Saturday, December 27, 2014

What I Don't Read

I read a few blogs on a regular basis. There are some things that immediately turn me away from some blogs, however, and I rarely read their content and there are a few reasons why.

1. I don't read content that is dotted with ALL CAPS. When text is in all caps, it is akin to shouting. It does not come across as simply emphasis; it comes across as shouting. I don't need to be shouted at and I do not listen to people who shout at me unless they are saving my life from imminent danger. If you have content that needs emphasis, try putting it in bold letters or italicize the words.

2. I don't read blogs that play music. I am often listening to my own music, or working along side my kids who are studying in our home school, so music suddenly blasting from a blog or website is highly disruptive and unwelcome. I exit immediately and don't read the content.

3. I don't read content that is filled with errors. A typo here and there is one thing; we all make mistakes, but I can tell when someone has not edited their content. It's hard to read and comprehend content that is filled with errors. Edit your work. Better yet, have an outside editor edit your work. You will get more readers. I might be one of them.

These three reasons keep me from reading certain blogs and web content. If you want more readers, take heed to these three issues.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1,500 Years of Reading

I've recently stepped up a major writing project that I've been working on in a slower mode for the past couple of years. In my efforts to be accurate and remain true to my topic, I have found myself reviewing ancient writings of different theologians of days past for historical input. One such writer, Theodoret of Cyrus, lived from 393 - 460 A.D. My project is summed up here and here.

Imagine his writings still being read today, over 1,500 years later! The power of the written word should not be underestimated.

The Bible, much of it written long before this man's writings, is still the most-read book in all of history.

What you write today matters. It matters to today's audience and will matter in the audience of generations to come.

So, write.
Write often.
Write well.
Just write.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

How Do You Define Success?

As a writer, I am struck by Taylor Swift. Not only does she write all her own lyrics and music, she oversees the production of her albums and videos down to the last detail. In a recent interview, she said that since the songs are hers, she can present them however she chooses. Taylor was the victim of severe bullying in school while growing up. As an artist, she was told she couldn't sing or write. Because she did not define herself by those around her, she didn't listen to her naysayers. She pushed through, wrote songs about those who bullied her, and truly changed the music industry forever. Just this week she topped herself on the charts with singles from her her newest album, 1989. Kudos to Taylor! I admire her for her tenacity to believe in herself and push through to her own success. She was even told to wait till she was 18, but she pushed through, claiming she was ready. Indeed.

I so wish I had learned to think that way as a young woman! She's not the first music artist to do this. Shania Twain shot to stardom when she began to write and sing her own music. She started out singing what other people wrote, but her success came when she began to write her own.

Writers, do it your way. Define your own success. Write what you want. 

So very many artists were told to fold it up and go home. Dr. Seuss was rejected 27 times. C.S. Lewis was rejected 800 times

There are many, many more. 

Define your own success. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maybe You Haven't Failed Enough

Maybe, just maybe, you need to fail more as a writer. I read this blog post today, 9 Famous Authors Rejected by Publishers, and realized that all the great ones fail, and they usually fail more than once. Read for yourself and find out the astonishing number of times C.S. Lewis was rejected before he was published.

I dare you to keep failing again and again.
Fail your way to sure success. You're in good company

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Improve Your Writing through Editing

There are many ways to improve as a writer. I've taught many ways myself. You can read to write better. You can write to write better. Did you know you can also edit to write better? Yep, it's true. I recently joined Fiverr as an editor and as I have gotten more and more gigs, I realized that what I'm learning by editing other people's work is actually helping my writing. That's a bonus I did not expect or plan on, but I am pleasantly surprised that it's making such a difference.

Have you considered editing as a tool to improve your own writing? I recently blogged about how I like editing because I get to fix what's wrong. Today, I found another reason to like editing: it improves my own writing skill!

I highly recommend editing as a tool to improve your writing.
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For the Love of.....Editing?

I have decided I really like editing. I recently joined Fiverr, offering quick editing for a penny a word. As the jobs started rolling in, I found that I was really enjoying editing and I figured out why.

Editing gives me free reign to correct all the wrongs. I've mentally corrected people's emails, blogs, Facebook posts, church bulletins, signs on the highway, ads in stores, etc., yet I've never had the power to do anything about those wrongs. Editing jobs are different. It's my JOB to correct the wrongs.

