"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Things I've Learned on my Journey to Write a Book

Raise your hand if writing a book is on your bucket list. Me too.
Seems everybody I meet these days is either writing one, or thinks that they can.
But in the interest of clarity, let me rewind here.
I have actually written books before in various genres, in different roles.

I’ve authored and published 5 poetry books; ghost written books for clients; and served as a contributing author to several traditionally published titles by Simon & Schuster, Adams Media, and other important names in the industry. Far be it from me to name drop. :-)

But this... this journey is different. This will be the first time I have attempted to pen a book entirely on my own, with my own agenda, vision and personal goals, to submit to a traditional publisher.

And let me tell you folks, this is some heavy stuff.
It’s harder than it looks: “Kids don’t try this at home!”

Many years ago, I ventured a similar path, (different book, different circumstances), upon the urging of a magazine editor and mentor who believed in my talent and strongly encouraged me to move forward on it.

Long story short, I gave up way too soon. And maybe you have too. Don’t.
More than likely if you do, you’ll always have to live with regrets and nagging “what ifs?”
And most of us have enough of those. True?


Recently, as I shared with you guys previously, I had the opportunity to contribute to a book project through Adams Media and enjoyed it very much. Which subsequently re-ignited my desire to publish. So, here I am. Yep, I’m back on board. Jenny is writing a book. Non-fiction specifically, for writers.  And seeking a publisher to pick it up.
(Knock, knock. Anybody out there...?)
I’ll keep you posted. Who knows? Maybe we can laugh and cry together.

Meantime and in-between time, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the lessons I’ve encountered along the way. Pencils ready?  Class in session…

1. It's harder than it looks.
Of course in theory it's not exactly "rocket science," but it's very involved and taxing on many levels. Not only do potential authors have to write well, express ideas clearly, and have an interesting story to tell, it has to be a marketable idea that you can "sell" to publishers and potential readers.
And the competition is fierce in today's publishing climate.
2. Writing a book causes an array of emotions.
These feelings can range from excitement, to fear, to doubt, to feeling empowered, to feeling, well...exhausted.
Many times producing more internal conflict than the fictional characters we create. 
Is it cocktail hour yet? :-)
3. You've got to do your homework to graduate.  
There's hours upon hours of research for statistics, comparative analysis, related studies, markets, trends, and even casing the competition. It's easy to become overwhelmed with "information overload" in the process.
4. Writing a book can put a lot of pressure on you.
The pressure to achieve. The pressure to succeed. The pressure to prove that you can do it...to yourself, to your family and friends, to the "nay-sayers." The pressure to meet deadlines. 
5. Publishing is a business with "bottom line" objectives. 
We can't just "romanticize" our writing; it has to have value. We have to know how to partner with editors, agents, publishers, illustrators, etc. for optimal success and profitability for everyone. 
6. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I'm not sure whether my "adventure" will have a happy ending. Whether it will result in a signed contract with a traditional publisher, or whether I may ultimately have to self-publish it as an
E-Book series. Time will tell.

What I do know is that I've given it my best. I have been enriched in the process. That I'm stronger, wiser than before.
And either way, at least I can say I've got one more item crossed off my "Bucket List".
And that has value too.

Thoughts? Advice? What was your experience like (for those that have)?


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Motivational Quotes to Inspire & Enlighten...

Greetings, Readers!
I hope you're having an awesome summer and enjoying decent weather in your corner of the world.
Since this is "hump day," today's post offers words of encouragement and wisdom to move you forward and sustain you for the rest of the week.
Feel free to leave a comment to share your own favorite quote, or record your thoughts on the ones provided here.
As always...Thanks for your readership!

"Don't get so caught up in writing that you skip out on reading. Good reading leads to great writing."
--J.D. Gordon
"Work joyfully and peacefully knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results." 
---James Allen
"Sometimes God will shake you up to move you forward."
---Jennifer Brown Banks
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."
---Richard Bach
"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
---Thomas Edison

"It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”
---Tom Brokaw
"Nothing is impossible to a willing heart."
---John Heywood
 "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."
---Walt Disney
"Successful people have big libraries. So read to succeed!"
---Shel Horowitz
"From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere."
---Dr. Seuss
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
---Eleanor Roosevelt
Thoughts? What quote do you live by? Any favorites here?


