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The Magical World of Author, Angela Wallace

Important note to followers of LLC: David Walker is posting today on the Life List Club Blog about his crazy new computer! Please go visit him and give him some comment luv!

Throughout April, every Wednesday, we are featuring some fantastic indie authors. If you missed the previous indie authors you can find them HERE and HERE.

Announcement! Last week author Elena Aitken was featured here and offered to gift one of her books to one commenter. We have a winner!! Jolyse Barnett!! YAY!! Jolyse, please contact Elena at ElenaAitken AT gmail.com to get your free book!

Today we’re going to explore the magical world of Angela Wallace. Angela is the author of 3 urban fantasy novels, two of which are part of the 5-star rated series, Elemental Magic.

You’re on, Angela!

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Thank you for having me today, Marcia!  It is quite an honor.

The urban fantasy genre tends to be dominated by strong, kick-ass heroines.  They don’t get squeamish at the sight of blood, have no problem taking on a horde of demons released from hell, and manage to tame the dark, brooding male vampire who would be quite the evildoer if not for this gal’s influence.

How many of you can relate to this woman?  Sure, we probably wouldn’t mind being her on certain occasions.  That no-nonsense attitude could come in handy when we need to stand up for ourselves.  But what she fails to showcase are the many other ways in which women–everyday women–can be strong, sexy, and smart.

In my Elemental Magic series, Aileen Donovan, the main character, is not the lock-and-load type.  Yes, she knows how to use a gun, but she doesn’t like to.  And she can hold her own in a fight with her supernatural water wielding, but she isn’t what you would call a badass.  She’s a scientist with an insatiable penchant for solving mysteries–which invariably gets her into trouble.Dry Spell by Angela Wallace

So how is she strong?  She’s willing to stand up for those she cares about.  Maybe she wouldn’t go after the bad guy for the sake of bravery or glory alone, but once he threatens her friends, you can bet she’ll be up in his face.  But what makes her strong isn’t just the fact she supports others; it’s that she also accepts their help and their strengths.  It takes a great deal more effort to trust people and depend on them than it does to stand alone.  Aileen has to learn this though, and who better to teach her than the handsome Coastguardsman?  😉

Aileen doesn’t need Colin to “complete her.”  Her self-confidence and self-reliance make her sexy without anyone’s affirmation.  But the right man does highlight her strengths and bring out the best in her.  It’s because of Colin’s influence that she is able to grow.  In the second book, Dry Spell, Aileen has to learn that being “true to herself” shouldn’t overshadow and hurt those around her.  Colin tests her perceptions, until she learns there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Strong, sexy, and smart women are not figures set in stone, immovable and impenetrable.  They are confident and satisfied in who they are, but they also have the capacity to grow.  No one’s perfect, but I admire people who can dig deep inside themselves and work at improving.  We can’t do that, however, without the right people coming alongside us, and we have to be willing to accept that kind of love and support.  I have been blessed enough to find such people, and it makes all the difference in the world.  🙂

Elemental Magic by Angela WallaceElemental Magic: Aileen Donovan wants nothing more than recognition as a scientist by her supernatural community.  What better way to do that than to solve a mystery involving a power-hungry alchemist, hallucinogenic coral, and a homicidal sea dragon?  The hard part will be working with Coast Guard officer Colin Benson—until the tides turn, and Aileen realizes that love and duty may not be mutually exclusive.

Dry Spell: Aileen Donovan is an elemental with magical control over water.  When she finds a mummified body at a scientists’ convention, she suspects supernatural foul play.  As more bodies turn up, Aileen’s amateur sleuthing not only pits her against a serial killer, but also a cunning vampire lord, and an elemental agent with ulterior motives.  Can she stop a murderer, or is she out of her supernatural league?

Angela Wallace, author  of the Elemental magic SeriesAngela Wallace loves gun-toting good boys and could have been a cop in another life except for the unfortunate condition of real blood making her queasy.  Good thing writing gun and sword fights isn’t a problem.  In her books you’ll find the power of love, magic, and redemption.

Elemental Magic Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Elemental-Magic-ebook/dp/B006AF90PK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1321805330&sr=1-3

Dry Spell Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dry-Spell-Elemental-Magic-ebook/dp/B007OLC7KE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1332718641&sr=1-1

Blog: http://angelawallace.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AngelaRWallace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angela-Wallace/232511253453440

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Before you go, I just want you to know that I will be hosting the fabulous Barbara McDowell, of Life Can’t Drive 55, on Friday!! She will be sharing with you the joys of being a hot, single woman and an amazing list of links to help you embrace the single life! Be there or be square!

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Indie Author, Elena Aitken – Moms, Books, Writing

Continuing the indie author series, I’m excited to have Elena Aitken join us today! Not only because Elena is a birthday balloonsbest-selling Amazon author with 5 wildly popular books available…Nothing Stays in Vegas, Betty and Veronica, Unexpected Gifts, Drawing Free, and her newest Sugar Crash, but also because today is Elena’s birthday!! Happy Birthday, Elena!!

