Friday, December 28, 2012

Join In!

I joined a few discussion boards on LinkedIn this past year and have thoroughly enjoyed the feedback and input of all who have contributed. On one such board, there is an ongoing discussion about whether a writer's group is profitable if all the members are unpublished. This discussion led to the impact of poor writing. Below is my current entry in that particular discussion. If you have never joined or participated in a writer's discussion group, do it today. 

It's true enough that a story can be a good one even if poorly told. The trouble is, however, that no one will ever know how good the story is if they don't read it, and as a rule, readers don't read bad writing. Readers typically take the path of least resistance and do not read poor writing because it takes too much effort. The exception to this might be required reading for school, a job, or something else along those lines. The vast majority of readers read for pleasure; they do not want to work at reading. Reading poor writing is too much work for most. 

I once had a writing student with a fantastic story. She was an 85-year-old WWII survivor who was writing her memoir. Her story was fascinating. She told of playing in a playground at age five in France when bombs started going off and she had to run for cover. However, I knew her memoir would be lost without writing improvement because she presented her story more as a list of facts than the agonizing, action-packed experience it was. As I began working with her to improve how she told her story, I was intercepted by family members who thought they'd do a better job. I'd even arranged for a local TV station to interview her! Her story, as fantastic as it is, was lost to poor writing. It's been four years, I have not heard a word. 

E-publishing has leveled the playing field for most writers and this is a good thing. Writers no longer have to wait for the approval of a publisher to be published and subsequently accepted as an author. Publishers are wrong most of the time; most writers have files full of rejection letters to offer as proof. E-publishing has opened new doors of opportunity such as have never been seen before. 

So, yes, write and write and never stop. Bang on doors, never stopping, but also e-publish and never stop. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Well = A Learned Skill

Writers are simply people with something to say. Do you have something to say? Learn to say it well and you will see success. While some people have more talent than others, good writing does not just magically happen. If that were the case, we would never need editors. Good writing is a skill which can be learned by anyone with something to say.

A few tips for "good writing" include:

*Pay attention to grammar. It matters

*Pay attention to punctuation. It matters.

*Never write sarcasm. It comes across ugly and makes you look small. Sarcasm does not work for the written word unless it's used to develop a character.

*Less is enough. There is no need to embellish your writing. What you have to say is enough, so keep it simple and direct.

*Be real. Readers recognize a fraud instantly, so it's vitally important to keep your writing real and honest. If your writings are fraudulent, or any part of your self-presentation is fraudulent, readers simply won't come back for more.

*Remember that writing something down changes it. This fact makes each word vitally important and weight-carrying. Proceed with caution, but by all means, proceed.

These are my tips for today.
Happy writing!
Write well!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning by Doing

No doubt, indie writers like myself - and perhaps you - learn as we go. This morning I read this article which walks through the writing/publishing process of one indie writer and describes her struggles along the way. The article, The Woes, Fears and Promises of an Expectant Writer is full of insights and the decisions the author has faces, and still does face, as she seeks to get her writing published. We can all learn from reading this article; she has a lot of good information in there.

One thing I admire about this author, Nancy LaRonda Johnson, is that, after due consideration, she opted out of vanity publishing. As tempting as it is, she saw through it and went with self-publishing. Another thing I admire is the fact that she is writing and publishing continually, including articles. It's important to keep ourselves out there, visible, with more to share than a book or two. Even prominent authors whose works sell well have taken to blogging. They know to keep writing and to write often.

Here's to you, your writing endeavors and the woes, fears and promises you experience! Keep at it, publish wherever you can, stay focused and write.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Fail Your Way to Success!

I put this quote up on my Total Writer Facebook Page last night: 

From my Writing for Publication class:

Get Ready to Fail
Every writer fails. While that might not be the first thing you expected to hear, I want to be very direct and honest with you on this: As a writer, you will fail. You will likely fail many times. Get used to it and plow through it. The best thing to do about your failure as a writer is to keep writing. Soon, with continued writing, you will spin failure into success. Even Dr. Seuss failed in the beginning! He kept writing. So should you.

I thought here, on my blog, I'd expand just a bit. The information given above is taking directly out of my Writing for Publication class. 
If you investigate just a little, you will discover that the vast majority of authors saw failure before they saw success. Check out this list below............all these authors failed with their writing at one time or another:

J K Rowling
Steven King
Amanda Hocking
Danielle Steele
Kathryn Stockett
Theodore Seuss Geisel
John Grisham
John Steinbeck

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. 
Keep writing.

Don't let failure slow you down. When Amanda Hocking took my class, she told me how she kept writing even though she was getting rejected right and left. She found the key to success.............keep writing! By the time the publishers realized what they were passing up, she had become an internet sensation and they couldn't compete for her fast enough!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Review of a Book Review

This morning, I ran across this blog post and was completely captivated by this book review and showcasing of this book. The blog is Turtleandrobot and offers up a book review like no other I've seen before. More importantly, the book they reviewed is like no other I've seen before. What a great concept! What an innovative way to write a book!

The Black Book of Colors is the book featured and just looking at the Amazon sample opens up an entirely new reading experience.  Kudos to Menena Cottin, the author, Rosana Faria, the illustrator and Elisa Amado, the translator for a thoroughly innovative book that will surely change the lives of many, the seeing and the blind.