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Someone You Should Know* Entertainment Attorney and Writer Diana Laskaris

Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?

I’ve had different career positions and entrepreneurial ventures over the years. Among them, I’ve been a marketer, filmmaker, business executive, attorney, hypnotist, handwriting analyst and coach. In my latest venture Impact, LLC, I’m a success strategist, author and speaker helping individuals and organizations achieve greater impact for themselves and others. Through conscious and subconscious strategies, I help them blast through confusion and resistance to achieve clarity and transformation in health and wellness, professional accomplishment, relationships and more. For creative professionals such as writers and performers I also help them access their deepest imaginations to eliminate creative blocks, uncover their unique voice, and accelerate their business success.

What can you tell us about “subconscious mastery” and how it can be applied to our creative careers?

Most people don’t realize that we use very little of our brain with purpose. Only 8% is what we call the conscious mind, the part of our mind that we control intentionally. It can only hold +/- 7 bits of information at a time. Another 4% is a critical filter that helps us decide what input to accept and what to reject. The other whopping 88% of our brain is our subconscious mind. This part holds 3 trillion bits of information and creates our programming or what some call our life script. It’s the part of our mind that explains why sometimes we want to act one way but end up acting another. If we can master the subconscious mind and get all 100% doing what we want to do, imagine how much easier it would be to accomplish our goals, whether to lose weight or to write the great American novel? Subconscious mastery is the key for every area of life, including overcoming obstacles to creativity, boosting self-esteem, eliminating fears and negative habits.

Can you share three of the most important legal aspects of contract negotiations that will provide us greater protection as freelance writers?

1. Remember that you always have the choice to walk away and say no. If a deal is so bad that you will damage your career, reputation, integrity or something so significant to you that you will not be able to recover from it, then don’t do the deal.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. A contract is a set of promises by each party. It’s not going to help anyone if you accept unrealistic deadlines you can’t meet or agree to perform tasks you are not going to complete. Be honest about what is and is not possible, not what is ideal.

3. Know what you’re signing. It may sound strange, but people sometimes get so excited to have a contract they sign it without even really reading it, much less understanding it. If it’s a more complex or larger deal, hire an attorney. It’s better to know what you’re agreeing to before you sign so you understand what trade-offs you’re making. I provide low, predictable cost contract review just for this purpose. You can see more about it at http://yourcontractslawyer.com

You seem to “juggle” and balance so many roles and responsibilities. Do you believe that women can truly “have it all?” Or is it at great sacrifice of other important things?

I’m not sure what “it all” is, to be honest. I think you have to have a vision of what you want your life to be and then you do what it takes to bring that vision to reality. So many people dream big dreams, but you can’t make them real until you take action. Writing is like that. Jodi Picoult said, “Writing is total grunt work. A lot of people think it’s all about sitting and waiting for the muse. I don’t buy that. It’s a job. There are days when I really want to write, days when I don’t. Every day I sit down and write.” I totally agree. But I’ve learned that there are mental tools to make it easier and more fun. I’m sharing those tools with creative people now.

Did you always want to be a writer…how did you know for sure?

Yep. I kept a notebook with me from the time I was very young, pretty much as soon as I could write. I wrote poetry, song lyrics, stories, plays, just about everything. I had some poetry published in my tweens and plays produced in my later teens. My high school English teacher entered an essay of mine into a competition I knew nothing about until she told me I won. I was always writing somewhere, even on the proverbial back of napkins.

What book title or song would best describe your approach to life or your writing philosophy?

Hahaha. That’s a good one. So many would work. I’ll go with Aerosmith’s
“Dream On.” The lyrics work too. I think most writers can relate to wanting to get some recognition to “Dream until your dreams come true.” And everyone can relate to life passing quickly. I recently heard Storm Large sing it at an open rehearsal and she was awesome. It made me realize how transcendent and universal that song is, what art in any form or medium can be.

What would it surprise others to know about you?

I cry at the drop of a hat when it comes to ANYTHING to do with animals or nature getting damaged. I have a party every quarter where I ask people to bring donations for the animal shelter instead of wine or hostess gifts. They’re so generous that also makes me cry!

What’s your social media approach to building your platform?

