Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Online Etiquette for Authors & Others

by Edie Melson

Recently I’ve been reminded what a small world publishing really is. Even if we don’t actually know each other, it’s likely that we have friends and associates in common. Because it’s such a small world, it’s important for us to all pay attention to how we interact, especially online. What I say and do, doesn’t just affect me. The ripples of my actions spread out and affect many others. So before we go bumping and jumping into the New Year, I thought I’d give us all a refresher in online etiquette.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Social Media Monday—Get a New Perspective on Social Media

by Edie Melson

I post a lot of information about social media here on TheWrite Conversation. Beyond that, I field a lot of questions about etiquette. I try to get to everything in a timely fashion, but sometimes you need the information right away. Today I’d like you to get a new perspective on social media and show you how that may give you the insight you need.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend Worship--A Beginning

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

I love New Year’s Day. Not because of the partying and hoopla, but because it marks an end . . . and a beginning. You see, by the time I get to the end of a year, no matter how many good things have happened, I feel dragged down by all the junk that has accumulated.

Those unfulfilled expectations.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Social Media Image—Never Say Never

Never say never.

This is truly a cliche' of epic proportions. And yet, like so many cliches' before, it's truth is undeniable. Almost invariable, when I make a never statement, it becomes real in my life. I said I'd never live in the Houston area and BAM, I spent seven years there. Is said I'd never stand in front of people and speak, and again, it came to pass.

My good friend and author, Beth Vogt, coined the phrase you see on the image below. It was too good, and too true, not to pass along.

So when have you walked through the never door? If you haven't ever, what's keeping you!

"God's best is often found behind the doors marked never." -Beth Vogt

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!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Life Lessons—Where Does Your Writing Go From Here?

by Edie Melson

I can’t help it. The time between Christmas and New Years is—at least in my mind—no man’s land. It’s a time filled with clean up, hurry up and wait up. In many ways it’s the lull before the storm.

January is when I hit the ground running, determined to start things off right. One of the reasons I’m able to do that is because I do some re-evaluating during this week. I always ask myself one question. Where does your writing go from here?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top Social Media Mistakes Authors Made in 2013

by Edie Melson

I was originally going to include this information in my Monday post on the Top Blogging Mistakes Authors Made in 2013, but the post as just too long. So today we’re going to continue the fun with Top Social Media Mistakes Authors Made in 2013.

These are things I see on a daily basis as I hang out on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest. They may seem small, but many can cost you followers, mentions, and even friends.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas—An Image for You to Share

I'm taking today and tomorrow off from blogging. But I couldn't let Christmas pass without giving you a gift. So today's post is an additional social media image for you to share. Don't worry, I already have another one scheduled for Saturday.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Social Media Monday— Top Blogging Mistakes Authors Made in 2013

by Edie Melson

Collectively speaking, during 2013 I’ve seen a huge improvement in how authors interact online. That said, there are still some common mistakes. These things are affecting your blog, making readers click away before they finish a post and even unsubscribe altogether. 

Today I’m going to share the top blogging mistakes authors made in 2013.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Worship—A Season of Controversy

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. Acts 17:23

This has turned into the season of controversy. Everywhere I turn, from social media, to magazines, to television I’m hearing about the Duck Dynasty Debacle. Christians are being painted as narrow-minded bigots.

And we’re being drawn into an argument that has side-tracked the reason for the season. We need to stay focused the bigger issue.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Social Media Image—Can Boundaries Actually Make Us More Creative?

I grew up in a very creative family—a good thing—but a tad bit intimidating. My mother is especially talented as an artist, and growing up I couldn't even draw a credible stick figure.

But I did discover I could come up with some amazing needlework designs when I used graph paper. The boundaries gave me the structure I needed to release my creativity. I think that's why I love grammar and even editing so much.

So how about you? Do boundaries help you be more creative? If so, which ones?

"Only when boundaries are established can true creativity begin." Elf, the movie
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!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fun Friday–Let it Snow, Star Trek Style

I thought we could all use a little silliness today!

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Man God Created Just for Me!

Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. 

Kirk and Weslyn
Jimmy and Katie 
I’m thinking about weddings right now because our oldest son celebrated his fourth wedding anniversary this fall, and our middle son just got engaged.

As we’ve watched our sons choose life-mates we’ve been struck by how perfectly they complete each other. It’s as if God had chosen them for one another.

And I believe He did. Because He choose Kirk and I for each other.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Business Basics for Today’s Writer: Over Writing—The Mark of a Lazy Writer

by Edie Melson

If we look at writing from a numbers point of view, it would be logical to assume that the more words, the better. But writing is NOT a numbers sport, and over writing is the mark of a lazy writer.

