2016 is Just Around the Bend


Wow! I can’t believe tomorrow is 2016.

Usually, I have the year-end blog posts all set up way in advance. This year though I’ve been super busy with family and work. But, it’s all good. I have a few goodies and created a couple of cool images (pun intended).

Funny that working on these posts and gifts, I continually ran into problems. I tried to create a 15-20 minute screen-sharing video on creating CTAs for my subscribers, but I goofed up three times – stupid, rushing mistakes. Hopefully, by the time this is published I’ll have it redone.

Then I created (edited) a PowToon animation for one of the blog posts and that too had problems. They weren’t caused by me though!

But, that’s life. Sometimes it goes smooth and other times, well . . .

Okay, let me get to the reason for this post.

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!
And, I like to close the year with some inspiring and motivating quotes. I did look for new ones, but I couldn’t find any that I liked better than last year’s, so here they are again. I hope they still inspire you as they do me.

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.”

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
~ Lyndon B. Johnson

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."  ~ Dale Carnegie

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~ Christopher Columbus

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~ Warren Buffet

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell

~~~~~~~~~~

To add to these motivational quotes for the New Year, I have a powerful goal setting and achieving ebook for you. It's free and you can (and should) share it. It’s absolutely worth reading. Here's the link:

A Simple System to Achieve Goals

(If you got this one last year, I have another gift below.)

60+ SEO and Marketing Terms and Definitions


These are shareable gifts, so you can give them as freebies, as bonuses to your products, as gifts . . . they're the gifts that keep giving!

Oh, don't forget to stop by tomorrow - there's another shareable gift!

You the Writer; You the Critiquer

One of my ICL (Institute of Children's Literature) instructors once told me, "A book is not written, it's rewritten." That helped at a frustrating time of constant rewrites and what felt like no results. Today? Pfsaw! Rewrites are the norm, though I will admit some, such as the ones for my MG mystery, are more difficult than others.

Taking your ms to your critique group once, or as many times as it takes, will bring you closer and closer to your goal until it is ready to submit. I promise: there won't be any doubt when that time comes. You, and you alone, will know when your masterpiece is ready.


Celebrate you as a Writer for what you do is a Labor of Love

You, the Writer
Showing your work to others is a big step. Set aside any feelings of doubt or lack of confidence for your greater goal and open yourself up to others' scrutiny. Remember, your critiquers are on your side. They care about you and want you to succeed. They will most likely be more gentle than opening yourself up to the market, which can often feel like tossing your work into a black hole.

  • Let the other writers in your group know your background and whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced writer.
  • Let them know the type of piece you are writing.
  • Be clear about what you're looking for. I once paid a "pro" editor (she charged for her services) to critique several chapters of a MG novel, expecting to receive comments on the content as well as on grammatical errors. I received only the latter and was disappointed. My mistake? I didn't tell her what I was looking for.
  • Begin with the most polished piece you can offer.  Avoid the trap of "looking" for someone else's expertise or opinion. If you're unsure of your material, then you need to do more research. Use your most honest editor's eye to identify for yourself what you think your ms needs. Pitfalls to look out for could be structural, weak characterization, lack of organization, to name a few.
  • Know your craft. Rewrite accordingly, so that what you take to critique is your very best work.
  • Expect changes. Asking for other's opinions opens you up to varying points of view on your material. Take notes. Write down every comment, even or especially the comments you disagree with. Later, these comments might open up new pathways that, with time, might be easier to accept and run with, than when they were first presented.
  • Faced with a major rewrite after your work is 'torn apart?' The entire piece is swimming in red marks? That is frustrating and has happened to me many times. Best thing to do is take a break. Get back to work when you're well rested and feeling fresh. Be grateful that these changes have been found. "Fix" them. More critiques of the same piece might follow. Welcome them. Keep your mind on your goal and your critique partners will help you get there.
  • If you're having trouble with a passage, your critique group offers an excellent place to gather opinions.
  • Believe in yourself and your material. If you feel strongly about your piece, then the opinions of others can be received and utilized. But if someone offers their Personal Opinion (and even becomes emotional about what they say), BEWARE. Go home and weigh what each person said against your own expertise.