We are talking about her two most recent books, how she writes and what she’s learned. Let’s get started:

MR: I just finished reading Drawing Free and found myself relating well to Becca and unearthing the feelings I had as a young mother, especially on tough days. As a mom of twins, it’s likely you’ve had days when you just wanted to escape the noise, the arguments, the mess. What do you do to combat that urge and feel better about your day?

EA: Oh, I’ve had these days! Fortunately, I don’t have them very often. But for me, it’s so important to have interests outside of motherhood. Writing has always been a salvation for me. A chance to getaway, even mentally, for a little bit. Running also gives me an escape. More often than not, going for a run resets me and gives me the energy to handle the day.

 MR: What did you learn about yourself from writing Drawing Free?

EA: Oh I learn things about myself in every book I write and while the characters are fictional, there’s a little bit of myself in each of my heroines. Becca (Drawing Free) was a hard character for me to write. Obviously she makes some hard moral choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make, but when you’re writing a character, you become very close to her and it definitely makes you question what you would do if you were in that situation.

Sometimes as women and mothers, we lose ourselves and it’s important to retain that sense of self. So I hope that readers can finish Drawing Free and be reminded that they need to take care of themselves, because we can’t give our best unless we feel our best.

MR: You now have 5 books available for sale and they are all big hits. You’re on a roll, Elena! What’s coming next?

EA: Oh I have so many ideas. But, my next project will be the next book in the Castle Mountain Lodge series, following the success of Unexpected Gifts. It takes place in the Canadian Rockies at a mountain lodge resort. I love spending time in the mountains and I get so much of my inspiration from them, it’s easy for me to write about them. I’m expecting it’s release to take place in July.

MR: I’m sure your fans are very anxious for the new book to arrive…but we’ll gladly wait until it’s July release. 🙂  It’s great that you are able to control the release date of your future books and I know that’s due to self-publishing. What made you decide to self-publish and did you have any trouble with the self-publishing process?

EA: I am SO glad I made the decision to publish through Amazon. It wasn’t an easy decision for me at all. As writers, we’ve been told for years that in order to be considered successful we must find an agent and publish with one of the ‘Big 6’ publishing houses. That was a hard mindset for me to get away from. It actually took my father, who started reading ‘Vegas’ to open my eyes to my other options.

I had to finally ask myself what I considered my measure of success. Was it seeing my book in a traditional book store? Or was it to have people read my books and make a living doing what I love? Once I could honestly answer that question, my decision was easy.

As for troubles with the self-pub process, it’s been a huge learning curve for me and one that I don’t think ever ends. Fortunately, I’ve met some amazing people along the way and  the indie community is so welcoming and helpful, it’s actually been a lot of fun.

MR: People sometimes treat authors as if writing books isn’t a real job. Sometimes the work itself is criticized. How do you suggest a writer should handle this negativity?

EA: I’m writing full time now, so I get this a lot. Plus I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule  so to be honest, it probably looks as if I don’t have a real job. But it’s impossible to peg down my schedule in a 9 to 5 way. I do some of my best writing in the middle of the night. And there’s so much time spent ‘working’ that isn’t actually writing.

As far as handling the negativity from others, the best way I’ve found to deal with it, is to ignore it. I’ve  found that those who are negative about what I do usually have some other issues going on and it really has nothing to do with me at all. Those are the people that probably wish they had the courage to follow a dream. I try not to take it personally. After all, I really only have to answer to myself and my family.

MR: Good for you, Elena. That’s a wonderfully positive outlook. What is your best advice for other writers hoping to be published one day?

EA: Just write. I hear from people all the time that they’ve always wanted to write a book or that they used to write and wish they could again. To them, I say the same thing. Just write. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. It’s always possible to find time to do the things that are important to us. Even if you can only squeak out a few hours a week, do it. If writing feeds your soul, you can’t afford not to. And it’s never been a better time to be a writer. Stop waiting for ‘someday’.

Elena, thank you for spending time with us today. From the experiences of published authors, we learn so much about the journey ahead of us.

ATTENTION READERS! Elena has graciously offered to gift a copy of Sugar Crash to one commenter. Winner will be announced on April 18th. Buying Sugar Crash will not only give you hours of pleasurable reading but, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Canadian Diabetes Association.

Sugar Crash by Elena Aitken, Amazon bset sellerSugar Crash-

Asking for help is the hardest part.

Darci Thompson has spent the last six years trying to hold everything together. Between raising 12-year-old Taylor and managing the local health food store, Darci’s done it all on her own. But when Taylor ends up in the hospital, her diagnosis of Type I Diabetes sends their carefully constructed life into a tailspin.

