Archive for June, 2013

June 29, 2013

Friday Photo Poetry: Special Olympics

DSC09340

 

There’s more than soccer happening on this field–

the most innocent of souls have come to play.

There’s joy to feel and confidence to build,

hopes to share, and life lived a separate way.

Bench-side, I feel a burst of clarity.

One of these special champions smiled at me!

 

 

Have a great weekend, wonderful blogging friends. 🙂

 

 

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June 28, 2013

Wedding dress, draft 7 1/2 or so

Celtic knots for BR Chaston's wedding dress--they were time consuming but fun to make

Celtic knots for the wedding dress I’ve been making–they were time consuming but fun to create

Tonight, I’ll put the finishing touches on the wedding dress I’ve been working on for the past three months. It’s all little things now: hooks and eyes, hand sewing the stays in place, finishing the bustle. It feels like the final polishing of a challenging article, the last read-through before I submit it for publication.

I beat my deadline this time. I’m pleased.

Looking back on the past few months, I can say with certainty this is the most challenging sewing project I’ve ever tackled, and possibly one of the most challenging creative projects of any kind, outside of writing a book.

There’s been a side benefit. The handwork was sometimes tedious and took much longer than I expected, but it gave me some great quiet times for reflection. This meant I learned some new things about me–some happy things, and some things I hope to change in the near future. I’ll include these with my Rome Construction Crew goals in July.

Another benefit: I earned more than 50 hours in the scholarship area of my personal level-up campaign. 

And I don’t think I’ll ever, ever be afraid of sewing again.

As great as it was, there were some definite downsides. My writing time, blogging time and family time all took huge hits. Just when I thought I could get back on track with things, a new challenge regarding the dress would come up. These interruptions usually lasted at least a week, sometimes more, and I was derailed at least half a dozen times.

Not to mention the fact that my house was practically conquered by pincushions, scissors, bits of ribbon, lace and beads and scraps of white cloth.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, but I’m really, really looking forward to normal life.

Which, of course, means writing–and, hopefully, more dedicated blogging.

The skirt is bunched, and there's a celtic knot at every bunch. There are more than two dozen of them on the dress.

The skirt is bunched, and there’s a celtic knot at every bunch. There are more than two dozen of them on the dress.

 

 

June 23, 2013

How Not To Be A Writing Loser by Julie

I don’t often reblog things, but there’s no better way to say it than this. Writing takes hard work and commitment.

Deadly Ever After

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Something or Other

By Julie

You don’t just get to be a writer because you like to write.

You don’t even get to be one because you’re good at it.

I like to drink coffee. Doesn’t make me Juan Valdez.  I’m good at getting all the laundry done. Doesn’t mean I get to run a Chinese laundry as a front for a drug cartel where I sit around in an awesome suit and make my laundry minions do my bidding.

Liking to write and having some amount of talent for it is the entry fee. It doesn’t win you the writer badge for your coffee-stained sweatpants and tanktop uniform, though.

This is not a new notion: WRITING TAKES WORK AND PRACTICE.

Sure, natural talent helps, but it is far from the being the crux of succeeding as a writer, no matter what way you determine success to…

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June 23, 2013

Triggers, and a marketing tip for the weekend

Walmart, libraries and family are triggers for me.

Walmart, libraries and family are a few of my triggers. What triggers do you have?

Weeks ago now, I began blogging on a marketing book titled Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger. I’m now following through with my promise to focus on Berger’s six reasons for things going viral–today’s topic is the second principle, ‘triggers.’

Berger wrote that more people talk about Honey Nut Cheerios than they do about Disneyland, and that intrigued me. He also wrote about the difference between immediate and ongoing  word of mouth. A few industries, like the movie industry, rely on immediate word of mouth, in which people talk about something right away, while other industries rely on longer-term conversations that keep  the product’s name circulating.

According to Berger’s research, interesting product receive more immediate word of mouth but don’t sustain high levels of buzz over time. He wrote:

Some things are chronically accessible. Sports fanatics or foodies will often have those subjects top of mind. They are constantly thinking of their favorite team’s latest stats, or about ways to combine ingredients in tasty dishes.

But stimuli in the surrounding environment can also determine which thoughts and ideas are top of mind…

Sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind.

If I understand right, a trigger has to be something that will come to mind when people are thinking of things they’re already interested in.

For writers, I think this is akin to the resonance a book has with its readers. If the writing is in a genre or focused on a topic they’re already interested in, it’ll be easy for them to think about it and pass it on.

Berger also wrote the following:

Why does it matter if particular thoughts or ideas are top of mind? Because accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.

Which, in my mind, means book sales.

It’s an intriguing idea. I’m reminded of Where the Heart Is, a novel by Billie Letts. I don’t remember the first time I read the novel, but it has stayed with me. That’s due at least partially to its resonance with Wal-mart, libraries and family–all three hold a definite place in my life, and thus, they’re often in my mind.

Here’s the challenge: what if you’ve already written a book, and it doesn’t contain Wal-mart or other things ordinary people relate to? How do you bring it to mind, help it become something that can be ‘triggered’ and become contagious?

While you’re musing on that, here’s something else to think about.

I got an interesting comment from The Story Reading Ape blog on my post Marketing Sites for Writers, last week. I’ve approved it, but I think it could be helpful for more than just me…so here is the marketing tip for the weekend: check out The Story Reading Ape blog.

June 17, 2013

Marketing sites for authors

 

The Author Marketing Experts, Inc. web site as pulled up on my computer....I admit, I'm intrigued.

The Author Marketing Experts, Inc. web site as pulled up on my computer….I admit, I’m intrigued.

At the IndieRecon.org marketing event last week, I found another group dedicated to marketing for writers: Author Marketing Experts, Inc., founded by Penny C. Sansevieri.  I’ve been enjoying going through the web site. There are some great ideas on there…free articles include What Will Make Google Love Your Site (featured on Huffington Post) and Powerful Pinterest–A Quick How-To.  

I’m signing up for the free e-zine and, I have to admit, even though I know it don’t have money budgeted for publicity…I really want to call for the free consultation. It can’t hurt to find out more about it, right?

Meanwhile, I’ve been mentally making a note of marketing sites for authors that I’ve come across recently. Here are a few  more that come to mind:

  • Author Marketing Club (the premier author club here looks exciting but does have a cost associated with it–$105 per year.)
  • Marketing for Romance Writers Organization I was searching for something else one day when this popped up on my search engine. I haven’t really written anything in the romance genre, but it might be helpful for other fiction writers who dabble in romance. If you use it, please let me know what you think. There’s also Marketing for Romance Writers, which looks similar and has a very similar name and URL.
  • One more that I haven’t really had a chance to look at yet: Author Marketing Ideas. Let me know what you think.

If I ever get around to updating my blog pages, I may start a page for links for marketing sites for authors. Author Charles Yallowitz already has a nice list of book promotion sites over at Legends of Windemere, if you’re interested.

On a side note, somewhere I recently read that a romance writer self-published one of her books and has sold 11,000 copies of it every month since…which has me thinking maybe I’ve chosen the wrong genre to write in. 🙂

June 13, 2013

Friday photo poetry: steep places

DSC09230

There will always be steep places to climb,

swift rivers to swim and deserts to wander.

These are Life’s challenges; they claim my time

with riddles and puzzles I can’t help but ponder.

Sometimes, gratitude is my only goal.

I’ll find it on any-ways and every-wheres–

they are the adventures that try my soul.

(I’m glad some of them have stairs.)

 

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June 13, 2013

Chocolate windows: how loving myself frees me to write

Chocolate windows! :)

Chocolate windows! 🙂

I broke down yesterday and bought chocolate.

It was an extra-large Hershey’s Symphony bar, and as I unwrapped it to divvy it up among family members, the rectangles caught my toddler’s attention.

“Ta-cat win-now. Ta-cat win-now.” He pointed at the chocolate and said those words over and over, until I finally understood what he was seeing.

“Yes, those are chocolate windows. You can have one, two, three of them.”

He climbed into his booster seat and counted his pieces of chocolate with me. After that, he was too busy eating and smearing melted chocolate over the table top to pay much attention to me.

I ate my chocolate, too, but I saw it in a different way. An ordinary treat had become magical, simply because it was now full of windows.

It was dark glass, to be sure, and delicious…and it tossed my thoughts across the phrase “for now we see through a glass, darkly.” (Which, by the way, I first came across as a child, in a novel brought home from the bookmobile.)

I mused all afternoon on my life perceptions. The phrase still hadn’t left me this morning, but it condensed some, thickened and held when I ran my mind across the most important relationships in my life.

After a day and a half of musing, I realized two things:

  • The most important people in my life deserve for me to see them clearly and love them completely, unconditionally, the way they are.
  • That’s a lot easier to do than extending the same courtesy toward myself.

Still. I don’t think I can show love for the people in my life as completely and fully as I want to until I am able to do the same for myself.

Here’s the reason: they at least partially define who they are because of their connections to me and to who I am. I do them no favors by hiding any greatness in me that I find. I serve them best when I let my good points show.

I suppose it’s a matter of integrity, of living up to the highest and best ideals I hold in my heart.

Yesterday’s musings led to a day and a half of reviewing my personal rules for dealing with others. I have two main rules–one, always do everything in my power to withhold judgment or criticism from everyone else, and two, always do everything in my power to lift, build and bless every other human I come across.

This naturally extends into my writing. I want very much to write and write and write, to cover nonfiction topics that make people smile and to create novels that will bring joy to children and provoke thoughtful improvement in the life of adults. In my mind, it’s the new American Dream, and I am not alone in hoping that my writing will affect the world in some positive way–even if it’s a very small way.

But when it comes to myself, I find I’m very selfish.  On one hand, half the writing I do really is for myself alone, for the simple joy of putting words together. The other half tends to get tangled up in my ego. When that happens, I sometimes forget to withhold judgment and criticism from myself. I tear myself apart when I could be saving that criticism for the editing process alone, and for my writing alone–not for me as a person.

This is perhaps the darkest glass of all. It’s impossible to see myself clearly enough to love myself when I’m zeroing in on all my faults. It impacts the people I love, but it also impacts my writing by providing writer’s block, the fear of failure and other hurdles.

The truth is, I write best and most prolifically when I feel confident and secure in myself. Loving myself frees me to write.

When I’m in my zone and I’m alright with myself, every idea becomes a window to another world that I can’t wait to explore. Like many other writers, I have lists and lists of books I want to write.  These are ideas to savor and enjoy,to share with others, to lighten dark days with the joy of creation.

Perhaps they’re all just chocolate windows, and some of them will melt in the sun…but they’re delicious to me, just the same.

June 12, 2013

Indie Recon marketing thing is going on this week, and other things

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. :)

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. 🙂

It’s Marketing Mania Week over at Indie Recon.

Yesterday’s post by CJ Lyons was all about branding, which is something I keep thinking I need to think more about. The truth is,  I love variety and don’t like the thought of getting stuck writing just one genre. This post made me feel like I could actually create a brand for myself and still maintain my writing freedom. It was heartening.

There’s a great post today on marketing in general (and to young adult target audiences in particular). Wednesday will cover Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes, Thursday will focus on marketing advice from bestselling Indie authors, and Friday there will be a secret giveaway. Fun for everyone!

Other things on my mind:

  • The more I read, the more I want to write. I see a plot or a style I like, and I think “I have to try this out sometime and see if I can do something like it.” The same thing happens when I watch a good movie (although I want to write stories, not make movies). I want to do it my own way, of course, but the draw is there with every good book I pick up. Does anyone else experience this? Is this what inspires people to write fan fiction?
  • I’ve decided I really, really love ebook Habits and Free Book Dude. I keep adding stories to my Kindle, which I’ll read someday when life slows down.  These sites list books that can be downloaded for free. Browsing through their lists has become part of my daily e-mail ritual.
  • The beans are up! And some of the kale I planted earlier this spring is ready to harvest. Hurrah for fresh kale at lunch! 🙂
June 10, 2013

Skyward Bound

Goin' up!

Going up!

Between the wedding dress, the end of school and multiple trips to see my daughter, I hardly touched the computer at all last week.  I am starving for the chance to sit at my desk and write.

Happily, I think this will actually happen this week. This means I will probably also be blogging again at least a few times each week. As part of this, I intend to review at least one marketing book each week (and catch up on the ones I’ve only read half-way through). I have 29 books currently in queue for this.

In spite of all the time away from my computer, something marvelous and fun happened this weekend. Someone from our neighborhood ran up to me, in a public place, and practically shouted how excited he was to know I’m an author. He found my book and bought it on Kindle.

This was especially exciting to me because this young gentlemen is in the age range I set for my original target audience. I haven’t done much in-person marketing. This makes me happy! Going skyward is fun. 🙂

June 1, 2013

Rome Construction Crew goals for June

May flowers!

May flowers!

I’m not quite sure what happened to May. I took a breath and blinked my eyes, and it disappeared. Now it’s June, and I’m looking at my Rome Construction Crew goals for last month, revamping them for the weeks ahead.

  • Health goal: This is the only area where I can say I really made progress. Although I’m still moving slow, I’m running (sort of) almost every day now.  I’ve added some very basic weight lifting, as well. I’ll continue with the couch-to-5K program this month. I hope to get through week four of the program.
  • Writing goal: I meant to take that Hawaiian Editing Vacation sometime in the middle of May. It just didn’t happen. I’m trying again, this time for the week of June 16-22. I am so looking forward to it!
  •  Volunteer goal: this is also a repeat of May’s goal. There are still a few alterations to make to the wedding dress before I feel comfortable crossing this one off my list. It’s become a relaxing part of my daily routine, though. Right now I’m working on the dress in the afternoons when it’s hot, gardening in the evenings and writing as much as I can around everything else.

All in all, I’m looking forward to a terrific June. 🙂

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