  • Get to know your critiquers. You might find that you value some opinions over others for various reasons. In rare cases, you might come across one or two jealous critiquers. One of my most painful experiences with critique groups was actually being pushed out. I was a new writer and was replaced by an experienced writer with connections. We had planned to attend a conference together before the big BLAST OUT. I went to the conference alone and had to see the ladies from my group eat together and browse the tables together. Oh, the pain of it all! Anytime anything like this has happened to me, I have learned to take a break, allow some distance to come between me and the problem; resume work after sufficient time has passed and my confidence is restored. (And try to remember that mistakes are my teachers.)
  • Remember: You are an entertainer whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Your material should make you want to sit on the edge of your chair; it's so poignant and exciting. Know your audience. Make your verbs strong. Make your prose clear; as if you're telling your tale to one person sitting on the other side of your table (who is smiling and loving your story).

You, the Critiquer
  • First and foremost, Be Kind and Be Sensitive to your fellow writers. Remember that they have poured their heart onto every page. View anything you have to say (or write) about another writer's work as a suggestion left to the writer to consider. Then, let it go.
  • Never criticize.
  • Begin with comments on what you liked about the piece. Then move on to how you think the piece could be improved.
  • Put yourself in the writer's place and offer only your most helpful ideas.
  • Trust your gut instincts. They're usually right.
A partial list of what to look for in Nonfiction:
Does the title grab you?
Does the opening make you want to read more?
Look for improvements on how the piece could better be organized.
Make sure facts can be backed up.
If the piece leaves you wondering about something, could it be added?
Are there any redundancies?
Is the piece wordy?
Did you explain everything well?
Are there photos to accompany the material?
Can some of the material be lifted from the main text and put into a sidebar?
Is the piece lively, entertaining and colorful?
Can the ending be chopped, if for a newspaper?
Fiction short list:
Does the beginning draw you in? Or could the story be started at a different point?
Does the main character appear soon enough? Is there enough dialogue in the beginning?
Does the story show and not tell?
Is there a beginning, middle and end? Can you form a circle from beginning to end?
Do the scenes flow and advance the plot?
Does each character have an arc?
Does your main character have a goal?
Does your story have conflict?
Is your story too predictable?
Did you explain everything well?
Does the main character grow and change by the end?
Would a different point of view, such as first person as opposed to third person, make the story more interesting?
Are there any shifts in point of view?
Does the dialogue sound natural?
Are there any description "dumps" where pieces of the information could be spread out, ever so briefly?
Does the story come to a satisfying conclusion?

Put on your Editor's Hat:
Best (but difficult) policy: When you finish, let your ms sit for a week. Work on something else. Come back to it and you will find changes. But they must be important changes, because you need to finish at some point and start sending your ms out. In recent years, when I've done everything I can, I've been sending my ms's to professional editors. The cost, often reasonable, is well worth it. 

On a personal note: My experience in different types of critique groups has been terrific except for the BLAST OUT group. In addition to my current critique partners, who are only a few but are experienced writers in my genre, I have readers, some with children, some without; but they all love to read. Their comments, coming from a reader's point of view, are always helpful and give me many great ideas.

Please leave a comment: Please let us know what your experience has been with your critique group(s).  Do you belong to a large group or have a few trusted readers?

Heart in snow photo courtesy of www.rgbstock.com.


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. 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.

Enjoy the Holidays - Take a Break from Writing

It's the end of the year. It's a time of reflection and looking ahead. 
 Rosa Dik 009 -- on & off / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA


You may be tempted to squeeze in a few minutes to review your writing goals and make new ones for 2016.

Don't.

Allow yourself time to take a break. Whatever your holiday traditions are, do yourself a favor and enjoy! A week or two isn't going to set you back.

The benefits of taking a break are worth it in the long run. Better perspective and increased motivation to achieve goals are improved after a vacation.

Additionally, people who take vacations have less stress and a reduced risk of heart disease.

While you are soaking in the sights and sounds of the holidays, your mind is naturally tucking away ideas for writing projects. Writers have a knack of noticing the subtleties around them, giving inspiration to their writing.

(It's okay to jot some of those ideas down so you don't forget them)