For the sake of her daughter, Darci must face a whole new set of circumstances and push past her self imposed walls to prove that Diabetes won’t define them. With the help of new friends and a man who believes in her, Darci must find the strength to challenge the stereotypes and make a difference. But is she willing to face her own obstacles and risk being vulnerable once again?
~Inspired by real life events!~

Drawing Free by Elena Aitken, Amazon best sellerDrawing Free –

“What would happen if I just kept driving?”

Moms aren’t supposed to have a life of their own, at least that’s what Becca Thompson believes. Between dealing with her youngest’s never ending tantrums, her teenager’s attitude and her ailing father’s rapidly failing memory, Becca doesn’t have time to worry about who she used to be.

Deep down, Becca knows she wants more than the daily chaos and the quick fixes her self-help books have to offer, but when her husband starts demanding more, the pressure proves to be too much. On the way to pick up her daughter, she makes the split second decision to take a different exit off the freeway and drives towards the mountains leaving her crumbling life in the rear-view mirror.

Fleeing to a remote mountain town, Becca knows she must rediscover her spirit, even if reconnecting with herself comes at the expense of everything she left behind.

I’ve been writing in one form or another since elementary school but, although I always knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, instead I earned university degrees in Marketing and Psychology and writing got put on the back burner. After my twins were born I was buried in diaper changes, middle of the night feedings and mountains of laundry, so obviously it seemed like a logical time to start writing again. I guess it took me while to grow up.

I turned to non-fiction and became a regular contributor to local parenting magazines, published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and a compilation by Seal Press. It wasn’t until 2005 that I tried my hand at writing fiction and wrote my first novel. It’s buried on my hard drive where it should be, and I’ve since written five more.

Hang out with Elena at her website, Don’t Forget to Breathe. Connect with Elena on Twitter and Facebook. Visit Elena’s Amazon Author page to see all of her books and learn more about Elena.

Please feel free to ask Elena questions about her books or about her career as a writer.

 

Mama Bear – Jan Berenstain – R.I.P.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know of The Berenstain Bears? It’s pretty likely The Berenstain Bears books were read to you as a child or you read them to your own children. I discovered them when my son was a toddler in the late 1980s. We literally read every single Berenstain Bears book and he loved them. He slept with them, he quoted from them and looking at the pictures was the only time he sat quietly.

Jan Berenstain

Well just this week co-author, Jan Berenstain passed away, seven years after losing her husband, Stan. I wanted to honor them today for several reasons.

  • They were innovative authors and illustrators writing several books together, the first of which was The Berenstains’ Baby Book in 1951. This celebrated the birth of their 2nd child. Jan knew there were mom’s out in the world who needed answers to questions about pregnancy and raising a baby. Stan and Jan went on to write 25 more books for adults on the topics of parenting and family values.
  • Their writing and their lives exemplify the All-American family. They stood strong together, facing typical crises and struggles and teaching their two boys what it means to do the right thing, love your neighbor, family comes first, find the value in everything you do.
  • Stan and Jan are parenting role models. Read the books they wrote and you’ll see how they lived their lives.

They were quite the couple, Jan and Stan. They met as students  in 1940 at the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art on the first day of drawing class. They were instantly drawn to each other (pun intended). When they weren’t studying the art of drawing, they were drawing themselves closer while attending orchestral concerts, museum events and theater performances.

During WWII, Stan ended up in Indiana at an Army Hospital working as a medical illustrator, drawing instructions related to plastic surgery facial reconstructions for soldiers. Jan worked for the Army Corps of Engineers as a draftsman, as well as, working as a riveter for the Navy.It's All in the Family Cartoon

During his war time work, Stan began drawing cartoons and submitting them to Saturday Review of Literature. He was published. After the war, in 1946, Stan and Jan married and began drawing cartoons together. They published several books and began drawing the cartoon It’s All in the Family, which I read faithfully in the Sunday newspaper as a child. The couple continued writing books for adults and were very successful.

As their boys grew, they became enamored of Dr. Seuss’ books. Theodor Geisel (Seuss) happened to be working as an editor for Random House Publishing at the time. It was 1962 when the Berenstains submitted a book idea to Dr. Seuss. His work as their editor played a part in the publishing of The Big Honey Hunt that year. This was the first book in their wildly popular series, The Berenstain Bears.

The books dealt with everyday crises in the lives of children and families: How to deal with new neighbors, how to count your blessings, how to behave with strangers. “Family values is what we’re all about,” Jan Berenstain told an interviewer last year. Mama Bear and Papa Bear were drawn from the real lives and personalities of Stan and Jan Berenstain.

The Berenstains were a deeply collaborative team and often alternated the writing and illustrating. The publisher for the Random House Golden Books/Young Readers Group once stated, “You couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began. They loved their work. The studio was their home.”

And of Jan Berenstain, the publisher recalled, “She was quite a gentle soul with a wry sense of humor. Jan’s gentleness and dry humor were a wonderful foil to Stan’s more gregarious nature. She was basically a gentle soul.”