I have found editing to be very satisfying and gratifying. I love fixing what's wrong and delivering a better product in the end.

Every writer needs an editor, whether they realize it or not. Fiverr is a quick, affordable way to get small editing jobs done for a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere. I highly recommend editing for anyone who writes anything the public will see. Fiverr can be your go-to resource.

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Did You Learn Today?

Do you learn something as a writer every single day? I try to. I subscribe to a number of writing blogs as well as writing websites and try to learn from these other authors every day as part of my overall business plan.

Today, I found this article, 5 Mistakes I've Made in Writing by Frank Viola to be very helpful as well as familiar. I've taught these things in my writing workshops and seminars.

Read the article and learn what Frank Viola, and I, have learned from decades of being writers.
Happy Writing.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blogging Workshop

Tomorrow morning I'm teaching a blogging workshop to a group of direct sellers. I'm excited about this opportunity and look forward to the interaction with other bloggers.

Every time I teach a blogging workshop, I learn so very much. In an effort to stay current and practice what I preach, I do research for each and every workshop. And I learn from that research.

Are you still learning while blogging? I don't see how one can blog without learning more about blogging.

So, learn, teach, blog and grow as a blogger.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Everybody's Doing It!

What's everybody doing?


Blogging is not just for beginners. The most famous authors have found the need to blog.

Why blog?

Blogging lets us connect with our readers on a more personal level.

Blogging opens the doors to interaction with our readers because they can comment on blog posts.

Blogging opens new marketing opportunities.

Blogging is an additional creative outlet.

Blogging allows us to reach a new audience.

Blogging makes us reachable.

Blogging keeps us relevant.

And more!

Are you blogging?

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Call it Revision, Revision, Revision

Jeff Goins, one of my favorite writing bloggers, calls it the 5-Draft Method. I call it revision, but it's all the same thing. If you're going to write a book, you are going to write it more than once before it's written.

Even then, when you think you're finished, you will probably second guess yourself about it, wondering if this or that could have used more revision. You will ask yourself if you should have had it edited at least one more time.

This side of the writing process tends to surprise people. Be not surprised. Whatever you have written will need to be revised again and again.

Revise to the end. Then, before you second guess yourself out of publishing altogether, just publish it and move on to your next project.

There is much writing to do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Your Success is Waiting for You

I love Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. There are so many great success stories about writers who didn't think they could be heard, get their foot in the door or ever have an audience for their work. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing opened that door for them and that door is open for you, too.

Poppy J. Anderson is just one example of an Indie Author who stepped out of her comfort zone and published with Amazon Kindle Publishing and saw great success.


Why not you?

Get on it.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Great Daily Advice

Webster's New World College Dictionary, the one we use in our home school, defines daily as "1 done, happening, published, etc., every day or every weekday."

I thought it was so interesting that part of the #1 definition for daily included the word "published." The timing of this news was so cool because I read a great article today by Jeff Goins which gives reasons why a writer should develop a daily writing habit.

Jeff gives good advice. Many of us have to write daily to "feel like ourselves." I'm glad I'm not alone!

Thanks for the great advice, Jeff!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Learn. Write. Publish.

Now is the time to learn. Now is the time to write. Now is the time to self-publish.

I love the tips in this article. Quick, to the point, helpful.

Learn. Write. Publish.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Close but not Closed?

I took an online quiz on grammar yesterday and was shocked that I missed one answer. I chose to think the proper term is "closed-minded" rather than "close-minded" and that, according to the quiz, is wrong. Hmmm.

I disagree!

We don't say, "He has a close mind to new ideas."
We do say, "He has a closed mind to new ideas."

Dictionaries around the internet list both as valid. Some list closed-minded as a variant of close-minded. There are also discussions that get into much detail about the phrase. I find these discussions quite humorous.

So, but are right. In some part of the English-speaking world, closed-minded is preferred. In other parts, close-minded is the way to go. For me, closed-minded makes more sense because closed is the opposite of open. A person can be open-minded or a person can be closed-minded.

There are many arguments for both versions of this phrase.

You choose.
I won't be closed-minded to your choice.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don't Do It!

Just don't do it. Don't use your Facebook personal page for business purposes. Get a Facebook business page instead.

For many of us, social media is the way to get our businesses out there and make them known outside our own neighborhoods. For this reason alone, social media is great. But, we have to be careful not to take advantage of our friends and relatives, on any social media site, by inundating them with ads for our business.

Having a Facebook business page is best for a number of reasons:

* Your audience is choosing to be there when they "like" your business page. This allows you to single them out with ads because they've already shown support and interest through their choice to "like."

* You can be specific in your ads without fear of offending people who are not interested.

* You avoid the awkwardness of people unfriending and/or blocking you. When someone chooses to like a business page, they are letting you know that they support your business and want to get updates and hear about your business.

Soliciting your friends for your business, without giving them the opportunity to opt in or out is akin to talking all about your business at a dinner party. No one wants to hear it.

While your business may be all-important and all-consuming for you, it is not for everyone on your friends list. People have their own lives, their own interests and their own businesses.

So, don't do it. Don't solicit friends on social media through personal pages. Get a business page, a business profile and act like a responsible business person by giving your potential customers and clients options.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Do You Write While on Vacation?

I'm on a vacation of sorts. I'm in GA with one of my daughters. She's about to have a baby, it's #2 for her, and I came down to help. But, I've been here a week and no baby yet. I have another week till I need to go home, so I'm hoping baby makes an appearance today or tomorrow so that I get some quality time with the new wee one.

In the meantime, I'm not posting much since I'm spending my days with my daughter and her little girl, an active and delightful 2-year-old.

But, I'm still writing! I've made written notes and made plans for future projects as I take a break from my normal routine. Also, I wrote a successful pitch this past week for an idea I've had floating around in my head for a few months. It was a successful pitch because it got enough attention where I sent it to garner a direct, personal response, which prompted a meeting. My first response was an automated response. My second, because I sent a second pitch to get their attention, was personal and detailed. We are now "in talks," as they say.

So, I write while on vacation, even if it's only a small amount of writing.
Do you write, or plan writing projects, while on vacation?
Happy Writing!
Baby, come quickly!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Two Random Blog Tips

Lately, I've noticed something I'm not super happy about on a few blogs I've been reading. Their links. Some links in some blogs have issues. I'm giving you two things to clear up these issues and I guarantee this will improve your blog for your readers and improve your readability and increase your reader numbers.

Two Ways to Link Successfully in a Blog:

When you link something in your blog, make sure it opens in a new window. It takes one second to click the box that opens links in a new window. As a blog reader, I get frustrated when I have to leave the current blog to click the blogger's links. Keep people on you page: have links open in a new window every single time.

Use working links only! It's highly frustrating to click on a link in a blog only to get an error page. It really makes us look like we don't know what we're talking about. Using working links gives you validity and evokes your readers' confidence in you.

There. Now you know.
Happy linking!

Monday, June 9, 2014

10 Important Things About Blogging from The Pioneer Woman

This morning, I stumbled upon this blog post from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. It's a few years old, but still very relevant to any and all bloggers.

If you want to blog successfully, learn from successful bloggers.

Happy Blogging!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Shades of Green

In one single picture I took on my walk around our yard this morning, I found so many shades of green in our yard that I could not count them all. Some were made due to shadows, others from the sun. Some shades were light because they were new leaves, others were darker as they were older leaves. Some shades stood out, some were subtle.

Take a walk. It will clear your head for writing and you will see shades you never knew existed. And that will make for better writing.

I also took pictures of my two favorite trees on our property. The first one here is my favorite. These photos are un-retouched:

Happy Writing!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Go Away.....

This morning, while preparing some paperwork (a brochure) for an upcoming workshop I'm teaching on blogging, I had to stop working, set the work aside, and run an errand. While stopping work in the middle of a project may seem frustrating at the time, this turned out to be a great thing for me.

When I came back to the project, I noticed a mistake I had missed before.

Fresh eyes help us see things more clearly, things we might otherwise miss in our writing.

So, advice for the day: Go away......but come back to a more productive experience.

Happy Writing,

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Neglectful Mom's Story

Yes, I know it's the day after Mother's Day, but that day in my house is very busy, mainly with me on the phone with my many children, so there was no time for blogging. It's so great to hear from them all in one day! The three still at home showered me with gifts and love and we enjoyed the day together.

On another of my blogs, Tuesday Theology, I shared a story about a heart-wrenching experience that many moms will understand. I've had quite a bit of response to that blog post and I thought I'd share it here, too.

In one of my Helpful Quotes for Writers on, I tell my students to weave feelings into their writing. This featured blog post shows exactly what I mean by that.

Write well today.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring Fresh!

I love spring right now more than I ever have. Last year, we moved to a warmer climate and not only did I not experience the "winter dread" of Minnesota, I actually enjoyed winter much like I used to when I was younger. Yesterday, after three days of heavy rains (you can see how heavy here), the sun was shining and the air smelled so fresh and clean that my teenage boys commented on how good it smelled when we opened a window. You know if teenage boys notice a fresh smell, it must really be fresh!

In honor of spring and all things fresh, The Total Writer website has a whole new look! I can't say it was because of some spring-like desire to make things fresh. No, I changed it up because my web-hosting situation changed and I had to come up with a new design really fast.

In celebration of this new, updated look, I'm running a special on my book on writing, Write, then Publish. Today! The book is on sale for just 99¢ for a limited time! Take advantage of this offer and get on the path to publication in a flash. This book is based on part one of the writing course Amanda Hocking took from me, just before she launched her first e-book. It wasn't long before she sold one million books!

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Write. Daily.

Write daily. Publish if you want, but write regardless of whether you publish or not. I write daily. I publish periodically. Whether you write a chapter to a novel or a clever tweet on Twitter, it's important to write daily.

Writing daily keeps your mind fresh.
Writing daily helps ideas flow.
Writing daily helps your writer's focus.
Writing daily is fun.
Writing daily is good discipline.

So, write. Daily. See what happens.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Are You Afraid Of?

We all fear something at some time for some reason. I know a lot about fear. I know how fear works and how it can derail a perfectly good day and fill it with anxiety. I also know how to turn the tables on fear so that it does not dominate your life.

My latest e-book, The Fear Manual, will show you how fear operates and how to put it and keep it in its place.

A quick and easy read, The Fear Manual takes you to an understanding of fear that will make you realize it no longer has any power in your life at all.

Using an offensive approach to fear, I've helped so many people overcome their fear and live a more productive and fulfilling life that I decided it was high time to put this in an e-book for all to read. I outline my offensive approach in this book and show you how and why fear is not to be feared.

Get your copy today!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How Your Blog Might Be Turning People Away

Are you interested in people reading your blog? I read a few blogs on a regular basis. I also try to branch out and explore new blogs so as not to limit myself or allow myself to get into a box with my writing.

In exploring a few blogs recently, I've come across a few things that really turned me away from these blogs. I wanted to share them with you so you could analyze your own blog and see if it's reader-friendly.

The top 3 things that turned me away from other blogs in the last month:

1. Music. I have clicked into more than one blog in the past month that immediately starts blaring music. I find this extremely annoying for a number of reasons. #1, I often work on my computer during our school hours, so my kids are studying at the same table where I'm studying. Music starting unexpectedly is disruptive. #2, I often play my own music when I'm working on my computer. During non-school hours, I like to have my own playlist going and find blog music too intrusive.

My solution is to immediately click off that blog, which means I'm not reading it and it's highly likely I won't return. I recommend no music on your blog for an optimal reading audience.

2. Assuming context. I've gone to a few blogs that start out with "Well, you know me......" The trouble is, new readers don't know you. It's important to write in a way that make even newcomers feel like they are "in the loop" so their minds are open to you and what you have to say.

Test yourself to see whether you are others-oriented or self-oriented. Stop right now and pretend to draw a large, capital E on your forehead. Did you make the E so that you could read it, or did you make it face outward, making it easy for others to read? Your blog needs to be others-oriented for maximum readership.

3. Sales pitching. I've clicked on a few blogs whose title drew me in, only to find that they were a sales pitch. Most blog readers are looking for content, not product. Give readers what they want in your blog and set up a website for sales.

Happy Blogging!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Do You Dread a Deadline?

I had a deadline on a writing project this week. I often work under self-imposed deadlines, but this one was imposed by the editor of an international magazine and it felt very different from my usual self-imposed deadlines.

The difference is, mine are always negotiable and highly flexible. Because I'm a free-lance writer, I have the luxury of setting my own priorities. My self-imposed deadlines are always subject to my family's needs. With such a large family as I have, this happens often, and that really works for me. I love the flexibility and freedom free-lancing allows me to have.

I have worked under outside deadlines before, don't get me wrong, but they really are few and far between. I like being in control of my own schedule. But, this week was different. The editor in charge of this project said on Monday he wanted the finished product by Friday....of this same week. He was on a deadline to be sure.

At first, it felt good.

Then it felt intimidating.

Then it felt restrictive.

Then it felt motivating.

Then it felt exhilarating.

Then I got the project finished a day early!

I learned that working with a deadline imposed by someone else isn't as restrictive as I thought it would be. I learned that I really do have it in me to work on someone else's schedule. I learned that I hope I get to work under such a deadline in the future.

Since I intend to remain in free-lance work, working with external deadlines will likely remain a rare option for me. When those deadlines do come, I'll embrace them as I did this one, and likely finish early again!

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Step Closer to Your Writing Dreams

When I started my Writing for Publication classes a few years ago, I had no idea how far some of my students would be able to take what they'd learned and achieve such success. Amanda Hocking sat in my class and told me how she'd quit college to write full time because college took too much time away from her writing. Sitting with a large stack of rejection letters, Amanda learned about e-publishing in my class and that was all she needed to know. She's now a million-dollar-author with a movie deal in the works!

The simple, straightforward information in this short e-book have been life-changing and confidence-building for many other authors as well. I got word just this week that another one of my students has sent his book off to Paramount Pictures. I also got word that another former student just signed a book deal with a publisher. You can be a successful writer, too. Start by learning what my other students learned; start by downloading your free copy of Write, Then Publish. Today.

Happy Writing!
Happy Publishing!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Do You Want to Sell Books? Start Giving Them Away

The title looks a little deceptive, but it really is true. If you want to sell your books, start giving them away! Today, I started offering one of my e-books, Tears in a Bottle, for free through Amazon Kindle Direct. Within an hour, 35 books had been downloaded! For me, a small-scale indie author, that number is huge for an hour's worth of sales!

KDP Select is one of the best tools any writer can use. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned author or just getting started. Offering your books as a free download through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing's Select program is genius for selling books!

Kudos for Amazon for coming up with such a program. Writers, take note. If you want to sell more books, start giving them away!

You still get a cut and your name as an author gets a wider audience. It's a win/win plan.

By the way, the photography on the cover of this e-book is also mine!

Go for it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Good Book = Good Company

When one of my sons was seven years old, he got very sick. He was not only lethargic and not hungry, he was also hot with fever and broke out with a very red rash. A trip to the pediatrician revealed what I had suspected: Scarlet Fever. The poor kid was miserable. I felt terrible for him, but knew just the thing he needed, besides the medicine the doctor prescribed and lots of fluids. He needed a good book!

I found several books from The Box Car series and he was hooked, spending the long, sick hours reading. He hardly realized how quickly the time passed while he waited out this disease. Later, he said to me, "Mom, a good book can sure keep a guy company!"

I've never forgotten this little lesson. Write well. You might be keeping someone company sooner than you think!

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Day My Writing Changed

I never thought of myself as a writer. I wrote as a child, but that didn't translate into writing for anyone other than myself. I did the mandatory writing in school and always got good grades on what I wrote, but that didn't translate into becoming a writer. I wrote, however, a lot. I did far more than just the mandatory writing my teachers required. 

I wrote lists. 
I wrote observations. 
I wrote expectations. 
I wrote stories.
I wrote.
But, I didn't think of myself as a writer because all my writing was for myself.

One comment from one college professor changed my writing. Upon returning a graded writing assignment to me, he commented, "Reading your writing is just like talking to you. You should write." He actually wrote those words at the top of that paper! I was astounded that my writing could impact someone else. That idea had not occurred to me. I got an "A" on that paper, and that'x exactly when I started writing for the eyes of others.

I still write for myself, but that comment from my professor helped me overcome the fear of exposing my writing to others. It changed my writing forever. To this day, when I am doubting my writing, I think of his comment and it bolsters me up to continue.

What about you? When and why did you start writing? Go back to those roots for a jump start on your writing for 2014. It's amazing how motivating that can be!

Happy Writing