Monday, June 30, 2014

Social Media Monday—What Gadgets Do I Need in My Blog’s Sidebar?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Someone contacted my with this question just last week. I looked for a blog post about this to send her. That's when I realized that while I talk about this in bits and pieces within different blog posts, I’ve never written a post addressing this specific issue.

That’s a huge slip-up on my part because your blog’s sidebar is VERY important in the overall success of your site. Not just what's in it, but also what order those gadgets are in.

So today I’m going to break it down and answer the question, “What gadgets do I need in my blog’s sidebar?”

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekend Worship—Obedience Where I Am Now

He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much... Luke 16:10

When I was young all I wanted to be was a writer. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote my first novel in eighth grade…long hand, with a purple ink pen. But through the years, my dream of writing drifted farther and farther from the realm of reasonable possibilities, until I finally I gave up.

But as a young mother of three kids, God revived that call. At first I was scared, but then I got excited. Oh the plans I made—I’d write Bible studies and spend my time traveling, speaking and working for God.

I finished my first Bible study and the printer ink was barely dry before I had the manuscript in an envelope and on the way to publisher. I could see my future so clearly and I was on fire, with plans to do great things in His kingdom. All He had to do was open this one door.

Not only did He not open that door, it seemed every other door had slammed shut and locked. It quickly became obvious that going and doing weren’t part of the call He’d placed on my life. Instead, the doors at home began to swing wide, as He invited me to share my story with those closest to me. 

As I swallowed my pride and became obedient to act where He’d placed me, the fruit began to grow. Years later, going and doing has become part of my call, but first I’d had to learn obedience and the difference between His will and mine.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Social Media Image—What Will You Risk?

Following one's dream is a daunting proposition.

Today I'd like to challenge each of you who read this, to share the dream of your heart and if you're ready to risk it all to reach it. 

"But he who dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose." -Emily Bronte
I think it's only fair that I go first. I shouldn't ask anyone to do something I'm not willing to do. The dream of my heart is to write and see published, the books God has put inside me.

Who's willing to go next?

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,

Friday, June 27, 2014

One Writer’s To-do List for Writing—Putting the Joy Back in Writing

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

Have To, Need To, and Want To!
I have a love/hate relationship with lists. They definitely keep me organized and on track, but they also highlight just how many commitments I have. To combat the downside, and keep me moving forward, I’ve found a way to categorize my writing tasks through a 3-tiered approach.

I call it my Have To, Need To, and Want To system. It’s the definitions of the writing tasks that determine where they fit in this. Today I’m going to share those definitions with you, along with examples.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Paralyzing Fear—Also Known as WRITER'S BLOCK

by Edie Melson

Paralyzing fear, also known to those of us who scribble as a living as writer’s block. Most writers have experienced this at some point in their career. Traditionally, we define it as a time when the well runs dry in the middle of a project.

I have a different opinion. I’ve talked with (okay, occasionally ambushed) many writers over the years and find the conversation might go something like this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Social Media Content: Is it Nonfiction Writing?


Is social media content nonfiction writing?
If you compose a tweet, are you a non-fiction writer? If you constantly update your Facebook status, are you considered a writer? If you are continually updating and improving your LinkedIn profile and publishing articles to the community, are you a writer? There are tons of blogs, social networking sites, and photo and video uploading sites, but does the quantity of these sites really match the quality that should be reflected in nonfiction writing, photography, and film?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Using YouTube As An Author

Charity Tinnin @CharityTinnin
I must confess, YouTube is the one social media platform that terrifies me. Don't get me wrong, I love watching the original series, book reviews, interviews, and casting videos on it. But ask me to create content for my own channel and watch me squirm. Luckily, my indie mentor Susan Kaye Quinn is a YouTube pro. 

Sue is the best kind of successful indie author - the kind that drops breadcrumbs (or whole pieces of toast!) for those coming behind her. I followed Sue's indie journey years before I considered becoming an indie myself, and when I decided to take the plunge, I devoured her Indie Author Survival Guide. So, let's all grab a cup of chai, take a deep breath, and maybe, just maybe, lose the fear of using YouTube as an author.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Social Media Monday—The Etiquette of Commenting, for the Blogger & the Reader

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

Blogging is a great way to build an online community—when you take time to learn how to do it right. Part of the things you need to learn including how to write a focused post, how to keep to a schedule, how to facilitate conversation with open-ended questions and today’s topic, the etiquette of commenting.

