Thursday, October 31, 2013

Calendar Days—Holidays, Special Days & Downright Crazy Days in November

by Edie Melson

It's that timeagain—Calendar Days. I sure hope you all are enjoying this column as much as me. It's funny, as I research these each month, I think of so many of you.

And I can't help but giggle at the holidays that fall on the same date, like Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day on November 29. That just hits me as ironic.

I always share this info on the last Thursday of every month. So be sure to drop by. Today I’m going to continue with the upcoming crazy and normal holidays in the month of November.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Popular Hashtags and How to Use Them Effectively

by Edie Melson
Hashtags can be a confusing concept
Hashtags can be a confusing concept, so today I’m sharing a list of popular hashtags and how to use them effectively.

First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.

We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks by our existing connections introducing us, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.

What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Social Media Image Cheat Sheet—What Size Does that Image Need to Be?

by Edie Melson

There's not a lot as frustrating as trying to look at an image on Facebook that's the wrong size. By the time I blow it up big enough to see it, it's too blurry. Here are some exact dimensions to help you avoid that trap, and not just for Facebook.

It's my Social Media Image Cheat Sheet
This list will give you the specific information you need to upload photos to various social media sites.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Social Media Monday—Linking Your Social Media Accounts and Other Major Blogging and Social Media No-Nos

by Edie Melson

Successful social media is something of an art form—with lots of gray areas. Building a successful online presence takes a good amount of flexibility and a little bit of experimentation. But even though I encourage people to find their sweet spots, there are a few things you want to avoid. Today I’d to weigh in on linking your social media accounts and other major blogging and social media no-nos.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Social Media Image—The Courage of Others

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago when our youngest son, John, was home from college. He spent the day with us in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm constantly challenged and inspired by all three of our sons. Their courage has given me the strength to accomplish much more than I ever thought possible.

So, I'd love to know, who has shared some courage with you?

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
Robert Louis Stevenson
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, October 25, 2013

Genre Talk—The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

We interrupt the usual Life Lessons Friday post. Reba is en route to Salt Lake City and will resume posting next Friday. (Don’t worry, I’m not letting her leave us!)

The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy
During our last Genre Talk discussion, I gave you the basics on the general category of Speculative Fiction. Today I’m going to deliver on my promise to give you some insight into the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Often times readers and writers will lump science fiction and fantasy together without realizing the difference. And in an attempt to differentiate, they’ll often come up with arbitrary rules about what makes something fantasy or scifi. Truthfully, there are very few books that mix the two.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Don't Miss Writers Advance! Boot Camp

It seems like three quarters of the advice we hear as writers has to do with marketing, sales and platform. The reasons for this are myriad, but the biggest is that most of us struggle in this area. It tends to be way outside our comfort zone. But all this focus on social networking can also lead us astray, in time management and priorities.

It’s critical that we recognize the need to grow in our craft…to learn to write better!

So how do we do that? One of the best ways is to attend a writing conference. But with all the choices out there, how do we choose the one that best fits our circumstances?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm Update—Good News or Bad?

Is Google's Hummingbird Update Good News or Bad?
It's happened again, Google has rolled out yet another SEO update. People are wary when Google announces a new change in their search engine algorithm. Many have gotten caught in the Panda and Penguin updates with disastrous results. But with Google’s new hummingbird algorithm update we get some good news for a change!

If you’re a little behind and not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a blog post that explains SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and What Google Has Done

Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Media Monday—Find Your Blog’s Subscriber List and Schedule Email Notifications with Feedburner

This post is a recap on how to find your blog's subscriber list and schedule email notifications. The instructions here ONLY apply if you have a Feedburner account. If you have a Blogger blog (blogspot) you have Feedburner. You may have it if you have a WordPress blog, but probably not.

A lot of people don’t realize they have a valuable service attached to their blogs. It’s Feedburner and it’s most commonly used feature is as a gadget to let people sign up to follow your blog through email. But there’s so much more to Feedburner and today I want to give you a guided tour.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekend Worship—Guilt or Grace?

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

It had happened…again. I’d sworn it wouldn’t happen, but it had. And I’d made the promise just last week. I’d cried out to God during my morning prayers, promising to do better, to be more careful. This wasn’t the first time I’d confessed this weakness. I’d wrestled with this temptation again and again.

What kind of a person was I that I’d fall so easily back into the middle of temptation? My repeated lapses made me wonder if I was even a believer.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Life Lessons—You Decide!

by Reba J Hoffman, Ph.D

As many of you know, I was in Illinois on the Road to Freedom Tour on my bicycle when I tore a ligament in my knee. An MRI revealed a full tear of the medial collateral ligament (the inner supporting ligament).

I was told by experts that my tour was over. My heart told me something else. So I began brainstorming ways I could keep the Road to Freedom going in a way other than the bike.

I packed up Dakota (my custom built Waterford touring bike), and shipped it to Florida. I flew to Florida after attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference(ACFW) in Indianapolis.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Where to Go for Free/Copyright Free Images—and Other Helpful Sites for Writers

One of the questions I get asked most often is where to find images that can be used on a blog without copyright infringement. Today I'm sharing where to go for Free/Copyright Free Images.

Sites for Free/Copyright Free Images:

The site I recommend/use the most is Microsoft Clip Art. But they have recently made some changes in how you can access the images. Below is the link and step by step instructions on how to access the images.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Reasons NOT to Become a Novelist

As writers, we tend to have a certain mystique. I wish I had a dime every time someone said, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer!” But the truth is that not everyone has what it takes to write books for a living.