Check out the blog post. Be prepared to be blown away.

Study this and allow what you see to influence your own writing.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A New Book, A New Venture

As the mom of eight kids, I do know a thing or two about potty training. My new short e-book, How to Not Potty Train Your Kids (The Lazy Mom's Guide to all Things Potty)  tells how I remained a relatively lazy mom, yet managed to have all my kids doing the potty thing independently at a reasonable age.

My youngest son is my model for the cover.  I generally use my own photography in my books and this one is no exception.

If you have kids or even grandkids facing this life-challenge, this book might be of help, or at least encouragement.  It might make you laugh in a couple of places!

Writers, take note of the small size of this e-book. It's something you can put together in a weekend. Write short e-books about what you know, publish them to Kindle Direct Publishing and see what happens. This one was uploaded and live on Amazon within hours!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Building Momentum - Keep it Going!

As an independent "indee" writer, I'm fully aware of the fact that I have to create and keep my own momentum going. How do you build your momentum?  How do you keep it going?  Mostly, I write because I have something to say. I currently have four different blogs, this one being my most professional.  My other blogs represent other areas of my life, be it theologycooking or crafting. I am also considering starting a photography blog as my interest in photography (and my related awards) is growing.

A few things I do to keep my momentum going might help you, too.

Write.  Even if I'm writing for writing's sake, I write. I don't publish everything I write. I don't publish a blog post every day, but I write every day. Writing, even for yourself, is a great way to keep your momentum going.

Publish. Whether you publish what you write as a facebook note or a blog, publish often. Search the internet for publishing outlets you have not previously used.  One of my favorites is Ezine Articles. I publish on there from time to time to keep my momentum going, keep my name out there and keep myself sharp and fresh.

Branch Out. Branching out from your normal writing avenues is a great way to challenge yourself in new areas. Write a "how to" article and submit it to an article hub. Submit information to Wikipedia. Start a new blog. There are many, many more things you can do to branch out. You won't be sorry. Stretching your talent will increase your talent. You'll just get better and better.

Talk it Up.  Word of mouth is still the best way to spread the word about your writings. Talk to friends, co-workers, relatives, restaurant servers, etc.  Talk it up and watch it expand. Keep everything current in social's moving fast and has a momentum all its own. Take full advantage of its momentum.

Never Fear.  Fear is probably the biggest obstacle to writing and publishing. I know fear and how it can stop you, make you hesitate and be extremely intimidating. But, once you get in the practice of working through you fears, you will find them easier and easier to overcome.

Celebrate Accomplishments.  Last week, I got a check in the mail for one article I sold, word from my editor that she was buying another and sold some of my Kindle books online! I celebrated all these accomplishments, which motivated me to write more.  I'm fully aware that to get another check in the mail, I need to keep writing. Results are motivating.

Momentum = a good thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's a Process

Writing is a process. Depending on what you're writing, the process can be long or short. A process requires patience, endurance, focus, determination and fortitude. Once you have your book idea, whether you're writing a novel or your own personal memoir, the actual writing is a process. Preparing for the process is key to having the patience and endurance to see it through to the end. In order to prepare for the process, it helps to know and understand the process. 

The process has specific steps which include:





Prewriting = Anything you do before you actually write a draft of your project. This includes, but is not limited to:

Getting the idea
Talking to others
Taking notes
Gathering information

All these things count toward the writing process. If you're thinking about writing a novel, you have already started the process! It starts with a thought. This part of the process is recursive. You will return to it again and again.

Drafting = Putting your ideas into sentences and paragraphs. Drafting involves three separate steps, listed below with their simple definitions:

Explaining - Getting your idea across by the use of clear, concise words.
Supporting - Giving your ideas merit.
Connecting - Connecting your ideas to get your point across.

Revising = Rewriting and updating your draft, to its completion. Revision is key to effective writing. During revision, keep these steps in mind:

Refine - often eliminating sentences, paragraphs or entire sections.
Clarify - Clarify each sentence so they flow together, giving the reader momentum.
Make concise - Concise thoughts get a point across more effectively than drawn-out thoughts.
Accuracy - Even if you're writing fiction, accuracy is important to making your story plausible. This applies to fantasy, as well.  Fantasy writers define their own facts, but they remain accurate to those definitions throughout their writings, making them plausible.

Editing = The process of preparing your work to properly convey the intended information. This involves:

Mechanics of how the work flows
More revision
The last thing you do

This is a very brief overview of the writing process. I hope it helps you focus in some way as you either work on or prepare to start your next writing project!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Changing Plans

Sometimes the best laid plans get side-tracked. What's a writer to do when that happens?

Keep writing, of course!

My plans have been side-tracked this fall.  My original plan was to offer my regular Writing for Publication and E-Publishing classes through Community Education through the school districts in which I was already offering the classes, expand to an additional school district and also begin offering an online writing course. Also, my local Community Education Office had offered to give me a "Featured Instructor" page in their fall booklet, complete with a bio and an expansion on the success of my classes. This success, of course, started with Amanda Hocking and her launch into e-publishing.

But, this year, my plans were side-tracked. Instead of teaching my regular classes, we are moving, relocating to another part of the country.  Because our move is pending, I could not commit to any of my classes and had to turn down my local district's offer to be a "Featured Instructor."