It's also something we all do, especially in a first draft. There's nothing wrong with that—as long as we take the time to go back and rework what we've written. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Christmas Spirit—Just Another Ghost Story?

Is the Christmas Spirit just another Ghost Story?
Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? I Corinthians 3:16

How is your Christmas season shaping up? For so many of us, December is a month of insane commitments and looming expectations. It’s not just the presents or the gatherings—although those alone can be overwhelming. The real Christmas killer, in my opinion, is that elusive Christmas Spirit we’re all supposed to be filled with—like some kind of holiday ectoplasm.

If you ask me, that’s one scary ghost.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Social Media Image—The Pace of the Season

I love the holidays—the gatherings, the sparkle, most of all the gatherings of family. But even for me, there are times when the pace gets to be too much. I have to refocus on what's important and take a breather from all the chaos. 

So I'm curious.
How do you cope with the pace of the season? 

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Life Lessons—Avoiding Emotional Land Mines During the Holidays

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D

Let’s face it. Though the holidays are filled with splendor, they are also chocked full of emotional turbulence. Your feelings seem to board a roller coaster around the first of November and ride it continuously until after the big ball falls in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

So how can a writer not only endure it, but make the best of it? Well, not by jumping into bed and pulling the covers over your head for two months. Instead, you can learn a lot from getting in touch with those emotions.

Here are a few things you can do to help with avoiding emotional land mines during the holidays:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

During This Season of Giving—Give Yourself the Gift of Time to Write

Give Yourself the Gift of Time to Write

by Edie Melson

We writers are an odd lot. 

We’re driven to write, spending time composing poetry, writing books, researching articles. We doodle titles, character names, and plot ideas on scraps of paper. All the while feeling guilty about the time we spend pursuing our dream. I call it writer's guilt.

Everyone of us has felt the tug. it’s all part and parcel when you work at home. 

I’ve fought the battle for years—sometimes more successfully than others. And the craziest thing is the guilt is pretty much self imposed. My family is frequently more supportive of my writing time than I am.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Social Media Monday—Add a FOLLOW Button to Your Personal Profile on Facebook

by Edie Melson

NOTE: Facebook has updated the interface since I wrote this post. The information is accurate, but the screens will look slightly different.

There’s a movement away from the necessity of having a professional Facebook page. For those of you who have growing and active professional pages, this post does NOT affect you. Keep doing what works. But for those of us who haven’t had much success migrating our professional connections over from our personal profile it’s a gift from Heaven!

Facebook now allows personal profiles to have FOLLOWERS as well as FRIENDS. This means we can utilize the success on our personal profiles in the professional world.

It’s easy to set this up and here’s how:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekend Worship—A Material Girl

Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. Matthew 6:31-32

This holiday season is hard for me, but not for the reasons you may think. It’s because I am—in so many ways—a material girl. I worry about what I wear, what car I drive, even what I serve my family for supper.

Everywhere I look during this time of year I’m inundated by the world’s confirmation that things matter. Sometimes the message is subtle, cloaked to look like I’m spending money so I can spend time. But no matter how it’s presented, the world wants me to spend money instead of time.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Social Media Image—What Says Christmas to You?

What says Christmas most to you?

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." W.T. Ellis
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!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Life Lessons—Unexpected Storms

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D

I can imagine how it went. They were enjoying the night before Thanksgiving. Most likely they were sitting by the fire watching a favorite flick. I bet Edie was knitting as the scenes played out on the big screen TV.

Then the unexpected storm—and certainly something no parent ever wants to hear—came blowing in out of nowhere, fracturing her blissful evening and raining terror on her peaceful little world.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday Review—Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins

A review by Lynn H. Blackburn

I’m going to tell y’all something that I don’t make a habit of sharing. I wouldn’t even tell you, except, well, you’re writers.

So, I’m hoping you’ll get this.


I stand in front of my mirror and act out my scenes.

Does anyone else do this? Anyone?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Key to Writing Good Fiction—Put Your Reader to Sleep

by Edie Melson

Yes, you read the title correctly. Put your reader to sleep

Okay, maybe not completely to sleep, but at least allow them to dream. What does dreaming have to do with writing? Everything. The dream I’m referring to is the fictional dream. If you’ve never heard the term before, don’t worry. I guarantee you know what I’m talking about. I think author, John Gardner says it best. 

“What counts in conventional fiction must be the vividness and continuity of the fictional dream the words set off in the reader’s mind.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

You are Killing Yourself with a Weak (on nonexistent) Writer’s Bio—or Why a Writer's Bio is Essential

by Edie Melson

You're killing yourself with a eek writer's bio!
I’ve been accused of being blunt and forthright, and I suppose the title of this post proves it’s true. But really people, don’t you realize how important those few lines at the end of a guest post or article really is? That space is valuable real estate and you’re growing weeds on it.

I’ll say it again, you are killing yourself with a weak writer’s bio.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Social Media Monday—Top 7 Mistakes Authors Make Online

by Edie Melson

I travel all over the country, training writers how to utilize social media and blogging to grow their readership base.

And I find the same mistakes over and over again.

These things are easily fixed, they’re generally small and often overlooked. Today I’m sharing the top 7 mistakes authors make online.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekend Worship—What If…NOT a Place for Believers to Dwell

For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

This past week our family had quite a scare. 

Our youngest son was back home from college and at a trampoline park with friends. He landed wrong and broke his back. 

Fortunately there was no spinal cord damage.

Now, I’m good in a crisis. For some reason what makes other people panic creates in me to the ability to act clearly and decisively. So when they brought him home, I was woman-in-control. I can be calm and clear-headed in the worst catastrophe.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tips to Adjust Your Writing Schedule and Enjoy the Holidays!

by Edie Melson

The holidays can be stressful
The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. But for those of us who work from home, the juggling act can be a minefield of unreasonable expectations and disappointments. And turning off your computer for a month and half isn't the answer. It's hard to restart a productive routine after taking a month off.

Today I want to share some tips to adjust your writing schedule and enjoy the holidays.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Social Media Monday—Add a Custom Tab to Your Professional Facebook Page

by Edie Melson

Facebook is a valuable tool when it comes to social media. BUT, it’s important to make sure those who follow you on one platform, can find you on the others. There are several ways to do this:
  • Make sure your user name/profile name is the same or very similar.
  • Keep your profile picture consistent. It doesn’t have to be the exact same pose, but make sure you are recognizable.
  • Make sure your blog/website is linked on all of them.

Number three is the one I want to focus on today. I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions on how to add a custom tab to your professional Facebook page.

Weekend Worship—Working with Us?

Edie Melson

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

I am constantly amazed that the God of the universe has chosen to work through us. I don’t know about you, but I am totally unworthy and unequipped for the honor. And looking at the condition of our world, I have to occasionally throw my hands up in frustration and ask, “What were you thinking?” Obviously, if He were doing the work Himself, we’d all be a lot better off

…or would we.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Social Media Image—The Power of Words

Oh the power of words—to hurt, to heal, to help.
When have the words of someone else helped you? 

"Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence." -Pythagoras
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!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life Lessons—What's in a Name?

by Reba J Hoffman, Ph.D

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting a local writer’s group. I went to the sign-in table, promptly wrote a name on a visitor’s name tag and plastered it onto my denim jacket. A member of the writing group who’s also an editor immediately noticed I didn’t use my own name.

Okay… besides the fact that I’m not tall with gorgeous red hair and dozens of best-selling suspense novels, how did this person know I was not award winning author Brandilyn Collins? Oh wait. That’s for another blog post.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Good Friend of Mine I Never Met—The True Value of Social Media

by Edie Melson

A casual remark caused me to stop and think.
I was chatting with a group of writers at a recent meeting and a random comment stopped me in my tracks.

“I learned that from a good friend of mine I never met.”

I held up my hand for everyone’s attention and asked the speaker to repeat what she’d just said. She gave me an odd look, but complied. The rest of the group mirrored her puzzled expression. I had to laugh before I explained.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Business Basics for Today’s Writer—Learn the CORRECT Way to Use Quotation Marks

by Edie Melson

I don’t do this often, but sometimes my inner editor just can’t take it anymore. So today I’m letting her loose with a personal rant about quotation marks. And we're begging you all to take a few moments, and learn the correct way to use quotation marks.

HINT: Quotations marks are not to EVER be used for emphasis—more on that later.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Writing Book You’ll Want for Your Library—Imagination @Work by Alton Gansky

A Review by Edie Melson
My friend and Blue Ridge cohort has just published a new e-book. It's a nonfiction work containing several years of essays he’s written about creativity and writing. Each of the 80 essays is short, designed to be read quickly.
This book is full of wisdom gleaned from years in the publishing industry. Reading it you’ll feel like you’re sitting, having coffee with a mentor.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Social Media Monday—Learn How to Pin Your Blog Posts

by Edie Melson

Pinterest is growing by leaps and bounds as a valuable social media tool for writers. It’s a great way to connect with readers and there are numerous ways to utilize this image driven platform.

It’s also a great way to generate interest for your blog. Today I want to concentrate on that aspect of Pinterest, with step-by-step instructions on how to pin a blog post.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Social Media Image—Who Would You Thank for Helping Your Writing Dreams Become Reality?

I've been thinking lately about all the people who have helped me get where I am as a writer. It's made me curious. If you could thank someone publicly, who would it be? I'll chime in too.

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever
becomes a master." - Ernest Hemingway

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!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Life Lessons—The Gift in You

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D

Yes, I’m talking to you. I know that about now you feel you should chunk the computer in the electronics recycle bin and pick up knitting. Your words won’t flow and you just know you made a mistake deciding to be a writer.

You’re having a meltdown. Really, it boils down to an issue of trust. Judging by your fast drafting, mistake-making mumbo jumbo called prose, you don’t believe you can do it. Simply put, you don’t trust the gift in you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Review—The Emotion Thesaurus

by Lynn H. Blackburn

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase Show Don’t Tell I could afford to take all of us to a writers conference. Where we would, again, be reminded to…

Show Don’t Tell!

Telling is so easy though. If I say, “Caroline was so angry when they fired her” you know she’s mad.

Unfortunately, telling is also lazy writing. It takes a lot more of our creative juices to say, “Caroline turned toward the window and took a slow breath. Then another. Heat coursed through her limbs as she considered her options. If they thought she would be willing to go quietly, they had underestimated her. Again. She drove her heels into the floor to stop her legs from shaking…”

You get the idea.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend Worship—A Colorful Life

by Edie Melson

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool, crisp days that bring relief from summer’s heat. But most of all, I love the beautiful colors adorning the trees in our Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I get great joy from driving through the mountains to see the changing leaves. It always amazes me how vibrant the colors are and, until recently. I took that beauty for granted.

Last year, I learned what makes the trees brighter some years as opposed to others. The intensity and brilliance of the colors is virtually unaffected by the amount of stress the tree has suffered during the previous season—as long as it has plenty of rain. 

That knowledge stopped me in my tracks, as God immediately began to apply its spiritual truth to my life. God is the water, the lifeline that keeps my life healthy. It doesn’t matter how great the trial, as long as I look to Him for provision, I can come through triumphant.

Inevitably, I think about people around me who’ve suffered intense pain and come through to a place of peace. I could see that the constant in their lives had also been the Living Water of God’s Spirit, sustaining them, no matter the stress. The more God worked through their stress and suffering, the more vibrantly His brilliance shined through them.

Now this knowledge leads me to a choice. Will I fight God’s plan, turn my back on Him, and seek the path of least resistance—the path that leads to a life without color? Or will I let God transform my trials and tribulations into brilliance?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Social Media Image—Scattered Words

When I'm writing, sometimes the words come in abundance. At other times they drift, beautiful, but just out of reach. How about you?

"For the time being words scatter. Are they fallen leaves?" - Ruth Ozeki
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!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life Lessons—It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I see it in every activity in life. Great people are so focused on getting where they want to be, they forget to enjoy the journey. I call this destination syndrome.

It’s really a vision problem. Just like being nearsighted or color blind. Their focus is just off.

I rode in a cycling event once that took me right by the Space Shuttle launch pad, the largest known eagle’s nest in North America, and the alligator marshes.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What’s that Mean—Blog Post Titles that DON’T Confuse Your Social Media Followers!

by Edie Melson

But spend even more time passing over valuable posts because my followers would have no idea what the post was about. So today I want to give you the basics to help with blog post titles that DON’T confuse your social media followers.

I pay a lot of attention to my blog post titles, and I often spend almost as much time composing them as I do writing an entire post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Take Time to Nourish the Writer Within

by Edie Melson

Writing is hard work.

Beyond the physical part, it’s emotionally taxing. We pour our hearts and souls into the words we arrange into stories, articles, even blog posts. We spend time and money learning how to write, constantly improving our skills.

Then, we take a deep breath and share our words with the world. So often that world can be less than kind. To face the tumultuous life of writing, we have to take time to nourish the writer within.

Today I want to share some tips you can use—even if life is crazy—to feed your writer’s soul.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Social Media Monday—Get Your Social Media Pages Ready for the Holidays

by Edie Melson

I know November is just starting, but Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, with Christmas right on its heels. Now is the time to get your social media pages are ready for the holidays.

The first thing you want to look at your cover photo on the different platforms. Consider ways you could enhance it to give it a warm, holiday feel. You’ll probably want to change it twice, once for fall and again for Christmas.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Social Media Image—Autumn Bliss

What's your favorite part of this fall season?

Share your stories 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!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Life Lessons—Walk Through the Open Door

by Reba J Hoffman, Ph.D

There are times when youhave your career all planned out. You know each step you are going to take and have it strategically planned down to the nano-second.

Then right in the middle of your best laid plan when you are least expecting it, a door opens right in front of you. It could be taking you in a different direction than you thought you’d go.

So what’s a writer to do? Stay put, or walk through the open door? It’s not always an easy decision to make. Here are some things that will help you determine which you should do: