Alpha & Beta Projects for the New Year

alpha beta projects debra eckerling
It's goal-setting season! One of my favorite times of year. I do tell my clients and community to look at goals daily (minimum weekly) and review/re-assess them monthly or or quarterly. However, start of a new year is wildly regarded as everyone's fresh slate. Embrace it!

As you prepare to take on 2018 with full force, set yourself up for success. That means take into account your current responsibilities and time availability, before you over-commit. Brainstorm all of your goals for the year to get a sense of what you want to accomplish (see my article on using journaling to set goals). Then, choose two main projects - an alpha and a beta - for your focus.

Why Choose Two

Everyone burns out. Everyone gets stuck at some point. When that happens, you can walk away from your project - meditate, work out, do something else that's creative. Then, if inspiration has not reignited, you can work on your backup. When you have two project goals, you always have something to work on when you need a break from the other. 

Some projects work in tandem. It's not only fine, it's great when your projects complement each other. For example. if you are looking to publish traditionally, your alpha project may be writing the book, and the beta is working on the book proposal. Want to start a podcast? Promoting in via social media can be your secondary focus. And, for those who want to do more freelancing, consider writing the articles your alpha and querying publications your beta. 

Note: If you don't have a beta in mind, your second project can be brainstorming ideas for your next project. Keep a running list of ideas: stories, books, articles, promo. Then, when you find something that excites you, it can move into the beta or maybe even alpha position.

Types of Projects

This can be an endless list, but here are some ideas for starters:

Write or publish a:
Non-fiction book
Poetry collection
Series of Articles

Get a:
Manager or agent
Publishing deal
New venue to publish your stories/essays/articles (newspaper, magazine, website)
New job

Start a:
Video series

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While the focus is on writing projects, you can use this philosophy with personal and business projects as well. And clearly you can add more project goals. Just try to keep your main focus to only two or three. Once they are accomplished, you can promote one of your other goals to alpha, beta, or gamma status. 

Whatever you set your sights on to accomplish in the new year, remember you can do it! Just set yourself up for success and enjoy the process of setting and achieving your goals.

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What do you think? What alpha and beta goals are you planning to accomplish in the new year? Please share in the comments.

Also, set goals and join the conversation on Write On Online: Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

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

Great Gifts for the Holidays

Writers on the Move is made up of authors. And as such, we have books that will make great gifts for other writers, friends, family, and children.

Please take a moment to check out the great titles below!

A middle grade fantasy set in ancient China: Wang is 12-years-old and wants to be rich and powerful by becoming an Eternal. Little does he know that working in the wheat fields with his father is a piece-of-cake compared to the grueling apprenticeship he signs up for with the mystical Eternals.

Author: Karen Cioffi
Get your copy at:



Franky the Finicky Flamingo is a handsome flamingo who seems to be a picky eater until he finds the food that is just right for him.

Author: Wanda Luthman
Get your copy at:


THE FRUGAL EDITOR: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation
and Ensure Success

Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller. From the HowToDoItFrugallySeries of books for writers

Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Get your copy at:


WRITE ON BLOGGING: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog

Are you ready to start your new blog? Do you want to re-invigorate your old one? Write On Blogging has everything you need to know to visualize and build your blog, plan and write content, and promote your posts. Filled with simple tips, writing exercises, and tons of resources, this book is a road map on how to take what you are passionate about and develop your expertise through your blog.

Author: Debra Eckerling
Get your copy at:



Sarah Langley likes to plan parties but when her uptight boss insists she keep things simple, her job, and her love life are on the line.

Author: Suzanne Lieurance
Get your copy at:



A picture book: Pepper has a secret that makes her different. This cute story helps children to understand what it feels like to be different. Discussion
questions and activities help parents and teachers share the concept of
being different.

Author: Terri Forehand
Get your copy at:

Hope you found something you like!


Needing a Little Validation?

When you’re a writer, nothing beats the feeling of being valued for your writing. When you get that first 5 star review with glowing words about your book, you feel a sense of accomplishment. When a reader reaches out to you to let you know that your book meant something to them, wow, that’s what we live for, right? One of the crowning endorsements is winning an award. When we win an award by people who judge writing for a living, we know our work stacks up against other excellent writers. It truly brings you a sense of value and worth.