So, as I advise all my writing students when hitting an obstacle, I kept writing!  And I kept networking.  And I met some new people.

And I'm excited to say that my writing classes have more opportunity than ever, even though I thought things were totally side-tracked.  Being side-tracked has opened up new opportunities!  I'm excited about the move and what it's bringing with it.

A few pointers if your writing goals get side-tracked:

Keep writing.
Nothing will derail your writing faster than not writing. Whether you publish during a time of transition or not, keep writing to stay fresh, remain in practice and be ready to go when you are in a position to move your writing forward when the dust settles on your situation.

Continue to set new goals for your writing.
Setting continual new goals for your writing is important at any time, but especially during times of transition, waiting and change. New goals keep you motivated, fresh and aware of the ever-changing writing and publishing world.

Treat your writing as serious business.
Even though I'm packing, still homeschooling my two youngest sons, driving three kids around to their various activities, and organizing for a major move, I still carve out time for my writing every single day.  It's a priority and my family understands and appreciates that, so they've learned to have respect for my need to write.  Because I take my writing seriously, so do they.

More on our move when things are solidified!
Happy writing through all life's transitions!

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Top 5 Blogging Tips

Lately as I've done a little blog hopping, I noticed a few things about some blogs that appeal to me and I noticed a few things that didn't appeal to me.  I've condensed my observations into five different tips which might improve your own blogging performance:

1. Be concise. Most people do not want to read a long, drawn-out story in a blog.  Blog readers are mostly looking for concise information they can gather quickly.

2. Use good grammar. This may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how many people do not edit their blog posts before publishing.

3. Set links open in a new tab. It personally frustrates me when I click on a link in a blog and it takes me off the current page.

4. Do not have music playing on your blog.  I often have my own music going when I'm working on my computer, so random blog music annoys me. My response is generally to click off that blog immediately.

5. Use pictures.  Pictures are a great way to break up paragraphs, give a visual which draws a reader in, and they give Pinterest something to publish!

This list is by no means comprehensive, but represents several things on my mind during a recent blog hop. I'm sure this list will continue to grow!

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social Media and Your Writing

Are you successfully working the social media scene to your advantage as a writer? It can be a great resource, but it can also be a great hindrance, depending on how you use it.  I recently read this great article, Practice Good Facebook Etiquette, by Real Simple magazine and it has excellent pointers for using social media successfully. While the article is specifically about Facebook, it can apply to all avenues of social media.  In addition to this article, I have a few reminders which will help your social media experience work for you and your writing.

What you say in social media stays in social media.  In other words, don't say it if it's not to your advantage because once you write it down out there, you can't undo it. Even if you delete something, it's still "out there" somewhere in cyber space.  Nothing ever truly goes away.  Facebook has recently extended their timeline system to go back even further than they did before and people are up in arms because they claim their private messages are no longer private. That's not the case; it's simply that they said things publicly a few years ago that they might not say today; they are wishing those messages were private.  Their words are coming back to bite them and they are not happy.

Social media mistakes can cost you. More than one person has lost or not gotten a job due to their actions on social media websites.  In social media, you're not just ruining your reputation with one or two people, you're ruining your reputation in front of the world.

Kindness counts.  It's not that you have go out of your way to be kind (although we all should!), but the problem is, unkindness shouts ignorance on social media, and people take note. Social media is not the place to "right all the wrongs" you may or may not experience in life.  In some ways, social media has opened a door for people to avoid confrontation in their relationships and lash out instead. I know of a church which had to take down its Facebook page due to inappropriate comments from its members.  I have a friend in another state who won't even get on any social media due to the actions of the people who were members of a church he left.  You do not want to be the reason someone takes down a page or stops doing social media altogether.

Remember why you're on social media.  If you are using social media to promote and advance your writing career, keep in mind that every single person who reads your posts is a potential customer.  I have learned a great deal from direct sales expert Julie Anne Jones. She uses social media to her advantage, is always positive and yet very reachable. She not only invites business associates and potential clients to her Facebook business page, but she invites all to be personal "friends" as well. This allows clients to see her life, her family and how she balances that with her business. Julie Anne might just be learning how I use her model as an example to my writing students! Kudos to Julie Anne Jones!

Don't base your interpersonal relationships on social media. I've had to "unfriend" or block certain people due to inappropriate behavior of their other friends,  even though I consider them friends in non-social-media places.  Others may have done the same to me, I have no idea. I don't know who has blocked or disassociated with me because I don't watch my list to see who's still there or not. I simply do not base any sort of relationship on social media interaction.  My relationships with people are real, not cyber-produced, so I prefer to have real interaction with the people in my life.  Bottom line: Never take anything personally on any social media outlet.

Happy social media interaction!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vanity, Vanity

The other night in my Writer's Group meeting, one writer asked about a particular publishing house. I told him that it's a vanity press and they are best avoided.  A vanity press is a press which will print whatever you like, as long as you pay for it.  A vanity press does not market, edit or see to your best interest as a writer. I know a good number of people who have used a vanity press and it's been an uphill battle for them to have any success as a result..

The reasons are numerous, but the bottom line is, in the publishing world, using a vanity press is akin to getting your degree from a for-profit university.  Once you do that, no one in the education world will take you seriously, your "credentials" will not be listed and you might find it hard to get, or keep, a viable position. Likewise, once you use a vanity press, you will find that viable publishers don't take you seriously.

