Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts

How To Create a "Blook"

 

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin)

After working with hundreds of authors on their books for decades as well as writing more than 60 nonfiction books for traditional publishers, I understand every book (of any type) has challenges to complete. The challenges are on multiple levels whether your book is for young readers or adults.

Last month I wrote about why I’m still blogging. Writing a blog is a fun way to capture your thoughts and also build an audience to attract publishers. Since 2008, I’ve been blogging and have a massive amount of content (over 1,600 entries). Years ago, I was aware of the large volume of content in my blog. I decided to take this writing, organize it into themes (or chapters) and create a nonfiction book. I did this creative process on my own initiative. After the fact, I discovered it was something others have successfully done with their blog content. Within the publishing industry, someone created a word for the process: Blook—where the content of a blog becomes a book.

A Bunch of Blog Posts Do Not Mean You Have a Book

It’s wonderful to have pages of content but that alone doesn’t mean you have a book. There are a series of questions which need to be answered:

Are these posts focused on the right audience? Is it an audience you can reach or are reaching? Every book needs readers. Thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day. Your book must be for a particular reader because no book is for “everyone.” New writers often include the “everyone” audience in their pitch—and if you have it, eliminate it because the editor or agent will probably roll their eyes and be likely to reject.

Can you organize the posts into themes (or chapters)? I looked at the various chapters as a long magazine article. Each chapter needs to have an interesting title, a solid beginning, middle and ending with a singular focus for the reader.

Create A Distinctive Book

Can you create some distinctions with your book to make it stand out from others? 

I asked Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul to write the foreword. In fact, I drafted a foreword for Mark to read and approve (which he did). As a writer, you have to make it easy for the person you are asking to say, “yes.” I have more detail about this process of getting endorsements in this link

I created a button on the front with $84 of Free Ebooks of additional value for the reader. 

I selected and purchased cartoons for every other chapter to add to the interior appeal. 

I created two reader applications sections at the end of each chapter: Dig Deeper and Awaken Your Dreams. 

These features are only a few of what I built into the fiber of this book.

There are numerous questions that you as the author have to answer in this process. Originally I self-published Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and sold several thousand copies. I worked through a number of other questions in the self-publishing process. I made sure I created a high-quality product which I would compare to anything from a traditional publisher (an important distinction). Then a few years ago I released an updated edition with Morgan James Publishing. The book continues to help many people. Recently a reader sent me an image where he had marked his book as he read it. 

Without question, blooks take work to organize and pull together. My friend editor and writing coach Nina Amir gives a lot more detail in her book, How To Blog A Book (Writers Digest Books). 

Every kind of book takes careful effort and creativity to pull together into a single product.  Making a “blook” is another way to accomplish this process. Have you used this technique? How did it work out for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable:  

Are you looking for a different way to create your book? This prolific writer and editor tells how to make a “blook. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. To download a free copy, click the book link or the image. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Don't Avoid This Writer Responsibility

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It was a life-changing moment and a revelation to my writing life. In 2007, I was a literary agent with, the Whalin Literary Agency, a small Arizona-based agency. Mark Victor Hansen, co-author for Chicken Soup for the Soul, invited me to Mega-Book Marketing University in Los Angeles. About 400 people attended this event with well-known speakers over several days. At that point in my writing life, I had written over 50 books for traditional publishers. Two of my proposals received six-figure advances and publishers made beautiful books and got them into bookstores. Yet my books were not selling and I had the negative royalty statements from my publishers to prove it. 

Throughout the conference, I listened carefully and took notes. One of the speakers was Jack Canfield who had just published The Success Principles. For years he has studied what it takes to be successful and I certainly wanted to be successful as an author. The first of his 64 principles is: “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.”

I didn’t want to take 100% responsibility.  I wanted to write the books and then have my publisher sell the books. Wasn’t marketing their responsibility? Didn’t they sell the books into the bookstore? I was writing excellent books and delivering them on deadline and working through each editorial process. But I was doing very little to market the books. I had a single website with my name but no email list, no social media, no blog or other type of writer’s platform. At Mega-Book Marketing University, I learned publishers make books and distribute them to bookstores. Here’s what I was missing and I learned: the author drives readers into the bookstore (brick and mortar or online) to buy those books. Ultimately, the author sells the books to the readers.

