Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh, To Dream!

I remember when I had time to putter around with crafts, crocheting, and spend afternoons reading.  Fast forward to life with a full-time job, caregiving, and a book contract.

One of the things I do to keep from being an "all work, no play gal," is visit fun Internet sites. I'm interested in many subjects, so feeding that part of my brain helps keep me sane. Here are a few places I visited recently:

1.  My blogging friend, Dotti Adamek, has done a fun series on author dates this year. See what happened when she gate crashed a writer's conference.

2.  Jean Fischer, from Something to Write Home About, did a delightful post on writer gifts. See if there are some you'd put on your Wish List.

3.  I try to be organized - really. Since it doesn't come naturally, I enjoy visiting bloggers who have a knack for it. I recently discovered "Goodbye House! Hello, Home." Enjoy!

Writers:   Which writer's gift is your favorite? I liked the earrings. :)

Readers:  What sites do you visit when you want to chill out?

Photo Credit:  Nazreth

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks

In 1620, the Pilgrims landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. They'd left behind religious persecution for a wild, untamed land. With the help of local Indians, they planted crops and gathered a bountiful harvest. A three-day feast was held in 1621 to thank God for His provision.

Today, Americans gather for a traditional meal with family and friends. Yet the focus has been turned around. How many times do we hear, "Happy Turkey Day?" Instead of thanking the One who provided the blessings we enjoy, the attention centers on the food and fellowship.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let's remember to thank the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Writers and Readers:  What are you thankful for today? I'll go first. I'm grateful I was born in a country where I can worship God freely.

Photo Credit:  abcdz2000

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 Ways to Connect

As winter approaches, it's a good time to hunker down and get some writing done. Whether you're pre-published, published, or a blogger, you might want to think of doing some guest posts or scheduling blog posts for the busy holiday season.

Here are some tips:

1.  If you belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, I urge you to join their email loop. Bloggers will often post opportunities for guest spots, especially at this time of the year. Many popular blogs fill their calendars a six months to a year in advance.

2.  Do you have a book coming out soon? You can let folks know your desire for influencers, guest posts, or advanced readers. Besides the ACFW loop, Facebook groups, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are a good way to connect with others who might be interested in featuring your book.

3.  Scheduling posts for your blog makes a lot of sense throughout the year, but during holidays it's even more important. When you've got food to prepare, a home to decorate, gifts to buy, preparations for guests in addition to normal activities, you can breathe easier knowing you've got 5-10 posts scheduled. It's a great stress buster.

Bonus idea:  Look for recipes, crafts, or decorating ideas to include with your holiday-themed posts. A link within a post can add value to your blog.

Writers and Readers:  How do you keep up with blogging/writing/life during this season? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Photo Credit:  jayofbox

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Do I...?

If you're like me, you turn to the Internet for advice on everything from writing to taking care of houseplants. There's an abundance of material available. Here are a few stops on my Internet journey:

1.  Lori Hatcher, at The Write Conversation, gives a no-nonsense approach to writing non-fiction. Don't miss these excellent tips.

2.  Vonda Skelton guest posts at The Write Conversation and tackles the whole issue of networking. Is advertising your work compatible with the teachings of Jesus?

3.  With Christmas approaching, I was thinking about my favorite plants associated with the season. It can be tricky getting a Christmas Cactus to bloom. Here are some tips from wikiHow.

Writers and Readers:  Do you search the Internet for tips on how to do things like take care of plants? What are some of your favorite sites?

Have a blessed week!

Photo Credit:  Dcrump

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Ways to Find Your Audience

Whether you're writing non-fiction or fiction, blogging, or selling cars, you need to find people who are interested in your specialty. I've come up with five tips to help you connect with your audience:

1.  Hang out where they congregate. Social media is a great place, but it's also a HUGE place. Facebook and Goodreads have interest-specific groups that can connect you with your peeps.

My cousin crafts handmade glass beads. She posts on groups that cater to this audience. I don't join those because readers want to find books and interact with their favorite authors. So, I belong to Christian Authors and Christian Authors and Writers (and many others).

2.  Identify your niche and seek connection with those who have similar interests. This may seem like a rehash of #1, but narrows it down even more. Does this mean you can't be friends with writers from a different genre? Of course not, but you'll find more support and practical guidelines within your own group.

3.  Book Clubs. My local library has various groups that meet to discuss all sorts of topics from gardening to Shakespeare. They also have a writers group and occasionally host a local authors night. Check out what your public library offers in the way of activities. You could find your audience in your own backyard.

4.  Book Signings. I recently had a table at a local event. The readers I met asked wonderful questions like, "what inspired you to write this book?" Be prepared to engage those who approach you in conversation. Another person shared her enthusiasm for a particular book. I was able to suggest another title she might enjoy. She was so excited that she purchased one of my books and said she'd pick up the others online.

5.  Speaking Engagements. This one is still on my to-do list. It can also take the form of teaching a class at Adult Education, a Senior Citizen group, or online. One of my friends (Hi, Karen!) teaches online classes for teens. Another friend (Hi, Jen!) has a singing/speaking ministry.

If people perceive you're an expert on a subject or they like your presentation, they'll often ask about your website or the books you've written.

Writers and Readers:  How do you connect with like-minded people? Please share.

Photo Credit: AYLA87

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Agent, The Author, and The Social Media Expert

1.  Literary Agent, David Van Diest, guest posts at The Write Conversation. He addresses 5 misperceptions about writing a book proposal.

If you're anything like me, this task ranks right up there with the synopsis. I'd rather write an entire book than either of these, "please publish my book," pieces. This post might give you a bit of relief.

2.  Multi-published, award-winning author, Cathy Gohlke, talks about Planning for Courage in her latest blog post.

3.  If you're reading this, you're on Social Media. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, talks about Eight Social Media Posts You Should NEVER Share.

Writers:  What is the one task you dread on the publishing journey and why?

Readers:  What type of information do you avoid sharing on the Internet?

Photo Credit:  ljleavell

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pen Names - Do You Have One?

I don't - at least not yet. When I started on this wild ride called, "publication," it didn't occur to me that a pen name might be advantageous.

By the time I discovered another writer in the general market with the same name and living in the same state, it was too late. I would have had to start platform building from scratch and that wasn't happening.

Authors use pen names for many reasons:

1.  Some wish to protect their privacy.
2.  Others want to protect their families.
3.  They want to select a name that works better with their genre.
4.  They want to avoid confusion if they write in more than one genre.
5.  In my situation, distinguishing between two writers with the same name.

Questions to ask yourself:

1.  Are there other writers with your name? Do a Google search for authors with the same/similar name. Also, enter your name in the Amazon search box.
2.  If your book becomes a blockbuster, will you be comfortable having your real name plastered everywhere?
3.  Do you have an extremely long/unusual name that readers might have a hard time remembering?
4.  Are you planning to write in more than one genre or to produce both fiction and non-fiction?
5.  Will using my real name endanger my family?

I might consider a pen name in the future - especially for a different genre. For now, I'll be around as the real me, Susan J. Reinhardt. :)

Writers:  What are your thoughts concerning pen names?

Readers/Bloggers:  Being on the Internet presents many challenges. How do you protect your privacy?

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Little Bit of This and That

I'm interested in a lot of subjects. Today, I've tossed a few of them in my blog jar to share with you. :)

1.  Amy Sullivan guest posts on Zoe McCarthy's blog. Would you like to know how to conduct a professional author interview over the phone or via email? Check out her excellent tips.

2.  The Procrastiwriter hosts an Israeli writer, Moran Chaimovitz, on the subject of reading your story out loud - to a live audience! Please note: The article contains minimal/mild profanity.

3.  All of my books deal with near-future America. Older people face discrimination when it comes to accessing healthcare. World Net Daily reports that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is a long-time advocate of rationing healthcare for older people This is being discussed TODAY.

4.  On a lighter note, Jeanette Levellie. at On Wings of Mirth and Worth, extols the virtues of small-town living. Find out what happened when the fire department was called.

5.  Congratulations to Karen Lange on the release of her latest book, Write for Life. This approximately 83-page tutorial helps young people master the art of producing a research paper. If you've been out of school as long as I have, it's a great refresher for adults as well!

Writers:  Have you ever read your work out loud to a critique partner? Please share what you learned.

Readers:  Which link was your favorite and why?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo credit:  ba1969

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Signs You're a Tortoise or a Hare

1.  Takes off at top speed
2.  Excels at sprints, but loses steam when it comes to marathons
3.  Needs exterior motivation to get moving - a dog chasing will do nicely
4.  Easily distracted
5.  Wants instant gratification

1.  Is slow getting off the starting line.
2.  Will never be viewed as an "overnight success"
3.  Keeps moving - crisis or no crisis
4.  Focused/determined
5.  Is willing to take as much time as needed to reach goals

Writers:  Are you in the game for the long haul? How do you handle rejection/delays/disappointments?

Readers:  How do you stick with the projects you start? Do you have any tips for finishing with the same enthusiasm as when you began?

Photo Credits:  Tortoise - michaelAW
                         Rabbit - RobinC720

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Internet Stew

No, I'm not going to give you recipes today. Instead, I've got an interesting mix of posts that taken together make for a well-rounded Internet Stew. As we say in Italian, "Mangia!" (Eat!)

1.  Carol Garvin, at Careann's Musings, talks about Facts or Fiction in writing a novel.

2.  Tony Perkins, at The Family Research Council, talks about focusing our eyes on the real threat.

3.  Amber Schamel guest posts at Michele Huey's God, Me, and a Cup of Tea. If you like devotionals, I think you'll find this one especially meaningful.

4.  Hillsdale College has online courses. I'm currently taking a free, not-for-credit course called, "The Presidency and the Constitution." If you're interested, you can contact them at

5.  One of the delights of Fall is the colorful display of "The Burning Bush." Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, shares her pictures of this feast for the eyes.

Writers/Readers: Have you ever taken an online course of any kind? Please share your experience.

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  allergyfre

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Do You Learn?

Not too long ago, our office purchased a new copier. This machine can perform an amazing range of functions, including scanning, collating and stapling, and two-sided copying.

The trainer zoomed through the various functions until my mind screamed, "overload." There was no way I could retain that much information in a short time. I'm thankful she left a booklet with instructions for each function.

In the beginning we referred to it often. Some of our staff members pick up new technology at lightning speed. They helped the rest of us nail down the features on an as-needed basis.

Knowledge in the writing arena comes much the same way for me:

1.  An initial dive into the details and almost drowning.
2.  Step-by-step instruction in each segment as needed.
3.  Prayer for wisdom and clarity of mind.

Each one served a purpose. The first gave me an overview of the craft and the business, while the second zeroed in on specific tasks I needed to master. The most important one - prayer - gave me the understanding I needed.

I could have thrown up my hands in despair after the first step. Yet, experience has taught me to single out what I require to accomplish my daily goals.

Writers and Readers:  What type of learning suits you best? Visual, hands on, written? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Igoghost

Friday, October 24, 2014

Handy Tips and News You Can Use

1.  Angela Ackermann, at Writers Helping Writers, gives 5 steps on finding your book's audience.

2.  Follow trends or write from your heart? Christine Lindsay guest posts at Seriously Write.

3.  News you won't hear on the mainstream media - keep abreast of what's happening regarding religious liberty. I subscribe to the Family Research Council's newsletters. Get the real scoop and make your voice heard.

Writers:  Do you research the trends prior to starting a project or do you follow your heart? Please share.

Readers:  Do you have a favorite book review site? I'd love to hear about it and visit.

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  Pulpdtp

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On My Nightstand - Currently Reading

Historical Romance attracts this history-loving reader. Tamera Alexander obliges with To Whisper Her Name, a novel in her Belle Meade Plantation series.

I'm almost halfway through the book at this point and carry it with me everywhere. I've got two other books in various stages of completion (reading), but I grab this one when I have a spare moment. That should say something about how involved I am in the story.

Here's the scenario:

1.  Ridley Cooper, Southern man. fights for the Union - then returns home.
2.  Olivia Aberdeen, a Southern woman, ostracized because of her late husband's dealings with the North.

While my favorite genre is action/suspense, these characters have me wrapped around their pinkies. Tamera Alexander knows how to appeal to readers with deep emotion, impossible odds, and real-world problems.

Five stars for this one, folks!

Writers and readers:  What's on your nightstand these days?

Monday, October 20, 2014

We, The People

We treasure freedom of speech. From that platform, we can share all that God has put on our hearts. This isn't about politics or political parties. It's about the very foundation of our country.

We've had unparalleled freedom for over 200 years. Unlike most other countries, we can practice our religious beliefs, share them, and not have to fear retribution from the government. With God's help, our Founding Fathers gave us a Republic - a government by the people and for the people.

Today, most Americans speak of our country as a democracy.  Emphasis is put on our ingenuity, our own efforts, and little recognition that it's God who has made this nation great. We have become proud, independent, and arrogant.

With everything I'm seeing around me, there's a growing sense that we're on a collision course with judgment. We cannot afford to ignore the signs of the times.

Come back to your roots, America. Return to the God of your fathers and to Judeo-Christian values.

Come back. Please. Come back.

Writers: How can we protect the rights we've taken for granted?

Readers:  How can we stand up for freedom? I'd like to hear your opinions on the subject. Let's keep it civil with no personal attacks on individuals/parties.

Photo Credit: freshchje

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Reference Shelf - Writing for Life by Karen Lange - GIVEAWAY!

The Author:  Karen Lange is a homeschool veteran and consultant, freelance writer, editor, and online writing instructor for teens and adults. Her articles appear in parenting, homeschool, and other publications. Homeschool Co-ops 101, her first book, was released in 2013. She and her husband homeschooled their three children for grades K-12 in southern New Jersey. They now live in north central Kentucky where Karen enjoys reading, walking, and playing with her grandson. She is a fan of dark chocolate, hockey, and historical fiction.

The Book:  Write for Life:  Volume One:  Writing the Research Paper 

Find it Here.

This book offers ready to use lessons for grades 7-12 that guide students through the process of writing the research paper. Suitable for homeschool families, co-ops, or other student groups, these eight lessons break down the process from start to finish with helpful instruction, encouragement, and practice.

Lesson topics include:

*  MLA style research paper basics, topics, and sources
*  Thesis statements
*  Outlines
*  Developing content
*  Rough and final drafts
*  Citing sources

My review:

As always, I'm so impressed with Karen's thoroughness and knowledge. The research techniques are valuable not only for doing papers, but also for those writing novels or non-fiction pieces. I wouldn't limit this book to teaching teens.

Karen includes great Time and Stress Saver Tips. All in all, I'm keeping this on my Reference Shelf. It's a great resource.

You can connect with Karen on her Amazon Author Page.
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter:  @KLELange

Giveaway Information:  One winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of the Write for Life ebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The author provided a copy of her book for my honest review. I did not receive any payment. All opinions expressed in the review section of this post are mine alone.

Writers: What topics from your school days would you like to revisit? Please share.

Readers:  Do you purchase how-to books for yourself or your kids? Please share.