Curiously, neither print on demand nor e-publishing fall into this category.  You can e-publish and use print-on-demand with no damage to your writing career. As a matter of fact, even high profile authors e-publish on a regular basis and it adds to their credibility.

So, writers, avoid using a vanity press.  Use e-publishing, traditional publishing, print-on-demand or any other means besides a vanity press.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Guest Post of Sorts

This is a guest post of sorts.  The author of this article, 20 Redundant Phrases to Eliminate from Your Writing, has no idea I'm posting their article, but I found it so relevant and helpful I thought it deserved a spot in my blog.  Thank you Mickie Kennedy for this timely and well-written piece.

Read and learn, writers. Redundancy can end today!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Get Organized for Better Writing

How do you organize your writing projects?

I like to think of myself as organized, but to someone looking in, I would not appear very organized  at all.  Life is busy. Organization takes work.  I get lazy.  Stuff piles up.  You get the picture.  But, right now, I have a big writing project in the works and I'm actively working to get this project organized to help it go more smoothly, and to help it be successful.  I'm in the process of creating different computer files, organized into one folder with the project title as the folder name. As I look to the future and writing full-time, I'm experimenting with different systems to find which works best for me.  For now, I'm excited about the new folder/file system and am determined to stay as organized as I start out being. I may combine several systems into one new system.

This is not my normal method, so I'm really excited about the challenge this presents.  Normally, I think about a writing project for a long time, jot notes as I'm on the go, and do more thinking. When I finally sit down to write the project (usually an article), it generally takes no more than 20 - 30 minutes of actual writing and many times I get an acceptance from my editor on the same day I submit the piece.  The thinking process is crucial to my writing.  My new project will not be as simple; the challenge is far greater.  My books have not come so easily, I'm talking my many articles here.  My first book, Victory Over Violence, took me several years to write because I had to dig up all the unpleasant things which make up the book. Each project presents its own unique set of challenges.

Think about how you organize your writing projects.  Do you organize them or do you prefer to work "on the fly," jotting down notes here and there as you go? Do you like to use computer files or hard copy files with note pads and/or legal pads? Famed author Danielle Steele actually writes on an old, antique typewriter!

There are no right or wrong answers. As all writers know, doing what works for you is key, no matter what your style is!

Whatever you do, one thing is certain, you have to keep writing.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Vacation Writing

We are on vacation in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We've been here almost two weeks and have a few more days to go.  I won't post long today, but wanted to share a few thoughts about writing and vacationing.

I write on vacation.  Do you?  I might not produce an entire story or article, but I do write.  Mostly notes, journal entries, ideas and outlines for future projects.  I also read a lot.  So far this vacation, I've read three books and previewed another.

Embrace your summer vacation!   Read. Write.  Learn.

And have FUN! The picture at the left is my son, Marty, water skiing on Manistique Lake.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writers, Are You Reading?

Writers, are you reading this summer? Reading is a "must do" for any writer, experienced or aspiring.  Reading expands your thinking, expands your vocabulary, exposes you to new ideas and styles of writing and helps your own writing improve by all these means.  One of the points in the writing class I teach is "Read to Write."

Summer is a great time to do some serious reading, at least in my life.  Actually, so if fall, winter and spring for that matter!  So far this summer, I have read:

The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo with Bob DeMoss
      I couldn't put this book down!  It was a fantastic story of how far some people have the potential to go when controlled by their ego.

Memiors of a Holocaust Survivor, Icek Kuperberg by Icek Kuperberg
     I read Holocaust survivor books annually, several times throughout the year, actually.  While some parts are very hard to read because I can't imagine the horrors, I feel totally obligated to read them, thus keeping that horrid part of their history alive.  We must never forget.

Messy Church, a Multigenerational Mission for God's Family by Ross Parsley
     I started this book with great interest, but ended up scanning it for Truth.  The author, a pastor for more than 20 years, seems way too green to be realistic.The problem:  He assumes the Gospel is active in church members' lives......and nothing could be further from the truth for many church members.  Assuming the Gospel in anyone's life is a grave mistake.  It's not about church, it's about the Gospel of Christ.

Mistaken Identiry by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak
     This remarkable story is riveting, compounded by the very fact that it's true!  I've seen critics say their faith was too prominent and they just wanted the story, not the "preaching."  My opinion is that it's because of their faith they were able to cope with this tragedy with love and hope instead of bitterness and despair. In the introduction, they were very clear about their faith up front, so if one did not want to read a book on faith, they were warned ahead of time.

Last night, I went to the library and checked out:

Why I Left the Amish by Saloma Miller Furlong
     I really look forward to reading this.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
     I saw this movie, but never read the book.  It's time.

So, that's a summary of what I've been reading so far and plan to read in the next week or so. Read to write. You will be a better writer as a result.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Enticement of Blank Paper

I love a blank piece of paper.  I love a blank computer screen.  The blankness is enticing to me because it's a clean slate, representing a new beginning each and every time I sit down to write.  For me, it goes something like this:

1. As I go about my day, I'm constantly thinking.
2. This thinking leads to ideas.
3. These ideas lead to my desire to voice them.
4. My desire to voice them leads me to my paper or computer.
5. The paper or computer screen are blank......which is, to me, an invitation to write.
6. An invitation to write brings on an avalanche of writing, much of which I never even print or publish!

