Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Create a Writing Sanctuary

Guest Post by Irene S. Roth

Writers spend a lot of time in the confines of their offices. Many of our home offices seem drab and uninviting. Most office spaces consist of a desk and computer along with drab colored walls. That is not a very motivating space in which to write is it? Unless we create a sanctuary for creativity, we may not be so inspired to get to our desks to write our best work.

It is, therefore, important for writers to take the time to personalize their writing space and making into a very inviting place where they could be inspired to think and do their best writing by adding colours, sounds and scents which will be inviting and calming. It is fairly easy to produce such a comfortable and productive workspace with just a few easy steps. 

1.    Place fun photos of your family and friends on your desk or computer screen. This will help to transport you to a positive and happy space while you write.

2.    Paint your office in one of your favorite colours. I love lavender. It is soothing and I feel productive when I enter my office. Experiment with different colours until you find one or two that really resonate with you.

3.    Put some wallpaper or borders on one or two walls of your office. This will make your office really pretty and inviting. Choose colours and patterns that really speak to you and inspire you.

4.    Add a touch of class to the windows by putting up colourful curtains and blinds. This way, you can control the amount of light and noise that comes into your office from the outside. You want to have the right amount so that you could write at your best and feel comfortable in your space.

5.    Position your desk so that it has a wonderful view. By doing this, you could take a refocus break once in a while by looking out your window.

6.    Choose some of your favorite CDs and have them available as background music.  Mozart is my favorite. Experiment a bit in order to find the music you feel most productive and inspired with.

7.    Choose some of your favorite scented candles and place them in your office. I use a lot of soothing lavender as it is my favorite scent. But if you don’t know what is soothing for you, just experiment a bit.

8.    Don’t allow yourself to have any toxic feelings or emotions when you come into your office. Simply think of pleasant and positive thoughts as you open door to your office. Remember this is a sanctuary for creativity.

9.    Don’t have a phone in your office if you can avoid it. Instead, use a cordless phone when you get out of your office.

10.    Keep your office at the just the right temperature. You want to avoid it being too hot or cold.  This is usually very uncomfortable.

11.    Avoid clutter in your office. There is nothing that takes energy away from your writing more than that. So, before you leave your office for the evening, declutter your office.

    By setting up your office as a place of refuge and a sanctuary, you will be very productive and happy when you enter your sacred space to do your daily writing. Your office is really that important to your success and happiness as a writer.  So take a few minutes to look around your office right now and take steps to make it as pleasant and productive as possible. Write down the changes that you should make. Then make the simplest and cheapest changes first. Then make other changes later. Take a few months to create a place that you will want to consider your very own den for creativity. 

About the Author

Irene S. Roth is a freelance writer and author. She writes for teens, tweens, and kids about self-empowerment. She is the author of over thirty books and over one thousand hundred online articles. She also writes articles for kids, tweens and teens and her articles have appeared in Encounter, Pockets, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine, and Stories for Children Magazine and Online. She also has over a thousand published book reviews both online and in print.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Get Those Emails Opened – 4 Powerful Email Marketing Tips

By Karen Cioffi

Whether you’re an author, freelance writer, or other, email marketing should be an essential part of your marketing plan. Part of the elements of sending emails is to know your open and click rates.

In marketing research conducted by MailChimp, the average email opens were under 20 percent. Knowing this information is important, so you can determine whether you’re:

a. Below average
b. Average
c. above average
d. a super email marketer

Well, let me backtrack just a moment. After you have an email list going and you’re sending out regular emails to your subscribers, you need to keep tabs on the number of Opens and Clicks. You can find this information through your email service provider; the service should provide reports.

Why is keeping track of your Opens and Clicks so important?

The answer: Email marketing takes time and effort . . . you don’t want to waste either.

In the simplest terms, the Open and Click rates are the only way to know if your email marketing efforts are paying off. If you have 500, 1000, 10,000 or more subscribers and only 10 percent of your emails are being opened, you’re losing a lot of your mailing list’s potential. The same holds true of your click rate.

If your subscribers aren’t opening your emails and aren’t clicking on your links, you won’t be selling much.

So, it’s easy to see that tracking those numbers is important, but since the Open rate is more important than the Click rate (if they don’t open your emails, they certainly won’t be clicking on anything), let’s go over how you can improve your Open rates.

4 Must-use Tips to Get Higher Open Rates

1. The title.

This is probably the number one Open determinant. If the title (subject line) of your email is engaging, offers to provide something your list needs, or has some other motivating factor, your Open rate will increase.

Effective titles include:

•    Secrets to success (Secret Steps to Building a Successful Information Product Line)
•    Tips (5 Critical Tips to Building an Information Product Line)
•    How to (How to Build Your Own Information Product Line)
•    Questions (Do You Want to Build Your Own Information Product Line?)

Effective titles should also be keyword effective. Using Adwords.google.com, I found that the keyword “information product” has 165,000 global searches and 60,500 local searches. This is valuable information. I know this is a keyword people are searching for.

2. Avoid ‘spammy keywords in the title.
While you do want to use effective keywords in your title you don’t want to use:

•    ‘Spammy’ keywords (#1, Free, Amazing, Earn, Guaranteed, Congratulations)
•    All CAPS
•    Excessive punctuation.

Remember keep it honest, simple, and to the point.

3. Skip the uninformative titles.

It seems there are more of these types of email subject lines lately, but they’re really not effective. These are titles that might say:

•    You must open now
•    Important – Read this now
•    Do you think this works?
•    You won’t want to miss this

People are too busy and have too much in their inboxes to play a guessing game of what the actual content will be about.

I quickly delete these types of titles.

4. The content of your email (or the link) must be relevant to the title.

As with everything in marketing, you need to be focused. Your title must be a foreshadowing of what the content will provide - it must be relevant to the information in your email.

There you have it – four tips to increasing your email Open rate.

After you develop a relationship with your subscribers through regular and helpful emails that follow the four tips above, your subscribers will trust that you are offering helpful information and be more inclined to ‘Open’ the email.

Try these tips today.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Digitize All Your Precious Poems

Guest Post by Samanthi Fernando

How fortunate we are to live in this digital age – to take poetry to the cloud from the page.

Like many Authors, I started writing at a very young age, and most of my early work was handwritten in several notebooks. One of the best decisions I made was to digitize all my precious poems from that era. I carefully typed and saved my work for later use.

Now with all the technology we have available at our fingertips, we can easily put our thoughts directly into digital notes and files. We can take backups and even revert back to previous versions. With several devices, software, search and sort functions to use, we can easily store and keep track of our writing. Thankfully the probability of a poem getting lost now is very low.

How many poetic gems could be forgotten in a pile of paper? Will you remember where to find each masterpiece much later?

When I began to compile Radiant Roses, I was able to search my digital archives for keywords like rose, petal, bud, bloom - to discover old poems that fit my theme. And I was pleasantly surprised to find one I wrote as a teenager that was perfect for this book. Even more pleased when Readers said this was one of their favorites in the book. If I had left my previous work in the old stack of notebooks, and only reviewed my newer work - I may never have thought of including it in this publication.

Inspiration to write a poem can be anytime, anywhere... and sometimes even in our hi-tech environment, we could end up writing the first pass on a piece of paper. Some of us even prefer to use pen and paper to compose. When we create something new – we celebrate an important milestone. If we are planning to publish our best poems, what we do afterwards is as important.

Where are all your poems? Go tech before going to press.

Here are a few tips for Poets planning to publish:

1.    Assess what needs to be digitized – you may need to go through your old journals to find the hidden gold.
2.    Set aside some time to convert content into digital format.
3.    Take regular backups – mirroring your files in the cloud is worth considering.
4.    Test your recovery strategy – don’t wait for a hardware crash to see if your work can be recovered from a remote backup.
5.    Setup a cadence to extract and save new notes.

Sometimes it takes decades for a beautiful poem to see the light. You wrote it during a long-ago chapter in your life, and the source of inspiration is no longer very clear. Yet the words stand out with the ability to touch and inspire others. Looking at it from a new perspective, perhaps on a new application or device… years later – all it may need is a more relevant title to be published. Keep your roses for another season. Digitize all your precious poems – and let the magic unfold.

About the Author

 Samanthi Fernando’s mission of hope is to illuminate and uplift through the Power of Poetry. Her poems celebrate the joys of nature, music, friendship and all life's blessings. In her spiritual compositions, she writes about faith, gratitude and healing love – connecting beautiful colors and positive emotions into poetic delights.

Samanthi is the Author of several Inspirational Poetry Books. She also provides Communications Consulting for a wide range of clients, including fortune 500 companies.

Visit STARSAFIRE POEMS to find Radiant Roses and other inspirational poetry by Samanthi Fernando at http://www.starsafire.starrayz.com

You can get your own copy of Radiant Roses at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1514843668

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Ways Writing Builds Strength


"I never give in. I never give up. And I never take no for an answer."
Doris Roberts, Actress
1925-April 17, 2016
There are lots of ways to build strength in life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, be social, stay mentally active. That last category? We writers have that covered in spades. After all, challenging our mental acuity is our game. I like to think for reasons beyond simply making an effort to stay healthy.

Tucked into suggestions to challenge our gray matter by the Alzheimer's Organization, which lists such activities as attending lectures and plays, playing games and working crossword puzzles, is writing. With all that serious writing entails we writers must be way ahead of the game.

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer
1. Don't talk about it--DO IT: How often have you had this conversation with someone who wants to lose weight?
  • Weight Loss Challenger: I'm trying to lose weight.
  • You: Good for you.
  • Challenger: My goal is 15 lbs. but I don't know if I'll ever get there. I've tried every kind of diet and nothing works for me.
                                                                    STOP!

Too often the person who talks about weight loss winds up in an endless weight-loss-weight-gain cycle and doesn't reach her goal UNTIL she stops talking about it. Only then can she get down to business and DO IT. It takes strength to drum up the necessary discipline.

I use this example to illustrate the mistake I made as a beginner writer and the mistake other beginners might make: I talked about what I planned to write, even expounding on the details of the piece/story. Maybe I even started the project . . . but never finished it. Why? Talking about what you're planning to write can take the wind right out of your sails--it can rob you of the energy you've put into coming up with your idea in the first place, so that when it comes time to write, your enthusiasm is gone.

2. Now that you've leaped over one of your initial hurdles, pouring out your heart and keeping it between you and the page, you find that you soon enter THE ZONE--that magical place any serious creator occupies while working, be it an athlete, a musician, a homemaker who establishes a loving and pleasing environment--it doesn't matter. The very act of creating will get you there. The world will open up to you. You'll be in the candy shop, given carte blanche to pick any kind of confection you want: cake, ice cream, cookies; or hey, anything made with semi-sweet chocolate, my personal favorite (while being "strong" enough not to gain weight, mind you). You will begin to build or continue to build on your knowledge and skills and explore any and all aspects of life to your heart's desire. A writing friend once told me one of the benefits she loves about writing is that you become an expert on many subjects and you carry this knowledge with you for the rest of your life. There's a great deal of strength in that.

3. Learning your craft and sharpening your skills: This is a great accomplishment. You literally transform yourself into the ranks of successful people who have arrived at their success like you have, from their relentless efforts and hard work. A likely trajectory to becoming an accomplished writer can go something like this:
  • Write for your school newspaper beginning as early as possible; then become editor.
  • Establish a place to write and a schedule so that you write regularly every day, if possible.
  • Keep a journal. Come up with subjects that are important to you and think of ways you can write about them.
  • Take courses, read "how-to" books, join writing organizations and attend workshops and conferences. Share your writing with other writers.
  • Explore publication outlets online, at the library, with writing organizations you belong to. Find a publication(s) that would welcome what you have to say.
  • Learn photography, a handy skill to accompany your writing.
  • Learn how to speak in front of others.
  • Network, see what other writers are doing and learn from them. We are a sharing group .We have been known to go to great lengths to help and promote our fellow writers.
Before you know it you will have found your niche and if you keep working at it you will eventually reach your goals. Once you've reached your goals you can flex those buff writing muscles you've developed to benefit yourself, your readers and those fortunate enough to come in contact with you.

Photo: Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. She worked as a weight-loss counselor for several years and understands firsthand the challenges facing anyone wanting to lose weight. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook

Monday, April 25, 2016

More ABCs for New Writers; K-O


K is for kindred.

Joining a writing group is encouraging, educational, and fun. 

Just make sure your fellow writers are of a kindred spirit. 

This simply means: not any writing group will work for you. 


"Finding a writing group or partner is a lot like dating. There’s an element of searching and an element of matching. You’re looking for people you can share a piece of your creative self with, for people you want to spend time on, for people who can help you become a stronger writer ... " Jane Friedman

L is for lucky break.

Yes, those lucky breaks do come along but don't just sit back and wait for them.

I am a firm believer in hard work, but I also believe life mysteriously unfolds in ways that surprises us. Those moments that come out of nowhere are encouraging. 

Being "discovered" is always possible and it does happen. But if you are not consistently working at your craft, your name and your work will not be visible. 

Bottom line: if you've been working your tail off and making little progress, don't give up. In time a connection somewhere may come out of the blue giving you that lucky break you deserve.

M is for momentum.

There's nothing like it! Churning out submissions or landing regular assignments keeps you feeling successful. 

This happens when you have a schedule. It takes discipline and consistency. Keep at it.

Sometimes that momentum comes to a screeching halt because life happens. Don't get discouraged. See it as a season and get back on track.

N is for networking.

Access to the internet gives any new writer a chance to network with other writers. 

My very first step in becoming a writer was taking an affordable online writing course.  This led me to an online writing coach, which led me to joining her website, which led me to knowing other writers on that site, which gave me a foundation to begin building on. 

It can be daunting to join with seasoned writers and authors, yet, I have found it to be a very friendly, helpful environment. You will, too.

O is for opportunities.

Where do I begin? The opportunities are endless.