According to The Washington Post, “The Berenstains credited their first editor at Random House, Theodor Geisel, who wrote books himself under the name “Dr. Seuss,” with helping them achieve their trademark simplicity in language and illustrations. That style made their books popular as reading primers, by helping toddlers see connections between stories and words on a page.

To learn a little more about Dr. Seuss, click HERE.

“He wanted very simple, schematic illustrations with nothing in the background,” Mr. Berenstain told The Chicago Tribune. “Because the purpose of the books was to help kids tie the pictures in with the words.”

Their youngest son, Michael, said that his parents “both grew up in the Depression and they had a common-sense approach to things.” He recalled that his mother “would always say kids are a lot smarter than parents think. “He said that as a parent, Mrs. Berenstain “was very original. She had her own ideas about parenting. She encouraged creativity.”Stan and Jan Berenstain
As the years passed, the Berenstains adapted their stories to contemporary life situations including bullying, the dangers of online dating and children bringing guns to school. In 1994 the book, New Neighbors, told the story of The Berenstain Bears being confronted with racism. Papa Bear learned a serious lesson when the Asian-looking Panda family admitted to feelings of prejudice.
The Berenstains owed the popularity of their children’s book series to the light humor and simple messages they offered. In The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, Brother bear and Sister Bear get into some mischief, a lamp gets broken and they fib to their parents. Children are left with wise words to remember after the bear cubs learn their lesson, “But they never ever again told a whopper, because trust is one thing you can’t put back together once it’s broken.”
Over the years, the Berenstains marketed their stories as television cartoons, films, and music.
As wholesome as the Berenstains were, they still had their detractors. “A Random House editor once said of the bears’ almost impossible wholesomeness, their attire that never changed with the times, and the tepid games the children played (they included hopscotch and jacks) “…it’s just not that way in the real world.”
“But it’s that way in Bear Country,” the Berenstains said.Cool Factoid #1: Jan, while working as a riveter on Navy seaplanes, made wedding rings for Stan and herself from airplane aluminum.

Cool Factoid #2: In answer to the question why they decided on bears instead of any other animal, Jan replied,  “they stand on two legs, their mothers are very good mothers, and so on.”

Cool Factoid #3: Whenever Jan was asked which was her favorite book, she always replied it was the book she was working on. She always also mentioned Inside Outside Upside Down, a book about concepts for children 4 and up, which the Berenstains wrote in 1968 and Geisel edited.

Cool Factoid #4: Michael Berenstain, an illustrator and writer, took his father’s place, working with his mother, after his father’s death in 2005.

Cool Factoid #5: Jan and Stan wrote more than 300 picture books guiding children through the trials and tribulations of childhood. Nearly 300 million copies have been sold around the world.

R.I.P. Jan and Stan. We send you and your family big bear hugs.

Are you familiar with Stan and Jan Berenstain’s books? Which was your favorite? What has the Berenstain’s story taught you?

16 Reasons Pinterest is Worth Your Time

I hear you moaning and imagine you rolling your eyes…ugh, another social media time suck! Time on Pinterest does have to be managed, but it’s so worth it.

For those who haven’t had the time to look into the world of Pinterest, it’s a social networking site where you create ‘Boards’ or collages by ‘pinning’ images found on the site, on the internet or in your own photo storage onto your board. You can share these collages/boards with other site members, comment on images and ‘like’ them.

This is not your posterboard and white glue art project from 3rd grade. This is beautiful! But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all playtime. Oh yes, it’s fun and creative but…

Pinterest is now one of the hottest websites! It’s one more place to connect with potential readers/consumers.  It is becoming one of THE best marketing tools you can have in your arsenal.

Here’s why.Pinterest

According to Beth Hayden of Copyblogger, who wrote a must-read post on the topic, as of January 2012 Pinterest has nearly 5 million members and is still growing…FAST! Pinterest sends more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.

This means there is incredible potential for referral traffic to YOUR blog.

I’m going to make it easy to understand and tell you why I think it’s something you should consider joining. Right now, you can join Pinterest by invitation only.

So when you’ve reached the end of this post and have gone to see my Pinterest Boards, and decide you just can’t wait to get in on the fun and benefits, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you an invitation.

The Set Up

1. Once you’ve joined, fill in a profile completing the About section similar to the one on your blog. Watch your word count because if you write too much, some of it will be hidden. Be sure to include your blog URL. This is going to automatically add social sharing buttons under your profile for your blog and your Pinterest RSS feed. I recommend using the same name you have on your blog for branding purposes.

2. Then add your picture so people will recognize you  whenever you pin an image or video.

3. Connect Pinterest to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will add buttons for Facebook and Twitter under your profile.

4. Click on Find Friends and you will be taken to a list of your Facebook friends. The left column are those who are not yet on Pinterest–invite them. The right column are those who are on Pinterest. Make note of them and go follow them. You can also click on Invite Friends where you can enter email addresses for anyone you’d like to bring on.

Cherry Blossoms

Begin Creating

5. Once you have completed your profile, invited friends and found a few friends to follow, you can begin filling your boards with pretty pictures. Pinterest gives you a few blank boards with suggested titles. You will have the option to change the titles, add more boards and rearrange the boards on your page.

6. You can set up your boards so that only you  can pin on them or so you can have others pin, also. All of my boards, except one, are for me to pin only. See #12 for my explanation of my plans for that one board.

7. Use the search function on Pinterest to find a particular category  of images to pin. For example, if you write about vampires plug that keyword into the search box and a page full of images related to vampires will pop up.

8. At the top of your page, you’ll see where you can post videos. Not many are doing this yet, so it’s a wide open field to create your persona. It’s easy to pin a YouTube video. Simply go to the video you wish to pin (not available on Vimeo yet), and click the Pin It button in your browser (see #9 for installation). A page of videos that appeared on the YouTube page will show up. Mouse over the one you want and you’ll see a button to click for pinning. A box pops up giving you the chance to choose what board you want it placed upon.

Dog

                                                                                                         Source: joannagoddard.blogspot.com via Marcia on Pinterest

 

Begin Connecting

9. Install the Pin It button to your browser so you can automatically pin any image you find on the internet. You can even pin images from your blog or someone else’s blog. Add in the description your URL or your friend’s URL and even the title of the blog.

10. Use the embed function to post a Pinterest image on your blog. Readers of your blog can find the original source of the image by clicking on it. Pinterest automatically includes the original URL for the image whenever it’s repinned.

11. Make your blog Pinterest friendly by always posting an image. That image can be pinned to Pinterest by one of your readers and linked back to your blog.

12. One of my boards is currently titled Guest Pins. Anyone I choose will be allowed to pin an image there. Once I add their email addresses to that board, my chosen friends can add images to contribute to my Pinterest presence by allowing viewers to see me through their eyes.

13. Create a storyboard for your book by searching for images that relate to it. Give a hint of what your story is all about with the pictures you choose or add music videos for your book’s soundtrack.

14. Revive old photos used on archived blog posts, the prettier the better, and pin them to a blog board with links to the posts.

15. Have you begun making book trailers or videos interviews for your blog? If so, pin them to a storyboard for your book or a board devoted to your blog.  In the description, add relevant links.

16. If you have a WordPress.org blog, you can install a Pinterest Widget which will show thumbnails of your most recent pins. If you have a WordPress.com blog, you can install the Follow Me on Pinterest button in your sidebar, as I have. You can also direct people to your Pinterest RSS Feed. They’ll get notified when you pin something to a board.

These 16 tips are what I’ve learned from playing with and reading the Help section at Pinterest over the past month. You’ll also find most of them in the Copyblogger post, but she has a total of 56 tips! So, head over there if you want to learn a lot more about marketing with Pinterest.

Pinterest has a FAQs page and a contact form to ask other questions. I have used this and they got back to me with a clearcut answer within the hour.

Remember, it’s also important to put up your own pictures (click Add+ at the top of the Pinterest page) so that you are sharing images that can be linked directly back to you. And one last thing, as with your blog, pin as often as you can but be consistent. Other members will eventually know when to expect your pins to show up on the front page. Your followers, like your blog subscribers, will be watching for more of your awesomeness.

My stats: I have 20 Boards and 480+ Pins for you to peruse. In the month that I have been playing with Pinterest, I have gained 30 followers without really trying very hard. Those followers repin my images and their followers see the image and my name so that they, too can repin and follow me, if they so choose.

Now, please go visit my Pinterest page, click on the various boards and individual pins to see them larger. I’ll wait.

Oh, good, you’re back.  Did you have fun? Isn’t Pinterest just beautiful?

I know we’re all having trouble managing social media obligations so, take a tip from Natalie Hartford’s recent post, at Elena Aitken’s blog, on this …Don’t get involved with every social media site. Choose the ones you enjoy and can do well.

Disclaimer: Marcia Richards is not to be held responsible for any person’s addiction to Pinning. Join Pinterest at your own risk.

Please note: Since this post has gotten out of control long, I’ll post my usual links to amazing blogs on Sunday with my ROW80 update.

Okay, share! What did you think? Is it for you? If you didn’t like it, let us in on what you didn’t like.

If you loved it and want to join, let me know in the comments and then email me at marcia DOT a DOT richards AT gmail DOT com. I’ll send you an invitation right away.

ROW80 – Sailing Along And Blog Better and Faster

Welcome back for another ROW80 update. Since I’m moving right along with all my goals, this will be a shortROW80 update.

Make sure you scroll down, though. I don’t want you to miss the tips for blogging faster and better, that I promised you.

