Friday, April 18, 2014

Surfing the Net




With summer drawing near, I decided to go with a Surfing-the-Net theme this week. I love hopping from one blog to another. I'll see a great comment in one place, and pop over to see the author's site. Here are some of my recent discoveries.

1.  Marlene Bagnull, head of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, guest posted at Elaine Stock's blog recently. How does one become the head of such a huge venture? Marlene shares her story.

2.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives tips on getting more blog comments.

3.  Multi-published author, Gail Gaymer Martin, talks about plot twists.

Question for Writers:  With writers' conferences approaching, do you plan to attend one?

Readers:  Do you enjoy blog hopping? How do you find new blogs?

Photo Credit:  TheSwedish

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Grateful Heart



We recently said goodbye to the first quarter of 2014. I'm not sorry to see it become history. Yet, as I traveled a difficult path, God provided every need down to the smallest detail.

So, instead of bemoaning negative events, this post is about a heart of gratitude.

-  I'm grateful that my Mom's recovery from a broken hip has exceeded the doctors' expectations. She didn't need a hip replacement and eventually won't need a walker.

-  I'm grateful for the prayers of family and friends that carried us through the ordeal.

-  I'm grateful for the answers to prayer:

   The major snowstorm taking a detour.

   The rides from a friend and my stepson to the hospital, so I wouldn't have to move my car and lose my parking space. I live on a snow emergency route, and parking is a nightmare when a storm is expected.

   The timing and smooth transitions from hospital to home.

-  I'm grateful for the strength to be there for my Mom.

-  I'm grateful for the financial provision to pay for pricey heating oil.

-  I'm grateful for a publisher that stood by me and encouraged me to "put family first."

-  Most of all, I'm grateful for the peace of God that brought rest and comfort to my heart.

Writers and Readers:  What are you thankful for today?

Photo Credit:  Everywhere

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekend Digest



1.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives us ideas on where to find the words that will best communicate our ideas.

2.  To my mind, editing and enjoyment are oxymorons. The Positive Writer seeks to show us ways to make it less of a chore and more of a delight.

3.  With Spring here, we'll soon be celebrating graduations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and visiting friends. My blogger friend, Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, posted this easy recipe. I thought you might like to check it out.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of your favorite recipes for special events?

Photo Credit: emperador

Monday, April 7, 2014

Social Media and Sales



Does Social Media participation translate into sales?

If you have any doubts, look at the number of authors, celebrities, political figures, etc. on Facebook, Twitter, and other venues. What advantages does Social Media provide?

1.  Visibility - If people don't know about us and our books, how can they make a decision to purchase? They're no longer limited to print/radio/TV advertising. The Internet has made it possible to reach a bigger audience than any other time in history.

2.  Relationship -  I like getting to know other authors. When I was a baseball fan, hearing about an athlete's family and faith made me care about his performance on the field and the team's progress toward the World Series. As I've entered the publishing world, the friendships and successes of others inspire me to read their works.

Numerous people have said they purchased my books because they know me. Of course, I'd better deliver a good read if I want their continued support.

3.  Interaction - Social Media has not only made it possible to follow other authors, but also to interact with them. I can comment on their posts, ask them questions, and pray for them when they're going through tough times.

Recently, a fellow author and reader contacted me and said she purchased all 3 of my books on Amazon as a result of my Facebook posts. Others rely on my author page for news about releases and upcoming projects.

Does Social Media participation translate into sales? You bet it does!

Writers and Readers: How has Social Media impacted your career/book-buying decisions?

Photo Credit:  cieleke

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Bump in the Road

We all have times when we want to throw our hands in the air and give up. I'm thankful for bloggers, who cheer us on and tell us we'll get over this bump in the road. Here are a few links that spoke to me during one such time.

1.  MaryAnn Diorio encourages us to live the fiction writing life by faith.

2.  Jennifer Brown Banks, at Pen and Prosper, gives a whole new spin to Spring Cleaning.

3.  Rhonda Schrock shares about living Care-Free.

Writers and Readers:  Have blogs spoken to your heart during stressful times? Please share.

Photo Credit:  biztech

Monday, March 31, 2014

To-Do List or Wish List?



As a kid, the arrival of the Sears Catalog was akin to the changing seasons. Mom and I would sit down and go through it page by page, commenting on items we liked.

At Christmas, their Wish Book made me dream of dolls, toys, clothes, and decorations for our house. While it gave me many ideas, only a small percentage of things on my personal Wish List found their way from Sears to our mailbox.

At times, my To-Do List seems more like a Wish List. At the end of the day, numerous items roll over to the next day's list. The recurring items like writing, the gym, laundry, and grocery shopping have to get done. Special projects in the house and for marketing rarely get a check mark.

Here are a few ways I manage those items that languish on my To-Do List for weeks and months:

1)  Break the job into bite-sized pieces and take 15 minutes to work on it each day or several days a week. My guest room was becoming a catch all, so one morning I took 20 minutes and de-cluttered. The next step was to clean out the closet. I knew several items needed to go into the garbage, so I'd grab a few and discard them on my way out the door.

2)  Guest Posts and Interviews - These are great ways to promote your books or writing talents. Some bloggers require you to answer 12-15 questions. Whew! That takes a lot of time. A guest post requires coming up with an idea, writing, editing, and submitting it along with pictures, book covers, blurbs, and links.

I try to get a reasonable amount of lead time, and then go to work on the project immediately. Once I decide on what to write, I open a Word document and jot down notes. Questions for interviews are also transferred to a Word document. I'll answer a few questions each day until it's finished. The one thing I NEVER do is wait until the last minute. I get it to the blogger as soon as possible.  It's a great stress reducer.

How does this affect my To-Do List? I have each of those parts listed. Even if it carries over to my list for weeks, I can check off individual items and see I'm making progress (or not making progress).

3)  BIG Projects - Writing a novel is a big project. Spring cleaning is a big project. Planting a garden requires a lot of work. How do I keep these moving along without letting my house have 3 inches of dust or laundry piled to the ceiling?

A separate list for each item can be helpful. Granted, one has to actually look at the list and maintain it. This is not my strong point, so it takes more discipline.

Some projects I've pared down to the bare essentials. The garden will be limited to flowers this year. While I love growing vegetables, they require far more attention than easy-care blooms. (I make sure the flowers I pick work well for my planting beds and are drought tolerant.)

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep your To-Do List from becoming a Wish List? I could sure use more suggestions.

Photo Credit:  Fanginhoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Little Soul Food




Although not full Italian, it's the nationality I relate to most. The sight, smell, and taste of the food make it my favorite cuisine.

While feeding the body is essential, it's just as important to feed our spirits and souls. Today's links are from some devotional bloggers I visit on a regular basis. Bon App├ętit!

1.         Maria Morgan compares us to Olympic Athletes in this post.

2.         Alisa Hope Wagner, at Faith Imagined, asks us if we're carrying burdens that are too heavy for us alone.

3.         Rhonda Schrock has a way of expressing things that hits the target of my heart like an arrow. In this devotional she encourages us to ask the Lord for divine appointments.

Writers and Readers: What are some of your favorite devotional blogs? Please share.

Photo Credit:  brokenarts
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Is There Anything Too Hard for God - Guest Post by Amber Schamel




Have you ever had a problem that you just can't fix? You've tried everything, but have nothing to show for it? I had one of those situations last week.

I was copying some CD's for a non-profit when the robot duplicator stopped working. I had shut it down the night before, and when I came back the next day, it wouldn't turn on. Tech support had told me that the motherboard or CPU was about to go out, and when it did, it would cost a lot of money to get it fixed. I spent 30 minutes plugging, unplugging and fiddling with cords, switches etc . trying to get it to turn on, but to no avail. 

Yesterday, I was at my wits end. I needed to fulfill an order, and it still wouldn't turn on.  I stopped, bowed my head and silently prayed.  Lord, we really need this duplicator to work. The non-profit doesn't have the money to replace it, and we're using it to encourage people in Your word.  Please make this thing turn on and work properly.

Did you know that Jesus fixes computers?

I flipped the switch, and the duplicator immediately sprung to life. I haven't had any problems with it. It made me wonder why I hadn't prayed about it long before! Thus the infamous words of the song:

"Oh what peace we often forfeit!
Oh what needless pain we bare,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer."

Some may say, that is a very small thing. Why would God care about that? But you know what, sometimes God's greatness is shown by how small of things He can do. This little thing He did for me was a great reminder of the power of a faith-filled prayer, and that NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD.

Check out Amber's book, The Healer's Touch, at  http://www.amazon.com/Days-Messiah-1-Healers-Touch-ebook/dp/B00DNJX0ZM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1392413374&sr=8-3&keywords=amber+schamel

What do you need God to do in your life? Is it too big? Is it too small?
Jeremiah 32:27
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Springing Around the Net



After the awful winter we experienced, I can't wait for the forsythia bushes, azaleas, lilacs, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and all the flowering trees to bloom. Spring gives me a burst of energy like no other season.

I've visited many blogger friends and found some great tips to jumpstart your creativity and be more productive. Enjoy!

1)         Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives pointers on how to stay on track when writing an article.

2)         Danny Wong, at Shareaholic, talks about why they gave up using press releases and now use blog posts to get news to the general public.

3)         Blogging Bistro has an articled on how to craft a killer blog post.

4)         Karen Lange, at Write Now, posted a review of Julie Klassen's book, The Dancing Master.

5)         Cheryl Moore, a writer who loves to crochet, gives some wonderful ideas on re-purposing old sweaters.

Writers and Readers:  What are you reading right now? If you're working on a crochet/knitting/craft project, please share. 

Photo Credit:  lance1
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Generous or Stingy? Part II










In Part I, we looked at ways writers can be either stingy or generous with each other. Now, we're going to focus on readers:

Stingy

1.  With review copies - Writers who won't provide at least a pdf to a reviewer.

2.  With praying for their readers - Writers who don't think about the needs of their readers.

3.  With quality - Writers who sacrifice quality for quantity.

Generous

1.  With appreciation

What does this look like? A) Thanking readers who take the time to write a review (if they know about it), B) Doing special giveaways, C) Thanking readers when they share news about releases and other events.

