Thursday, August 25, 2016

Odd Story Inspiration

I had to go to downtown LA for work recently.  I got on Google and looked up the address and then went to the street view so I could recognize what I was looking for.

Ever helpful, Google brought up locations near where I was going.  It suggested a breakfast place with a terrible name, Eggslut, and then right below that Google offered the Guadalupe Wedding Chapel. 
The juxtaposition of Eggslut and the wedding chapel gave me a chuckle.

Then I noticed the photo of the chapel and what struck me first was the big income tax sign. I wondered if they were pushing weddings as a tax benefit and then, when I looked more closely, I saw that not only can you get married at the wedding chapel and get your taxes done, you can also get divorced!

 Guadalupe Wedding Chapel, Los Angeles USA

I am sure that is every woman's dream to get married with as much convenience and as little hassle as possible. You can even rent or buy your dress there.  And they can tell you if your dress rental is a tax write off or not.
Putting that wonderful perk of convenience aside, I know that I would not have been happy seeing a sign advertising services for divorce on my wedding day.

I think the only service that is missing from this wedding chapel is Immigration.  Oh, maybe paternity testing! But once they add Immigration they will truly be a one stop, full service wedding venue.

To all the writers out there, don't you just want to write the story about the girl who has to get married here or the one who chooses this as her perfect option?!?

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to leave my meeting site and check this place out before having to leave the city.  I hope to make it back there and read the sign on the sidewalk and even go inside and check it out.

For now I have a few items outlined for a story that I hope to flesh out once I see this place in person.

Have you run across a place that inspired a story or a character?

Happy Writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Three Weeks

It's been three weeks today since I submitted my manuscript to an agent. This was not a blind submission, he asked to see the full manuscripts for two books. Yeah! I still get excited saying that.

Knowing that it is two full manuscripts I figure I should give him a month before I try to contact him again.  I was thinking just a quick remember me email.  I don't want to let it go too long and have him think that I am not interested or lack drive and follow up.

Is a month too long to wait?  It's been a bit tough on me but from his perspective when you are busy at work a month can just fly by with that pile sitting on the corner of your desk growing.

What do you guys think?  What is the best next step and when should I make it?

I'd love advice from anyone who's been through this before.


Happy Writing

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Searching for a job?

As you may or may not know I am a Human Resources Manager.  I have been helping the wife of an employee this week with her resume and cover letter as she tries to re-enter the work force.

I thought I should take a few moment with an actual email exchange to give you all some advice to help you have a successful job search.

Below are actual emails. The only items I have changed are the person's name, email address, and company identifying information.

From: Hopeful job applicant []
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 4:30 PM
To: Human Resources
Subject: Job opportunity
Hello, my name is jonathan smith and i am writing this message because i am intrested in a position with abc turnstiles . i am a former welder for ampco out in the job sites sam, sepulveda, and sierra. I became close friends with alex vasques and a couple of employees who encouraged me to appy for abc. if you guys are hiring by any chance. Please give me and email message or a call on how can i apply. Thanx you..  

(Sadly posting the email took out ALL the wavy red lines which highlighted all the mistakes he had made in this email.)

On Jun 30, 2015 5:24 PM, "K; wrote:

Thank you for your interest in a job opportunity with ABC Turnstiles.  Unfortunately there are no openings at this time.

Please take the time to read and apply these helpful pointers so that you will have better luck in your job search:
1)      Always attach a resume
2)      This is your first and only chance to impress the hiring manager- so work hard to impress them
a.       Use proper grammar (for example capitalization)
b.      No spelling mistakes
c.       No text short cuts, use the whole word spelled out properly.
3)      Always mention that you were referred by someone and spell their name correctly.  In this case you should mention all the employees who would give you a recommendation. More is better.

Your email is all stuffed together and without the proper capitalization it is harder to read.  You could easily have spent just a couple of more minutes and done a lot better on this email and made a much better first impression. 

I am not saying this to discourage you but to assist you in your job search.  I wish you good luck.

From: Hopeful job applicant [
I appreciate your help kathryn thornton. Yes you are right, i should have double checked my grammer. I will keep trying. Thank you.

Do you see all the mistakes he made with the second email?   

  • Obviously the capitalization, spelling and grammar did not improve.  He didn't even try. This shows me this person cannot take or follow directions well. 
  • He didn't try to improve at all. He is not someone who will grow or have a lot of upside potential.
  • He didn't attach a resume. Again not following directions and paying attention to details. We are a very safety conscious company. Our work is inherently dangerous and if this person can't follow directions or pay attention to details he is going to get himself and others hurt.
  • While I did change the email I have seriously gotten emails from email addresses that are completely unprofessional and cast the sender in a terrible light. The email address I created is a good example of ones I have seen.  Email addresses are free. Get one that shows you are a serious, respectable person I would want working for and representing our company.
  • He did not Google our company. If he had he would have found our website which has a job section and all the information he needed to know to apply.  Lazy, wants the easy way and everything handed to him.
  • He didn't take the opportunity to sell himself. He has a leg up over everyone else. He's worked on our work site and he can tell me exactly what he does well that we need.  Big opportunity lost.  Your resume may not illuminate your intangible soft skills that set you apart. Always put that information in your email and cover letter.
I bet you didn't realize how much the people you are interacting with take away from every interaction you have with them. 

What he did right:
  • He listed an employee who referred him. We always look at referrals before anyone else.  They know a current employee, that means they know the job and the company. It also means that they don't want to embarrass the person referring them or burn that bridge by screwing up at work.
  • He explained how he knew our company and that he had worked on-site through a contractor.  This means he knows our work site, procedures and employees.  This can also be a problem since there are some contractors that will not allow their employees to be hired by companies they work for but you have to divulge this information better up front than later. 
  • He did not badmouth his employer or tell me personal information that has nothing to do with his job. I receive more than a few cover letters and emails that explain that "I need a job to get money to pay for..." my daughter, or my stupid brother's drug habit, or my wife lost her job so you have to hire me.  We all need a job and have bills, I want to know why you want to work for us specifically or why this job is the best fit for you and you are the best fit for us.
  • He wrote back and said thank you.

    I was impressed that he wrote back and said thank you.  I was really hoping he was going to redeem himself.  Even if I don't have an opening now you never know when I will have one or what other HR professionals I know that I would refer you to if you impress me.

    I hope you find this helpful.  I know a lot of people are looking to move jobs now that the economy seems to be getting better and more employers are hiring.  If you are looking good luck in your job search.

    Thursday, August 4, 2016

    Let the waiting begin

    Living through construction is tough. It disrupts your life in more ways than you imagine.  We were assured that all our new flooring would be installed in a week and made sure we would be out of the house.

    My husband's boss generously lent us her vacation house for the week.  We jam packed all of our belongings into the garage and bathrooms leaving every bit of floor space bare. Then we headed off for our week of vacation.

    We were supposed to return to our beautiful new hardwood floors, but sadly we returned to exposed sub-floor and no progress on laying the new floor, which still had not arrived! UGH!

    We had no clothes, no electronics, no WiFi or printer, everything was shoved into the garage and bathrooms.

    Two weeks in there were finally a few rooms done allowing us to unload our clothes and a few other essentials. One of those being the WiFi, my kids were jonesing for video games and You tube.

    After an exhausting day of moving heavy items back into our newly floored bedrooms I collapsed onto the couch and checked my personal email, something I hadn't done for three weeks.

    That is when I found the email announcing a CBW-LA writing seminar hosted by agent, Steven Hutson of WordWise Media Services with a chance to pitch your story to him!  I excitedly looked for the date hoping I would be available. Oh, tomorrow. Tomorrow!  This was too good an opportunity to pass up so I dragged my exhausted husband off the couch with me to find the printer and get that hooked up so I could print the query page we had to bring.  An hour later the printer was hooked up and finally working. I signed up for the seminar and got to work writing the query.

    Now this was only my second attempt at writing a pitch for this book so I expected to spend hours trying to get something I liked.  It came together surprisingly fast. I was in the zone.

    Why not try to write one for my other completed manuscript?

    I was definitely in the zone. I had completed two queries. Not just completed but produced two queries I was happy with. I felt ready to go to the seminar tomorrow and pitch for the first time.

    Sadly, I hit terrible traffic and walked into the seminar late. Not a good way to make a first impression.  I meekly took my seat and started taking notes.  Steven Hutson had a lot of good information, was an engaging speaker and I had written two pages of valuable information.

    There were only 17 people there and with everyone getting a chance to pitch I figured I was going to be here a long while after the seminar ended.  I was shocked when almost half the people opted out of pitching!

    When you get a chance to meet a professional in the industry you wish to become a professional in you take it!  Even if you had pitched your book 100 times you should do it again. Practice makes perfect and this could have been the chance meeting that made all the difference in your career.

    We queued up and I waited patiently for my turn.  We were all reviewing our queries and running through our pitches in our head.

    During class when he asked me to introduce myself and my work I was inexplicably nervous and screwed it up.  I was determined to present myself much better this time.

    I must have done a great job of presenting myself and my work because he asked to see BOTH yes both full, yes I said FULL, manuscripts!

    If you are a writer or trying to become a published writer you know this is the holy grail of responses when you pitch your work to an agent or publisher.  I was over the moon.  Still am a bit.

    But now the waiting.

    Tomorrow will be a week since I submitted my manuscripts and I am still waiting.  I know not to pester him.  They are both good size books 70,000 and 77,000 words. I know he was going to give them to someone else to read first and then he would read them so what is that a week maybe two before he sees both my books; that is assuming that person tells him to read them.  They could be dead in the water with the first assistant.  Maybe they have a back log of books and they won't get to mine for two weeks.

    I am trying to check my email only twice a day.  I keep telling myself that even if he doesn't chose to sign me I had practice pitching my books, wrote my first two query letters and I may get some great advice back from him.
    Then the little voice in my head says yeah and the next eight times when you pitch this book and get no response you'll be even more let down after such an amazing response to my first pitch.  I quickly shut the door on that little voice.  If this is meant to be it will be.  If not then when it does work out it will be even better.

    I will keep you all posted.  Crossed fingers and prayers are happily accepted.

    Happy Writing!