Objectives, goals, and schedules are important for success. Rest now and then you'll be fresh for starting a new year full of writing opportunities and successes.

Happy New Year!

***

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






Tis the Season!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND SEASON GREETINGS!


Below is a little video I created for you from all of us at Writers on the Move.




I hope you enjoy it - don't forget to click the PLAY button!

Writing Tips from Author D. A. Squires

Today's Post is for Day 4 of a 5-day virtual tour for The Time Seekers, by D. A. Squires.

In today's tips, Squires offers some tips to other writers.



What I Learned From Writing The Time Seekers

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a children’s chapter book.

First, it grew into a very long story.

The correct classification for a story over 500 pages (64 chapters with Prologue and Epilogue) is—a novel.

And second, the discovery that grown-ups (friends and relatives) who read the manuscript REALLY enjoyed the story.

A thought began to materialize – maybe this was a story for children and grown-ups.

Although the industry requires books be categorized (shoehorned is more accurate) into narrowly defined niche genres, reader age brackets, etc., I think a ‘giant leap over age bracket hurdles’ may prove possible with The Time Seekers.

So, keep in mind—although you may want to write for children, a good story, a good yarn, is enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Who does not want to turn the pages to once again hear Wilbur talking to Charlotte, or Stuart to Margalo, or Christopher Robin to Pooh?

In fact, the older you are, the more I think you want to return to these stories.

It is interesting to ponder why this is.

Some Other Tips

Write for yourself, an audience of one.

Let the characters lead you. They will. Just listen to their voices.

Write every day, even if only for a short time. It is very, very tempting to work backwards each time you sit down. Resist. Move forward and keep going, creative writing is like the arrow of time—you must move forward. You will have plenty of time to go back into the body to do the forensics (and something about this process really does remind me of an autopsy) which leads me to . . .

A Cautionary Warning

The fun part IS the creative writing. The not fun part, or as I like to think of it, the marching through hell for a heavenly cause part, is the editing.

So, ENJOY the pure exhilaration of writing without yokes or restraints or red ink.

Editors are waiting for you when the fun amusement park ride ends.

You will know them.

They have ghostly white skin (they never go outdoors except to meet the author at the end of the ride) and thick glasses (most suffer from a condition known as editor’s eye—gruesome), and they will be holding leg irons and handcuffs along with a very large book that says something about the manual of style (a large cleaver and various smaller scalpels are pictured on the front cover).

The rest is left to your imagination.



Final Note

I had the good fortune of having the artwork completed by an amazing artist, Kelly Arnold (who was also my graphic and website designer), well before the editing was finished.

This was purely good luck and not intentional, as I actually (naiveté thy name is new author) thought the editing would be something like a walk in the park and the book would be done, spit spot, to coincide with the completion of the art (however, when my ride ended, I knew at once this was a very silly notion).

The delay in the world of words was highly beneficial because it gave time for the world of art to speak: I sat looking at a very alive-looking moose, two tigers who obviously did not like wearing their porcelain coats on All Hallows’ Eve, a detailed Time Seekers map, many other illustrations and the book cover---and that is when the magic happened.

The art inspired me to add some of the best vignettes – these scenes are, without a doubt, the cherries on top.

If you have illustrations in your story, I would highly recommend the art be finished before the ink of the story is dry.

And then study the art – a lot.

## To follow this complete 5-day tour, just go to www.writingforchildrencenter.com.

Holiday Cards - Who Do You Send Them To?

Yep, we're at that time of year and our friends over at Grammarly.com has another infograph for us.




Grammarly also included some interesting facts about Holiday Cards:


  • Americans send 1.6 billion holiday cards annually
  • Women purchase an estimated 80% of all greeting cards
  • E-cards have become an environmentally friendly alternative to paper cards
  • Christmas cards originated in London, where Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first in 1843.
  • Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each.
  • Despite the separation of church and state, it’s customary for the President and First Lady to send White House Christmas cards each holiday season.
  • Calvin Coolidge issued the first official Christmas message to the American people in 1927.

For the sources to the facts, please visit:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DLpT9-lvOhoqk7s0wMXK3reF1K7FlsG5dJU2fkc_ui4/edit#

Thanks for sharing, Grammarly!

MORE ON WRITING AND MARKETING

The Magic of Word-Count Graphs
Writing Critique Groups Dos and Don’ts
How Reading Can Make You a Better Writer