Thus, you can see why a blank paper or computer screen is so enticing to me.  My days are busy with my large family and that means there are days when finding time to write is challenging.

What about you? Does a blank paper or screen excite or intimidate you?  Do you feel overwhelmed by it or eager to get started?

Think about your writing style, define it for yourself and hone it as necessary.
Have fun!
And write!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Recommendation and a Book Review

I just finished one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.  It was on the "new book" shelf at my local library and I was intrigued by the title, Letters from Leaders.  Letters from Leaders is a compilation of letters the author, Henry O. Dormann, Chairman and Editor in Chief, LEADERS Magazine, requested from world leaders in politics, religion, business and philanthropy. Some of the letters, themselves, were hand-written by the people approached, on their company letterhead.  These letterheads were folded within the pages of the book, included with the print.
As I read this book, I could not help but see a strong pattern emerge.  I want to share my observations of this pattern, in hopes that you, as a writer, can sense what would make your pursuits in writing more successful.

My observations of the overriding keys to success from the leaders in this book:

1. Integrity
2. Ethics
3. Dreams
4. Respect for others - ALL others
5. Everyone needs leadership
6. Listening - requires one to stop talking
7. Be yourself - this takes courage.
8. Be a team player.
9. Focus on the success of others first.
10. Define your own success.

One of the most intriguing statements in the book was made by Theodore Forstmann, a billionaire investment pioneer, Chairman and CEO, IMG and Senior Founding Partner, Forstmann Little & Company. He said, "Don't ask me how to make a lot of money, because I don't even know. I don't even think that's a particularly worthwhile goal. aware of your own thought process.  Be true to yourself, because you don't have anything in the world but yourself."

My comment on that is simply that you are the only you.  Who you are is a gift from God, a uniqueness all your own.  As I type this, I'm reminded of #7 on my list above, "Be yourself - this takes courage."  It DOES take courage to be yourself because the world will attempt to mold you into something they are more comfortable with.  If the world is comfortable with me, I am not successful.

Carry on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pay Attention, Save Money

It's a well-known fact that no one can fully edit their own work.  As I teach writing and advise my students, I always recommend hiring an independent editor, especially if not working with a publishing house.  Many of my students have chosen e-publishing and independent editors are a must for any e-publisher.  But, many people avoid hiring independent editors due to the cost involved. Their work, along with their credibility as a writer, suffers as a result.

But, there are some ways you can save money on editing.  The number one way is to pay attention to your word processor.  Modern word processing programs all have built-in grammar and spelling alerts. Paying attention to them and using them will save you money on editing costs.  Why pay an editor to do what a word processor will do automatically?  All you have to do is pay attention.  For example, when Word puts a green squiggly line under a word or sentence, pay attention.  It's highly likely your grammar is off.  When you see a red squiggly line, you have a misspelled word.  Even Blogger does this now! Get to know your word processor and all its features, and use them.

Another way to save money on editing is to think outside the box.  I've made bartering deals with people who needed my editing services. That's an option for you, too.

Edit before you hire an editor.  Let your work sit for a few days, go back to it and read it through with a critical eye, editing along the way.  Do as much as you can before you hire the rest out.  Read your work out loud to yourself as this gives you a new perspective and allows you to see what you might not see otherwise.

Pay attention.
Edit before hiring editing.
Save money.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Are You Blogging?

Writer, are you blogging?  Blogging is vital to your writing success.  Here's why:

1. Blogging gives you credibility.  Potential readers, publishers and agents can go to your blog and easily see your style, talent and passion.
2. Blogging gives your experience.  The more writing you do, the better you become at being a writer.
3. Blogging gives you an online presence.  Having an online presence is becoming more and more important as the internet evolves. A blog is an easy way to have and maintain an online presence.
4. Blogging gives you a voice.  Most writers I know have a lot to say and blogging is a great way to have your say, no matter what you do for a living.

These four reasons are only a brief start, off the top of my head for today.  Blogging is essential to your writing success.  If you do not have a blog already, start one today!  They are free and easy and will give you instant access to a wide audience of new readers!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Talent. That's the one word that comes to mind when I think of the writers in our Writer's Group.  Talent.  Tonight's meeting was filled with so much talent I'll need another month just to process it all!  One sang a song.  Anther cried.  Another brought us all to tears.  Yet another made us laugh.  And the list goes on.

If you are a writer and do not belong to a Writer's Group, I STRONGLY encourage you to join one, or start one!

Our Writer's Group was borne out of my Community Education writing classes.  My students wanted more interaction with other writers, and so did I!  It took me a few months of juggling my own schedule, but now we meet once a month and share obstacles, successes, ideas - and songs!

Thank you to each one who made it out tonight and thank you for sharing your writings.  I look forward to next month's meeting with great anticipation!

Keep writing.
Keep singing.
Keep crying.
Keep laughing.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Working Through Obstacles

Obstacles can either stop us, slow us down or challenge us.  I suppose there are more options, but those three are my focus today. The bottom line is, obstacles are there. Each and every one of us has a myriad of obstacles in the way of what we want to do.  I have always had obstacles to my writing. When I was a child, writing in my hollow tree, the weather, my dad's violent fits, one of my siblings or even a spider could be an obstacle to my writing.  I was not about to share my space with a spider!

