Writers’ Workshop: Chapbook 101 | Putting Your Manuscript Together

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This January, spend a Saturday afternoon working on your chapbook or collection of poems, essays, or short stories with Richard Krawiec, Danny Krawiec, and Melissa Hassard of Jacar Press and Sable Books.

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The 2014 Citizen Diplomacy Summit and Building Cultural Bridges in the Social Media Age

Imagine if everyone got involved?

I’m honored to have been invited to the panel last night for the 2014 Citizen Diplomacy Summit  in Cary, North Carolina, at The Cary Downtown Theater.  The panel was moderated by Dr. Calvin Hall from NCCU, and included Leila Bekri, who works in promoting diplomacy and cultural exchanges for an international leadership program, Leslie Huffman, who founded LOL Marketing, and Wesley Lo, an international student exchange advocate from NC State University.  The panel theme was Building Cultural Bridges in the Social Media Age.  Learn more about the panelists here.

“Citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations, ‘one handshake at a time.’ Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists. They are motivated by a responsibility to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.”  –The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy

And it was terrific to learn more about this program.  The centerpiece of the summit was the video competition that ran this year, free to entrants ages 18 to 25 and living in North Carolina.  Congratulations to grand prize winner, Ilayda Yigit (North Carolina School of the Arts), who received $500 for her film MeetCute, and Misha Tobar (NCSU), who received 2nd prize and $250 for her film, Citizen Diplomacy in France.  Both videos were publicly screened at the beginning of the evening, and had two different takes on the meaning of citizen diplomacy. MeetCute is an abstract take on the television/film term, meet-cute, which is a scene in film, television, etc. in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.  Citizen Diplomacy in France features a montage of multi-cultural scenes, including food, music and dance, from a trip to France, edited with energetic music pumping in the background.  Judges for the film competition were Alan Buck, Lorenzo Collado, Joan Conwell, Terry ‘Doc’ Thorne.  Read more about the judges here.

This was the sixth annual Citizen Diplomacy Summit, which is co-sponsored by the Sister Cities Association of Cary and the Town of Cary.  The Sister Cities Association is a non-profit association that, according to their website, strives to further global understanding and to encourage and assist sister city relationships between the citizens of Cary and cities throughout the world, especially Cary’s four Sister Cities, Le Touquet, France, Markham, Ontario, Hsinchu, Taiwan, and County Meath, Ireland.

The evening started out with networking over terrific food, with perhaps 40 or so people in attendance.  Dr. Hall opened the discussion with the question, How has people-to-people diplomacy changed as a result of social media?  This is an exciting time with technology outpacing use, our governments and laws, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of how to use it to affect real change. Our definitions of the word tribe are changing, opening up, to include a global community.  Wesley told the story of when he was tasked with the opening of a building at N.C. State, and so he created a short, one-minute video, and uploaded it to Instagram and sent it around in e-mail.  The next morning, there was a line outside that building to get in.

And that’s the point.  Social media is a tool, a powerful tool, in connecting us all.  We have ideas and tools and we can use them for the greater good.  But be careful we do not leave others behind.  To the notion that “if you’re not online, you’re irrelevant,” I say that it’s not a good idea to lose track of people with wisdom or experience or knowledge just because they may not be online, and it is incumbent upon those of us who have a platform to speak for those who do not, or can’t.  One of the challenges we all face is reaching people who are not connected, especially in other cultures. And we must be mindful of how we use social media and those who would abuse it, or any government that would try and control its citizen’s access.

The exchange between audience and the panel was fantastic, highly interactive, and the young people in the audience shared their stories and perspectives with us. I loved that part, honestly. There was so much of a spirit of collaboration and community in those moments, and it made the evening really special for me.  Topics ranged all over the map, including B Corporations (businesses who are part for-profit and part non-profit, with a social or altruistic goals as part of their business plan), citizen journalism, cyber-bullying, Net Neutrality, and global citizenship. And we didn’t get to talk about crowdsourcing and the video trend as part of social media, but that’s a significant piece of the next steps.

