving to a restaurant for two hours every week, but one thing hasn’t changed: I make the time to write. Believe me, whatever your situation, I have likely been there; nursing babies and toddlers, pregnant (8 times!), caring for an ill spouse, or homeschooling. So I do understand how difficult it is to make time for you. But you will be glad you did. This might just be the beginning of a profitable career. At the very least it will be an outlet for your creativity. It is time to reignite a burgeoning creativity you once nourished or to begin following dreams you once held.
The nuts and bolts.
You don’t have to be a homeschooling mother to take this course. I am approaching homeschooling mothers since I know it is the mothers in the trenches who most often neglect their own needs, and let’s face it~ there is no trench so deep as that we carve for ourselves as mothers who choose to educate their own children. Our peers can at least foresee a time when their children will be in the classroom for a good portion of the day. We need to learn to work around our children. Homeschooling is a noble choice indeed, but there is no need for a homeschooling mother to sacrifice her creative self for her children. I expect to extend this service to homeschooled teens at some point, as well. If you are not interested in these lessons but feel that your older teen has the talent and might benefit, please e-mail me and I will add them to the mailing list for when I do begin youth classes. For those who are at a higher level in their writing or who take the first class and want to learn about book proposals, agent and publisher query letters and press kits, I will be adding an advanced class as well.
You will need an Internet connection and a valid e-mail address. You need to know how to cut and paste your work into the body of an e-mail. You should be familiar with a word processing program on your computer, or at least be able to get familiar with it. The word processing program will do a lot of the spelling checks for you, and if you have Microsoft Word (instead of Works), will even check your grammar and syntax. I will do a lot of of this with you but editing and revising is crucial so that you are only sending your most polished work out, and it would be nice if I don’t have to concentrate all my efforts on correcting your spelling.
Cost for this first session will be at a reduced introductory rate of $40 and if necessary, can be paid in two installments; $20 upon sign-up and $20 after three weeks. I am also open to bartering if you have items that our family regularly uses. I am an avid couponer so anything that can be bought with a coupon is plentiful in our home, but don’t hesitate to ask about other things you might have to barter (free product coupons, gift cards, etc.) Try me. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an introductory questionnaire and an application if you are interested in the course or have questions. And feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be interested.