Like many writers that I meet, my expectations were unrealistic and I was not taking my responsibility as a writer. I made a decision to change. I started to blog and today my blog has over 1500 searchable entries in it. I began an email list (which continues to be a unique way to reach my readers).  Also I’m active on social media with over 190,000 Twitter followers and over 19,400 LinkedIn connections. For years, I post on these platforms 12-15 times a day.

If I’m honest, I don’t want 100% responsibility for my own success as a writer. Yet from my decades in publishing, I’ve watched many things go wrong in the publishing process. Good books don’t get marketed and go out of print. Editors change while you are working with a publisher. Those situations are just two of a myriad of things which can push your book off the rails in the wrong direction. I can’t control my publisher, my editor, my agent, my marketing person or ____. But I can control myself and my own efforts.

My acceptance of this responsibility means I have to continually grow and learn as a writer. It means I often take courses or read books and I’m always looking for new ways to build my audience and reach more people.  Thankfully as writers we are not alone. Others have shown us how they have achieved success. This path may work for me or it may not. There is no success formula used for every book to make it sell into the hands of readers. Instead there are basic principles others are using to build their audience and find readers. I have one certainty: it will not fly if you don’t try. I continue to take action—and encourage you to do the same. It’s the writer’s journey.

Tweetable: 

Are you looking for someone else to sell your books? This prolific writer andeditor has taken an unusual responsibility. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get one of Terry’s recent books, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets ToSpeed Your Success (The Revised Edition). Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

5 Things that Stop Authors from Blogging ... And the Easy Fixes



Are you an author? Well, why aren't you blogging? 

Before I debunk the top-tier excuses for a lack of blog presence, let me cover the reasons why blogging is essential for authors.

Blogging is a great way to: 

1. Develop your Platform. Whether you hope to be published traditionally or self-publish, you need to develop your platform. A publisher will look at your online presence, along with the material for your book, while evaluating your potential.  And if you publish yourself, you need that web presence. 

2. Set Yourself Up as an Expert. You are an author. You know things. This is true for non-fiction and fiction, no matter what genre. Show that you know of what you speak via your blog.

3. Share the Work of Others. You can interview other authors, share news and articles from your peers. This is another way to add value ... and keep your readers coming back for more.

4. Communicate with Your Audience. When you have exciting news and upcoming events, a blog is one of the best ways to share the deets with your readers. Yes, you can and should post on social media. Just direct people back to your blog, as it;s the hub for everything that's going on in your author-life.

5. Develop Your Voice and/or Content. Test out material. Blog a book. Share ideas. Use your blog to tease upcoming content, while seeing what resonates with your audience. 

Now that you have all these great reasons to blog, I have to ask the question: So why not blog?

Here are some common excuses ... along with easy fixes.

1. No Time. If someone tells me they have no time to blog, I simply say, "Schedule the time. "  You can blog weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, twice a week. The solution to the time problem is to look at your schedule, see what is feasible, and do that. 

Only have an hour a week to blog. Write short posts (300 words). Have a little more time, batch your content (write a few posts ahead of time), so you can take a week off when you need to. Stop overthinking. Don't spend hours on a short post. Commit the time. And start blogging.

2. No Energy. This one is a little more challenging, but also has a simple solution: blog on subjects you are passionate about. When you work on things that excite you, you'll find the energy. Besides, the more you love what you blog about, the more it will ooze out of you and engage your readers.  

3. Too Expensive. There are plenty of low and no-cost blogging platforms. You can use Medium or LinkedIn Publisher for free. Yet that is blogging on a social media, and it's best to give your content its own platform. While Blogger and WordPress have free blog options, they will put .blogger.com and .wordpress.com after your blog title, I believe it's worth the investment to upgrade to a more professional-looking custom URL. 

4. Not Enough/Too Many Ideas. Before you start your blog, take time for a little D*E*B Method introspection. Determine the Mission for your blog. What do you hope your blog accomplishes? What is your expertise? And how do they fit together in creating a mission for your blog? 

