Saturday, October 10, 2015

Achieving Goals by End of the Year

I think most writers would agree. Between writing, promoting and your personal life, there’s never enough time to do everything. Sometimes it feels like there’s never enough time to do anything. 

Even if most of your goals this year have fallen by the wayside, I want you to have a win by the end of the year. Here’s what you can do to make it happen. 

1. Pick a goal. Just one. It can be a goal you stated at the beginning of the year or a new goal you acquired during this year’s journey. The only requirement is it be actually do-able by the end of the year. 

Want to write a draft of a book? Revise a draft? Start a blog? Fine. However, the goal must be something that is in your power to achieve. If your goal is to find an agent by the end of the year, there are no guarantees, since you have no control over who reads your queries and proposals when. What you do have control over is the effort you make to find an agent. So the goal to send 10 or 20 queries out by the end of the year is doable. 

2. Write down what it takes. Make a list of everything you need to do to accomplish your goal. It could be a chronological list of actual things. For example, if you are starting a blog, write down everything you need to do to create it (url, logo, colors, design, about page, contact, blog posts, etc.). Yes, if the goal is to complete a draft of the book, perhaps your list will be chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, and so on. 

3. Get it done. Spend a dedicated amount of time each week to put toward your goal. Set appointments in your calendar for work time. As you accomplish the things on your list, check them off. Stay on schedule, work consistently, and don’t give up. You’ll achieve your goal by the end of the year! 

It's surprising what you can accomplish when you have a plan and decided to stick to it. The win will feel so good, you’ll have a mental running start toward achieving your next goal. 

Good luck. You can do it!

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

She is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's World Teachers' Day

When asked me to share their infograph on celebrating the teachers of the world, I said, "Oh Yeah!"

My younger daughter has been a NYC public grammar school teacher for 12 years. She works diligently to help her students learn the work at hand and become better world citizens. 

Teachers help children become tomorrow's workforce, leaders, and heroes. They deserve our recognition and praise.

According to a Japanese proverb, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” There’s truth in those words, as anyone who has ever had a great teacher will know!

October 5 is World Teachers’ Day, a day to celebrate educators around the world. Teaching is incredibly difficult (and often thankless) work, yet it might just be the world’s most important job. Teachers can and do change lives every day. They inspire generations of students to think, learn, create, and accomplish things they never believed they could do.

There are twenty-nine million primary school teachers around the world, but we still need more. Over three million more, in fact. So, in recognition of teachers and the indispensable work they do, we have created an infographic to highlight their importance around the world:

World Teacher Day

Thanks for letting us share this, Grammarly!

Be sure to check out Grammarly's Plagiarism Checker:


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Elysabeth's Writing Emporium: HOLIDAY SHOPPING: Now is the time to start your holiday shopping.  How about a nice warm afghan on those cold nights?  Check out my "Curl Up With A Good ...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What's Good for Saturday Night Live Author May Be Good For You, Too!

A Promote-Your-Own-Way Case Study

Saturday Night Live Writer Uses
Article/Essay Route for Marketing

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning
 HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

In the second edition of my The Frugal Book Promoter, I suggest writing articles and selling them (or giving them away free). It is an especially good way to get exposure for authors who are shy or think they’ll hate marketing but admit they love writing. So I was pleased to see an op-ed piece in the LA Times written by Patricia Marx, former Saturday Night Live writer and a staff writer for The New Yorker.

The little credit at the end of her piece said it was an essay excerpted from her new book Let’s Be Less Stupid: An attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties. She let her Saturday Night Live voice shine throughout the piece and added a sidebar that was a quiz on “how to be brainier.” The essay included a nice byline for her, and the essay was illustrated with a brain-map of the worries we tend to have as our brain ages—in color no less. And it was huge attention getter!

This kind of marketing is pure genius because:

   The piece was a marketing time-saver. Marx didn’t have to write anything she hadn’t already written. She probably only tweaked the excerpt a bit to suit space requirements and maybe added the sidebar. She carefully slanted the article to related topics that are in the news right now. Think: Aging population. The fear of Alzheimer’s. Dementia. These are topics news outlets from CNN to the Wall Street Journal are covering these days.