It’s important to know the dos and don’ts of commenting because part of growing your blog means you’ll be leaving comments on other sites, as well as replying to comments on your on site.

The etiquette involved isn’t complicated. As a matter of fact, I think it’s fairly intuitive. Most of us do the right things most of the time. But there are some things we may over look. Today’s post is designed to help you learn the etiquette of commenting for the blogger and the reader.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Weekend Worship—The Imaginary Line Between the Secular & the Sacred

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters… It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

Even though I’m a Christ-follower, I must admit I'm struggling with a concept.

I have a problem with the idea of Christian books and Christian writers. I can hear the gasping and unsubscribing even as I write this. You are welcome to disagree. Actually I hope that you’ll take time to weigh in on this subject. But before you do, let me explain. As far as Christian books, there’s no way a book can be Christian, in that Jesus didn’t die so it could live. It’s like saying I have Christian countertops or a Christian chair. We’ve just become so accustomed to hearing the phrase we accept it at face value.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Social Media Image—Sharpening Your Writerly Senses

How do you sharpen your writerly senses?

"The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our
senses to grow sharper."  ~W.B. Yeats

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Friday, June 20, 2014

ALL IN ONE—A Comprehensive List of Twitter Posts

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

I’m excited to introduce a new type of post here on The Write Conversation. I’m calling these my ALL IN ONE posts. 

I get a lot of emails asking for links to all the relevant posts on a specific subject. I'm hoping that these posts will answer a need. In these, I’ll share links to all the posts I’ve written on a specific topic.

Today’s ALL IN ONE is a comprehensive list of Twitter posts.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Everything Today’s Writer Needs to Know About Links

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

As a writer in the twenty-first century we need to know how to work with links. LINK is a slang term for HYPERLINK, and it refers to the URL of a specific web page. There is a hyperlink in the next paragraph. It’s there as an example and link back to this webpage. (Read on to find out why I included it.)

There are times you’ll need to insert a link into a document, provide a shortened link to use with social media, and decide which specific words to link in a blog post. Today I’ll cover everything today's writer needs to know about links.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Business Basics for Today's Writer—7 Tips to Help Keep Your Email Out of the Spam Folder

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

Email has become one of our society’s means of communication. We use it for business interactions of course. But it’s also replaced many of the things we used to send by the US Postal Service. Because of this, it’s imperative that we do everything possible to make sure our correspondence reaches its intended destination.

That goal leads me to mention one of the frustrations of this medium—the seemingly arbitrary designation of spam for our missives. This label takes our email from someone’s inbox, to the bottomless pit known as the SPAM FOLDER. Because of this, it’s imperative that we do everything possible to make sure our correspondence reaches its intended destination.

Truthfully, the designation of spam isn’t nearly as arbitrary as it may seem. Spam filters utilize complex algorithms similar to search engines that help protect email users. Today, I’m going to share some of the things that take an innocent email from the inbox to the spam folder.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Indie Tuesdays—Pointers for Marketing with Pinterest

Jessica here. Today I have the pleasure of introducing my friend Dawn Crandall. One of the first things I remember from when we met was how gorgeous Dawn's One Sheets were. They were jaw-dropping, stunning. So when Dawn joined Pinterest I went right away and drooled over her boards. Today she's sharing some pointers for marketing with Pinterest. 

by Dawn Crandall @dawnwritesfirst

I was purposefully late onto the Pinterest boat when it became all the rage a few years ago. I didn’t especially like to cook, craft, or organize ... and that was what everyone pinned about, wasn’t it? At least that was what my friends seemed to pin about. And why did I need Pinterest to save my favorite photos off the internet? I already had several years’ worth of photos saved to my laptop to feed my imagination ... a whole folder full of “book photos” to show the different aspects of the imaginary world I written about for the last few years.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Social Media Monday—Essential Dos and Don’ts of Blogging

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

I love to blog, and I try to share my love of blogging when I teach at writing conferences.

I also know that many of you aren’t such fans. Many of you try to love blogging because it’s a good way to connect with your readers and build an online presence. Others, don’t even try to love it, but do it out of necessity. The rest are like me, and enjoy the process as well as the connections it brings.

No matter where you are with blogging, it’s important to do it well. Whether you blog twice a month on a group blog, or daily on your own site, there are some essential dos and don’ts of blogging that I’d like to share with you today.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Day Tribute—The Past Unwritten

by Edie Melson

His world—once painted in vibrant colors with wide brush strokes—now only grays, hazy and indistinct.
Memoriesremembrances, grown dim.
Life now, only a reflection of the black and white images he once captured.

Words, once a rushing river of abundance,
Now trickle through a small stream bed
Stumbling over rocks
Stuttering to a stop in stagnant pools of
Forgetfulness.

A father and husband, once a perfect composition,
Now missing the parts that made him whole.
Awkwardly fit together,
A cruel caricature of who he once was.

Time, once a ribbon unbroken from past to present to future.
Now frayed and torn,
Beyond mending, but precious for the parts
That remain.

Experiences once shared, slowly fading, disappear into murky shadows,
A book being unwritten
Day by day.

Glimpses of the hero he is shines through the dim light in his eyes.
Moments of recognition,
Treasures of the past.

I wrote this as I tried to come to terms with the encroaching dementia of someone I love. Perhaps you've found yourself struggling with a similar situation.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Social Media Image—Reflecting on the Blessings

How do you focus on blessings when life (large & small) seems overwhelming?

"Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your
present misfortunes, of which all men have few." ~Charles Dickens
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Friday, June 13, 2014

Life Lessons—Mine Your Experiences to Make Your Writing Richer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

We all want what we write to matter—to touch hearts, change lives, challenge the status quo. To that end we search high and low for the words that connect us to our readers.

But what if the gems we’re searching for aren’t hidden in distant places, but instead are buried deep within our own experiences?

Today I’m going to give you the clues to finding those precious nuggets hidden in plain sight. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to follow this mining metaphor to its ultimate end and show you how to mine your own experiences to make your writing richer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How Much Information Should I Give Away for Free on My Blog?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

These days we all know that writers need blogs. But blogs need content, and therein lies our dilemma. How much information should we give away for free on a blog?

This is less of an issue for the fiction writers out there—it’s common knowledge that publishers frown on authors sharing large chunks of a fiction manuscript in advance of publication. There are exceptions to this, but they're just that, exceptions.

The gray area comes with those of us who write non-fiction. We usually build our sites around the topics of our books. How much valuable—publishable—information can we really afford to give away? The answer may surprise you. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Successful Editing Summed Up in a Single Principle— Err on the Side of Outrageous

by Edie Melson

Writers tend to fall into two distinct groups, those who prefer to write and those who prefer to rewrite—also known as editing. I fall into the latter group. I can’t help it. I just love the process of editing.

It doesn’t really matter if I’m editing someone else, or my own manuscript.

To me, it’s a fulfilling task of taking something good and making it into something great. But the path of getting from good to great can be a difficult one, unless you follow this single principle. I stumbled upon it early in my writing journey and it’s served me well, no matter what type of editing situation I’m in. So what is it that makes for successful editing?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Indie Tuesday—A Ten Step Crash Course on Instagram

Charity here. Jessica and I are thrilled that Rajdeep Paulus kicks off our social media series with a guest post on Instagram. Rajdeep is an indie YA author who writes "Marsala-Marinated YA Fiction." (Which is a great tagline, am I right?) So buckle up, hold on, and get ready for a ten step crash course on Instagram. I promise, it won't hurt a bit.

by Rajdeep Paulus @RajdeepPaulus

Picture it. Edit it. Frame it. Meme it. Hashtag it. Tag it. Heart it. Witty Comment it. Share it. Repeat. 

It really is that simple. In a day and age where social media, love or hate, isn't going anywhere, might as well jump on the Instagram wagon with your GPS set to keep it simple. Keep it fun. And keep it real.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Social Media Monday—Tips for Composing the (almost) Perfect Tweet Every Time

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Twitter, as many of you already know, is my Social Media Sweet Spot—my easy button, if you will. It’s my go-to place to send and receive information.

I know that Twitter is NOT the sweet spot for many of you reading this blog.

Part of that is because you’re not really sure what constitutes a good tweet. You’ve heard just enough about hashtags and twitter etiquette to make you cringe at the thought of composing your own tweet. So rather than failing, you either stick to retweeting what others share or just pass on the whole thing.

Today, I’m going to break it down for you and share my tips to composing the (almost) perfect tweet every time.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Weekend Worship—Is it Failure or Actually Fruit in Disguise?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Galatians 5:22-23

photo courtesy of Mary Denman
While I was at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference a couple of weeks ago,  I had the opportunity to hear about other authors’ journeys to publication. 

As we compared routes, I noticed many similarities to my own. Most were like mine—not a direct route—but a circuitous trip full of bumps and detours. Frequently a writer's path is littered with broken dreams and shattered expectations.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Social Media Image—June is PTSD Awareness Month—Please Share!

Help spread the word about the thousands who are still suffering. If you want to know more, here's a link to the National Center for PTSD.

Too many bring the burden of war home—June is PTSD Awareness Month.
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

I also invite you to use this image any way you like online. Post it to your blog, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you'd like. All I ask is that you keep it intact, with my website watermark visible.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Friday, June 6, 2014

Life Lessons—Finding the Good in a Bad Critique

by Edie Melson

Critique—just mention of the word can make me break out in hives. Don’t get me wrong, I really like to get feedback on my writing, as long as it’s positive. 

But there’s the rub, a steady diet of positive critiques alone doesn’t help me grow as a writer. 

Now, I’m not one of those who believe positive feedback is worthless. I like to know what I’m doing well, so I can do more of it. But, I also want to know where I need improvement.

To that end, you might say I’m a glutton for punishment. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday Review—Observations about Writing on a Deadline

by Lynn H. Blackburn @lynnhblackburn

I’m on a deadline y’all, so this is going to be brief.

I’ve never been on a real deadline before, but I entered a contest and next thing I know, BOOM! Full manuscript due June 9th. Which is awesome. Or it would have been if I hadn’t had to rewrite pretty much the whole novel.

I’ve been churning out 2K words a day for weeks and I’ve made a few, let’s call them “observations,” regarding writing to a deadline.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Write Better Dialogue by Brushing Up on Your Eavesdropping Skills

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I read somewhere once that good dialogue is a conversation with the boring parts taken out. I completely agree. Just record and transcribe a normal conversation and you’ll see that it isn’t all that interesting to read without a lot of judicious editing.

But even armed with that knowledge, how do we as writers, determine what’s boring and what’s not? That’s a skill that takes practice.

I believe good dialogue is more like music than anything else. We start with the rules, learning the craft and the technique. But to become masters we must develop an ear, a sense if you will, of what translates well to the page and what does not.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Create Your Own Shareable Memes

by Jessica Keller @AuthorKeller

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the term “meme” tossed around when it comes to using many of the social media sites Charity and I will be covering in the coming weeks.  Marketing professionals have embraced the use of memes because they’ve realized the viral power these graphics can have. When I launched Saving Yesterday, I created shareable memes and people told me they bought my book solely based on seeing one of my memes. Today, I’m going to show you a free and easy way to create your own shareable memes.   

Monday, June 2, 2014

Social Media Monday—What FINDING BIGFOOT Taught Me About Growing My Social Media Network

by Edie Melson

I have a dark secret to confess.

I’m a HUGE Finding Bigfoot fan. I don’t watch many reality television shows, but I never miss an episode of this show. No, I’m not a particular Bigfoot believer or naysayer. I’ve never had a Bigfoot encounter. Truthfully, I’m at as much of a loss to explain my fascination as my long-suffering husband is.

A new season is about to begin (June 6) and as my husband begins to roll his eyes and make disparaging remarks, I feel my own excitement building.

So in anticipation of the upcoming evenings with Bobo, Ranae, Matt and Cliff, I’m going to share what this show has taught me about growing my social media network.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Weekend Worship—The Myth of Perfect Parenting

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

For anyone who has a child the thought of perfect parenting elicits a range of emotions, from hope to discouragement to outright terror.

We all hope we’ll be good parents, but most of us expect to fail in some ways. And every parent I’ve ever spoken with lives in fear of being such a bad parent they mess up their child permanently.

I’m writing this as I look back over my parenting journey. We have three grown sons, so the intense time of parenting is past. Sure we still give advice—when asked—but for the most part we’re finished.