Helping Define Your Company’s Culture

This post is a quick ‘un.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Sharing your other work at work in which I described my submission to the Thomson Reuters brand marketing team, who was looking for employees to help showcase and define our culture. It’s part of a greater recruiting effort to bring in top talent from around the globe.

Sharing your writing can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, but there’s a certain other level of anxiety that comes with standing up and saying, “Hey coworkers, I think what I’m doing is important enough to help define our brand to the world.”

But in the fine traditions of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and “pull up your big girl panties and get on with it”, it worked out for me in this case. And that’s a pretty cool feeling, considering I was one of ten employees selected from our global company.

Hobbies & Side Projects of Employees (I’m about two-thirds down the page, if you’re so inclined to read it)

In the list of things I hope to achieve with my writing, this is a smaller item, but an important one nonetheless. For many hopeful authors, myself included, sharing is the toughest part. But it gets easier each time. Trust me.

–Mike


© Michael Wallevand, March 2018

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Sharing your other work at work

I work for Thomson Reuters, and in January, our brand marketing team solicited responses from employees around the world. They regularly showcase the people who define our culture, and in this instance, they were interested in our activities outside the office. Since I’m passionate about writing – and <cough> always looking for an opportunity to share and connect with others – I wrote the following submission. Somehow, I managed to keep it under 300 words, which is nearly impossible for a writer writing about the book he’s writing.

Anyhoo, without further ado or digression, here it is:


I’ve spent the last two years working on a fantasy novel featuring a young heroine who can literally become anyone. This allows her to break stereotypes and see how the world treats the person she has become. Her world is largely patriarchal, but living a secluded life in the woods with her adoptive mother, she brings a different perspective to everyone she meets, human or otherwise. With an indomitable spirit, keen intellect, and unwavering sense of justice, she could restore her father’s throne. She just doesn’t know that she’s the princess who was supposedly killed twelve years ago.

Written for fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the RingsThe Lost Royals follows Tildy as she crosses the realm of Evereign to regain her true name and kingdom, while struggling to maintain a sense of self in a body going through more changes than your average teenager.

——————–

In our world – the real one – where we continue to see gender inequality and other prejudices, I think girls and boys need more role models who help them look at others as human beings first. I see the book series as a way to encourage reading, form a more compassionate society, and expand children’s minds to think in creative ways. I want to someday sit down and read these books to my kids, nieces, and nephew, telling them, “I wrote this with your future in mind.”

Depending on my level of success with the series, I then intend to start a non-profit that will create illustrated books for the waiting rooms of children’s hospitals. As someone who spent a lot of time with my premie son in Children’s – Minneapolis, and watched my older son reading to him, I can attest to the welcome distraction that a storybook can provide.


I share this today because it’s an example of me refining my synopsis (some might call this a blurb, talking points, or elevator pitch). It’s something you need to write and revise several times, smoothing down the rough spots until it rolls off the tongue or keyboard. If you’re lucky, people will ask about your story. They’re more likely to be intrigued and engaged if your response is interesting, effortless, and concise.

Take any opportunity to work on this – it will help when you finally sit down to write that inquiry letter you’ve been dreading.

Good luck with your writing!


Michael Wallevand is a Senior Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, managing Integrated Marketing Solutions for FindLaw, the world’s leading provider of online legal information and law firm marketing solutions. He has developed products that have generated a hundred thousand unique pieces of content, whilst using organic and paid advertising to drive traffic to attorney websites across the US, UK, and Canada.

© Michael Wallevand, February 2018

An illustratration [sic] for the importance of proofing

This post is approximately 600 words, some of which are likely misspelled because that’s what happens when writers talk about typos.

Holy lexicon, do I hate misspellings. When it comes to my own writing, I’m a firm believer in self-flagellation. And I know there’s a special place in dictionary purgatory for self-proclaimed grammar perfectionists and those people who allow typos into published books.

Regardless of how much you’ve typed, or how fast you do it, typos are a way of life. When it comes to typing, I’m a cheetah with 30 years’ experience: bursts of speed followed by periods of rest and reflection. If I’m particularly inspired, I probably reach 120 wpm.

kermit-writing

My skills aren’t perfect nor to I claim them to be. To counter this, I’m a ruthless spellchecker. No, that doesn’t mean I frequently click the button in Word, although that is like having a second set of eyes on your work. I mean that every few paragraphs, I pause to reread what I’ve typed, reviewing for spelling, grammar, flow, pace, and content, among other things. Then I type a few more paragraphs and reread the whole thing again.

You’re probably beginning to develop a picture of my (often annoying and exacting) work ethic, which means we’re about two or three paragraphs from it biting me in the rear.

Even for WordPress items, I’m often writing them in Word, rereading, proofing, and editing constantly as I go. I do this even after I’ve pasted (what looks like) the final copy into the post editor. I preview my text and give it another run-through or two. Using this method, I catch 99.9% of the potential typos I make (that sounds like an unverifiable statistic and possibly hubris, for which I will likely be punished in the form of many typos here). It works very well, nonetheless.

Until that query email I sent.

I researched and researched, finding literary agents’ submission requirements on their websites and Twitter. I found examples of what others had done. I wrote my query. Then proofed and rewrote and edited and rewrote. Finally somewhat satisfied, I pasted it from Word into an email, rechecked and edited again, typed the subject line, and sent it. I liked it well enough that I copied it for my next query, ensuring that I changed any pertinent agent information. I copied the subject line, too.

And that’s when the spellchecker caught the typo. In. The. Subject. Line.

Dammit.

writers-block-1

I had typed “An Illustratrated Children’s book”. Look at it. LOOK AT IT! By the black hand of Delosh, how did I miss that? Did I forget to hit the spellcheck button one last time? But even now, knowing full well it’s spelled wrong, weirdly, deceptively, it still doesn’t look that wrong. I have seen far more egregious errors. Perhaps that’s what bothers me the most.

Fortunately – mercifully – in her rejection response, the agent didn’t mention that the SECOND word she read had been misspelled, nor did she gently remind me of the importance of proofing your submission before sending it. It was the first time I’d appreciated a form letter response.

I probably spend a disproportionate amount of time checking my work compared to the time spent writing, and while I’m OK with that for now, I am relaxing my standards a smidge. You should, too. Chasing perfection is the relentless pursuit of imperfection. And we have more important things to do, like writing great stories.

–Mike
Click for more self-flagellation about typos.

© Michael Wallevand, January 2018


Michael Wallevand is a Senior Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, managing Integrated Marketing Solutions for FindLaw, the world’s leading provider of online legal information and law firm marketing solutions. He has developed products that have generated a hundred thousand unique pieces of content, whilst using organic and paid advertising to drive traffic to attorney websites across the US, UK, and Canada.

My awful query email

I’m currently researching literary agents, somewhat dreading the query emails I’ll need to write because of the perfection they require. Yes, yes, I know agents are people, too. But the query needs to be perfect because I’m trying to sell these people my baby.

Wait…that came our wrong.

Anyways, here is how my mind exaggerates my queries into weirdly desperate cries for help. Something like this:


beggingTo Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for taking the time to read this query. I found your listing while searching for an agent to represent my fantasy novel, The Princess and the To-Be-Named Important Event.

This is going to be painful. My apologies in advance. This submission represents my first attempt to gain agent representation, as well as my first attempt to become a published author. I have no idea how to write a query email. I’ve written thousands of business letters and scores of cover letters, so you can expect this email to be well-written and typo-free. But when it comes to begging for your service, I’m lost. Continue reading