Whatever you like to write, you can be sure there is room for you. If you love writing and you are serious about freelancing or writing a book, make it happen. 

One way to begin looking for opportunities may be in your own backyard. Christina Katz has some great advice to write for regional parenting magazines in your area. If you live near colleges (or not!), consider writing resumes for prospective career minded students. 

Keep your eyes open and look for those opportunities. They are all around you!


See you next month, More ABCs for New Writers; P - T. 

Photo Credit: interphasesolution

***

After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com





Friday, April 22, 2016

How To Grow A Large Twitter Following

Almost once a week, one of my writer friends will email a comment about my large twitter following (currently over 172,000). As one said,”I believe I'm pretty active on twitter and I only have about 9,000 followers. How did you get to such a large number without buying them?”

Yes you can buy the followers and in a short amount of time your amount of followers will radically jump from a low number to over 100,000. There are several problems with using this strategy. First it will cost you money but more importantly you will gain some credibility but mostly you will gain fake followers. These plastic followers will never engage you, take advantage of your content or care about your content. It will not help you get where you want to go in terms of real followers.

I've been on Twitter since June 2008 and consistently giving good content on twitter. If you watch my twitter feed you will see that it is not all my content but comes from others in the writing community and in my target market of publishing and writing. From my consistent involvement in twitter, I have had many great results in my writing life. Some people email me for help and I refer them to my blog or my Ebook products or my online courses. Other people I will encourage and actually acquire their books at Morgan James. Yes, it can begin on Twitter. 

From my years in publishing, I find many people want to have a large audience or following. Yet these same people never ask this question: are you willing to do the work to get this audience? I may not be the best writer in the room (still have a lot to learn all the time).  But I am a persistent and consistent writer. These two qualities are ones that you can acquire and build into our life as well.

A basic principle of Twitter is following other people. Some of those people you follow, will follow you back. I use a tool called Refollow.com (which costs $20 a month). In less than ten minutes, I can follow the followers of people in the publishing community (my target market). Every day I follow 800 new people. A certain percentage of these people will follow me back (increasing my followers). If they don't follow me after several days, then I unfollow them using the tool, Manage Flitter

Another key to grow your twitter following is to constantly give good content. I use the free tool Hootsuite to schedule my tweets throughout each day. If you watch my twitter feed, you will see that I'm posting almost every hour throughout the day. Also I try to include an image with each tweet. If you use an image, it has higher visibility and interest (more people read it). 

The reality is my large following didn't happen overnight. My numbers have been growing gradually—but steadily upward. In fact, I'm gaining about 100 new followers a day. I spend less than 30 minutes a day on Twitter—yet I consistently spend this time (day after day). I do it on the weekend and I do it during the week. I do it when I travel and I do it when I'm at home. If I have any “secret” it is that I've made my own system and use it every day. You can follow the same path if you want to develop this type of following for your own writing.

Tweetable:
W. Terry Whalin is the author of more than 60 books including Book Proposals That $ell and has written for more than 50 magazinesFollow this link to his speaking schedule. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pros and Cons of Outlining Your Novel


Generally writers work between two constructs when working on their novels - to outline or not. Outliners tend to put down on paper the entire novel, plotting out all the details, where and when and who the characters are that will come in at appropriate times. Non-outliners tend to go on their way taking each day as it comes and putting in characters as they 'appear' in their minds. The first thing to understand is neither way is 'right', but instead outlining is more of a preference. The biggest thing to recognize is that at some point you will need to plot, but plotting can happen before you begin to write, during the writing project, or even after you think you've got it all down. 

So now, the pros and cons:

Pros of outlining:
1. You have an idea of what you will be writing at each sitting.
2. Outlining helps create balance in your narrative - you will be less likely to go off on a tangent that will later be scraped.
3. Characters are developed before work begins so they are more consistent throughout the narrative.
4. Fewer plot holes that will need to be found and fixed in the final draft.

Cons of outlining:
1. Commitment to your outline can mean that when opportunity arrives to divert you may be less likely to do so.
2. For some, outlining and then writing means writing short - fewer words or concise thoughts do not necessarily make for a good read.
3. Scenes can sometimes seem flat.

Pros of non-outlining:
1. You will have the freedom to be creative.
2. There is something to be said about be surprised in where the story is going - it creates enthusiasm to sit down and work.
3. When it comes time to re-write you may have more to work with as plot and subplots may be many.
4. Characters can be added easily.

Cons of non-outlining:
1. As you write, because you do not have a clear picture of where you are going, you may find you write yourself into a corner.
2. When it is time to plot, you may find some holes that will need to be fixed.
3. Uneven storytelling.

Yes, there are pros and cons, but the good news is, you can also combine the two. Outline a bit, be flexible and find yourself between the two.  Good luck.

_________________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.