Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poetry and Prose Corner September 2012

Hucksters, Inner City
By Rita Janice Traub

“Strawberries” was the huckster’s call,
morning and afternoon,
from a mild day in misty May
through the green weeks of June.
“Watermelones,” the next one cried,
“melones, red to the rind.”
Into the alley we would race,
strawberries left behind.
One huckster chanted, “Raspberries,”
another, “Sugar corn”
(cadences from a time before
any of us were born).
The huckster I remember best
waited till August heat.
His horse would clop the cobblestones
down where the alleys meet.
No food he hawked, just curios
that he called, “Rags and bones,”
his face cadaverous, his voice
deepest of baritones.
He’d let you climb aboard his cart
to sift through odds and ends.
Somehow he always frightened me
though he and Dad were friends.
Fall’s harbinger he must have been.
Trees balded more each day.
The scissors grinder made his rounds,
but hucksters stayed away.
Say “June,” and I’ll think, ”Strawberries,”
“July,” “Watermelones.”
But just the one word “summertime”
conjures up “Rags and bones.”


Friday, September 21, 2012

What Offer Does Your Author Blog Make?

by Joel Friedlander

It seems that authors fall into two categories when it comes to author blogging:
1. Authors who are blogging regularly
2. Authors who think they should be blogging regularly

If you read blogs you come to the conclusion that there are lots of reasons authors are blogging. But sometimes I wonder whether authors have thought about the reason they are blogging—why their blog exists.

Now, admittedly there are lots of kinds of author blogs.
There’s a big divide between fiction authors who blog and nonfiction authors. And within nonfiction, there’s a big difference between the kind of blog you can develop if you write literary criticism or medieval history, or if you write about how to get rid of the weeds in your garden or how to make great vegan dishes.
So every author is different, and our subjects and audiences are infinitely varied.

But having some clarity about what purpose your blog serves can really help you achieve your goals. Even better, being able to sum it up in just a few words—why readers would bother to stop there and read it—is one of the best early exercises for new bloggers.

The Magic of the Tagline
When you decide to start a blog, you have to right away come up with a name for it. Or you can blog under your own name, on the “domain-name-of-your-author-name” plan.

No matter what domain name you end up with, you’ll notice that most blogs have a tagline, a bit like a book’s subtitle.

For instance, here are some taglines from blogs I visit:
• The Creative Penn: Helping you write, publish and market your book
• The Passive Voice: Writers, Writing, Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe
• Writer Unboxed: about the craft and business of fiction
• Copyblogger: Content Marketing Solutions for WordPress that Work
• Social Media Examiner: Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle
• We Grow Media: Helping Writers & Publishers Make an Impact and Build Their Legacies
In each case, the blogger has tried to sum up the value of the blog to the reader.
Creating the Tagline for Your Blog
Doing this exercise was a lot more difficult for me than I thought it would be. I already had the name of the blog—thebookdesigner.com—so that wasn’t a problem.

But it took several hours and a lot of thought before I arrived at the tagline. But going through that work was also very valuable, and I recommend this exercise to every author who is setting up, or reviving, a blog.

You can see my own end result in the masthead: practical advice to help build better books.
And no matter how far afield the articles here have wandered, this statement hasn’t changed, because my offer has never changed.
If you think about it, how well you fulfill the promise of this statement will have a lot to do with the success of your blog. And if it does succeed, it can become a vehicle capable of supporting your writing and publishing efforts, the ultimate foundation of your author platform.
We blog at the permission of our readers, and the exercise of creating a tagline for your blog is one of the best ways to focus on exactly what your offer is to your readers.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at TheBookDesigner.com. He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.

Let Your Spirit Lead the Way

Why let your ego with all of its insecurities get in the way of going with the flow? Let your spirit lead the way. It is a matter of letting go of doubt and embracing faith. Let go of fear and let love be your guiding force.

All too often in life, you allow yourself to fall into negative patterns that perpetuate themselves. What you put out, you attract. You can break the cycle. Just remember that grace is always flowing your way. It's up to you to claim it for yourself.

Practice awareness of your thoughts. Observe them without judging them. Allow yourself the freedom to choose the ones you want. Take responsibility for your life.

It all starts with your thoughts. Discard the ones that don't serve your spirit. Embrace those that enhance it. Then you will send forth rockets of desire that will manifest those things you wish to possess. Positive thoughts will bring positive results.

Now, it's time to put into practice the principles you are learning. You are not in this life alone. As you let your spirit and love be your guiding force, you will attract more of the same from others.

Do not attach any conditions. Appreciate what is and do not dwell on what has not yet manifested. It is all a matter of accepting that life and people are inherently good; so are you! Remember, the Source of your being only wants the best for you. It is up to you to believe that.

Consider the following. Will you be empowered by a particular thought or action? Will you feel “good” about it? Is it a loving one or is it based upon a selfish thought or desire? Are you following The Golden Rule which is to do to others what you would have them do unto you? If you can answer yes to the following questions, you will be coming from a place of love.

You have the choice. You can create heaven for yourselves or you can create hell. Why would anyone choose to create the latter choice? Heaven can be yours now.

What I am speaking about is leading a life based upon spirit. It does not necessarily have anything to do with religion. All you need to do is to believe in yourself and that there is a benevolent power in the universe. This power only wants the best for you. Yet it will not manifest if you don't put into practice the principles of which I am speaking.

There are only two forces operating in the universe – love and fear. It's up to you to choose. As it's been said, there is nothing to fear except fear itself. Let the power of love be yours today.

Remain aware and do no wrong. If you make an error, remember it is correctable. It simply means it's time to admit you are wrong and to forgive yourself. Practice the same love for yourself that you would extend to another. Do not be your own worst enemy.

Stay in the moment. Affirm and practice that which is positive. Always let your spirit lead the way. The results will be amazing.

Written by Davis Aujourd'hui http://bestsatireseriesofthedecade.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book with a View September 2012

   Title: Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience
Author: Yvonne Perry
Publisher: Write On! (May 15, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0982572290
Reviewer: Dana Micheli
Yvonne Perry's New Book is Required Reading for Your Spiritual Journey
No matter who you talk to, 2012 will be a pivotal year in human history. For some, it is the end of the world; for others, it MIGHT be the end of the world, depending on who wins the presidential election. Those in the metaphysical community, however, believe that 2012 signifies a much more positive, less political, shift: an unparalleled elevation of human consciousness. For those of us seeking a deeper understanding of the Universe and our place in it, there has never been a better time to begin our transformation.
But learning more about our spiritual path is often not as simple as it sounds. The endless supply of information at our fingertips can be difficult to wade through. That's why Yvonne Perry's latest book, Shifting into Purer Consciousness: Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience, is such a Godsend. With her trademark blend of in-depth research, deeply personal stories, and techniques for transformation, Yvonne makes learning about such topics as Miraculous Healing, Soul Retrieval and Spiritual Purification a joyful and stimulating adventure.
Whether you are a veteran of metaphysical studies, just beginning your transformation, or--like me--somewhere in between, reading this book is like having a conversation with a trusted friend and counselor. It was a safe place for me to find answers to my many, many questions, some of which I didn't even know I had until Yvonne anticipated them. For years, psychics and other metaphysical folks have tried to explain to me about the nature of the soul and how things work "On the Other Side"; yet, I could not wrap my mind around some of these concepts until reading this book. Yvonne Perry has once again demonstrated her incredible knack for explaining complex spiritual topics in a language that mere mortals can understand.

Title: Mia and Jake: Finding the One
Author: Sherri Starr
Publisher: SEAHILL PRESS INC (September 1, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-937720-09-4
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Online dating; set-ups; blind dates; speed-dating. These are just a few of the ways men and women are spending their time, money, and tears to meet people these days. It reminds me of the movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” when Drew Barrymore waxes nostalgic over the ordinary answering machine. Either there was a message when you got home, or there wasn’t. Now, she points out, singles get strung along or rejected via voicemail and text, to say nothing of Facebook, MySpace and various other forms of social media. Indeed, finding “the one” has never been easy, but it seems like modern technology has only increased our chances for humiliation.
Thankfully, we always have our sense of humor to fall back on, and Sherri Star’s new book, Mia and Jake: Finding the One, proves that laugher is still the best medicine for all that ails us. The book takes us on a physical and emotional journey as Mia, a cheerful, smart and highly evolved stick figure navigates singledom and searches for her other half. The witty text is complemented by the hilarious illustrations as Mia twists herself into a yoga pose, moves to a new city (with a bigger dating pool) and gets advice from well-meaning but often misguided friends.
The best part is that at the end of Mia’s story, you can flip the book over and read it again, this time from Jake’s point of view. This both doubles the laughs and debunks the myth that women are tortured by the single life while men coast through it with ease and manly grace.
Mia and Jake is a great gift for others, but an even better gift for yourself. I laughed out loud with each turn of the page, and I know I’ll be returning to it again for a pick me up on my own journey to finding the one.
Sherri Starr doesn’t only talk the talk, she has already walked the walk. The inspiration for the book was drawn from her determination to live her fullest, best possible life, even before she found her “Jake”. I can’t wait until she comes out with the next installment of Mia and Jake.

Title: I Don’t Want to Be Your Guru but I Have Something to Say
Author: Joyce Shafer
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1411-0
Reviewer: Yvonne Perry
Maybe You Should Be My Guru!
When I first started reading I Don’t Want to Be Your Guru but I Have Something to Say I thought it was going to be a novel containing a “ghost-like” mystery story. But then the beautiful and enlightening discussion between the characters in this flashback scene started ringing with truth and such validity that I soon realized this book could just as easily be a non-fiction work in the spirituality genre. I like the way the author was able to pull that off with such cohesiveness!
Joyce Shafer created a story within a story that kept me interested all the way. For example, Old Bill and A.J. are casually discussing religion over a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee when Bill says, “Ideals should guide your life, not rule ‘em (it). Someone might be really good at being whatever the ‘ism’ is—let’s use Christian for example—but they don’t go the distance…they don’t aim to be Christ-like. It’s easy to quote chapter and verse, but how deeply is it understood? Is it integrated into the life?”
For one who was steeped in fundamentalist religion before embracing a metaphysical view of life, this rang true to me. My new goal in life is to be more Christ-like and that means ascending in consciousness, keeping my thoughts pure, never judging self or others, seeking the will of the Divine Plan, and expecting miracles (doing and receiving them) on a regular basis. Yes, it’s a process with many “oops” along the way, but my beliefs are being integrated into my daily experience. It was refreshing to read Bill’s commentary on this and many other thought-provoking topics.
This is a great short book for anyone who would like a simply put overview of a deep spiritual (rather than religious) dissertation on how our thoughts create reality.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Analyze Your Website Traffic

For many of us, traffic and website analytics is a very foreign idea. But understanding traffic and reading website analytics reports doesn't have to be a complicated endeavor. First up, let's break down the terminology:

Page views: Each time someone lands on your site (when they load one of your pages) it generates a page view. Keep in mind that this tallies regardless of who visits or how many times they've been to the site. It sounds like a bad measurement of traffic and to some degree it is. We all love returning visitors but most of us really care about those valuable first time folks.
Visits: This measure shares how many users have spent time on your website, regardless of the number of pages each user views.
Unique visitors: This is an important stat and as the name implies, this metric counts only the unique users who visit the site. If a particular visitor comes to the site every day, it still only counts as one visit.
Pages/visit: This metric shows you how many pages a visitor perused during each session, the higher this number, the better.
Average visit duration: How much time do users spend on the site during each visit? While you want someone to spend a long time on a site, the average time spent is generally 3-5 minutes and sometimes less. Obviously longer is better, but the only site in the world that gets massive visit duration is currently Facebook, with an average of 20 minutes per visit.
Bounce rate: This number indicated people who "bounce" off of the page. So, someone visits and then decides they are either in the wrong place or you've sent them into "surf shock" and they leave. Generally the lower the number the better, but the average bounce rate is around 50-59%.
% new visits: This measure is the percentage of your traffic from first-time users who have never been to the site before. If you're eager to get repeat people to your site (and this will often depend on the nature of your business) you'll want this number lower than your repeating visitor number.
Understanding Google Analytics
These days, most websites use a service called Google Analytics to measure traffic. It's considered by most web designers to be the gold standard of measurement and it's also free which is great.
Getting Google Analytics is easy, you can just register on the site and it will give you a snippet of code that will go on each page of your website. Your web person can do this if it wasn't installed when your site was built. Most hosting companies come with a C-panel backend that measures traffic, even so I highly recommend getting Google Analytics for accuracy and other reasons you'll see in a minute.
Once you set up Google Analytics, give it a few days to gather data, once you do you'll start to see numbers appear on your dashboard. Google Analytics continues to update their system and recently launched a beta version of real-time traffic. Once you're logged in you can find it on the left hand side of the page.
Real Time Traffic
I tend to watch these real-time traffic numbers pretty closely. It's also a great tool if you're on top of a promotion, you can see what kind of traffic you're driving to your website, in real time!
Getting to Know Your Data
When you first start looking through the numbers, you'll want to get a sense of some of the numbers we described above: Page Views, Bounce Rate, etc. If you're worried that your bounce rate is too high, consult your web person to see if there's anything you can do to lower it.
One of the areas I spend a lot of time on is the Traffic from All Sources so I can gauge what's coming from where. Not only will this help me as I'm creating referring traffic from various channels, but it also helps me know what works and what doesn't. You can find this area here: Click on Traffic Sources and then All Traffic.
Measuring Social Media
One of the most exciting additions to Google Analytics has been their tracking of social media. This is a fantastic tool that lets you see how much of your traffic is coming from social media. So, what's a good mix? I think half of your traffic should come from social media, the rest should come organically from Google. Here's a snapshot of what these two graphs look like. Once you do that, you'll see two sets of bars/graphs indicating traffic patterns.
The top bar shows you the social media referrals, with a comparison chart to all traffic, which is super helpful. You don't need to do anything to set this up. Google tracks social traffic automatically.
Measuring AdWords
Google Analytics can also connect to your AdWords campaign, allowing you to measure how your online ad campaign is performing. This will allow you to track how your ads are doing and whether they are bringing you visitors. If you run ads on your site, click Content > AdSense > Overview to see which pages on your site are earning the most revenue (and how much). You'll need to link them together in the AdSense tool first.
How much traffic you get and how well it's converting will depend on your reach and your website, but knowing these numbers is important. Keep in mind that the importance of each category will depend largely on the industry you're in as I mentioned previously. If you want lots of returning visitors, then the percent of new visits number will need to be lower. If you're looking for lots of new traffic then Unique Visitors is what you need to pay attention to.
Getting to know your traffic is not only important, but mandatory if you're going to know how effective your online marketing is. Also, knowing your Google Analytics numbers will also show you if there's a problem on your site, like low conversion which could be because of a broken page or broken link.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Editor's Corner September 2012

I am constantly moved by the many WITS clients who are dedicated to helping others. Yes, of course they want to sell books, but their primarily goal is to spread a message of hope and healing to the world. Why, just last month I had the pleasure of working with two new clients who have completely different approaches, but get their respective messages across just as powerfully. Sherri Starr, author of Mia and Jake: Finding the One (and our guest on the August 31st episode of the WITS Podcast) is on a mission to help singles find their soul mate with humor. Sola Olu’s inspiring memoir, The Summer Called Angel: A Story of Hope on the Journey through Prematurity, aims to support other parents struggling to save their newborns. Indeed, this is one of my favorite things about WITS: the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from, a very diverse group of writers.

Our clients work so hard for others that it’s always a pleasure to make their lives a little bit easier. Author, blogger, and chocolate aficionado Doreen Pendgracs feels the same way; that’s why she recently shared this juicy tidbit (and godsend), The Espresso Book Printing Machine (I don’t think it makes coffee, but a girl can dream, right?). In any event, check out Doreen’s post, and let her know what you think.
Dana MicheliWriter and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services

Saturday, September 8, 2012

WITS Announcements September 2012

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 WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com.

Len Edgerly, who blogs and hosts a weekly podcast about the Kindle and eBooks at thekindlechronicles.com, is doing an informal survey comparing the Kindle Fire and E Ink Kindles as platforms for reading. If you have both devices and would be willing to describe briefly what sorts of book or publication reading you do on each, please email the info to Len: PodChronicles @Gmail DOT Com.
Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long mp3 audio book of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife for only $7.00 http://deathdyingafterlife.blogspot.com/p/chapter-1.html
Need a Video Trailer for Your Book?

Recently I had the privilege of working with Daniel Harker (Dharkerwv Multimedia Productions) in the creation of a video trailer for my latest book. Not only did Daniel do an excellent job as you will see in the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTYiT3HtP_w, he was great to work with—very conscientious about the message as well as the audio-video component. He was also prompt in responding to my emails.

If you are interested in querying Dharkerwv Multimedia Productions, please contact Daniel at dharkerwv [at[ msn [dot] com. Place "Query for Book Trailer" in the subject line.
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 one’s self, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance. http://TheSidSeries.com
We Are One in Spirit Podcast allows people of 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. This interactive teleconference offers listeners a chance to chat directly with Yvonne Perry and her guest experts about spiritual matters of soul development. This interactive podcast has with a question and answer session at the end of each guest presentation. To participate on the phone call/Webinar or listen to the free replays, please subscribe to our blog so we can send you a reminder with the call-in info.
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 & spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. Offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads free at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com
While taking a metaphysical class, WITS team member Dana Micheli met an amazing illustrator. If you are looking for someone to create an original piece for your book cover, you may want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Diane-Daversa-Fine-Art/109782219119036
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.

If you missed Shifting into Purer Consciousness Ascension Training Telesummit and would like to listen to the replays, the collection of audios is now available for purchase at http://live-spirit.com/shifting-into-purer-consciousness-with-yvonne-perry/.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Writers in the Sky Podcast Schedule September 2012

Writers in the Sky Podcast is a Nashville-based talk show about writing, publishing, and book marketing. An educational tool for people who want to learn more about the craft and business of writing, this show offers interviews with authors and writers, as well as the latest news about books currently on the market. You will also learn about publishing methods and marketing techniques as we interview publishers and publicists. Listen to archived shows via RSS Feed. Download WITS Podcast on iTunes for your iPod or iPad.

September 7: Join Sola Olu as she discusses her first book, The Summer of Angel: A Story of Hope on the Journey Through Prematurity. This heart-wrenching memoir chronicles Sola's battle with preeclampsia and the struggle to save her children after they are born prematurely.