    Her humorous voice immediately captures readers who then want to know more about her expertise and about her personally. Thus, a huge percentage of readers probably do what I did—that is they read through to that little bio/credit line to get that information. (It didn’t include a link, but that is probably because a URL or link goes against the LA Times’s stylebook.)

    Marx can repeat this particular marketing approach to every paper in the nation. I mean, she has a whole book of chapters and subheads to choose from so she could accommodate papers that require an exclusive.
   If her credentials had not been quite so stellar, she might well have done the same thing submitting guest posts to blogs that may not be quite as hard to impress as the major newspapers. She probably will do that in any case. Stephanie Meyers of Twilight fame used blogs effectively to propel her series to bestseller status.

   And Marx probably got paid and paid pretty well. That money could be put toward a great marketing budget for her book.

And guess what. You can do the same thing. Yes, you may have to adjust your technique or approach a tad to fit your title, your writing style, and whatever happens to be news in the moment (or you can wait until a topic that complements your book becomes an in-the-moment subject—and I promise if you keep your marketing hat on, you’ll recognize something related to some aspect of your book when it comes up!).

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter. TheFrugal Editor, now in its second edition, won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Part 6: Hyphens in Compound Adjectives

Compound Adjectives before Nouns

If punctuation is a guide to help your reader understand more quickly and easily, then hyphens can be very useful signposts.  One of the most important and overlooked functions of the hyphen is to warn the reader, "Hey, I'm a compound adjective!"  Unfamiliar with the terminology?  It doesn't matter.  Your readers' brains are familiar with the reality.

Take this classic example: 

Hyphens, just like commas, can decide who lives and who dies.

Hyphens in Compound Adjectives

A compound adjective is two words that function as one word to modify a noun.  In "man-eating alligator," man and eating work together as one unit.  It's not a man alligator and an eating alligator.  It's a man-eating alligator.

Rule:  If a compound adjective comes before a noun, you can (and often should) hyphenate it. 

A thin-bladed knife
A 30-mile race
A nervous-looking boy
A leather-bound book
Bird-like legs
A well-known politician

Exception : If the compound adjective uses an adverb ending in –ly, don't hyphenate. This is because the –ly already alerts the reader that this will be a compound adjective.

A badly cooked steak
A wildly painted car
A quickly written memo

Note:  Some people prefer to leave out the hyphen if the meaning is clear without, but that can be dangerous.  The meaning is obvious to you, since you wrote it.  The reader doesn't have the same advantage.  So be careful if you decide to omit these hyphens.  And always be on the lookout for situations where the lack of hyphen can completely change the meaning, as in the examples below.

Hyphens Clear up Ambiguity

From Grammar Monkeys:

Small-state senator (a senator from a small state)
Small state senator (a state senator who is short and thin)

A violent weather conference (a weather conference where people punch each other a lot)
A violent-weather conference (where meteorologists professionally discuss violent weather)

A hot yoga teacher (an attractive yoga teacher)
A hot-yoga teacher (one who teaches yoga in a purposely hot environment, as in the style of Bikram yoga)

From (a great resource)

I have a few more important things to do. (A few more tasks remain on my list of important things to do)
I have a few more-important things to do. (I can't do what you suggest because I have tasks that are more important.)

He returned the stolen vehicle report. (At first, most of us will think he returned the vehicle he stole.  Then we come to "report" and we're confused.)
He returned the stolen-vehicle report. (Here it's clear that what he's returning is a report about a stolen vehicle.  The vehicle is probably still missing.)


Students who live in two parent homes (students who split their time between two homes where parents also live)
Students who live in two-parent homes (students who live in a home with both parents)

From Wikipedia:

Zero-liability protection (you are not responsible in any way if something bad happens)
Zero liability protection (you have no zero protection if something bad happens)

Examples I've come across lately in reading:

Hard sell tactics (selling tactics which are difficult to perform)
Hard-sell tactics (aggressive selling tactics which perhaps play on the fears of the potential buyer)

A long deserted chamber (a long—perhaps narrow—chamber that happens to be deserted at the moment)
A long-deserted chamber (a chamber that has been deserted for a long time)

Hyphens Make Reading Smoother

Here are some other examples that aren't so ambiguous but that will still often trip up the reader for a moment if you leave out the hyphen.  Making your reader stop to think and re-read is something you should reserve for clever plot twists, elegant and thought-provoking lines, or intriguing ideas.  Don't make them stop and re-read because of lacking punctuation. 

Steel-plated boots
Custom-made device
Death-dealing steel
Decent-sized vessel
Grey-haired man
Sword-shaped hole
North-facing terrace
Cream-colored stones
Dirt-eating scum
Fire-lit faces

Remember that if you want to wrap your reader in your characters' world, you need to provide as few pointless distractions as possible.  And unclear punctuation is one of the biggest culprits in the world of pointless distraction.

For more in this series:
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 1:  Commas Save Lives; the Vocative Comma
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 2:  Commas and Periods in Dialogue
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 3:  Commas with Participial Phrases

Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 4:  The Mysterious Case of the Missing Question Mark
Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Pt 5:  Adjectives with Commas

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at

Friday, October 2, 2015

Marketing Preps You Should Do While You Write Your Book

Guest post by Karina Fabian

It’s a fact of an author’s life that they will have to promote their book – book tours, extra materials for blogs and social media, and angles they or their publicists can exploit. Often, however, writers treat the writing and the marketing as two separate phases. I’ve done this myself, and the result is time lost going back over the book mining for pull quotes, reviewing endless emails and notes for the tidbits that make good interviews, or struggling to remember who helped with what scene.

I’ve learned the hard way, but after 11 books, I’ve found there are some things you can do while writing and editing the book to make the marketing of the book easier once published:

1.    Have one copy with all your commentary: Who gave you the idea? What links did you go to for research? Was there a scene you cut you can use as an extra? How did you come up with this scene?  This will help you immensely when doing your acknowledgements page and for interviews, etc. Use the Comments function of your word processor or stuff it into the appendix.

2.    When you’re in the final editing stage, copy and paste one-liners that might make good Tweets or Facebook posts.  Tweets need to be about 100 characters so you have room for the link of the book later. Put these in a file. I aim for 30 so I can post one a day for a month.

3.    Pick out three short scenes and three long scenes that will make good excerpts.  Pick a couple that will make good read-alouds.

4.    If you do an online book tour, people will want you to guest post, often about something to do with the writing of the book. When you have 15 blog posts to write in a couple of weeks, it can get hard to come up with ideas. Therefore, if something about what you’re writing at that moment strikes you, make a note, write a short paragraph, or do an outline and save it in a promotions file. Some examples: special research, a sudden insight that fed a scene – or insight about a scene that impacted you personally - something new you learned or tried while writing. Keep these in your annotated file or put them in a separate document.

5.    Jot down the answers to these questions because they will be asked during tours. Yes, do it now, because it may be a year or more before the book is published, and you will hopefully have written more books as well. Things get blurry and jumbled in the memory.

* What was the best part of writing this?
* What was the worst?
* Did you have any issues you had to research or rewrite?
* Did you learn anything new?
* Did anything/any character surprise you?
* Any funny stories associated with writing this book?
* Any lessons learned?

Marketing is never an easy thing, but it can be fun. We had a good time prepping for the I Left My Brains in San Francisco audiobook tour. It was easier because I already had a lot of materials prepared. I hope these tips can make your marketing experiences more enjoyable as well.

Be sure to check out Karina's Zombie series:

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.


"Hi! Welcome to Zomblog!  It's ‘Time to Re-kill!’  This is Kelsey Gardenberger, and we are reporting to you live from Fisherman's Wharf, where zombie exterminators Rii and Hi Lee of Bay
Exterminations have been called in to take out a zombie."

Police held back spectators who had cell phones to film the event.  On the ground lay a man in a black-and-white striped shirt, black pants with suspenders and gold makeup on his rotting skin.  He pounded on the air with imaginary fists, and then felt along imaginary walls with his hands.  Where he should have had fingers, only mangled skin and bare bones showed. Rii and Hi, both in protective gear, watched the prone figure and spoke among themselves.  The zombie continued his act unconcerned, except to pause now and again and make drinking motions before pointing to the top hat waiting beside him.

"It looks like Rii Lee and Hi Lee have decided on their strategy.  Despite the fact that the zombie appears so docile, it could turn violent at the slightest provocation--and if you don't believe me, check out 'Don't wave that thing at me!' on the Zomblog archives.  They're starting!"

While Rii stood by with a power blaster of anti-zombie foam, Hi ambled up to the prone zombie, sword relaxed but ready in his left hand.  He watched the undead mime its struggle against the imaginary coffin, nodded appreciatively, and tossed a twenty into the hat.  The Wasted Mime started clawing with fervor, dug himself up, and brushed himself off.

Some of the crowd in the front stepped back.

It picked up the hat, checked the money.

The crowd took in a breath.

It faced Hi.

Hi bowed.

The crowd gasped.  Cameras flashed.

The zombie bowed back, deeply and theatrically.

Hi lashed out with his sword, its blade cutting deeply and theatrically into the zombie's neck.

The re-killed corpse folded over.

The crowd broke into wild cheers.

Kelsey smiled big for the camera.  "And there you have it!  Looks like a mime isn't such a terrible thing to waste after all.


Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her--and her fans--amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Find Karina at:



Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco at:

Damnation Books:

Amazon: (paper) (Kindle)

More about it at 

Video Link


Want to write and publish your own book? Check out:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shaun the Sheep and Marketing with Animation

By Karen Cioffi

I’ve watched silent movies before. And, a couple of the ‘oldie’ cartoons (e.g., Tom and Jerry) that had no talking. But, I would never have thought a full length movie for kids would work in today’s dwindling attention span society.

Well, I was wrong.

Shaun the Sheep has NO talking. No captions either.

The entire 1 hour and 25 minute cartoon movie conveyed the-grass-is-greener concept, conflict, obstacles, heroism, loyalty, and emotions. And, it did it all through actions, through animation.

I took my grandsons to the movie and the theater had lots of other grandparents with their grandchildren. Every child was captivated, the adults too. In fact, you forgot there were no words – no dialogue.

My 9 year old grandson who has ADD paid attention through the entire movie – and, he didn’t want to go in the first place, thinking it was a baby movie.

I was amazed, not only that it held his attention, but it help my attention. Me, who is always thinking of what I have to do next.

Quite an accomplishment.

This is the power of animation.

And, just imagine if an hour and a half animated movie can hold children’s attention, think how it will hold your readers’ and visitors’ attention on your website in short focused clips.

But, aside from my own viewpoints of Shaun the Sheep, there is research that backs up animation’s benefit in content marketing and inbound marketing.

Some Statistics

According to

  • People are 64% - 85% more likely to purchase your product or service after watching an animation/video – that’s a significant boost to your conversions.
  • Visit lengths are another factor that gets a boost. Visitors will stay on your site at least two minutes longer with animation/video.
  • And, there’s the power of YouTube. You're 53x more likely to get on Google's first-page for search results by embedding video on your site. (1)

Along with this, Shooting Business states that, “Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL are among the hundreds of Search Engines that give priority listings to websites that host video content.” (2) Taking advantage of tags, descriptions, and any other kind of SEO strategies allowed when publishing the video is another avenue of search visibility.

If this isn’t enough incentive to jump on the animation bandwagon, think about the social media marketing aspect. Sharing and clickthrough rates are increased significantly with video.

Animated videos can be humorous, serious, emotional, and educational.

Using animation in your marketing, specifically your content marketing, is a win-win strategy that you should be taking advantage of.

For the icing on the cake, according to Hubspot:

  • Ninety percent of the information the brain receives is visual.
  • The brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text.
  • Videos in posts get 3X the inbound links than posts with only text.
  • Animation (visual content) increases engagement. (3)

If you’d like to try your hand at a free animation tool, go to and click on the FREE option. (I’m NOT an affiliate, I just think it’s a great marketing tool.)

If you’d like to get one done without the headache of creating it yourself, check out AWD’s Animation Service.




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This article was originally published at: #ContentMarketing