~~~~~



Running Out of Steam


Have you ever felt as if you were running out of steam on a writing project?

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a writing friend. It went something like this, 

"A while ago I started this blog post series because I really thought it was a great idea. I had much to say and and it seemed easy enough to say it. But now that I've completed a good number of posts, I seem to be running out of steam. I still believe in the idea, but I have lost my sense of excitement. I wonder if I should bring it to a halt or how I should handle this problem." 
She went on to ask, 

"1. Have you ever started a series of posts and then lost the "flavor of it"...?
2. What did you do? Did you abandon them, cut them short or did you persevere for the sake of practice and experience?"

I had a good chuckle. At that point I was busy with a series on my own blog that had grown stale (for me), and I was having to work to regain my enthusiasm! The interesting thing was, when I pushed myself to WRITE, and get the words down, what came out was okay. I'd read it again the next day and realize although I knew I'd battled, my readers wouldn't. 

Those who have done NaNoWriMo will recognize what I'm saying. The first week is exciting, your story flows, and your characters come alive. The second week is a bit tougher. But then comes the dreaded third week where you wonder what on earth possessed you to get involved in such a project. The leaders start saying, 'Don't give up! You can do this." We are urged to keep our eyes on the finishing line and keep writing.

So what's the answer?

Here is part of my reply to my friend. Think of it this way. If you were working in an office, would you stop work when you lost interest in your task? If your boss gave you a letter to type and you didn't feel in the mood, would you say, "Nah. Maybe tomorrow!" or would you plonk yourself down in your seat and type, whether you felt like it or not? 

If you were a nurse, would you ignore the patients you didn't feel like working with? If you were a teacher, would you look at your room full of ADD kids and decide to take the day off and maybe come back tomorrow? You may feel that way. But would you?


Writing is work - and we write because we are writers, not because we always feel like it. I think this is probably when you grow the most as a writerwhen you have to discipline yourself to write even when you don't feel like it. 

Right now I have a deadline looming, two books to review, two blog posts due in the next few days, and a book I'm busy writingand guess what? None of them appeal to me. I'd like to curl up on my bed with a good book (that I don't need to review.) But I'm a writer, and writers write. 

Can you imagine the frustration of reading a book, and then half way through the story peters out? Instead you read a note from the author: "I got fed up with this story so I've decided to write something else." If you're writing a series, that's what you're threatening to do to your readers. My guess is they'll never follow another series you write if you do that. So go sit down, take a deep breath, and write!

Having said all that, we're not meant to torture ourselves (or our readers) with badly written prose. So here are some techniques that can help.

1. Have more than one project on the go so that if you really dry up on one topic, you can skip it for the day, and work on another one.

2. Work in advance. Don't aim to meet your deadline. Beat your deadline. The deadline I mentioned to my friend is actually the end of January, but my own goal is to submit it before Christmas so I can relax and wait for the edits in the new year.

3. Take a day off writing and catch up on marketing or on promotional work. Take a look at your website. If it's anything like mine, there is always work to be done there. Then make sure you get back to the problem work the next day.

4. Take a look at 420 Fables.com. There is a paid version, but I've found the free one works just fine for me. You set yourself a time limit, although I've found the default time works well. I think of my topic, possibly the one that I'm battling with, and hit start. For 4 minutes and 20 seconds I type. I try not to stop and think. I don't check spelling or research facts. I just type. I have been amazed at some of the "fables" I've come up with. It helps to clear the cobwebs and gets me writing without listening to my internal editor. 

5. If all else fails, go and buy an ice-cream and walk along the beach. Get away from your computer for an hour or two, and when you come back discipline yourself to tackle your problem child and you may be surprised the new thoughts that come into your fresh brain. Okay, that's something the nurse, secretary and teacher can't do. But hey! That's one of the perks of being a writer. 

6.  If you find you are becoming truly overwhelmed with all your projects, maybe the time has come to "step away from the task" and see if there's something that needs to go. And no, I definitely don't mean stop half way through a series, or drop a contract, or fail to submit an assignment. But sometimes we need to look at our priorities. Are we trying to do too much?

I have been feeling that way myself for quite a while, and so I've come to a couple of decisions. I'm juggling too many balls in the air, and as is always the case, something begins to suffer. In my case, it's my writing. I've got so many projects going, I don't have time to write . . . actually write. I feel as if I'm running out of steam. 

I do blog posts, marketing, social media, emails, etc . . . I work for hours every day, but I have a book in progress that I don't get to. Of course this hasn't been helped by a year spiced with knee surgery, two websites being hacked and having to be rebuilt from scratch, my husband's broken shoulder and me scalding both hands. (See selfie I put up on Facebook at the time) . . . I could go on.