Imagine if everyone, EVERYONE, got involved?

Consider a neighborhood food co-op that wants to grow the food to feed its community.  Or a crowdsourced scholarship fund for the NC Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Studies, dedicated to a lost loved one.  Or a writing project for cancer patients to provide them both with the healing power of writing, and beautiful and personal headscarves.

It was a meaningful conversation, and everyone agreed that it should continue.  By social media, perhaps.  🙂

Thanks to the organizers and sponsors for putting such a wonderful event together, including Sister Cities Association of Cary, the Town of Cary, RTP Global, and the Cary Chamber of Commerce.  And very special thanks to Joanie Conwell and Birgul Tuzlali for inviting me into it.

xo

On Writing and Self-Publishing Your Book

If you think writing the book was hard, wait til you take on publishing.  Here are points to consider carefully whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose:

1.  Editing.  In my opinion, hiring an editor is absolutely required before publication.  Even if you are publishing yourself, you should hire an editor to go through your manuscript with you and make suggestions.  It will be worth it.

Choose your editor wisely.  There are different kinds of editors out there, from basic checking of spelling and grammar to  editing for flow, or for direction and impact of your writing.  As diverse as they are in skill and depth, they are in price as well.  Preset your budget and determine what you need in advance or you will be slogging through this decision.  Ask area writers for their recommendations, too.

2.  Book cover.   Remember what your mother said about first impressions?  She also said that books shouldn’t be judged by their cover.  But a book cover is such a creative opportunity for you to express a piece or theme of your book in a visual way to create a response.  Take your time and make this meaningful.  Or fun.  Or whatever fits for your book to reach your audience.  You’ll need a cover whether you are publishing hardcopies of your book or if your book is solely digital.

3.  Marketing:  The fact of the matter is there is no quick way to build your social media presence.  It takes time, meaningful content, and honest engagement with your audience.  Different platforms appeal to different users and for the best results, choose how and why you post and where.  Marketing your book via social media and in person will be featured in several upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned.

Edited and updated June 19, 2013

melissa_hassard-blogContact me for publishing, marketing, SEO and Social Media strategy.  

Melissa I. Hassard
melissa@melissahassard.com
336-937-5319

Jack Dorsey and Twitter: Can you have a part-time product visionary?

On the Social Media side, some interesting history on Twitter, and a glimpse of their future.

Gigaom

New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton has published a profile of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and the challenges the company is facing as it tries to transform itself from a real-time information network into an advertising-driven media entity. But one of the interesting things about the piece isn’t what it tells us about Costolo or his background as an improvisational comedian — it’s the details that Bilton includes about the lack of involvement of Twitter’s co-founder and alleged product visionary, Jack Dorsey.

Although he was brought back into the company (with much fanfare) to help guide the product’s evolution, Dorsey is apparently not really involved with day-to-day decisions any more. So who is Twitter’s product visionary now, and what does that mean for the future of the service? According to Bilton, the co-founder has stepped back from having more of a day-to-day role within…

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What KitchenAid Learned on Debate Night: Every Tweet is Forever

Who’s managing your social? It’s important that your brand is represented in a consistent, professional way. Contact me for more information on managing your social media platforms. — Melissa

NewsFeed

The head of U.S.-based appliance company KitchenAid surely missed much of the presidential debate Wednesday night, forced to do damage control after a tweet published on the brand’s official account contained a disparaging remark about President Obama’s late grandmother. After Obama mentioned his grandmother, who helped raise him and died just days before the 2008 election, @KitchenAidUSA sent the following message to its 25,000 followers — now deleted, but widely preserved in hundreds of retweets.

The tweet sparked a massive backlash, and KitchenAid swiftly issued an apology tweet:

Cynthia Soledad, KitchenAid’s senior director of branding, then took control of the KitchenAid account to issue a follow-up tweet that sought to “personally apologize” to the President and his family, as well as to “everyone on Twitter” for the “offensive tweet.”

In an email to tech website Mashable, Soledad explained that an employee had intended to tweet the message through a personal…

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