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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Getting Back Into The Groove


Busy, busy, busy...isn't everyone these days?

But now that the 2015 NETWO Writers' Conference is over and done with -- and for those that attended, wasn't it a powerhouse of information and marvelous presenters? I'm always delighted to hear from experts in the writing/publishing world and to meet new folks traveling this journey with me.

Then I've had to contend with the personal challenge of a husband in and out of the hospital a couple times since the first of the year and taking over some of the chores I always depended upon him to get done.

Now, I've got to get geared up for the approaching release of my latest, Mai Lin: Another New Beginning, which has a release date of May 12th. Anyone who's had a book published recently knows the promo and marketing has been dumped in the author's lap.

I say all that to ask you, my subscribers, if I have your consent to add your email address to a mailing list. I'm hoping to make use of the services of Mailchump to help get the word out about Mai Lin. I hope you'll all take a moment to respond with a hearty "Yes."

Another of my goals is to become more consistent on this blog with a desire to share with you something of interest and informative, I hope, at least once a week. Hearing from you about how I'm doing will be a tremendous encouragement.

So for now I'll close with this tidbit from Sol Stein: "In our daily work and play, our senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell define the world for us. Don't let your senses atrophy; don't take your senses for granted."
         

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Another Promotional Venture

Recently I was invited to come speak about my books and life as an author to the 20th Century Club in Gilmer. This was a new experience for me. Even after all these years, I still fight to overcome my reluctance to talk to strangers about myself.

The group of ladies were so warm and welcoming that I soon felt at ease. They had asked me to talk specifically about Troubled Times, a novel that had been written and published quite a few years back. In fact, this is the book that took me to visit my alma mater Norwich Free Academy to address the joint high school classes there. But that's another story. Perhaps at a later date I'll write about the book tour I arranged.

With no prepared notes other than the selection of a couple passages I'd decided to share from the book, I rambled on about the story I chose to tell and my motivation for telling it. A bit intimidating for this transplanted Yankee to be explaining to a roomful of Southern Belles.

But that familiar Southern graciousness filled the room and when the questions came, it pleased me to hear such thoughtful responses.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience, especially the delicious spread urged upon me after the meeting. Most especially rewarding was the eagerness to own copies of my books which I just happened to bring with me.

And to think, this all came about because a fellow author had invited me months previously to set up a display of my books at her store when the town was holding a special event.

It all comes down to taking advantage of the opportunities offered and never let your personal sense of inadequacies hold you back.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My Lost Weekend


Finally breathing normal after the fabulous mini-vacation I had last weekend. Above is a photo of Rosevine Inn, a bed & breakfast located in nearby Tyler, Texas but the picture only hints at what this place offers. My sister and I spent two nights there and enjoyed the most relaxing, comfortable, hospitable place I've ever had occasion to stay at.

She drove from San Antonio just to share this marvelous experience with me. The whole package, rental car, gift card for expenses, and two nights at a bed & breakfast for the both of us was a generous, loving Christmas present to my sister from her family. Whoopee!

Owners Becca & Bert built the place in 1986 and over time have perfected the art of hospitality. Decorated to have the feel of a 1930's home, Rosevine Inn offers its guests all the modern amenities with a lot of fun surprises. Who would believe a fully-functional player piano, which I spied soon after entering. The host, Bert, immediately pulled out rolls of perforated paper and soon had the instrument tinkling out old familiar tunes.

The weather didn't co-operate to allow our indulging in the hot tub but some of the other guests did enjoy a lively game of Bocce. More fun times were to be had in the two-story red barn on the property whose game room included a pool table, board games, and an area to relax around a fabulous stone fireplace. 

Most special were the sumptuous and delicious breakfasts, served at our convenience. We spent our free time  shopping, indulging at Starbucks and of course, sampling a few of Tyler's fine restaurants. All in all, a great time of relaxing and unwinding was had by both of us.

It was hard to leave on Monday morning, but duty called and reluctantly we returned to our waiting families. 


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cool as a Cucumber


Cucumbers are one of my favorite summer vegetables.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Cool here means imperturbable rather than having a low temperature. Being calm and composed, self-possessed in a stressful situation.

The phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’ (c.1732) embodies ancient folk knowledge that was confirmed by science in 1970. The inside of a field cucumber on a warm day is 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature.

The phrase was first recorded in John Gay's Poems, New Song on New Similies, 1732: "I ... cool as a cucumber could see the rest of womankind." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/38500...

The term “cool as a cucumber” is actually derived from the cucumber’s ability to cool the temperature of the blood. Also when applied topically, cucumber really does cool the blood and eases facial swelling, which is why cucumbers are so popular in facial regimens. This information came from http://www.thetowndish.com/2013/07/15/10-facts-you-didnt-know-about-cucumbers/

This site also informed me that if you have a hard time drinking your eight glasses of water per day, try munching on some cucumbers. They are made up of 95% water! And remember, place slices of cucumbers over your eyes to smooth that puffiness!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Like Blogging


Never said I would admit this,but I like blogging. I've been told a blog is simply the best, fastest, and easiest way to create your online persona. Well, only time will tell if that's true or not.

I've learned your blog posts should all serve larger goals. Aimless blogging is almost as bad as not blogging at all. So I'm going to try and focus on particular topics, such as writing, odd sayings of our English language or other things that influence my writing. Maybe even something a bit more personal once in a while. 

It's been said more people will enjoy reading it if the writing is more approachable. Try to include glimpses of your personality in your writing to make them feel more comfortable with you.

Advice is to be organized really well. I chose a working title that opens the door to a variety of subjects and hints at the sometimes incongruity of situations.

Other recommendations are: don't copy-and-paste and not give credit where credit is due. I must remember to link back to the actual page from when I capture the information I share. To cite someone's content on Twitter, I can just include a "via @username". If I publish a post from a guest blogger, I should always mention the guest blogger's name, give them a short bio, and  include a link to their website.

Most importantly, I need to take the time to shape up my post. Preview the post and fix any typos, run-on sentences, or accidental its/it's mistakes. 

I must keep reminding myself that there will always be more things I can do to make my posts better. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks



Words and paper go together like ham and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, Mom and apple pie. The cave painters of the Neolithic Age use earth walls, the Egyptians invented papyrus. For eons, man has been putting marks on a solid surface or paper in an effort to communicate.
 In my opinion, nothing can replace the scratching sound of a pen on paper, the march of black marks across a blank line, the heft of a bound book, or the rustle of a turning page.
Then came the digital revolution and the's tilt shifted a little more, gained a bit more of a lean.
Now we find ourselves awash in a flood-tide of instant communicating, black markings on a white screen that can  morph in a blink of an eye into four-color images. Combinations of symbols and letters now replace a well-constructed sentence as we feverishly expend energy and consume time, trying to verify our existence and remain a constant in others' consciousness.
As an author, I still choose written words to communicate, to share with others what is important to me, to allow others a glimpse into life as I experience it. I fear I will never relinquish that simple act of taking pen in hand and using ink on paper to express my thoughts.
Although I realize I must move with the times, use the tools of the present as I do at this moment on my computer's keyboard...but, dang! It's hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.



Sunday, February 1, 2015

A to Z of Branding

There's a lot of advice out there for those who are newly published. One of the "hip" suggestions you hear frequently is the need to create your BRAND. Following are some of the means available to accomplish that goal.

Authenticity – nothing but the true you
Blog – an insightful website
Content – valuable content
Define your audience – focus on their needs
Email List – develop one and use it
Focus – define your brand and focus on niche audience
Graphic – create classy, tasteful design s
Help Others – find ways to be helpful to others
Influencers - seek out leaders and be of value to them
Join – find and join groups; get involved
Keywords – to help Googlers, build a list of keywords and use often
LiinkedIn – a have-to for professionals
Media – identify most useful to you and use them
Network – make connections locally, regionally and globally; spread your business card
Opine – make your stand known; don’t be bland
Questions – ask for help, ideas; be a good listener
Recognize – acknowledge everyone who assist your success
Slogan – create a catchy phrase that expresses what you have to offer
Teach – build your brand by becoming a trusted teacher
Understand triggers – learn the importance of reaching emotions
Voice – develop a unique voice
Win Friends – the key to word-of-mouth publicity
eXamine – analyze your results and build on successful attempts
You – write conversationally; “you’ is the reader
Zeal – nothing creates success like enthusiasm

I don't recommend anyone attempt to accomplish all these tips immediately - nibble away at the list and take on only what you're comfortable doing at first. Creating a brand to be recognized by is a long-term project.