Updates are in pink:

  1. Continue with my 13-month Health Challenge. Read about that Here. We’ve come nearly to the end of the Treadmill challenge for me and Gene Lempp. We have two more days to go. I have 1 walk left to do to reach my32 walks in 60 days–that will be done tomorrow morning. Yesterday I posted new goals for the next 60 days in #Hotwriterbods Health Challenge. I met some goals but not all.
  2. Write on my projects – 4-5 days per week for a weekly total of 2,500 words. Again, I have not written that many days on my short stories, but I have completed my word count goal!
  3. Streamline my social media and support efforts so that I visit all my blogger friends and ROW80 friends over the course of each week. Tweeting, also, for my friends to help promote their work. Between my editorial plan for blogging, the tips I’m sharing below and adding Triberr to my plan, I have the streamlining nailed! I’ve also paid a little more attention on conversational tweeting and will continue to work on that.

Another successful week under my belt and I’m all smiles! Thanks for all your support! I hope your week went well. Please share with us in the comments.

If you haven’t tried a writing challenge before, ROW80 is not intimidating or full of pressure. It’s the challenge that knows you have a life. Set reasonable goals and work at meeting them each week. So many ROW80 veterans will tell you that they’ve learned a lot about themselves and the best methods they’ve found to get the job done.

Please check out ROW80 for yourself! Creator, Kait Nolan, offers a flexible, supportive atmosphere for meeting your writing goals. There are sooo many awesome people involved and they make it so much fun! Meet the Sponsors, too. They are the best cheerleaders you could ever hope to have.

Blog

image source: Google

Last week I promised you tips for writing blogs better and faster and here they are:

The Set Up:

1. Know the theme you’ll use each day you post. Don’t choose 5 topics that each require a lot of research. Balance is key. Choose 1 that reflects your writing, or at least relates to it. Choose 1 that is all you–your voice, your interests. Choose 1 that is easy and/or fun…links, videos, photos, music. See the sample calendar below.

2. Brainstorm daily topics for those themes. Use key words as prompts to come up with ideas then form a question for the keyword. For example–Keyword: showing love; Question: how many ways do you show you love someone? Pull together a month’s worth of topics from your keyword/question exercise.

3. Write them on a large calendar (desk calendar, or choose one online to use) assigning each one to a posting date. Try to stick to that schedule. Sometimes something else comes up and you have to make a change, but don’t let that throw you off.  Adjust the schedule. When you’ve written a post complete with photos and links and scheduled it for the correct calendar date, check it off and mark it DONE.

4. If you’re a romance writer and you’re participating in ROW80, for example, your schedule could look like this. Sunday’s ROW80 post should take no more than half an hour to write. Monday’s post requires some research and may take several hours depending on the depth of the subject. Wednesday’s post is just for fun and will take only 30-45 minutes. Friday’s post is all you-your thoughts, a topic you know well and should only take you 60-90 minutes to write.

Sun

ROW80       1

Mon

Book review      2

Tues

3

Wed

Inspiring quotes   4

Thurs

5

Fri

Romantic gestures  6

Sat

7

ROW80       8 Writing tips       9 10 Funny videos      11 12 Love & marriage    13 14
ROW80     15 Novel Excerpt  16 17 Favorite music    18 19 How to findMr. Right                20 21
ROW80     22 Book review    23 24 Photo gallery      25 26 The perfect date     27 28
ROW80     29 Self-pub tips   30

Blog Faster:

1. If you’re writing 5 or more posts a week now, consider cutting back to 3-4, or less. When I was writing a minimum of 5 posts a week, my closest girlfriend-the only one who would be totally honest with me- said she couldn’t keep up with reading all of them. If some of my posts are just being skimmed or not read at all, why am I stressing out about writing so often. Consistency is more important than frequency.

2. Create a short outline for your longer posts  so you don’t get stuck and waste time. Even a blog post has a beginning, a middle and an end.

3. Write the first draft of your longer posts fast…10-15 minutes, tops. Free writing helps you get your voice in the post. It will be easy to go back and revise later. If you find you just can’t get going on a particular topic, dump it. Don’t waste time trying to put together something that you just don’t care about.

4. Write efficiently. (Based on posting 3 times a week) 1 week before the new month begins, write all the posts for the 1st week. During week #1, create all the easy posts and one more for the coming week. This means you only have one post left to writer for week 2. It pumps you up because you can see all those dates checked off. feel proud. In week #2 write the remaining 1 post for that week and 2 for week #3.

Three weeks of posts DONE. In week #3, write the remaining 2 posts for week #4. The month is complete and you have week #4 free to get ahead on the coming month.

Blog Better:

1. Most importantly, make sure your post content either informs, educates or entertains your readers. Obviously you want to write what will interest your readers. Write in your natural voice as if you are having a conversation with your reader. Readers want to get to know the writer and feel as though there is a connection. When they feel that, they come back over and over again.

2. Be a Link Queen…add links to your previously published posts that relate in some way to the new one. Try to incorporate a link to another bloggers post that relates to yours.