Pick something and stick with it. You don’t have to be on every platform. Find one you like and that your audience is on and be consistent. Be real. Be yourself. If you want people to connect with you, they need to know who you are. And don’t forget that everything you put out there is out there forever. Make sure it’s what you really want people to find about you.

Any advice to freelancers on common mistakes made on the path to success?

Don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. Work on your craft relentlessly and don’t stop. There’s a story called “Three Feet From Gold” in Napoleon Hill’s classic book Think and Grow Rich about a guy who caught gold fever in the early days of the gold rush out west and invested in staking his claim. He drilled and drilled but the vein of gold he was digging in disappeared. He gave up and sold his equipment for junk. The buyer started digging and found the vein of gold ore again after only 3 feet of digging. The first man had given up too soon. He was almost there, but he quit. Writing has many rewards beyond money. Enjoy those along the way.

When you have time to curl up to a good read, who are some of your favorite authors?

I tend to read eclectically, several different books at a time. I like great poetry and works by Marlowe and Shakespeare, ancient wisdom from Marcus Aurelius and Lao Tzu and modern thinkers like Daniel Pink and Seth Godin. For fun I enjoy cybertech, legal suspense and fantasy from William Gibson, Ernest Cline, Scott Turow and others. My latest passion is biography put into culinary context like Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulee by Thomas Craughwell and several books on Julia Child’s time in the OSS.

What’s your favorite creative, but non-writing activity?

I love to travel, eat and cook. I encourage others to explore the world through food through http://foodtravelist.com. When I learn a new dish, I love to try it out at home. Cooking is one of the great ways you can express yourself creatively with very little criticism – everyone loves to eat!

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

It’s funny how you’ve asked that now and I think of CWA (Chicago Writers Association). I founded it when I moved to Chicago and wanted people with a serious interest in writing at a professional level – whether they had achieved it yet or not – to have a community of like minds. I originally started it as an email group. It grew quite large and the members wanted to advance by forming a not-for-profit corporation. I remember a group of us sitting in my living room making that decision. I’m proud to have been a catalyst for that and also for knowing when to hand it off to those far more capable of making it grow into the amazing organization it has become.

How do you feel about blogging? Do you believe that all writers should?

Blogging is the most democratizing development to come along since the printing press. With access to a computer and an Internet connection, anyone can get their thoughts, ideas and creativity into the world. Some may think that’s a bad thing, but I say that if you’re not interested just move along. No one forces you to read anything. The challenge with blogging is to do it consistently. Even if you blog about something you love, it can be a challenge to continually refresh your content. But that’s what you have to do if you want to keep your audience engaged. I don’t know if I believe that all writers should blog, but for a dynamic exchange with your readers or with others interested in the same topics you are, then it’s a great way to do that.

How is the writing industry different than when you first embarked upon your journey?

There are lots of ways to get your words and ideas in front of people. If you don’t want to deal with mainstream publishers or agents you really don’t have to at this point. But you do have to be a smart and tireless marketer. The opportunities to publish digital books are endless. I’m just finishing a workbook for people considering what to do next in their careers and the biggest decision I have is whether to create a hard copy version at all or just the digital workbook. That’s way different than when I started. And while branding you and your work was always important, it’s now essential. That’s exciting whether you’re new to writing or have been at it for some time. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” What could be more liberating?

Thank you for your time and willingness to share, Diana.

You can learn more at http://dianalaskaris.com

Your turn readers. Thoughts? Questions? Anything here that resonates with you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

5 Ways to "Rock" a Rant Without Alienating Readers

---”Shout, shout, let it all out. These are the things I can do without!”
--Tears for Fears (1985)

Writers are natural communicators.
It’s how we connect.
In some cases, it’s how we correct!

Whether we’re penning romantic poetry to the object of our affection, writing a complaint letter in an effort to improve poor customer service, or crafting book reviews to share our love of literature, words make us feel empowered, validated and “heard“.

Which is why “RANTS” are a popular choice for today’s bloggers.
A Rant is simply defined as: “Something said in a loud or aggressive manner.” Or think of it as a commentary piece with bite.

Though the reasons for rants are as varied as the people who write them, here are some of the most common reasons writers rant:
  • Because “misery loves company.”
  • It makes us feel empowered. We can’t control our bosses, work lives, or escalating gas prices, but we do own our thoughts, blogs and opinions.
  •  It allows us to form alliances with people who share our struggles and philosophies.
  • It’s often cathartic and relieves stress.
Done correctly, rants can rally support for an important cause, increase awareness of overlooked social issues (i.e. help for the homeless, education reform), and potentially “win friends and influence people.”

But, lack savvy here, and you may come across as bitter, emotionally immature, and in need of a good therapist. And even worse, it wastes your readers’ valuable time; which translates into potential lost revenue as well as readers’ confidence.

Here’s an example of a rant I wrote, months ago, (for example) that deals with issues writers face:


Rants are a great way to use your platform to make some noise and make a difference. With this in mind, here are a few practices and principles that can help you
“sound-off” without sounding silly.

1. Make it relevant to your readership.In other words, if your blog is about writing, your readers may care less about the dispute you’re having with your Condo Association or save the whales campaign.

2. Stop the profanity insanity!
It’s perfectly possible to get the gravity of your point across without using 4-letter words. Hell! Besides, you just never know who could be reading. A church member? Your in-laws? Your kids? Hello!
3. Use humor when applicable.
Try to show the lighter side of things. A tasteful joke or funny anecdote often works.
4. Remember the acronym W.I.I.F.M.
In other words what’s in it for me as a reader? What’s the value of your vent? What lessons can you impart? Did you enlighten? Entertain? Empower?
5. Remember, rants can be powerful weapons in the daily battles of a writer’s life.
Use them wisely (and sparingly) for optimal results. Elevate…don’t escalate.
F.Y.I.-- there’s a bonus here. Rants can even be repurposed. That’s right. Many of my rants have been “tweaked” and submitted to publications and anthologies that accept commentary pieces and personal essays. And yours can too.
So the next time you’re “hot under the collar” about something, rock a Rant.
It might be the perfect way to “ignite” a movement and express your ideas with passion and purpose.



In closing...
 TEARS FOR FEARS- (My anthem for rants) Shout, Shout!

Have a great week.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Q & A Interview With Author Yuwanda Black

Yuwanda Black's publishing journey reads more like a fairy-tale than a success story.
"Once upon a time" she was doling out her expertise to freelance writers, as the Webmaster of Inkwell Editorial. In addition to self-publishing E-books and producing online courses.
Then one day, she was approached by an acquisitions editor with a traditional publisher, who stumbled across her bio and her blog, liked it, and subsequently offered her a publishing contract with Adams Media.
This giving a whole new meaning to the expression: "If you build it they will come."
The book entitled, "The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook" will be released in early September.
(And I'm proud to say that I am a contributing author).
Today, I hope you'll join me in extending her a warm welcome to Pen and Prosper.
Please feel free to ask questions or provide feedback in the comments section.
Now, on to today's post...

Q. Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?

Whew, this could be a book within itself. Well, I’m from the south; born in Florida (where my mother’s from); split time between FL and Alabama (where my father’s from); and Georgia (where my stepfather’s from).

I left the south for New York when I was 20 to finish up college in New York (Hunter College). I loved New York so much that I wound up staying for 18 years. I got my first job in publishing in New York at a legal (trade) publishing firm.

I worked there off and on for 10 years before going into business with one of my sisters, who had started Inkwell Editorial, which was then an editorial outsource agency. The business has undergone a few changes before becoming what it is now – a blog about how to start and grow a successful freelance writing business.

I started freelancing on the side for my employer while I was still working full-time. That’s how I got my start in freelancing. After I got married, I left the publishing firm and went into business with my sister full-time. This was in 1997.

Except for an 18-month stint between 2006 and 2007 when I took a full-time job as a Regional Manager for a staffing agency, I have been totally self-employed as a freelance writer.
Q. You seem to “juggle” and balance so many roles and responsibilities. Do you believe that women can truly “have it all?” Or is it at great sacrifice of other important things?
Hmmm, interesting question. After a little thought, my answer is, that depends on what one’s definition of “all” is. I never had children, so I have time freedom that a single mom might not have. I’m also divorced, so don’t’ have the demands of a spouse. Again; time freedom.

I love to travel; I like to spend time with my friends; I like to watch all-day, marathon episodes of Law & Order and Criminal Minds. I like to sleep in on the weekends. I like to go to bed late late. I get to do all of this. I have everything I want … so yes, I guess I do have it all.

