Can a Blog Boost My Business?

I need to do more of this, but alas — LIFE, how you have diverted me.🙂

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks

snowmobile girl rider flickr.com/photos/miss604/5214631663/

Can a blog help my business, even if I’m not a writer?

Absolutely, though they’re not for everyone. Blogging makes the most sense for people who have material to post at least somewhat regularly. It doesn’t have to be everyday or even close to that, but the more frequent you can post something of interest to someone out there, the better your blog will be received.

When I meet new people, I often think about how a blog could complement their business. They’re not always the kind of businesses you’d assume would be a good fit for a blog, like a photographer or author. But almost any business can benefit from one. Let me explain with some examples.

One winter, my nephew and I rented snowmobiles. For two thrilling hours we explored forest trails and bounded through meadows of soft powder. It was an absolute blast! Afterwards we talked with the business…

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How to Be a Writer: Are You a Plotter or a Pantser? + Writing Resources

I think I’m a hybrid of the two — pantser and plotter.🙂 I possess traits from camps; however, I think when I realize the pantser ride is getting too wild, I sit down and plot by index cards, a grid made on computer, or notebook paper.🙂

Writing Abby

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any idea what those two terms mean? If you don't check out this post on Writing Abby for the details AND some writing resources that compliment your writing process. How to be a Writer: Are You a Plotter or a Pantser? // Writing AbbyA while back, I mentioned in the first post of the How to Be a Writer series, about “plotters” and “pantsers”. Today, I’d like to go into more detail about those two terms. They’re pretty important words in the writing world, because they explain in a single word what your writing process is. Once you discover your writing process, the writing life becomes much easier.

(If you already know if you’re a plotter or pantser, skip these sections to get some serious writing resources.)

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The Query’s the Thing!

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the main character of the eponymous title states “the play’s the thing” in order to bring to light the truth about his father’s murder. Well, the query’s the thing for writers to grab the attention of an editor or agent! When querying, the first few pages are key!

Writers often struggle with preparing a manuscript for an agent or publisher. Nowadays, email is the way of submitting a literary piece and the shorter and sweeter the query – the better! For starters, I needed a better beginning for my dark fantasy middle grade novel, Shoes, with hints of horror and the supernatural. The beginning was as stale and dry as four-days-past-the-sale-by-date opened bag of bread. Oh, not just stale, but stale and boring. It didn’t even have the problem of mold in its staleness to make it even a little interesting. I was in trouble and would have been rejected in record time by any prospective agent or editor.

But I hadn’t realized this error until I revisited the manuscript almost a year later.

So, after several days of thinking, reflecting, and brainstorming I all but smacked myself in the face when I realized the perfect beginning resided in my own childhood fears. Not fear from reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series or watching Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street, but guttural, soul-shivering terror of the stories my Jamaican mother and Haitian father would sometimes share after dinner.

Perhaps because of the writer in me, my curiosity outweighed my fear and allowed me to listen, taking note of the interesting real-life characters and supernatural experiences of my parents in their birth countries.

Now that I’m an adult, I vividly see the frightening potential these tales of terror can offer. Here’s the revised beginning:

“Nothing to be afraid of,” Alexander promised himself. He pressed against the hallway wall, his gaze frozen on the wooden statue. Tongue glued to the roof of his cotton-dry mouth, he couldn’t speak anymore. Like Medusa turned onlookers to stone, the creepy statue that his Grandpa Jean gave to his family possessed the power to silence those who dared to stare and wonder about its purpose.

He swallowed hard and his throat burned. Fear always made him thirsty.

He hated the wooden statue, carved with beautiful African features, a wide brim hat, and almond shaped eyes, so detailed if you stared long enough he – the statue – seemed to blink and stare back.

Alexander wished the statue would topple over and break from the living room’s coffee table.

He remembered knocking it over once, hope burning inside him like a star that its gangly limbs would break off piece by piece from the assault. But to his shock and sadness, the statue remained intact. That day sealed his opinion of the thing. It was evil. Yup, no doubt about it.

He breathed in deeply, fidgeting with the buttons of his pajamas, closed his eyes and hurried pass the despised and prized piece of furniture to the quiet of his bedroom.

He slipped under the covers and buried his face beneath the sheets. For several meetings, he shivered as his body adjusted to the coldness of his bedroom, which was always at least ten degrees colder than any room in the house. His room most likely had some story of its own to tell, like that statue in the hallway. Someone had probably died here, he thought. Or worse, there’s a monster under the bed, like the scaly monster that rested its hand on your Aunt Nadine when Mom and her were kids.

Alexander clenched his teeth to stop the chattering of his teeth, which had nothing to do with the cold.

He shut his mind off from the terrible images playing in his mind and instead began counting sheep wearing polka dotted ties.

And slept . . .
***
Here’s the original beginning I had written:

Time and time again, Alexander Brennan’s mom told him he had an overactive imagination and right now it was his only source of comfort keeping him whole. Ever since his mother became ill, the real world slowly crumpled around him, threatening to crush him. His mother also told him that he fixated on useless things like quotes. Quotes like, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”

When he first heard those words he wondered and wondered and wondered where they had come from. He wondered what they meant, rolling the idea around in his mind like a piece of candy. And then he wondered the opposite. What happens when an angel loses its wings? Does lightning strike? Does the earth shake?

And this particular afternoon, while walking home from school with his best friend, Dylan Perez, his overactive imagination caused him to obsess over yet another mundane and ordinary thing.

“Shoes,” Alexander said, pointing above. Dangling from the electrical wires hung a pair of black and white sneakers with silver stars.

Dylan looked uninterested, but he stopped to gaze up at the shoes. “Yeah, so. Some bully probably slung ‘em up there, man.” He gave an awkward shrug of his shoulders, weighed down by his backpack laden with books and school supplies. “Or, like my dad told me, people just toss ‘em up there because they can. Like a game to see if you can get the shoes to lock and hold. What’s the big deal?”

“Yeah, but that’s too simple an explanation. And you know better than anybody else that the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. So wouldn’t it be weird and yet make more sense if the shoes were left as like a sign or something by an alien. You know, like maybe aliens abducted the kid who owned those shoes and left them there as proof of his conquest?”

Alexander burst into laughter at his idea. He laughed because it was funny. He laughed because a part of him wished that it was true. He stopped laughing when he noticed he was laughing alone.

Dylan shook his head slowly. “Lex, you seriously watch way too many sci-fi movies.” He shook his head again, trying to look stern and serious, but Alexander could tell he wanted to laugh. Dylan could be just as imaginative as he was. That was one of the reasons they had become quick friends in first grade and had remained friends almost 5 years ago. It was the first day of kindergarten and during free time, Alexander and Dylan played a game of The Teacher is an Alien. Sure, they got sent to time out (since they continued pretending even after free time was long over), but it was well worth it.

Alexander wasn’t looking forward to the first day of middle school and even though it was a couple of days away, the thought of possibly being separated from Dylan made his stomach hurt.

***

Which one is better? Which one do you prefer and why? Sound off in the comments. 3-2-1 – GO!

Creative Resistance: Why SOBSF Con is good for the “Conscious” Community

Wish I could make it to this event! Well, hopefully next year?🙂

Chronicles of Harriet

Conscious 1The Black Arts Movement was the artistic branch of the Black Power movement. It was started in Harlem by writer and activist Imamu Amiri Baraka. Time magazine describes the Black Arts Movement as the “single most controversial movement in the history of African-American literature – possibly in American literature as a whole.”

Both inherently and overtly political in content, the Black Arts Movement was the only American literary movement to advance social engagement as an essential ingredient of its aesthetic. The movement broke from the immediate past of protest and petition (civil rights) literature and dashed forward toward Black Power.

SOBSF ConIn a 1968 essay, “The Black Arts Movement,” Larry Neal proclaimed Black Arts the “aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept.” As a political phrase, Black Power had earlier been used by Richard Wright to describe the mid-1950s emergence of independent African nations. The 1960s’ use of the term…

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How to Make Boring Story Parts Exciting

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Golden Goose

Image by DonkeyHotey/Flickr CC

This is another guest post by blogger and copywriter Alex Limberg. If you have followed my blog in the last couple of months, you have probably come across him, namely because the Stockholm’s Syndrome sets in faster when you drug the candy😀 .

Once again, I’m going to gently nudge you into the direction of his free ebook about “44 Key Questions” to test your story; it will help you make your scenes tight and compelling and detect any story problem you might have. This time, Alex is showing us a very interesting recipe to keep every single part of your story interesting. Take it away, Alex!

***

Uh-oh! It’s showdown time.

In your heart-stopping thriller piece, Tinky the milkman has just found out who poisoned Lady Chatterbee’s canary. Now he is driving to the ash grove for the faceoff in the old mill.

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Writing Career Stuck? Sales Mired? How to Get Your MOJO Back!

Well worth the read!🙂

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Last time we all commiserated about feeling stuck. Lately, it’s been really bizarre. I’ve been at this writing thing since long before self-pub, but recently the feeling of author despondency seems to be heavy…everywhere. Maybe it’s the vastness of the internet, the fact that all the old ways and old rules are gone. Sales are stuck. We are stuck. We have this general feeling of anxiety and I do feel it’s worse now than ever.

So no, you were NOT imagining it.

Stuck happens, especially for those who choose to go pro. See, success in anything is not this straight line that shoots at a perfect angle ever upwards. It is fraught with setbacks. Some we can control, some we can’t.

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But as I said last post, the most critical step is to admit we have a problem lest we give up and OD on brownie batter and Game of…

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Polish Your Manuscript!

Molli Nickell, The Query Wizard, invites writers to celebrate spring as they polish their manuscripts and submission documents (query, synopsis, first pages) until they glow in the dark.

The quest to become published took some major left and right turns this past year with the advent of email delivered query submission letters that include synopsis and sample pages.

In the old days~
Prior to 2014, your query was sent via snail mail and accompanied by a SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope). If the agent wanted to read more of your work, they’d send a letter back requesting synopsis and/or sample pages. So, there would be a time gap between when you completed your query and needed to submit your synopsis and first pages.

Fast forward to now: good news/not so good news~
The good news is that it’s easie-peasie to pack your submission materials in one email. Except (and here’s the not-so-good news), first, you must format your entire email to make it device-and-agent friendly, and then, prepare your query, synopsis, and first pages so they are ready to go at the same time.

The current all-in-one submission process makes life easier for agents. Once they click on your enticing email subject line and open your email, they can read your query, make the “yes” or “no” decision to read your synopsis, and perhaps your sample pages.

Keep ’em reading~
Even if you’ve crafted a dynamic manuscript, with fascinating characters and a plot that twists and turns, but is filled with writing mechanic errors, you’ve shot yourself in the foot. Ouch! You can prevent this disaster by using the following exercise. It will help you discover issues in your work that you’ll want to revise before you begin the submission process.

Color Me Grammatically Correct~
If you meet with a critique/writing group, enlist your pals to participate in a simple, fun, and educational exercise. What? You aren’t part of a critique group? Why the heck not?

The following exercise will help you discover if your work contains the major 35 “red-flag” words that can identify you as a writing rookie.

Here’s how it works:
Ask your writing pals to bring their first three manuscript pages (double-spaced), along with yellow, pink, and blue highlighter pens. They’ll use these pens to mark three types of writing mechanic errors that probably lurk in their work.

First, swap manuscripts. Why? Because it’s difficult to be objective looking at words you’ve written/re-written over and over and over and . . . .

Search and Mark Step One involves adjectives.Spend 15 minutes and yellow-highlight all adjectives.
Search and Mark Step Two is for adverbs. Search hint: most adverbs end with “ly.” Spend another 15/20 minutes and pink-highlight all adverbs.
Search and Mark Step Three is for the granddaddy of all “red-flag” words, verbs that begin with “was.” Locate and blue-highlight  “was” and the word that follows it.

This exercise helps everyone “up the ante,” and elevate their writing skills without stress. I’m a big proponent of incorporating fun and learning, especially when it comes to group exercises. All writers (myself included) tend to become overly self-critical and uptight as we revise, tighten, and polish our work. Laughter helps us lighten up during the rite-of-passage from rookie to pro . . . from writer to author.

Bring revised pages to your next meeting. Repeat the exercise and compare versions. Your revised pages will be less rainbow-kissed than before. Celebrate your progress with ice cream, pizza, or brownies, or all three!

Just to be clear: “Color Me Grammatically Correct” is a group exercise, not a suggestion for you to print out your manuscript and highlight away. That would be crazy making! Instead, use my Search-Mark-Revise technique (below) to help you mature your work and maintain your sanity at the same time. 

My 7-page tutorial identifies the 35 worst “red-flag” words and the weakest verbs that may infect your query, synopsis, and manuscript and helps you learn a process to make finding and revising them as stress-free as possible. 7 pages for $7 bucks. Such a deal!
More information at MolliMart

Lovingly copied from Molli’s website http://www.getpublishednow.biz/