However, for the past few months I've been looking for ways to wind down, and unfortunately this blog is going to be one thing that needs to go. 

I've completed the series on blogging which we've been doing for some months, and this is my last post for the year. So this seems like the right time to step back. I've been writing for Writers on the Move for four years, and it's been fun. I've learned a lot and enjoyed being a part of this talented group of authors. But time has come for me to step down and hopefully give my space up to another writer.

I will definitely visit from time to time and try to keep up with the posts. Keep up the good work girls! I'll miss you. 



SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, has brought encouragement and inspiration to a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.


Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 














What It Takes to Promote a Book

Today's post is part 5 of a 5-day virtual tour for Raiders and Horse Thieves, a new memoir from Jackie Ellis Stewart. This tour is sponsored by bestauthorinterviews.com.

Here, Jackie offers some insight into what it takes to promote a book and build a writer's platform.

Book Promotion 101 - One Author's Journey

It took time to write Raiders and Horse Thieves and was emotionally painful to relive all the events as I recorded them for posterity. The first publisher refused it and then changed their minds seven months later and published it a little less than a month ago. The hardest part of this project has been promoting the finished product. It’s entirely beyond my area of expertise.

My first impulse was to do what I always do: reach out to family and friends. I arranged for half a dozen friends in various far flung parts of the country to receive the book. Before sending them a copy, I asked if they would be willing to read the book, and if they liked it, to post a review on Amazon. We are Southern. If they hadn’t liked the book, they would simply have said nothing. I now have seven five star reviews on Amazon.

Two copies of the book have been delivered to the library in my community. The librarians have expressed an interest in sponsoring a memoir workshop in the near future. I will follow up on my offer in a month or so after Christmas.

A web site has been set up with easy access to my blog and information regarding my book. Snapshots have been posted in a slide show of pictures of my surroundings that changes with the season.

I post on the blog at least once a week and usually twice within a ten day period. The posting is always followed by an announcement of the posting title on Facebook.

An application has been sent to one of the major book stores in my home town for a book signing. My friends at church as well as all the people who play duplicate bridge with me are eagerly awaiting an opportunity to buy my book and have me sign it. Several have offered to hold private parties for me. Although this is incredibly flattering, I have refused and explained I need all book signings to be held in public places where the local press will free to attend.

Amazon ran out of copies of my book within hours of announcing its availability. When the book continued to be out of stock for more than ten days, I contacted the publisher and Amazon to track down the problem. I learned how many copies of the book were printed and how many had left the warehouse.

A half dozen copies of my book will be donated to the nearby larger municipal library. I will also inquire about the possibility of having someone interview me over their television channel.

There is a book store in Austin, Texas, that specializes in book signings for local authors. An inquiry will be sent them regarding the possibility of arranging an event there for me.

The public radio stations in my current home town as well as in Austin will receive copies of Raiders and Horse Thieves, Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer along with a letter requesting a possible author interview.

Book marks and post cards have been made from photographs in the book along with the title of the book and the web site address. A number of these post cards have been mailed to friends living far away to inform them of the publication.

A dozen book marks along with a dozen post cards have been mailed to my friends who reviewed the book for them to share with anyone they know who might enjoy my book. Word of mouth is one of the greatest means of publicity.

A book signing event will be scheduled in a local restaurant in the town where I was born. All the people who attended grammar school with me as well as everyone who finished high school with that class will be invited.

My daughters will join me in Texas for the book signing events there. We will hold a special event in my sister’s antique shop for childhood friends and family.

This is only the beginning. I’m sure there will be more promotional avenues to be pursued, and I look forward to finding them. Good promotion is the only way to build a writing platform.

# To follow all 5 days of this virtual tour, start the tour at www.bestauthorinterviews.com.

Taking Stock


The end of the year is upon us. Where did our time go? What happened to our goals? Our dreams?

All too often our ability to procrastinate has a way of getting us off track. All too soon the new year will be here, so now is a great time to review 2015 - and prepare for 2016.

If you had established goals last January, dig them out. If your goals were specific, you should have no difficulty determining how well you did. If they are more general, the answer may be more unclear, but it will provide guidance for next year's goal setting.

Review each goal and give your self a grade, then grade your work overall.