So for those of you considering the profession, or who are already here and are considering getting out, here are 10 reasons NOT to become a novelist!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Business Basics for Today’s Writer—Tough Love—Quit Looking at Yourself as the Exception, and Follow the Rules

Publishing is a complicated business—whether you’re writing fiction, how-to books, articles, or anything else. There’s a huge learning curve, and lots of unwritten rules. And there are exceptions. But if you’re serious about a career in writing, you need to quit looking at yourself as one of them.

I know it sounds harsh, but you are slowing down your forward momentum and only hurting yourself. I should know, I’ve been there. And if you think you aren’t playing these kinds of games, take the short quiz below, and see how you score.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Social Media Monday—A Workout Plan to Keep Your Social Media Life in Shape

Last week I shared How to Put Your Blog on a Diet. Today I’m going to give you a workout plan to keep your social media life in shape. To stay efficient at social media we’ve got to be lean. After all our goal is a writing life, not a marketing one.

To work efficiently online takes training and discipline. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Worship—There’s No Math in Heaven

For the word of the Lord is right,
and all His work is trustworthy. Psalm 33:4

Math is not my strong suit.

I have to giggle as I write these words. And I know my husband will be howling with laughter when he reads this. I’m so much NOT a numbers girl, I’m almost handicapped.

At least that’s what I'd thought.

But I’ve recently discovered that my view of God is filtered through an algebraic mind-set. And when I first noticed the signs, I went into immediate denial. There was no way it could be true.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Life Lessons—It's Impossible! So What?

by Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D

I decided to take a jaunt to Central Florida before heading west again so Dakota and I took off for places Mickey Mouse-ish.

Heading south was a marvelous adventure. Turning back north again made me question my sanity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Genre Talk—So What is SPECULATIVE Fiction Anyway?

I was talking with a non-publishing friend a while back, and she asked me what kind of book I was writing.  I told her about my science fiction series and my Steampunk series. Then I said, “Actually the short answer is I write spec.”

At her blank look, I corrected myself. “Speculative fiction.”

If anything her look got more confused, and I realized she had no idea what I was talking about when I said speculative. So I took the opportunity to explain the term to her.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Put Your Blog on a Diet

We’re nearing the end of the year, and if you’re like me, your blog may have put on a little extra weight. But unlike us, slimming down your blog takes only a couple of hours.

This is a good time to whip it back into shape, before the insanity of the holidays descends. So today I’m going to help you put your blog on a diet.

Click on your own site and look at it with these thoughts in mind. Here’s the checklist I use to evaluate my sites. Don’t hesitate to tweak it to fit your needs.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Social Media Monday—Build a Strong Platform by Protecting Your Audience

Did you know it’s your job to protect your social media audience?

I’m not talking about guarding them physically and/or from harmful (and often questionable) content. I’m referring to the job you have of guarding their time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Worship—Entangled or Established?

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

I tend to be just a bit ADD when it comes to life. (I'm like the dog in the movie UP..."Squirrel!") The problem with me isn't just purely distraction. Instead it stems from several things, not the least of which is the fact that I enjoy doing a lot of things.

I love to write, read, hang out with friends, knit, craft—the list goes on and on and on.

But the fact that I love so many things has often led me astray. I’m easily distracted and confused.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Writing Prompt Image—Open Doors

A few weeks ago, Mary Denman and I had the opportunity to travel by plane together to a conference. Both coming and going, our flights left before dawn so we were able to capture some amazing photos. This one in particular, a river seen from 40,000 feet, resonated with me.

What are you doing to walk through the 
open doors in your journey?
"Life is a Journey. Time is a River. The door is ajar." - Jim Butcher, Dead Beat
Share your answers 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, October 4, 2013

Life Lessons—It's Not Over Unless You Say it Is!

by Reba J Hoffman, Ph.D

As you read this, I’m pedaling my way south from Northern Florida on the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour to help women who have been the victims of violent assault.

Those of you who have followed the journey will remember I tore a ligament in my knee six weeks ago. I thought the Tour—at least the bicycle portion of it—was coming to an end.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Review—The Dance of Character and Plot

by Lynn H. Blackburn

Plenty of people know that DiAnn Mills is a fantastic novelist, but they may not realize that she is also a wonderful mentor to new writers.

I’ve had the privilege of attending her classes at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, sitting in on webinars she’s taught through the Christian Writers Guild, and having her critique my writing.

So when I learned that she had taken time from her fiction schedule to write a book on the craft of writing, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Reading TheDance of Character and Plot is like having DiAnn in your home for a writing seminar.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Genre Talk—Explaining the Cozy Mystery

Many of you know how much I love science fiction, but you may not know what my other favorite genre is. Actually, I’m a HUGE cozy mystery fan.

I had the opportunity to share this little known fact with some writer friends a few weeks ago and was shocked to learn that not everyone knows what a cozy mystery is. But this is understandable when I think about it. The publishing heyday of cozies was back in the 80s and 90s.

I grew up reading classic cozies from Agatha Christie. But I cut my teeth on some of the masters like Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody, Jacqueline Kirby, and Vicky Bliss), Alisa Craig—writing as Charlotte MacLeod (Grub-and-Stakers, Peter Shandy, and Sarah Kelling & Max Bittersohn), Carolyn Hart (Death on Demand, and Henri O), and Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Forbidden Phrases When a Writer is in Residence or Top 20 Things to NEVER Say to a Writer

Below is my list of comments I’ve received over the past years since I’ve come out as a writer. Following each is what I wanted to say. I’m happy to report that I’ve never (at least until now) given in to the temptation.

Top 20 Things to NEVER Say to a Writer!