Well, that has been my recent experience. I wasn’t the writer who had won things for my writing when I was a teen or had ever been pointed out in college as having written an excellent essay. Until this year, I was still feeling on shaky ground as to whether I could “do” this writing thing.  People said they liked my work and I did have 5 star reviews but still, I wasn’t sure. I decided to enter a contest. It was almost on a whim. I saw an ad to enter and had debated about it for a while and then one day, I just took the leap.

I entered two of my books in several different categories that I thought they best fit into and then I waited. It was 5 months before they were going to announce the winners. I wrote it on my calendar and said a silent prayer. When that day came, there was no email in my inbox. I was disheartened but I thought I would go check out the winners. I went to the website and started scrolling through the list. There was my book in 2nd place! Later, I read that they didn’t send out emails. I wish I had read that detail earlier.

Anyway, nothing beats the feeling of seeing my book on the winning list. I was elated! I felt the most validated I had ever felt as a writer. It’s like in Pinocchio when he says, “I’m a real boy.” That’s how I felt, “I’m a real author.” Up until then, I had felt like I was just pretending at this writing thing. The cool thing is they had an Awards Ceremony and placed medals around your neck up on stage. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Well, I hope not, but it was truly magical. I have never been so proud and felt so accomplished in my whole life.

So, I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this to encourage you to enter contests. You might have felt like me, afraid to put your work out there. But, as a writer, your writing is being judged every day by your readers. Some contests even provide feedback. That would be invaluable too. Even if you don’t win, you get information to help you improve your writing so possibly you can win next time. So, enter contests and maybe you’ll be writing in to tell me about it too. I’ll be jumping up and down with you to celebrate!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at

Turning Jealousy into Success: Did Someone Beat You to It?

Turning Jealousy into Success
Or What You Can Do To Be the Featured Expert

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Someone Beat You To It, Huh?

Maybe we all have a tendency to feel disgruntled when our local newspaper quotes an expert who isn’t (really, he isn't!) as expert as we are! 

We feel even worse when when CNN features a talking head on the subject of their book and they disagree with us! 

Seems we have some choices. We can grumble to ourselves and lose sleep. We can write to whoever was remiss and complain. Or we can take positive action.

Here are your dos and don'ts: 

·     Whatever you do, do not complain on a social network or to the producer/talk show host or other media person about their lack of foresight (and appreciation of your brilliance).
·     Use your Googling skills to contact whoever was in charge (or to blame!) for this lack of foresight. Give yourself enough time to cool off and put your tactful hat on. Then, and only then, do you approach them. And you use a tactful approach: Something like, "Perhaps next time [subject x] comes up, you would like a different perspective on the topic. I also can offer expertise on related topics like xx and xx." 
·     Now it's time to use your query letter skills. Introduce yourself. Be very clear about your credentials. Unless you are famous, use your credential upfront--before your name per the advice of master PR Person Raleigh Pinsky. She gave me permission to use her script/template for how to approach reporters and others responsible for stories to put in the Appendix of The Frugal Book Promoter, second edition.  She explains that name-after-credentials plan. 
·       Send a product sample or a copy of your book with your media kit along with your query letter.
·      Repeat the process again when something similar hits the news. Your goal is to be remembered--or, better yet, be there when your editor or contact needs you.  Expand your campaign to include others who might cover the same kind of story.

Here's the number one biggest mistake you can make:
Don’t assume that because you write fiction, you can’t be an expert. Or because you are self-published, your expertise doesn't count. 
Of course your voice counts!  I am an expert on tolerance, polygamy, and a host of related subjects based on the theme and setting of my novel This Is the Place (  And yes, an author's expertise may rely at least in part on her profession outside the publishing industry.   All you have to do is examine the subjects of your fiction and see how it relates to what’s in the news. And be ready next time that subject come up in the news.  
Not all missed opportunities are missed forever. They can inspire us to do better next time around. 
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of #HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade, she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist and she loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres.