Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Poetry and Prose Corner November 2013

To Be Truly Thankful

In a world where so much can go wrong,
Will go wrong,
Often does,
It’s key to stop and oft reflect
On blessings dwelling ever near.

The quiet of the evening breeze
That sweeps away the sun-drenched day…

The blissful magic of “three words”
To wash away the hurt and pain…

The joyful laughter of a child,
Life unspoiled,
Song unsung…

Yielding to sweet slumbers’ kiss,
A prayer to a departed sun…

Days creep by before they run
And we must heed the piper’s call.
To be thankful…
To be truly thankful
Is the greatest blessing of them all.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/

Deep Within

By Brenda McBride

As you travel down that road of loss, don't forget to be kind to yourself along the way….
Only you have the power to heal yourself, so be patient with compassion as you carry on from day to day…

Deep within, you hold the key to acceptance with an open heart to release the pain that you feel…
It takes time to process our emotions, to cope and to heal…

Give yourself permission to cry, and to reflect back on all those cherished moments you once shared that meant so much…
Deep within, you'll always be connected to your loved one, more than you know, remembering their special touch…

No one ever truly leaves us behind, and forgets the bond they shared
with endless love that touched our soul so deep and true…
They are forever near to us, for me and for you.

Brenda McBride lives in Temecula, California, with her two teenage girls and is a substitute teacher working with special education students. Several of her articles and poems have been published in various magazines over the last several years. When her father passed away in 2011, her grief became so unbearable that she began writing to release deep emotions. There's not a day that goes by without the thought and beautiful memories shared with her wonderful dad.

All That Is Good

All that is good,
Let it come to me softly.
I will embrace it with arms open wide,
Sharing its essence a thousand fold,
Spreading its gospel to grateful minds.

If it means harm,
Let me face it with honor,
Searching the undertones living below
So I may mute the thundering voices
And quell the torrent that rides stormy seas.

We are but brief
To move through the cosmos,
A wink and a blink in the footnotes of time.
No time to waste on the lost angst of demons.
Focused and fixed and anxious to find
All that is good.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Discovery—10 Mistakes Authors Make That Can Cost Them a Fortune (and How to Avoid Them)

When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And, while I can’t address each of these in detail, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a book’s success (or lack thereof). Here are 10 for you to consider:

1) Not Understanding the Importance of a Book Cover

I always find it interesting that authors will sometimes spend years writing their books and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn't a designer, or who doesn't have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or, worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research.

Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend an average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75 percent of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores. And, finally, please don’t attempt to design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair, this is never a good idea.

2) Sometimes You Get What You Pay For

There’s an old saying that goes, “You can find a cheap lawyer and a good lawyer, but you can’t find a good lawyer who is cheap.” Though this is a very different market, it’s kind of the same thing.

Yes, there are deals out there. I’m not saying that you have to pay a good publicity person tens of thousands of dollars, but if you find someone who’s willing to market you for $200, or something like that, I’d be asking questions about what you get for your money. While $200 isn't much, it’s $200 here and $99 there and, eventually, it all adds up. So if a deal seems too good to be true, make sure that you’re getting all the facts. Just because they aren't charging you a lot doesn't mean they shouldn't put it in writing. And by “in writing” I mean you should get a detailed list of deliverables. Finding a deal isn't a bad thing, but if you’re not careful it might just be a waste of money; ask good questions before you buy.

3) Listening to People Who Aren't Experts

When you ask someone’s opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t give it to your coworkers to read and get feedback. (Yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal, but this is different.) If you've written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. The same is true for self-help, diet, or romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader; in the end, that’s all that matters.

4) Hope Is Not a Marketing Plan

I love hope. Hope is a wonderful thing, but one thing it isn't is a marketing plan. Hoping that something will happen is one thing, but leaving your marketing to “fate” is quite another. Even though you’ve written the book, even though you’ve toiled hours making it perfect, and even though you’ve felt that you have enough people you know who will buy it and/or recommend it to friends, you still have to market it.

More often than not authors tell me that they can’t seem to get family or friends to buy their book. I know that sounds odd but it’s true. And, even if they do, that’s 100 copies at the most? While family and friends do want to help, you shouldn't bank on them for success. So when it comes time to get your book out there, you need to have a solid plan in place or, at the very least, a set of actions on which you feel comfortable working. Waiting on a miracle, a sale, or a sign from above will cost you a lot in terms of book aging. Once your book is past a certain “age,” it gets harder and harder to get it reviewed. Don’t sit idly by and hope for something to happen. Make it happen. A book is not the “field of dreams”: just because you wrote it doesn't mean readers will beat a path to your door.

5) Work It or Not

There’s a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it’s this: the “instant bestseller.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as “instant” and certainly the words “overnight success” are generally not reserved for books. There is also the belief that a “miracle” will just happen to you when you publish. Personally, I love miracles but they tend to not happen with books, sadly. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. By that I mean you should plan for the long term. Don’t spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign; make sure you have enough money or personal momentum to keep it going.

Whether or not you hire a firm you must “work it”: working your marketing plan, working your goals, whatever. Publishing is a business. You’d never open up a store and then just sit around hoping people will show up to buy your stuff. You advertise, you run specials, you pitch yourself to local media. You work it. But what does “working it” mean? Well, it means that if you have a full-time job you find time each week to push the book in some form or fashion. You find time, you make time. You should be engaged in your own success; even if you hire someone to do this for you, you should still be involved. Sometimes it doesn't take much, but it does take a consistent effort, whatever that is. I have a friend who is losing weight. She’s lost 19 pounds over three months. Maybe that seems like pretty slow weight loss. I mean who wants to wait three months for a measly 19 pounds? Still, she’s ahead; she’s doing little things that make a big difference. Time will pass anyway. How will you use it?

6) Not Understanding Timing

While timing in publishing has essentially become obsolete, things like advanced reviews, advanced pitching, and early sales into bookstores aren't the be-all and end-all they once were. Still, timing is important. While it’s true that older books can sometimes see a surge of success, it’s not the rule. You’ll want to be prepared with your marketing early. In fact, you should have a plan in place months before the book is out. That doesn't mean that you’re sending 200 review copies out. It just means you have your ducks in a row, so to speak, and you know what your plan will be.

Also, timing can affect things like book events (especially if you’re trying to get into bookstores). Understand when you should pitch your book for review, and start to get to know your market and the bloggers you plan to pitch. Create a list and keep close track of whom to contact and when you need to get your review pitch out there. Though many things have changed regarding timing, it doesn't mean you shouldn't plan. I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.

7) Hiring People Who Aren't in the Book Industry

Let’s face it: even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn't always make sense. Hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn't just a mistake, it could be a costly error. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can’t, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, since you've likely spent years putting together this project, make choices based on what’s right and not what’s cheapest. If you shop right, you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget.

8) Designing Your Own Website

You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. Let me elaborate. Let’s say you designed your own site that saved you a few thousand dollars you would have paid to a web designer. Now you’re off promoting your book and suddenly you’re getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into a sale. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn't it?

9) Becoming a Media Diva

You need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it’s the unfortunate truth. So here’s the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow-up thank-you note after the interview. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your book and don’t get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally, correct them in such a way that they don’t look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be redone. Most media people don’t have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy; he decided he didn't like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M’s, don’t even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is to create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.

10) Take Advantage

In this instance, I mean “take advantage” in the best possible way. There are a ton of resources out there for you. Seriously. Compared to when I was first in business almost 13 years ago, the resources and free promotional tools that are out there now are almost mind-numbing, and the fact that so many authors don’t take advantage of them is even crazier.

I’m talking about things like social media; I know it’s a time suck but you would be amazed at how many authors rock out their campaign by just being on Facebook or Wattpad or even Goodreads. When I wrote a Goodreads article a while back I got some interesting feedback from people who said that there was a lot of negativity on there. Well, that may be so but I've never seen it. If I do, I will ignore it. Point being, the stuff is out there. Find out for yourself what works and what doesn't. Yes, it’s fine to take advice from other authors, but you should still experience this for yourself before you decide if it’s right for you.

When it comes to marketing, the mistakes can cost you more than anything both in time and money. Knowing what to do to market your book is important, but knowing what to avoid may be equally as significant.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free e-zine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

WITS Book Reviews November 2013

Book Title: Echoes in the Universe: A Spiritual Memoir
Author: Leonard Goodwin
Publisher: Create Space (August 19, 2013)
ISBN: 978-1484985564
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Many people spend a lifetime trying to reconcile their spiritual beliefs with the physical world around them. The good things in life, such as family, friends, and prosperity, are easy enough to accept; other things, however, challenge these beliefs and might even make us abandon them altogether. Leonard Goodwin understands the true, overlapping nature of the spiritual and physical worlds, and he shares his deeply personal (and often universal) experiences in Echoes in the Universe: A Spiritual Memoir.

Goodwin’s decision to write his story in poetic form was an excellent one. His finely wrought verses provide beautiful imagery to the progressive march of history, from the dark days of the Great Depression and World War II to the election of America’s first black president. His spiritual experiences, including a near-death experience after a heart attack, flow like a waterfall through the mind, flooding both the conscious and subconscious. Most importantly, though, Goodwin masterfully ties these two worlds together, illuminating for his readers not only his path, but everyone’s. Echoes in the Universe is as “must read.”

Book Title: Transitions: A Nurse’s Education about Life and Death
Author: Becki Hawkins
Publisher: Ladyhawk Publishing (October 15, 2013)
ISBN: 978-0984744503
Reviewer: Thomas Hill

Not many people see the world quite like Becki Hawkins. A retired oncology nurse and hospice chaplain, Hawkins has administered to the needs of many who have succumbed to a terminal illness. And yet, through all the emotional ups and downs that come in the professions in which she has worked, she is able to convey messages of hope and inspiration to her patients, her fellow nurses, and to the people who have been touched by the death of a loved one.

Some of these stories are available in her book, Transitions: A Nurse’s Education about Life and Death. Hawkins shares her unique perspective by animating the lives of several of her former patients. There they were, knowing that death was imminent. But, upon making peace with themselves, their families and friends, and their care providers, they offered messages of healing and unconditional love. Transitions is recommended reading for anyone who is caring for a terminally ill loved one, involved in care providing for the elderly or terminally ill, or anyone who seeks meaningful insights about living and dying.

Monday, November 18, 2013

WITS Announcements November 2013

As a subscriber to Writers in the Sky Newsletter, you are entitled to share your announcements with our readers. See guidelines at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com/p/submit-your-material.html and send your material to us before the 24th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Anything posted in the WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com.

If you are looking for someone to create an original piece for your book cover, you might want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Diane-Daversa-Fine-Art/109782219119036.

Free the Story Within: ANI Online for Adults

"Yeah, you! Over here."

"Hey, I'm that story you've been promising to write for years. And I'm starting to feel neglected and depressed. I'm dying in here. Your brain is crammed with grocery lists and office memos and it's getting really crowded and uncomfortable in here. Please let me out."
The wait is over.

ANI for adults is now online.
Registration is easy: click here 

Class is limited to 20 participants. Better get on it, buddy.

Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long MP3 audiobook of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife for only $7.00. http://tinyurl.com/bd7qhy8.
“Top Benefits of Writing Memoir" is an article by Deborah Wilbrink featured in Mature Lifestyles of Tennessee's November issue. Deborah has motivating tips about the genre of personal history and some examples from Tennessee senior authors. Tips continue on her blog, http://www.perfectmemoirs.com/point-of-view-blogpage/.
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on life skills such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to oneself, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance. http://TheSidSeries.com.
Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those around You is a guidebook for empathic people who have been unknowingly carrying energetic burdens that belong to someone else. See all purchasing options at http://whosestuffisthis.blogspot.com/p/purchase-book.html.
State of Appreciation is a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical and spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. This publication offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com.
Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience is about how to embrace multidimensional frequencies, lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension, and offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker. http://shiftingintopurerconsciousness.com.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do You Know How to Avoid These Three Blogging Mistakes?

By Joel Friedlander

You’ve read the articles, heard the incredible success stories and seen other authors burst on the scene attracting interest, gaining authority, and making waves.

You know that a lot of these authors have used a blog as a means to get these great results, and everyone says you should start blogging as soon as possible. Marketing gurus like Seth Godin say you should start blogging three years before you publish, and traditional publishers are encouraging their authors to blog, too.