3. Headlines are the first important part of your post. They should be SEO friendly, as well as, make a reader feel they can’t resist reading your post. Lists, how-tos, shocking news, ‘do this before this happens’ are some of the most powerful. Take a lesson from the brilliant Chuck Wendig. He has a list of 25 things on several different topics and a huge readership.

4. Make sure your tags are also SEO friendly and that you use them carefully. They should tell the story of your post. Read this post at BlogSuccessJournal for a great explanation of tags–what to do and what not to do.

What blogging tips do you have to share? What part of blogging is tough for you? Don’t forget to share how your ROW80 goals are shaping up!

ROW80 – 1/22 – Steady as She Goes and Streamlining Blogs

I hope all of you ROWers are doing well and making progress on your goals!ROW80

My goals:

  • Continue with my 13-month Health Challenge. Read about that Here.  My health goal is to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week.  In the Treadmill challenge  with Gene Lempp we had set a goal of 32 walks in 60 days. We are on Day 53 and I have completed 26 walks. Just 6 more before the end of the month to meet my goal. Oy! But I am feeling stronger and the walks are getting easier. Walking everyday  is really powering me up!

Come join me and my friends at #2012healthchallenge in getting fit and healthier this year! Tell me in your comment what you need to work on. Any small change in movement or eating is a step in the right direction. Put several steps together and you make a big difference in how you look and feel. We have a new Facebook page to meet at and talk about our own personal challenges. Please join us there!

  •  Write on my projects – 4-5 days per week for a weekly total of 2,500 words.  I hit closer to the mark this week writing a total of 2,000 words on my short stories. I hope to have the 1st drafts on some of them done by the end of the month, then I’ll self-edit and get them to beta readers, of which I think I will have 4. Then on to a professional editor or two. Publishing should take place end of March or early April. 
  • Streamline my social media and support efforts so that I visit all my blogger friends and ROW80 friends over the course of each week. Tweeting, also, for my friends to help promote their work. I did even more streamlining this week. I was invited to join Triberr with my Wana Sistas. (I hope accepting this invitation doesn’t preclude me from joining another tribe.) It’s a tricky thing to make sure everything is posting correctly. Still getting to know how it all works. Jenny Hansen is writing a series of articles on using and enjoying Triberr that are really helping us novices. Check out Triberr Part 1 and Triberr Part 2. So, my blog reading, commenting and socially promoting are on track. I just need to find time now for tweeting conversationally. 

If you haven’t tried a writing challenge before, ROW80 is not intimidating or full of pressure. It’s the challenge that knows you have a life. Set reasonable goals and work at meeting them each week. So many ROW80 veterans will tell you that they’ve learned a lot about themselves and the best methods they’ve found to get the job done. 

Please check out ROW80 for yourself! Creator, Kait Nolan, offers a flexible, supportive atmosphere for meeting your writing goals, as well as other life goals. There are so many awesome people involved and they make it so much fun! Meet the Sponsors, too. They are the best cheerleaders you could ever hope to have. Don’t forget to go visit some new-to-you blogs and cheer them on in their journey.

Blog

image source: Google

Now, a lot of you asked me to outline how I streamlined my blogs. I gave away a few tips on my Life List Club post on Jess Witkins’ blog and you can read that here. Here goes:

1. Look at your list of blogs that you read and comment on or simply glean information from. Do you have a lot coming into your email inbox AND Google reader or another depository?

I have some in my Google Reader simply because I wasn’t able to subscribe to certain blogs with my email, which I prefer. I hate going to more than one location to take care of a particular task. Consequently, I never get over to the Google reader to read those blogs. So, I deleted them. Yes. All of them. No more guilt or stress!

I have also unsubscribed to many, many blogs that are delivered to my inbox. Why, you ask? Some I just never could get to and others turned out to be not-so-very-interesting or helpful. I have a limited time to spend on reading, commenting and promoting other blogs so I had to make a choice. Which blogs do I love and which blogs can I always learn from? The answer to that question was my vehicle for deleting all the rest. No more backlog of blogs to read that number into the hundreds!

2. List the blogs you’ve kept and tweet them and facebook them as you read them. If you belong to Triberr, you can easily promote all your tribe members in just a few minutes, even without reading the blogs, if you’re super short on time. But, bear in mind, that’s one more place to go to read, comment and promote.

If you have a WordPress hosted blog, you can adjust how often you receive the other WP blogs in your email inbox. Just go to your Dashboard and click on ‘Blogs I Follow’. When you open that tab, all of the WP blogs you read are listed there. Look at the column entitled ‘Delivery Frequency’ You can choose to receive the posts immediately upon posting, daily (1:00am-3:00am) or on Mondays (1:00am-3:00am). There are only a few that I need immediately. The rest can be delivered to me on Mondays and I’ve designated that day to go back over the previous week’s blog and read, comment and promote to my heart’s content. No more worries about who I’ve promoted and read and how many more are going load up my email and make me feel pressured. YAY!

AND, now WordPress just improved their “Blogs I Follow’ tab so you can import even your non-Wordpress blogs to this list. So, you can really see EVERY blog you follow in one list. I reblogged the Wordpress post on this topic yesterday and you can read all the details here.

3. Definitely set up TweetDeck or HootSuite to schedule conversational tweets and additional promotion of your own blog. Once you schedule it, you can close your mind to it. DONE!

These tactics constitute a strategy that keeps me from getting scatterbrained, stressed and feeling guilty. I hate getting too busy to promote someone who promotes me regularly. This leaves me more time to do the conversational tweets and reaching out to groups other than writers.

One last tidbit – Schedule your daily time putting your WIP FIRST, above all! Second place goes to your own blog, the foundation of your platform, and Social Media comes in 3rd. If you have a core group of blogging friends, you should be able to count on their loyalty when you’re having a rough week or a few rough weeks. It happens. I’ve been there and am quick to apologize for my absence and try not to let it happen often.

Good luck setting up a schedule and be kind to yourself first.

Next week I’ll bring you my tips for getting your blog writing done better and faster!

Have a great week on the ROW! Please share with me how your week went and what you have to look forward to. Do you have other tips for balancing all your tasks to share?

Big Progress and Little Changes

I had a head-slapping moment recently.

The writing scheduling advice I’ve found in the writing community just doesn’t work for me. At least not yet. I seem to get the most writing on my WIP done when I have no other writing to think about. If I know have blog posts to write and research, it’s very hard for me to focus on my WIP.

Last month I decided to conduct a test that would begin on December 1st. I spent the month of November writing blogs ahead of schedule. By Thanksgiving, I had blog posts written for my 3 x week schedule through the first week of January, 2012. That means that in 21 days, I wrote 30 blog posts – 10 posts each week. I didn’t write even one word on my manuscript.

Why did I scramble like crazy to get so far ahead on my posts?

crazy

image source: Google.com

I wanted to have the entire month of December free to write only on my manuscript, and I ended up being able to begin a few days earlier than December 1st and I had Thanksgiving week with no worries.

December has been an interesting month! Some out of the ordinary things happened. My sisters and I found an opportunity to move our 88 yr old mother to an assisted living facility two weeks ago. We had one week to pack her and move her in. For me, there was travel time involved as I live 2 1/2 hours away. So, between packing her things, moving her and unpacking her things, 10 days were consumed. In addition, my daughter needed help babysitting on Saturdays to finish up her schooling, so that wiped out 3 more days.

Total – 13 days…no writing.

With one week left of the month, I don’t expect to hit my word goal of 25,000. I have written 2,600 words and I still have another week free to write some more. My granddaughter is with us this week and I have another day of traveling to return her to her mother, but I hope to get another 2,500 words written before the end of the month.

I have been diligent about making sure my blogs posted properly and I enjoyed time chatting with my readers via comments. Having all that writing and research done allowed me such peace of mind, especially the past couple of weeks. If you can find the time to push through it, blogging ahead it definitely worth it.

And as for writing, I’m going to continue working on my current projects week by week and I’ll continue to build a backlog of posts, hopefully to cover more than a month at a time. It’s invaluable when life throws a curve ball. My goal is to write quality content and be responsible about posting regularly.

 One way I’ll be doing that is by trimming my posting schedule to two regular days each week – Wednesday and Friday. My Wednesday posts will consist of all the elements I had in both Monday and Wednesday(before the holidays), so you won’t be missing out on any of your favorite topics.

#1 Big lesson learned…Be Flexible! Family is more important than any self-imposed deadline or schedule. No point in banging your head against the wall because the schedule didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. You’ll just give yourself a bigger headache.

#2 Big lesson learned…The 30 posts I wrote in the first 3 weeks of November totaled approximately 30,000 words. That means that I am capable of writing beyond my blog posts. January will hold 9 blog posts – at most 9,000 words. That leaves me more than 20,000 words I should be able to write on my WIP.

coming soon

image source: Google.com

Beginning January 4th:

Wednesdays will be Woman’s DayThe posts will consist of all the elements I had in both Monday and Wednesday, so you won’t be missing out on any of your favorite topics. I will be including more posts on and for women – our strength, courage, sexiness, health and inspiration with a little history included now and then.

Fridays will be Lists and Links. Every other Friday will continue to be The Life List Club. Alternate Fridays will be lists on writing and other topics I feel would be of some value to you. A mash-up of links will be at the end of the lists. They will include the best of the blogosphere for the previous two weeks.

The last Saturday of each month I will post an update on my Health Challenge. This is where you’ll learn about new and ongoing health challenges in which you can participate. At the end of each post will be doctor approved health tips just for you. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the changes and will continue to visit with me Wednesdays, Fridays and one Saturday a month.

Don’t forget! This Friday is The Life List Club Milestone Party! It will be a celebration of 6 months of working toward our goals and a look ahead to the New Year. Please join us to win some awesome prizes as our gift to you for sticking with us.