Q. Did you always want to be a writer…how did you know for sure?
No, I had NO IDEA that I would write for a living until I started doing it and then I just kind of fell into it. It was never an aspiration and to be totally honest, it’s not something I’m ecstatic about doing.

I happen to be proficient at it; enjoy it enough; am able to do it from anywhere; and it allows me to make a living under my own steam. That’s what I like about being a writer. If I could figure out a way to get all the benefits of writing without doing it, I’d take it in a heartbeat!
Again, I don’t dislike it; it’s just that it’s not a burning passion.

Q. What would it surprise others to know about you?

That I’m an introvert when I work. Personally, I’m a social butterfly; I love interacting with people. But professionally, I like to be given a project and left alone to complete it. It’s another reason freelance writing appeals to me.
Q. What’s your social media approach to building your platform?
I’m embarrassed to say, I really don’t have one. I was trying to be visible on so many, eg, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon.

I finally narrowed it down to Facebook and Twitter because it’s just too overwhelming. My philosophy on those to platforms is just to stay current – to keep my accounts updated and to dispense helpful information.

Q. Do you write every day? What’s your writing ritual?
If I’m writing a book, yes, I write every day. When I’m not in the middle of a book, I may write three or four times a week, blog posts, update old books, write an article marketing piece or a guest post for another blog, etc.
When I am writing a book, I give myself a daily word count and I get that out of the way first thing in the morning. That way, I stay on track with deadlines (which I’m notorious for missing for my own projects). I never miss them for a client project though!
Q. What kind of “insider’s tips” can you share with us on getting a book published via a traditional publisher? Was it what you expected?

The most helpful piece of advice I can give is to get a body of work out there. I got this contract because an Acquisitions Editor ran across my blog, read my bio, saw all of my work – and was like, “Hey, you’d be great fit for this project.”

So don’t’ sit back and wait for them to come to you. Blog, self-publish … just get busy writing.

I’d worked in trade publishing, so was somewhat familiar with the process. For the most part, it was what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the editors to be so accommodating. I mean literally, all I had to do was write, turn stuff in on time and wait for them to get back to me with their feedback.

Their feedback was concise; justified (ie, this is why we need to cut this or why you need to add more here); and just made for a better product. I’ve heard horror stories about editors that have sent writers to tears or changed their work so much that it was barely recognizable.

The editors I worked with were nothing like this – they made the process seamless.

FYI, I covered this question in detail in a blog post on Inkwell Editorial. I did a brain dump while it was still fresh! J

Q. How is the writing industry different than when you first embarked upon your journey?

It’s way more technical. In the old days, we had an Art department where covers were done. Now stuff is either outsourced or done with technology that doesn’t require a whole department.

As an aside, one thing I noticed about self-publishing is that it’s much, MUCH faster. I mean, I can have a book written, edited, copy edited, proofed, cover made and live on Amazon in a week or a few weeks (depending on length) if I wanted to. I have done this!

The publisher contacted me last December. It took a couple of weeks to get the contract worked out; the four months for the writing/editing. Then another couple of months for them to do in-house stuff. The book is finally going to be released on September 2nd.

One year, I self-published 50 ebooks. So some things in publishing still haven’t changed.

Q. What advice can you give in terms of handling online criticism from readers or customers?

Don’t read your reviews. I used to – and still do intermittently, but for the most part, I don’t read reviews of my work. I kind of like the following philosophy:
"I don't read reviews because by then it's too late - whatever anyone says, the book won't change. It is written."~Jeanette Winterson
Q. Next project?
I’ve been working on getting an internet marketing (GetaMobileCareer.com) site live. I’m working on building up a stream of more “auto pilot” income. I’ve dibbled and dabbled in internet marketing for years – so am formalizing this income stream.

Then, back to romance writing. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to self-publish 12 titles this year. So far, I’ve only done one, so am behind on that goal had have to crank the rest of the year.

And just in case anyone is reading this and thinking, “She’s gonna publish 11 books by the end of the year!” my novellas are only 15,000 to 25,000 words, so it’s totally possible.
Thank you for your time and willingness to share.

You’re very welcome Jennifer and thank you for sharing your space with me.
Also, once again, thank you for your extremely insightful contribution to the book on branding. You’re awesome and I feel so privileged to be featured on your highly acclaimed blog.