So off you go to start your blog. Maybe you have a good idea of what you’ll write about, or maybe you think you’ll figure it out as you go along. Hey, there are lots of roads that lead to success when it comes to blogging.

But there are even more roads that lead to failure. And that’s too bad, because many of the mistakes authors make when they dive into blogging are easy to avoid if they know how.

There’s nothing I find more depressing than running across blogs that their authors have been abandoned. You see the archives: lots of posts for a couple of months fading to a trickle, until there’s one post left that starts with something plaintive like, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” and then silence. I don’t want that to happen to you.

Let’s take a look at the three biggest mistakes I see authors make when they start blogging. If you can get these things right, you’re much more likely to stick it out, find readers, and build a community you’ll enjoy—and profit from—for years to come.

Three Ways to Fail at Author Blogging

1. Not knowing who you are writing for

The most important question to ask yourself when you start blogging is “who am I writing for?” Exactly whom do you have in mind that will read your articles? I don’t mean to say that you won’t discover more about your audience as it grows and learn exactly who is attracted to what you’re writing. But if you don’t know for whom you’re writing, how will you know what to write and how to write it?

2. Not marketing your blog

Even if the author has studied blogging and has written excellent content, the biggest problem with many author blogs is that the author never markets them. Half of blogging is writing, and the other half is marketing. Contrary to what seems to be many people’s expectation, even good content does not magnetically attract hordes of readers. After all, if they don’t know about it, how can they discover, read, enjoy, and share it?

3. Not making a clear offer to your readers

Early bloggers started out writing what amounted to personal journals, so lots of authors think that writing a blog is about telling the world about their own day-to-day activities. This casual approach to blogging extends to the frequency of their posts, and some of the authors who write these “personal” blogs seem to post whenever the inspiration hits them. One day they write about how their work is going, the next day about what happened to their daughter in pre-school, and the next about how to find a good editor.

Sometimes weeks go by without an article and sometimes they’ll post every day for a while before going dormant. To be successful at blogging you need to make a clear offer to readers, and that includes both the content focus and the posting schedule. You wouldn’t subscribe to a magazine if you never knew when—or if—it would arrive, and what kind of content you were going to receive, would you?

Luckily, it’s not that hard to get a grip on these problems when you first get going with your blog. Here are some suggestions that will help you avoid these newbie mistakes and encourage your blog to grow.

How to Avoid Those Three Big Mistakes

1. Your audience. This is easier for nonfiction authors, because you can research your audience, find out where they like to hang out when they are involved with your topic, and then “listen in” on their conversations. For instance, searching for online forums, discussion groups, Twitter chats, Google+ communities, and other places people gather will lead you to ongoing discussions in your field. You can also research successful blogs in your field and take a look at the guest authors and the readers who leave comments to get a good idea of the audience. After all, these blogs have already succeeded in the same field, so they are a great place to learn more about your audience.

2. Blog marketing. The research you do on your audience is going to lead directly to the beginning of your own blog marketing. Why? All those forums, discussion groups, blogs, and other places you found your audience are the same places you’re going to start marketing your own insight, expertise, knowledge, and blog articles. They will also supply you with great opportunities to contribute to your community and to meet and network with other bloggers and thought leaders in your community. You’ll turn up guest blogging opportunities, and lots of communities where you can start to become known, leaving links that will build into a steady stream of traffic to your own blog.

3. Your offer. Setting a schedule and a clear topic focus that offers something to readers is foundational decision you make about your blog. Having a regular schedule is one of the best ways to de-stress blogging. Set a schedule that you absolutely know you can stick to no matter what. If that’s once a week, start with that.

As you get more proficient as a blogger, you can always increase the frequency of your posts, and that’s usually a good way to increase your traffic and readership. An easy way to do this is to have specific features you publish at specific times. For instance, you can add a shorter post every Tuesday with tips for your readers. People will start to look forward to your “Tuesday Tips” posts, and you’ll have pretty effortlessly increased your schedule. You also can create several of these posts and use your blog’s scheduling function to schedule them all at once—another great way to maintain a publication schedule.

And when it comes to your offer, travel some of the more popular blogs in your category, niche, or genre. Lots of bloggers try to communicate their offer right at the top of the blog where they know you’ll see it. The offer on this blog is included in the header: “practical advice to help build better books.” A glance at the blog also communicates my interest in interacting with readers in many ways. What offer does your blog make? Your clarity on this subject will be rewarded with appreciative readers.

Sometimes looking at your blog in a new way really helps. Blogging is one of the greatest marketing and engagement devices ever invented. Authors are perfectly positioned to make the most of blogging technology, so building on a solid foundation makes sense.

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don't Quit Your Day Job

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Maya Angelou

T.S. Eliot didn't quit his day job. In fact, he composed "The Waste Land" while working at Lloyd's Bank.

And did literary fame and fortune change his working ways? Nope. He joined the publishing house we now know as Faber & Faber, and went on to publish Ted Hughes and W.H. Auden among other household names.

Look, I know you're busy. But you contain multitudes, friend. Let's write about those crazy stories.  We can do it together.

Sign up for ANI Online here http://www.anovelideanashville.com/#!jumpstart/c1vy3


Free the Story Within: ANI Online for Adults

"Yeah, you! Over here."
"Hey, I'm that story you've been promising to write for years. And I'm starting to feel neglected and depressed. I'm dying in here. Your brain is crammed with grocery lists and office memos and it's getting really crowded and uncomfortable in here. Please let me out."

The wait is over.

ANI for adults is now online.

Registration is easy: click here 

Class is limited to 20 participants. Better get on it, buddy.

Tweet tweet!

Receive inspirational writing quotes, tips, and articles by following the wordy bird on Twitter!

Kristen House
Chief Executive Muse
A Novel Idea

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Coaching Podcast Schedule for November

We Are One in Spirit podcast allows for people from all walks of life to discuss their spiritual journey and life—transforming experiences that remind us that we are all one in spirit. Uplifting, enlightening, and insightful topics include healing, empathy, intuition, spiritual/psychic gifts, metaphysics, soul development, afterlife, spirit communication, and more. The metaphysical shows are archived at feed://nashvillewriter.audioacrobat.com. You can also find us on iTunes. Please subscribe to the We Are One in Spirit mailing list to receive the call login information: http://weare1inspirit.com/blog/.

This month’s interactive calls include group coaching for empaths on November 14 at 8 p.m. Central Time, and for walk-ins on November 21 at 2 p.m. Central Time.

Editor's Corner November 2013

Welcome to the November edition of the WITS newsletter!

November is the official start of the holiday season, a time of family, friends, and food. It’s also a reminder to give thanks for our many blessings and share those blessings with others. It is my belief and experience that people always want to contribute, not just around the holidays. However, they often feel as though what they have to offer is not enough—not enough money, not enough time, not enough skills—to make a “real difference.”

But we all have something valuable to give to the world, whether it’s a large donation or a smile to a stranger. Or… there’s what writers do—use their words to uplift others. Many share their stories of spiritual transformation, like Joe Laws, in his soon-to-be-released book, Held By the Hand of God, or Leonard Goodwin’s Echoes in the Universe: Spiritual Memoir. Yvonne Perry’s books on spirituality have sparked many of my “ah-ha” moments. Others, like Denise Demaras, offer practical guidance on living authentically and holistically. Denise’s new newsletter, Women’s Holistic Health News, explores topics such as healthy eating, mindful breathing, and creating balance and abundance.

Every day, the WITS community inspires me. Our clients live on a diet of creativity and dedication, writing even when they’re exhausted and persevering in the face of rejection—or worse, writer’s block. Working with them makes me feel as if I’ve contributed to something as well.
Happy Thanksgiving and, as always, happy writing!

Dana Micheli
Writer and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services
Writers in the Sky is a team of ghostwriters, editors, and book marketing specialists committed to the craft and business of writing. We work with our clients on all levels of the publishing process from editing and manuscript assessments to book formatting and marketing. So whether you are a first-time author or a veteran of the craft, let Writers in the Sky help you get your book out into the world. We also provide assistance with résumés, business documents, and academic essays. For more information, visit www.writersinthesky.com.