Next, Explore your Options. What can you write about? What types of posts, length, etc. Once you start brainstorming the ideas will keep flowing. As long as your ideas align with your mission, your blog will keep going in the right direction.

5. Who Cares What I Have to Say? You are an author. Your audience should care. Give your unique spin on your genre, topic, experience, etc. Engage your readers and they will keep coming back.

The bottom line is this... you need to blog. You owe it to yourself and your readers. So create the best home you can for your author blog!

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So, what is your blog link? Why are - or aren't - you blogging? Please share your advice in the comments.


Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

A Critical Piece for Every Writer

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I spoke with an author about her book. While she had written the manuscript, she didn't have a “working title.” Another time a writer refused to tell me her title because it was a “secret.” Both of these are extremes but it shows the variety of author responses in this critical area of titles. Whether you are writing a book, a magazine article or an online article, your title will draw readers in seconds. They will either be enticed to read it or move on to something else (not what you want). The words in your title are a critical piece for every writer.
 
As a book editor--for fiction and nonfiction, I've repeatedly seen the importance of titles to draw the reader to the book. Titles for the book often happen early in the path to publication or on the publisher’s production schedule. Most nonfiction books are contracted from a book proposal, so often the writer hasn’t completed their manuscript. Yet the title needs to be determined for the catalog and sales copy to be created and the cover to be designed.
 
Titles should be one to five words and draw the reader into your article (enticing). The word limit is particularly important for books because most books are spine out in the bookstore. Your title has to be readable and fit that spine (along with your last name).  A number of authors don't work hard on their titles because they believe their publisher will change them anyway. After writing more than 60 books for traditional publishers, I have a different perspective. If I create a terrific title for my book, I've seen it become the actual title for the book—even as it goes through the editorial process (different at every publishing house). My encouragement if for you to create a title along with a series of alternative titles for your book.
 
I've been involved in hours of title meetings where we have an entire white board filled with titles and are trying to select the right one for the book. What are we working with for this process? Often it's your original proposal. What have you provided the publishing house? Have you provided a single title or a title and a list of alternative titles? As the author, you know your book better than anyone else--and have the greatest passion for the topic. Make sure that passion shows up in your title and alternative titles. It will be significant. When I'm in a title meeting with my colleagues there is one critical person who is not in the room (the author).  In your pitch, I encourage you to seize your opportunity to give input with your title and alternative titles.
 
Publishers work hard at the title--but don't always get it right the first time--and some times they change it in the process. For example, years ago the nonfiction book from Frank Peretti was first released as The Wounded Spirit and the publisher changed the title to No More Bullies. This book has been repositioned in the market with the new title.
 
Titles can make or break a book or magazine piece. Draw the reader or make them pass on to the next possibility. Put lots of energy toward this detail. Your title might just be the tipping point which makes a difference whether your book idea or magazine article is published or whether it catches lots of attention.
 
Do you put effort into your titles? Let me know your insights in the comments below.


Tweetable:

Whether you are writing a blog post, a magazine article or a book, there is a critical piece for every writer: the title. Get insights in this article from this prolific editor and author. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (
follow this link
).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers. His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. 
One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has  190,000 twitter followers

Blog Review Checklist

While you prepare for the new year, here's one more to-do to add to your list. Review of your blog.

Ideally it's good to make changes to your website or blog as they happen. However, bloggers are busy. Inevitably something - or things - fall through the cracks. 

Here are ten things to check on your blog around the beginning of the year. 

1. Headshot. Did you change your look at all in the past year? Do you have stunning new pic? Has it been a while since you put a new headshot on your website? If you answered yes to any of these, it's time to update your headshot. 

2. Bio. Add any new jobs/clients, writing venues, and speaking engagements acquired.

3. Accolades. Incorporate any awards and accomplishments, as well. Also, if you are involved in any sort of philanthropy, include that too. 

4. Media. What sort of media coverage did you get last year for your book, product, services, or business? Do an online search to get links and/or embed codes for video clips to your site's Media page.

5. About Your Business Page. Add any new clients, awards, and accomplishments to your business' about page. While you're at it, check your contact page to make sure all that info is up-to-date, as well.

6. Products and Services. Did you release a new book this year? A new product or service? I'm guessing you added them at the time. But, just in case, check your product and services pages. Also, if you are increasing your rates, make that change too. Give current clients a few months notice (or grace period) or grandfather them into your new pricing.

7. Frequently Asked Questions. If you noticed any new frequent client questions, add them to your FAQ page. Don't have a an FAQ? Create one to add to your website.

8. The Look. Do you like how your website looks? Is it ready for a refresh? Review sites you like for inspiration, and determine what sorts of elements (navigation, sections) you want to incorporate into your blog in the new year.

9. Blog Schedule. As with your blog's look, also review your blog schedule. Do you have set posting days? (You should.) Are you keeping up with your schedule? Consistency is key. So, if you find posting twice a week is difficult, go down to once a week. If you have only been posting a few times a month, consider going weekly or twice a week. Determine what will work best with your schedule to set yourself up for success.

10. Copyright. Many blog themes will update the copyright year automatically. If it doesn't, make the change manually. It's one of those little things that shows your blog is current.

Note: After you update many of these items (#1-7), make the corresponding changes to your press kit, too.

Any blog needs to look professional, whether it's a showcase for writing, a consultancy, or a more traditional store or business. Investing a little time each year to review and refresh can make a huge difference.

What do you think? What else should you review and update each year on your blog? Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

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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 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.


Guest Posts & Interviews: A Plan

One way to highlight your thought-leadership on your blog is by inviting other experts to contribute. You can do this through interviews, as well as guest posts.

The process for both tactics is easy and similar....

1. Decide What you Want. Are you seeking interviews, guest posts, or both? For interviews, will you do them via phone, Skype, or via email? If email, what is the length of the post. Also determine what additional information you want: headshot and book or product image, how many links, and how long of a bio. For guest posts decide on your ideal length, as well as image needs.

2. Make a Wish List of 10 Experts. This should be a few people you know, as well as ones you want to get to know.

3. Get Contact Information. If you do not know all the people on your list persoanlly, see if you can get an intro from a friend or peer. If all else fails, tweet to them or message via their most active social media platform.

4. Write a Standard (but Customizable) Intro Email. Let them know who you are, what you are requesting, and information about your site. Include some sort of personal detail (something you like about them or their blog), so they know it is not a form letter, and request they get back to you if they'd like to move forward.

5. Write a Detailed Request. Have this ready to go for when your expert says, Yes. If you are conducting the interview, decide the details (how much time you need and how you will do it - in person, phone, Skype). If it's an email interview or guest post, give them the word count. Be sure to request images, links, and social profiles, so you can easily share the published posts. And don't forget to give a deadline. It should be at least a week before your publish date.

6. Make a Chart. Create a simple spreadsheet to track your requests, responses, and deadlines.

7. Prep your Post. Decide how you will format these contributor posts for consistency, as well as to make the process easy for you.

8. Publish. When your post is ready, schedule or publish it!

9. Share. Share the post link (with graphic for better exposure) on your social networks. Also, tweet to or tag the contributor, depending on the platform.

10. Thank Your Guests. Send the link to the post in a follow-up email, along with a thank you. You many also want to include sample social posts with a request for your guests to share. This will make sure everyone gets the most benefit out of the opportunity.

Whether you interview experts or invite people to post, it's helpful to have a plan, as well as guidelines for your guests in place. It will save you time and energy, while giving your guests tips to make the most of their exposure on your blog.

What do you think? Do you run expert interviews or guest posts on your blog? What is your process? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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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. 

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


How to Run a Contest on Your Blog

Do you run contents on your blog? Have you considered it?

Contests are a great way to generate content and traffic to your blog, as well as encourage engagement with your community. Plus, it gives you material to share on your social media sites.

A regular contest translates into low-maintenance, ongoing content. For instance, I run a contest every month on my website and community for writers: Write On Online. Anyone who posts goals on the website or Facebook page, throughout the month, is entered to win a book from Michael Wiese Productions, a screenwriting and film publishing company. A winner is chosen at random.

