Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Book Signing Fiasco -- Kimberly Rae

My first book signing was this past Saturday, and it almost didn't happen.

I went up the mountain where I'd scheduled with a shop lady to set up outside her little store. Unfortunately, she being new did not know the rules that basically said I couldn't do that. Another very nice shopkeeper told me about the rule, and yet another not-so-friendly shopkeeper emphasized the various rules I was apparently breaking right at that moment.

My husband helped me pack up and we got ready to drive home. So much for my very first book signing.

Fortunately, the library nearby happened to be having an outdoor book sale that day. Providence! I asked some nice lady who asked some other guy if I could set up my little table near their setup and they agreed. Things were looking better, until I drove around to the parking spot they'd saved for me and there was this tiny elderly lady sitting in a folding chair in the parking space. I waved at her to show her that I was the one she was saving it for and she scrambled out of the way, not smiling.

I got out and started setting up when the same lady asked me, "Who are you?" in a tone that implies, "What in the world are you doing, young lady?!"

Oh dear. Come to find out, she was the person in charge, no one told her about me, and seems she thought I was trying to run her over--or something unhappy like that. Well, that wasn't a good way to start the day. I remembered that verse in Proverbs about how a gift in the hand pacifies the king, so I brought a copy of my book over to where she was whispering about me to a friend, and I apologized for not asking her first (not like I knew I should, but oh well) and I wanted her to have a copy of my book. Well, she said it wasn't necessary, but I said I wanted to, and finally she relented to accepting it for the library.

I set things up, then spent a few hours chatting with people about my book and life overseas and such, and selling 12 copies. Definitely less than I'd hoped for, but considering the weather, the broken rules and the unhappy lady, I was very thankful I'd sold any at all!

In the end, I made some friends, sold some books, and the elderly lady turned out to be a very nice person who wished me luck and even gave me some free books for my kids. (And I learned a lesson or two about finding just the right person to ask--which I will hopefully do ahead of time next time.)

Second book signing, here I come. I'm excited about the possibilities, and I will try very, very hard not to offend whoever knows the rules or is in charge, or anybody else if I can help it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Writing What You Know --Kimberly Rae

Sometimes I have wondered why God sent me overseas for so many years, then brought me back. I spent so much time studying and adapting to different cultures, I learned a new language, I was ready to give my life to overseas missions.

Then my health problems brought my whole family back to America. As far as we can tell, back to stay.

I would be lying to say I haven't wondered why. So many people are not willing to go. We were willing, so why keep us here?

God does work in mysterious ways, and some questions will never get answers until heaven. But sometimes God lets us see glimpses of the answers here in this life.

I think my glimpse has come in the form of a book—my book on human trafficking titled Stolen Woman, newly released this summer. Writing it was like going back for a visit. And the main character's experiences—being young, idealistic and desperately wanting to do something of significance—all of that was written more from memory than imagination.

They (whoever they are) say you should write about what you know. I did. I wrote about a girl who appears competent and confident but is really insecure, and wants to make a difference to show herself and God that she is worthwhile. I wrote about arriving into a world that has too much evil, too many orphans, too many trapped women, and the painful realization that none of us can save the world, no matter how much we care.

I wrote about learning that God’s value of us is based on the extent of His love, not the extent of our abilities or achievements.

All of this I know. And I know about Asia, about the street kids in my book, about the missionaries who have their own faults and inconsistencies, about the color and life and noise that make up a foreign culture.

I'm certain that my years serving cross-culturally were not for the sole purpose of being able to write a good book; however, I see that being able to write from real experiences and thoughts and feelings creates a much more powerful story than I could have created from research.

So, it seems, those nebulous "they" people were right. Writing about what you know is more powerful. Despite not being able to go out there myself anymore, I get to verbally take readers overseas, and introduce them to missions and the needs of the world.

Who knows? Maybe someone will read my book, and God will use it to call them to overseas work. Maybe my book will result in women being rescued that I could never have reached. It's just a glimpse, but that would be a good answer to the question of why God sent me, and then brought me back. I know it's not the whole answer, but it is enough of an answer to remind me to trust Him with the rest of the question.

So I shall continue to write what I know, and let God use it however He will.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Interview Challenge: Writing Up the Interview

Now that you have done your interview, it is time to write it up. There are two ways to do this: the narrative essay or the question and answer format. The essay is a more subjective style where you write more from your experience with the person, dotting it with anecdotal information, research and quotes from your interviewee.
When you write from the Q and A style, you are giving a more objective approach by letting the interviewee speak for herself. To keep this type sharp and informational, pose short questions that are interesting, perhaps even reflecting your style of speaking. Their answers will be written using their exact words—no paraphrasing allowed, but you can edit out any ramblings or extra filler words, like, “you know.”
Both formats will need an introductory paragraph. This is where you explain to your readers who is being interviewed, and why, when, and where. Tell them your goal for the interview –that will become your thesis statement—and what topics you will be covering. Include in this paragraph a few sentences that describe your setting—if you are in an environment that is familiar to your subject, this description will start revealing who this person is. Physically describe your interviewee: what does she look like, what she is wearing, what spills out of her purse, what mannerisms she tends to exhibit. This will be another important, unspoken layer to your portrayal.
Keeping your thesis and the topics you want to cover in mind, start crafting the body of your written interview. Use your chosen topics as subheadings; then place supporting quotes and stories that fit under each heading. This will provide a necessary structure to your article and help you plan the transitions to get you from one topic to the next.
Incorporating quotes into your text can sometimes be awkward. Using the words, “Freda says, ‘…’” all the time is a bit monotonous. Varying your conversational tags is crucial for an interview essay. Here is an informative resource that I often use that will hopefully be helpful to you in the area of integrating quotes into your text: Transitions to Incorporate Quotations or Paraphrases.
The best interviews will reveal something new about your subject. As you draw the article to a close, your concluding paragraph should refer back to any disclosure that proves interesting, provocative, or newsworthy. If your interviewee reveals future plans, place them in the conclusion. Save their snappiest quote for the ending: this is a great way to leave your readers remembering the person you selected to interview.

READERS: Did you take the Interview Challenge? If you did, please submit it to editor@womenoftheharvest.com. I will publish it on this blog and we can all enjoy getting to know someone new!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Interview Challenge: Let's Do It

An interview is like having a conversation, with one caveat. “The goal of a conversation is to exchange information; the goal of an interview is to receive information,” says John Sawatsky, Canada’s premier investigative reporter and expert on interviewing.
Sawatsky elaborates with the suggestion of sounding conversational, but being careful not to engage in conversation. Remember, you are the CEO of this meeting. You are there to gain information, so don’t lose control of the “conversation.”
The time has come. The location is set. Your questions are prepared. Fresh batteries are in your recorder. You are ready to sit down with your person of interest and conduct the interview. Take a deep breath, shoot off a quick prayer and remember the following tips.
Conducting a Great Interview: 12 Things You Need to Know
1. Have an interview template: capture all the contact information, job title: “how would you like me to describe you,” interview questions, topics, stated goal.
2. Introduce yourself; be yourself; be enthusiastic.
3. Remind the interviewee why the interview is happening.
4. Decide how you are going to record your interview. Ask permission if you will be using a recording device. Have a back-up system to recording: record it and take notes. Be proficient with your equipment.
5. Begin slowly, start with an easy question to get them talking about themselves. But get to your important questions soon after a rapport has been established just in case the interview is cut short. Ask one question at a time. People find it much easier to tell stories that to give precise answers. Keep the focus if the person starts deviating: “do you have any stories that illustrate that point?” or “how does that relate to...”
6. You should be talking 10-20% of the time. Maintain eye contact; nod gently as they speak to encourage them to continue talking.
7. Don’t interrupt; it upsets the person’s train of thought.
8. Listen hard. A common mistake is to be thinking of the next question while the subject is answering the previous one.
9. Endure awkward silences--sometimes this gives the necessary space for the interviewee to be more forthcoming, especially around sensitive topics. Sit quietly and see what comes next. The interviewee may want to say something important that you were not expecting.
10. Be prepared to improvise and adapt. You want spontaneous answers.
11. Ask your interviewee if there is anything you did not talk about that would be important for readers to know towards the end of the interview. This could invite her to tell something she may have been holding back--this could be her moment to be brave.
12. At the end, always say thank you.
Once the interview is over, immediately take the time to write up your impressions and make sure your quotes are accurate. Look back at your questions and your interviewee’s responses; fill in any gaps that may have happened during the course of your conversation, I mean, interview.
I hope you are going to take the challenge of interviewing someone. Next week, I’ll be practicing my interviewing skills on 100 women coming to the WOTH Furlough Retreat. I’m getting my list of questions and goals ready. Are there any questions you would like me to ask your peers? Let me know and I will.
Next week: Writing up the Interview.


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