If you did not set goals last year, you can still review 2015. How did you do specifically in the following categories:

1. Writing:
     a. New work: Did you start at least one new long project? Many short projects each month?
     b. Editing: Did you work on editing your latest novel? Did you spend significant time editing your short pieces?
     c. Submitting/Publishing: Did you submit to magazines, agents, publishers your finished work(s)?

2. Marketing:
     a. Social Media: Did you work to keep your fans updated on your work on a regular basis? Posting to a variety of social media sites?
     b. Did you explore and develop places to share your writing in person? Local bookstores, libraries, or coffee shops?
     c. Did you keep your author's portfolio updated?

December is a great time to complete some of your unfinished projects and clear away the old to get ready for January and the new. Happy Holidays to all of you,
____________________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Serieswas written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

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.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 at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.



Writers - Start the Day Off Right!

I often tell my coaching clients that the most important thing in life is that they are happy.

After all, it doesn't really matter how much money you make, how many books you write, or how many clients you have if you're miserable.

The good news is, it's probably easier to be happy than you might think.

In fact, you simply need to decide to be happy, then train yourself to be happy, no matter what.

To do this, set up little rituals that help you start the day right.

Create a gratitude journal, and every morning, first thing, list at least a dozen things you're grateful for. You may not think you'll have 12 things to be grateful for every morning, but you will. For example, if you slept well the night before and woke up feeling good, that is something to be grateful for.

Besides your gratitude journal, look for other morning rituals to help you begin your day in a happy, grateful, productive state of mind.

Take your morning coffee outside (weather permitting) and enjoy the sunrise.

Go for a walk with your pet, your spouse, or by yourself.

Something else you might start doing is making a habit of watching The Morning Nudge on youtube each morning.

The upbeat music, beautiful scenes of the sea, and the words of encouragement should help you get in the right frame of mind as you start your work day. Here's a sample Nudge to watch:



Once you train yourself to start the day in a happy state of mind, you'll probably find that your entire day goes much better and your writing seems to flow.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books. Visit her website at www.suzannelieurance-author.com.

10 Goals for Your Blog


The beginning of the year means a clean slate. Even if you fell off the blog-wagon sometime this year, you will be able to start anew in just a few short weeks. Here are 10 goals to set your blog up for success in 2016.

1. Stay on Theme. Most people use blogging to illustrate their expertise. However it’s easy to get off topic and sway from your focus. This year, make a goal to always blog in tune to your mission statement, theme or tag line. Don’t have a tag line? Write one. What short phrase describes your blog? Come up with about 20 ideas and pick the best one. Then, whenever you start to write a blog post, you can ask yourself if it fits your tag. If it does, perfect. If it doesn’t, figure out a way so it’s in-line with your blog or save it for a later writing project.

2. Blog Consistently. Decide on how often you want to post a new blog, and then stay on schedule. Pick one or two days a week. (Note they should be the same day or days.) Then stick to your schedule. Set up an expectation for your audience, so they know what days to come to your blog to read a new post. And don’t let them down.

3. Write Complete Content. All blog posts should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Make sure you adhere to some sort of structure and that your thoughts are complete, so the content you create is valuable and easy to understand. Don’t forget to add a call to action to comment or share at the end of each post.

4. Edit Posts. Nothing gives a hit to your credibility quite like spelling and grammatical errors. Before hitting publish, take a little time to review your posts. Run spell check, read it out loud, read it backwards (that’s a fun trick for finding errors). Or do all of the above. Properly edited posts look professional and are an awesome reflection on you!

5. Add Images. You probably already know that every post should have an image to illustrate your point and draw in readers. If you want, use a site like Canva or PicMonkey to create a custom image with your blog post title. You can use this at the top of your articles and to promote it on social media sites.

6. Categorize and Tag Content. Whenever you create content, put it in the relevant category on your blog – it’s an excellent way to keep your posts organized. Also, add tags (keywords) to make your article easy to find when people search.

7. Keep Ahead of Schedule. Notice I said “ahead of” not “on” schedule, though that’s important too. If you find you have some extra time, write a few blog posts in advance. Try to have articles that are due, ready to go a week in advance. That way you are not constantly struggling to make deadline. Plus, it will help with goal #2: Blog Consistently.

8. Share. Share each post on all your social networks. People can’t read your posts if they do not know about them.

9. Step It Up. You know that big interview you’ve been wanting to purse? Or that article you keep meaning to write, but put off because it’s “so much work”? How about your decision to start a podcast or do video interviews? Well, stop talking about it and start doing it. This is your year. Do what you can to add extra value, multimedia and/or oomph to your blog. You’ve reached goals 1 – 8. You’ve got this. Now, step it up!

10. Enjoy Your Blog. This is something I find myself saying regularly: Everything you work on should be at least a little bit (if not a lot) fun for you. If you are not enjoying the content you write, write something else. You can’t expect your audience to become invested in it … or in you as a writer … if you are not enthusiastic about your material. It’s your blog, you created it for a reason. Have fun with it!

Post your blog link in the comments, so we can all enjoy your writing too! Happy Blogging!

Note: I employed nearly all of these tactics in writing this post. Still working on #7: once a writer on deadline, always a writer on deadline ...

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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.


Secrets to Getting Your Book into University Libraries, Bookstores and More



Q&A A La Ann Landers

Getting Your Book into Campus Libraries and More!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
QUESTION

Re university bookstores:
 I know that Random House had my book in their catalog targeting educational sellers. Is there more than that I can do? How would I 
1. identify them and
2. approach them?
             
ANSWER
I'm going to use my husband's experience with his What Foreigners Need to Know About America from A to Z as an example because he was so successful with it. 

He put together a form letter (which he tweaks) depending on who he is sending it to. He goes online and finds areas on campus that could use his book. That includes 
1. Libraries
2. International Student Programs 
3. International Student Course Teachers 
4. Campus Bookstore Buyers
5. ESL classes through extension

He spends about 30 minutes a day sending the letter to the correct person when possible. Sometimes that's only one contact. Some days, when research goes well, it's three or four.  He's had some amazing successes like having his book chosen as gifts/recommendations by the university that hosts the Fulbright Scholars in the US each summer. There is a cost to it beyond time. He offers a free book to those influencers who show an interest, but these most often don't result in single book sales, either. The top sale we could trace to his letters (it's sometimes easier for self-published authors to trace sales to a specific effort) was 59 copies. 

Be aware, that if you find an instructor who recommends your book or uses is at class reading, the bookstore often stocks the book automatically. But not always. It doesn’t hurt to mention in a separate query or phone call that your book was ordered for a specific class or that Professor X showed an interest in your book.  

One more secret. He keeps at it. 

Here’s an alternative that isn't as frugal and not as effective because the contact is not personal (but it’s a lot less time-consuming!):

 IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) had a catalog that they send out to libraries, a separate one to university libraries and one to reviewers.  I've used that program. It can be good...or not. Depending on the title. 
-----
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 published in 2003. Her The Frugal 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 www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

The Magic of Word-Count Graphs


I am not generally a particularly fast writer.  But in November, which is National (or International) Novel Writing Month, I can consistently pump out 50,000-60,000 words in 30 days.  This is my sixth year accomplishing this feat, and despite the high word count, it's always been good-quality draft.  I have never been able to write so much in any other month at any other time of my life.  So I got to thinking about why.

Part of it's the togetherness of it, the belonging to a group of people with like goals, the support from the organization and friends who are doing the same thing. 

But another big factor, for me, is one simple thing:  the word-count graph.  On Nanowrimo's website, you can update your word count as often as you want (and I often do it more than once a day).  It shows your progress on a nice little bar graph and calculates how far behind or ahead you are.  It's magic for me, this visual representation of concrete progress on a concrete goal.  So I thought:  why not try to apply the same thing when it's not November? 

I did an internet search and found an application I'm going to try:  pacemaker.press.  It lets you set goals by word count, by scene count, and various other measurements.  You can also set different pace styles:  steady, front-loaded, increasing, random, etc.  You can set it for higher workload on weekends or other days.  It tracks your progress with graphs.  It seems like it might be a great tool for me.

So I'm going to test it this month and report next month.  In Nanowrimo, the goal is words.  I got my words in November:  58,000 of them.  But I didn't quite finish the novel.  I calculate there are about 15 more scenes I need to write.  So I'm going to try pacemaker by scene count, and finish by Christmas.  We'll see how it works. 

If any of you know of similar word count trackers you've used and like, please add them in the comments below.  Happy writing!

Update, 1-3-16:  See my report here:  Pacemaker Press--A Word Count Graph


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 http://www.melindabrasher.com.