2.  With consideration -

What does this look like? A) Promoting a reader's blog when they have you on for a guest post, B) Meeting their deadlines for promos or guest posts, C) Following their blogs by email, as well as supporting their social media activities.
3.  With studying your craft -

What does this look like? A) Taking the time to improve your writing techniques. B) Either studying on your own or taking writing classes at a college, online, or at a writers' conference, C) By responding to reader queries about your work.
Writers:  What are some ways you can make a difference in another writer's life?

Readers:  What are some ways authors can make you feel special and appreciated?

 
Photo Credit: Adamci

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sprinting the Net



I don't have time for Internet marathons these days, but I can manage a sprint. I try to take 10 minutes a day to hit several blogs. It's one reason I like signing up for email updates. The links come right to my inbox and make it easy to pop in on my favorite blogs. Here's what I found recently:

1.  Novel Rocket had a post by author DiAnn Mills on what to do when your character is too perfect.

2.   Letters Across the Page tackles the subject of disorganization. Whether we're writers or readers, our lives can benefit from clearing out the clutter.

3.  The Write Conversation talks about recognizing God's provision. While we all enjoy posts on writing, reading, and a variety of subjects, feeding the inner man is just as important.

Writers and Readers:  What subjects draw you most when surfing the Net?

Photo Credit:  lusi

Monday, March 10, 2014

Generous or Stingy? Part I




While we've all heard about Scrooge in The Christmas Carol, stinginess can go way beyond money. I thought about the ways generosity and stinginess manifest in writers. Here are a couple of lists on the subject:

Stingy

1.  With compliments - The writer who never encourages someone else.

2.  With time - The writer who refuses to do anything that doesn't benefit them in some way.

3.  With guidance - The writer who sees a fellow traveler struggling with issues he/she has conquered, but doesn't share the solution.

Generous

1.  With gratitude  - A writer who expresses appreciation.

What does this look like? A)  Thanking people who "Like" their author page on Facebook, B) Writing acknowledgements in their books, C) Passing it on to the next writer in line.

2.  With thoughtfulness - A writer who thinks of others.

What does this look like? A) They do a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or their blog. B) If they're close, purchase their books and/or send a small congratulatory gift.

3.  Returns the favor - A writer who reaches out to those who've helped them and supports the other person's goals.

What does this look like? A) Following their blog. B) Tweeting about their successes, C) Liking their author pages. You get the idea.



In the next post, I’ll talk about stinginess and generosity with readers.

Writers and Readers: What are some of the ways authors can be generous with other writers?

Photo Credit: sciucaness

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Round-Up





Time management frustrates me. There, I said it. Apparently, I'm not alone because bloggers are talking about the subject. Here are a couple of links to give you some ideas, as well as a how-to on creating pre-made Tweets.

1. The Recovering Church Lady shares her experience with having unlimited writing time and getting nothing done. Are you a procrastinator? This post is for you.

2. Have you ever seen those great pre-made Tweets in a blog post? Blogging Bistro gives directions on how to add these to your posts. I want to try this.

3.  I'm seeing discipline as a recurring theme as I'm skipping around blogs. Positive Writer has a guest post on the subject.

Writers and Readers: Do you find you're more productive when you're on a schedule? Please share.



Photo Credit: Shadowkill

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Need Mental Health Days



I like routine. And lists. Most of all, I like mental health days. What are mental health days, you ask? Permit me to elaborate:

1.  A day where you do something for fun - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! I like to wander around antique stores and malls, check out flowers at garden centers, go to craft shows, hunt for grocery bargains (or any kind of bargains for that matter), and hang out with friends.

2.  A day where you read to your heart's content - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! My favorite authors' books have sat on a staggering TBR pile for so long that they're turning a pale shade of yellow. Here I come Julie Klassen, Jody Hedlund, Kathi Macias, Sarah Sundin, Cathy Gohlke, and many others.

3.  A day when I sleep until I naturally wake up and then spend a leisurely hour in the Word of God - NO RESEARCH ALLOWED! The spirit and the body enjoy rejuvenation.

Why do I keep stressing "NO RESEARCH ALLOWED," you ask? I need to give myself permission to live life without tacking on something writing or work related.

Writers and Readers:  What does a mental health day look like for you?

Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Potpourri



Here are some posts that give wise advice concerning motivation, publishing trends, and being authentic. Many of the principles apply whether or not you're a writer. I thought I'd share them with you.

1.  Bryan Hutchinson, at Positive Writer, shares 11 tips on how to motivate yourself.

2.  Jody Hedlund shares 9 things she's learned so far about publishing.

3.  Wendy Paine Miller, at Thoughts That Move, talks about being true to yourself online.

Writers and Readers: Do you have any tips about keeping it real online?

Photo Credit:  saflora

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