Here are a few easy options of free contests to run on your blog:

Photo Contest: Have entrants share an image, related to a theme or in some way, your business.

Essay Contest: Ask readers submit a story of a defined length on a specific topic.

Sweepstakes: This is the lowest barrier to entry. Your audience members simply need to enter their email address for a chance to win a prize at random. This is another way to add subscribers to your newsletter list.

To create a contest, you must also establish and publish rules, a deadline, judges (if applicable), and prizes ahead of time. Prizes can be as simple as a copy of your latest book or consulting time from your business specialty.

Now, here's the best part. Contest give you automatic blog posts, since you need:

  • Contest launch and rules (you'll also want a standard page on your blog with rules)
  • Deadline reminders (for early-bird and regular deadline, if relevant)
  • Winner announcement and posts

Contests don't have to be complicated, they just need to be representative of your site.

Note: If you do a contest in relation to a social network, check their Terms of Use before posting anything on the platform.

What do you think? Do you run contests on your blog? What kinds of contents to you find most effective? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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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. 

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


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.


How to Find Time to Write this Season

The holidays are upon us and I know what you’re thinking: “How on earth am I going to get any writing done between now and the end of the year?”

There’s shopping, holiday parties (hosting and attending) and events, and various distractions that seem to only happen in November and December. Here’s a secret. We have lots of pockets of time throughout the day when we could be writing. Use them.

 Here are five places to find time to write during the busy holiday season.

  1. While Waiting. Whether you are waiting to meet someone, for an appointment. Or in line, take out a notebook or start writing down your thoughts on your mobile device. 
  2. In Transit. Voice to text technology has gotten so much better (anyone reading remember when you had to train your voice recognition software?). Verbalize your ideas while en route, just make sure you don’t get over-enthusiastic or distracted. 
  3. During Exercise. Why not also use record your thoughts while working out? Your mind is clear, so you’ll probably come up with some fantastic ideas. 
  4. Get Up Early. Set your alarm to go off 15 to 30 minutes early, and get in some writing before you start your day. Yes, you can also stay up late.
  5. Swap Time. We all need downtime, but just swap just one television episode or 15 minutes of social media time for writing time every other day. When you see your progress, it will be worth it. 

And here are five things to write when only you have a short period of time:

  1. Journal.. Are you happy? Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Amused by something you just saw? Write it down. Gather your emotions and observations, and write them down as fuel for future projects. 
  2. Ideas. Similar to journaling, keep a dedicated notebook or computer document for all ideas to use in future writing projects. They don’t even have to be complete thoughts, a list of ideas will serve the same purpose. This is the perfect distraction while waiting in long lines at checkout. 
  3. Blog Post Draft. Perhaps you will not have a complete, ready to go blog post in 15 minutes, but you can certainly write a draft. And then rewrite it on your next 15 minute block of time.
  4. A Pitch. Write a query for a book, article, story, screenplay. 
  5. Your Work in Progress. A few minutes here and there on your work in progress will add up. Granted, more time is better. But even if you add words to your non-fiction book, novel, or screenplay for a few minutes a day, it will stay on top of mind and continue to progress.
  6. Bonus: Edit. Anything. 

Don’t let the busy holiday season keep you  from writing. Use those pockets of time to move forward and keep you happily distracted from the craziness of the season.

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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.


June Blogging Prompts

Don't let June gloom get you down. Do something to lift your spirits. For example, do some blogging. 

Summer is rapidly approaching and it won't be long til those beautiful summer days start calling your name. If you want extra summer fun time, plan ahead and stockpile some blog posts. 

Here are some topics to write about in June.

Father's Day (third Sunday): Dads like toys and gadgets. What are some great gifts for Dad that are related to your niche. See what you can come up with that's out of the ordinary. You can also so an advice post.

Summer Camp: Kids heading off to camp mean a few things. Parents may have a little extra downtime. Give them advice of how they can spend it. Also, kids at overnight camp will require some fun letters from the parents. Do you have a crazy letter writing idea that adds spark and sizzle to an ordinary letter? Share that with your readers too.

Plus:

June Holidays: In addition to Father's Day, June is Aquarium Month, Gay Pride Month, National Accordion Awareness Month, National Adopt a Cat Month, and Rose Month. June 14 is Flag Day, June 15 is Smile Power Day, and June 18 is International Panic Day (it's also International Picnic Day). Summer solstice is June 21, Forgiveness Day is June 26, and Camera Day is June 29.

June Food Holidays: June is National Candy Month, National Dairy Month, National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Seafood Month, National Steakhouse Month, National Turkey Lover. (Covered all the bases, didn't they?) Also June 13 is Kitchen Klutzes of America Day, June 17 is Eat All Your Veggies Day, and June 22 is National Onion Rings Day.

Bonus: Fiction writers, it's time for a beach party. What do your characters do when they let loose on the beach? What do they eat? What games do they play? Do they tell stories around a bonfire? Give your characters space to have some fun. They may give you some fun adventures to include in your prose or they could be involved in something that they must keep secret. Either way, it'll sure be fun to see what happens. And then use that as inspiration for your writing.

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.


April Blogging Prompts

April showers bring May flowers. They also bring lots of blog posts. 

Here are some things you can blog about this month:

April is National Poetry Month: Write a poem, share your favorite poem and why, give your readers an assignment to write a poem, or all of the above. The celebration lasts all month long. However, Great Poetry Reading Day is April 28.

The last week in April is National Karaoke Week! Share your proudest or most embarrassing karaoke moment, or create a new one to share with your readers.

Plus:

April Holidays: April is International Guitar Month (great for songwriters), Lawn and Garden Month (grow your stories, grow your business), and Stress Awareness Month (share ways for your readers to de-stress). April 14 is International Moment of Laughter Day, April 16 is National Librarian Day, April 18 is Newspaper Columnists Day, April 23 is Take a Chance Day, April 27 is Tell a Story Day, and April 30 is National Honesty Day

April Food Holidays: April is National Garlic Month, National Grilled Cheese Month (Greilled Cheese Sandwich Day is April 12), and National Soft Pretzel Month. Perhaps my favorite April food holiday is National Picnic Day on April 23. Come up with literary themed picnics to share with your readers or take yourself on a picnic and then do some writing outside.

Bonus: April is also National Humor Month. This leads to a variety of possibilities for both fiction and non-fiction writers. Write funny, even if you think you're not. Or, if you are a humorous writer, write in another genre ... just for fun! You never know where words might lead. You just have to play with them!

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.


February Blogging Prompts

Hearts abound for the month of February. In addition to Valentine's Day, February is American Heart Month. 

There's a lot to write about hearts, the literal and physical kinds.

Let's try something different for this month's blogging prompt article. Write a list of everything related to "heart," and see what ideas for posts come out of it.

For example: 
  • Heart Health (food and exercise)
  • Heartfelt (what do you truly believe in)
  • Heart-to-Heart (advice to share)
  • Heart Shaped (what comes in that shape: candy hearts, cakes, jewelry; what )
  • Heart Break (lessons from loss)
  • Songs with heart (favorite "heart" song")
  • What you Heart (Love) about What you Do
  • Sweethearts (love)
  • The Color Red
February Holidays: February is Black History Month, Canned Food Month and Creative Romance Month. The third week in February is 3rd Week International Flirting Week. Plus, Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17, International World Thinking Day is the 22nd, and Tell a Fairy Tale Day is the 26th. 

February Food Holidays: February is Celebration of Chocolate Month, National Fondue Month, National Heart Healthy Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, and National Snack Food Month. Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day is February 11, Drink Wine Day is the 18th, and Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day is the 23rd. Who knew? 

Bonus: February is also the height of awards season, wrapping up with the Oscars on February 22. Whether you are a movie-lover, screenwriter, or a writer of film-related content, take any and all opportunities to write about your award-season movie favs.

Put some heart into your blog and blog with heart!


***


Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.


Build Your Brand

  Contributed by Margot Conor While you are writing your novel, or even when it is just an idea in your head, start to build your brand. Res...