I don't want to allow my obstacles to stop me or slow me down. This week, it's been a real challenge to keep my focus on writing.  There are many reasons why, but if I don't get busy writing, those reasons, as valid as they might be, will quickly turn into excuses.

What about you?  What are your obstacles?  Are they real obstacles or new excuses?

Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Embrace the Power!

The power of the written word.  As writers, we already know the power of the written word, hence, we write. When we write something down, it changes it. The changes are remarkable when you stop to analyze them. My students have already heard this, but perhaps a reader out there hasn't.  Let me tell you a little story.

Picture yourself as a committee member.  You are asked to serve on a committee for something you are very passionate about.  Actually, you might have been asked to serve because of your passion.   So, the committee chairman calls a meeting and in anticipation of that meeting, you write out some ideas you've had for the committee.  As the meeting day approaches, you decide to share those ideas with the other committee members, so you type them up and make copies.

When meeting time comes, you are eager to share your ideas, and other committee members are eager to hear and share ideas, as well.  You will find that if no one else took the time to write their ideas down, your ideas are much more likely to be used and incorporated into the committee.

Because they are written down.
Because, in written form, they become a tangible item in someone's hands.
Because it's harder to argue against a written word than a spoken one.

Writing it down - whatever it is - changes it.

As you write, don't forget the power your words have.  Embrace the power. Use the power wisely.  But, always write from your heart.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just Think

Sometimes, I just need to think.  Life is busy, praise God, and time to think is a sweet luxury. This weekend, I am home almost alone....just myself and my 18-year-old daughter.  My hubby took my two teenage sons on a father/son retreat, leaving us girls here alone and I've actually had time to think.

As a writer, especially, I need thinking time.  So far, the results of my thinking are:

1) I thought of a title for an article I've been wanting to write for a while,
2) I thought of an approach to a chapter in a book I'm writing,
3) I thought of a way to approach a rather sensitive subject without tossing blame directly onto certain people by name.
4) I thought of doing this blog post.

So, my thinking has been very productive so far.

Writers, do you take time to think?  I grab every opportunity I have to do some serious thinking about my writing goals.  For me, it's important to keep my goals in front of me as it makes me more likely to work to fulfill them.

Thinking is a huge part of the pre-writing process for me.  I have thought and thought on certain articles for a couple of months. When I finally sit down to write the articles, it takes all of 20 - 30 minutes and I'm done!  And these usually sell.  The thinking did the work for me.

Just think.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Best Informative Article I've Read in a While

I"ve been away.  Another of my wonderful sons - I have five altogether - has graduated college and we made the trip to Iowa to attend his graduation.  Kudos to him!  He got engaged the same day!

Forbes Magazine online had published this article last December (2011), but if you have not seen or read this, do so now.  Much of the information I've been teaching in my Community Education Writing Classes is the same as what this article states, and I did not read it ahead of time!  Those of us who study this market, whether we are "small beans" like myself or something as large and influential as Forbes, know this information to be vitally important to our own success as writers and e-publishers.

I suggest you read and study this article - all 4 pages of it - as though you will be tested on it!

My upcoming class, E-Publishing 101, will cover these concepts in more detail.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Top Five Blogging Rules

Here are five simple blogging rules that I follow:

1. No music.  I don't have music playing on my blogs because whenever I visit a blog which plays music, I become agitated and usually click off immediately. This is because I'm usually playing music of my own when online and someone else's music interferes.  If you insist on having music on your blog, make it optional by installing a music button. Make sure your music button is easy to find and at the top of the page for quick access.

2. Have a front page profile picture.  You can have another picture or two on another page if you have an "about" page, but a head shot of some sort on your front page is a must.  Whenever I visit a blog, one of the first things I look for is a profile picture of the blog writer. I want to see who I'm reading!

3. Have a short front page bio.  Just a few lines about yourself will do.  Just like a profile pic, a short bio is another of the first things I look for when I visit a blog.

4. Link your links.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, all your links so that you are easy to find. Most sites have buttons that can be installed for this very purpose.

5. Have fun!  I realize blogging can be serious business, but your mood comes across to your readers, so have fun with your blogs and let that attitude shine through.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

As Amanda Hocking said......

"Ascend has ascended!"  Her newest book is here in the US, in bookstores today.

I recommend Ascend even if it's not in your genre of interest because it is selling and if you want to write for publication, you need to pay attention to what's selling.  This does not mean you have to abandon your own genre and write out of your comfort zone, it simply means further education for you, keeping on top of the market and learning from another writer.

Amanda was just like the rest of us, taking a writing class to see what she could learn about writing, overcoming obstacles to getting published and e-publishing.  You, too, can see success with your writing.  Even if buying her book is not in your budget, head to the bookstore and browse through a copy.

Way to go, Amanda!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interest - It's up to YOU

I have a news flash for you writers out there.  The world is not automatically interested in your writing.  I know, I know, how can they not be?  But, it's true.  Any and all interest has to be generated - by YOU!  You are passionate about your writing.  Your family might be interested.  Your friends might show an interest for a while. But, you hold the passion, which becomes the key to getting published.  Generating interest in your writing is up to you.  Tips to generate interest:

  • Keep your passion strong.  The best way to keep your passion strong is to keep writing.
  • Talk it up.  Talk about what you've written to family, friends, colleagues, etc. Your passion will come through as you talk it up.  Most of us talk about what we are passionate about. Our writing is no exception to that truth.
  • Write often.  Blog often. Keep your writings out there, as fresh and new as you possibly can.
  • Link. Link. Link.  Every time you blog, link that blog to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Keep your writings front and center as much as you can by linking everything you write to everything else you do online. Be sure you are well connected and keep your name out there.
  • Keep your target audience in mind at all times.  Who are you writing to?  Picture them as you blog; hook them in with teasers by doing content writing, giving them snippets of what's to come, creating curiosity and interest one blog post at a time.
  • Read other blogs in your line of interest.  I often springboard off another blog or article I read. I recently did that with my Tuesday Theology blog in a post about motherhood, my first and most important job. I linked the original blog, which prompted my blog post, in a couple of places in my blog post so that it is more likely to be found in a search engine.
  • Learn SEO - Search Engine Optimization - techniques.  I will be spending time on this in my upcoming E-Publishing 101 class next month.  It's crucial, valuable information which can launch your writing into a larger audience pool.
These tips will get you started.
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Consider Article Writing

Even if you are a novelist, consider writing articles.  Articles are quick, short and can be broadly disbursed to give you a wide exposure more quickly than a book.  Still write your books, but add articles to your portfolio. Some benefits of article writing include:

  • Articles can be used to introduce your books and other writings.
  • Articles are easily written.
  • You can cover a wide variety of topics in your articles.
  • Articles vary in size, giving the writer endless marketing possibilities.
  • You might be more likely to find an agent willing to take a chance on you if you've published a good number of articles.
  • Article writing expands your writing resume.
  • Article writing shows your full talent as a writer without a huge time commitment from the reader.
  • Articles can introduce you to a wider audience.
  • Articles are great promotional items.
Tonight is the first meeting of a new writer's group I'm facilitating. I hope to write an article about our first meeting and the group in general!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writer's Groups

I teach my writing students to get to know other writers of all genres.  This is great advice, just as getting to know other small business owners will benefit a small business owner.  Based on this advice, and the requests of several of my students, I am starting a writer's group!  I am very excited to be a part of this idea and am happy to organize our meetings.

Benefits of a writer's group:

  • Helps writers expand their experience by talking with other writers
  • Helps us learn the processes that other writers go through in their efforts and learn new techniques
  • Helps us meet really awesome people with a common interest
  • Gives us a new focus by allowing our work to be viewed by new eyes
  • Motivates us to stay on focus
  • Gives us valuable opportunities to receive criticism from others, as well as opportunity to stretch our thinking through critiquing others
I suppose I could go on and on with benefits of a writer's group, but I'll keep this short.  A few of my personal goals in starting this writer's group include:
  • Meet other writers.
  • Keep in touch with writers I already know.
  • Keep in touch with my writing students.
  • Expand my own experience by learning from others
  • Expand my idea base to enhance my own writing
  • Avoid boxing my writing in
Here again, I could go on, but the group, itself, will be more of a forum. I have a feeling my experience, and hence my goals, will change and expand through the group as it grows, whether in number or content.

I am working on our meeting place and will keep all interested parties informed.  Our first meeting is Wednesday, April 11 at 7:00 PM - location to be announced.  If you are interested in attending, please email me at and I'll be sure to put your email on my notification list.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Know the Lingo!

The English language is funny.  Just when we think we have it mastered, new words are introduced and we have to expand our vocabulary.  This happened in the cooking world when Rachael Ray coined the term EVOO for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Suddenly, EVOO made the dictionary and people had to start adding that to their cookbooks in order to reach and relate to a new generation of cooks.  How cool is that?  I mean, seriously, being able to influence the dictionary writers through frequently-used changes in language is mind-blowing!  Kudos to Rachael Ray!

Knowing the lingo of the writing world is equally as important as knowing the lingo when you're cooking. If you don't know the lingo, your recipes won't turn out like they should. If you don't know the writing lingo, your targeted market will not be hit.  Here are a few commonly-used terms to get you started. This is not a comprehensive list by any means; it is only a jump-start for you to search deeper:

  1. Genre = type; sort. Generally used in reference to non-literary works.
  2. Multiple Submissions = Sending more than one piece of writing to a single publisher at the same time.
  3. Print on Demand = Digital print technology which allows one or two copies of a book to be printed at a time.
  4. SASE = Self-addressed, Stamped Envelope - still used and required by some agents and publishers, even in our digital age.  Know what it means even if it seems out-dated.
  5. Simultaneous Submission = The submission of one piece of writing to more than one publisher at a time. Not to be confused with Multiple Submissions.
  6. Vanity Press = A paid self-publishing house which offers limited editing and illustrative services. A vanity press is not taken seriously in the writing world, for the most part.
  7. Self-publishing = Publishing your work independently of a publishing house & retaining first rights.
  8. First Rights = The right to first publish a work. Once it's out of print with that publisher, the author can publish elsewhere, if they've only sold first rights.
  9. E-publishing = Any form of electronic publishing:  blogging, video-blogging (vlogging), audio broadcasting, etc.
  10. Content Marketing = Marketing your content as a way to promote your brand - you - on the internet.
Ok, so there are a few terms to get you started.  The key to good success in any publishing endeavor is to un-complicate it by taking it one step at a time.

Happy writing!
Happy publishing!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's So Important About Grammar?

Did you know grammar is vitally important to your writing?  Good grammar is essential to good writing. If you never want to have your work published, then good grammar won't matter. But, if you're looking to get published or sell books via self-publishing, good grammar is a must.

Grammar Girl can help you out with this. Follow her famous blag to get the best tips and the latest grammar information so your writing can be the best it can be!

If you plan to self-publish, or e-publish, hiring a viable editor is essential.

Remember, when writing for publication, you are not writing for yourself; you are writing for the reader.  Keeping the reader in mind through using proper grammar goes far in helping sell your work. I've compiled a list of some things good grammar accomplishes for your writing:

Good grammar:

  • Keeps your writing fluid
  • Prevents the reader from backtracking
  • Keeps your thoughts organized for the reader
  • Frees the reader to concentrate on your plot
  • Gives you credibility as a writer
In closing, good grammar can't be replaced with clever antics.  But, keep in mind that good grammar is always trumped by dialog, so opening lines such as you find in "The Color Purple" ("You better not never tell nobody but God")  are fine to use, as long as the story, itself, is written in proper grammar.

Get to know Grammar Girl; she's a great help, or get a copy of a high school English book to remind you of the grammar and punctuation rules so your writing will be at its best!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Write To Write

Lately I've seen a regular theme in the writing blogs I follow and that theme is simply that the best avenue to writing is to write. John Steinbeck once said, “I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.”  He knew that the "secret" to writing is to write.

Writing is a process.  In the past two weeks, I've sold two articles (one just this morning!) and they were alike in that they both required a lot of thinking before I actually wrote them down.  I don't have the luxury of a certain time of day I can set aside for writing. I have eight children and am still home schooling my youngest two, so their needs come first.  Even though five of my eight have grown and left home, they call, text and email frequently to talk to their mom, so I'm still in demand in their lives.  (I'm so glad!)  Anyway, I say all that to emphasize that my writing does not have a schedule or predictable time-table. I have to write when time allows.  The rest of the time, I do my thinking.

Thinking is part of the pre-writing process.  Many times, I'll think on something for a few weeks and when I finally find time to sit down and write it down, it comes easily. I sold an article two weeks ago that took a total of 20 minutes to write, but weeks to think about.  It sold on first draft, but, in my mind, it wasn't really first draft at all because I had thought it through so long and thoroughly. 

Pre-writing is anything you do before you actually write.  It includes but is not limited to:

Getting the idea
Taking notes
Talking to others
Gathering information

There are no rules for pre-writing. It is as individual as we are. Do what works for you. If cooking helps you think, by all means, cook to your heart's content! Examine your style, determine what works for you and just simply do it. Pre-writing is recursive; you will return to it again and again throughout the writing process.
If you are thinking about your writing project, you are already in the midst of the writing process for that idea.
  You have already started!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Four-Step Plan

While I am a creative writer and relish in the creative process, I have found the necessity of having a plan for my writing.  To earn any type of money through writing, a plan is essential.  Part of my new E-Publishing 101 class will features details of how to put a plan together. Here's a sneak peek:

Success at e-publishing requires a plan.  These 4 steps are a great way to help organize a plan for your own road to success:

1. Have a goal.  Without a goal, you will not have a focus and without focus, your dream can die.  Whether you prefer making a long-term goal, or a series of short-term goals, a goal is vitally important to your success.

2. Have a set of principles by which you operate.  This is helpful in deciding which projects you will undertake, how you will invoice, and payment options you will agree to. A set of principles protects you from being taken advantage of, from taking on more than you can handle and even from taking on things that will ultimately compromise your time, energy and/or family obligations.

3. Have a written business plan.  I can't emphasize this one enough.  A business plan is vital. It can change daily if you need it to, but having a written plan will help you keep your focus, help you remember your goals and help you stay on task. Create a plan, write it down and keep it where you can see it at all times.

4. Have a network.  Not one of us is an island.  Without others, we will disappear.  Establish a network through which you can receive and give feedback,  Whether you choose a group of friends, social networks, a formal group of writers or just a bunch of guys you get together with for coffee, get a network going and keep your writing active within that network.

There's your sneak preview for today!
Keep writing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Students Inspire Me

I must say, my writing students are so creative, so motivated, so energetic and so eager to learn and practice their writing skills that I am totally inspired by them!  As a matter of fact, I'm so inspired that I'm starting a blog completely dedicated to writing.  You might wonder why I've not done that before and I would wonder the same thing.  Why haven't I done this before?  All I can say is, I'm doing it now.

Thank you to my students!

What inspires you as a writer?  Does routine inspire you, knowing your time is predictable and dependable? Or are you inspired by a whimsical thought that you just have to write down?  Are you a creative writer or a writer of facts?  It doesn't matter what kind of writer you are, as long as you're writing.  Some people I know are actually inspired by editing and revising their work.  Others just like to get it written, then hire someone else to edit and revise.  What's your style?

Speaking of editing, that's my tip for the day - have your work edited before publishing.  Whether you're self-publishing, using a POD method or even a Vanity Press, you simply cannot adequately edit your own work. A good editor is money well spent.

Till next time...........