About the Author:

Yuwanda Black is the webmaster of InkwellEditorial.com and the author of The Ultimate Guidebook for Freelancers (Adams Media, 2016). Pre-order on Amazon and get bonus, free content; a special report entitled “5 Things You Should Know about Freelancing in a Global Economy That Will Land More Clients.” To get it, email your pre-order receipt to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com. Put "Pre-Ordered UFG" in the Subject line. On Sept 1st, you'll be emailed the special report.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cat's Out of the Bag-My Blogging Pet Peeves 2016!

Most of the time I try to keep this site positive, progressive and Zen-like.
In fact, I take pride in it.
I want you to think of P & P as that cozy “spot” you can retreat to for comfort, support, inspiration, edification…and the occasional warm-fuzzy feeling.
But, every now and then, (as a blogger who’s part of the larger blogging community), I encounter things that irritate me like shampoo residue in my eye.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that these things get under your skin too.
(If we’re being honest here).
So for the purpose of enlightenment and improvement, I’m sharing my blogging and writing pet-peeves today, as a “Public Service Message.”

Yes, my friends, I’m “going there.”
Though my mom always told me growing up, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

So...in the spirit of not necessarily being "negative", but attempting to make the blogging experience a little more enjoyable and enriching for us all, here's my small part.

By the way…If any of you are guilty of these listed things, let's not lose love over it. Send me a quick message to help me by explaining why, if possible. Or sound off (nicely) in the comments section. Deal?


1. Sporadic and Inconsistent Posts--- Hate it. Sure, it's your Blog and your discretion. But, in my mind, the whole reason for having an "online journal" is to have people to read your stuff. And to come back to read more stuff. True? So be conscious and courteous of this fact by either designating and communicating your posting frequency, or sending a message to inform your blog visitors if you are taking an extended hiatus.
It shows good form.
And while we’re on this page, If you state on your site, or in your BIO on other sites, that you post once a week, please note that that means once every 7 days. Not every 10-12 days... or whenever the mood hits you. Just sayin’ . J

2. Not Leaving or Responding to Comments--- Have a heart. Nobody wants to have a one-way conversation. Would you? :-) Even if it's brief, it still counts. On really tough days, a simple “hello” or “good job” in the comments section goes a long way. On a similar note, the same consideration should be given to commenters: show courtesy for their time by addressing their questions, concerns, or feedback.  Hello? Anybody home?

3. Not Taking the Time to Proof and Edit for Typos, grammar and or spelling in published work--- We all make mistakes. That's a given. Nobody's perfect. (Not to mention, I’m in need of new reading glasses). But, I have routinely read a few folks who time and time again compromise the quality of their content by overlooking this important step. Labor over your work so readers won't have to.

4. Copycats/Plagiarism---Have we not learned anything from the Melania Trump fiasco? It's not unusual to be inspired by something we've read on another site. It happens. And there's nothing unethical about piggybacking off of good ideas, but don't steal them! There's a big difference. If you get an idea for something that pretty much totally came from another blogger's site, why not give him or her recognition? It won't cost you nothin'! Are you with me here? :-)

How much can you safely “borrow” from others?
Learm more about the Fair Use Doctrine here:

5. "Blog Snobs"---These folks only leave comments on sites with high visibility, celebrity bloggers, or those likely to give a good deal of "link juice". Share the love with others who provide quality content, and who are trying to reach greater heights too!


6. Insanity Profanity!---I’m no prude. Every now and then I think that “colorful language” can spice up your content like hot peppers in a pot of Collard Greens! But word to the wise: four-letter words should not pepper every paragraph. Hell!
When this is the case, it actually detracts from your overall message and may cause readers to mistakenly conclude that you have a very limited vocabulary. If you must cuss when you fuss, do so sparingly. Thank you. J

7. TheI Won’t Comment on your blog, unless you comment on mine” mentality---Really? What are we, back in grade school? You’re better than that. J

8. Angry Rants with no real value---We’ve all come across them. Rants that are extremely rude, vindictive, personal, and meaningless to most of us in the reading audience. It’s like watching a train wreck. Don’t get me wrong. I dig a good rant! Especially when it addresses issues that have some common appeal or significance: like having a bad boss, a spouse who forgets to put the toilet seat down, politicians and their sometimes ridiculous platforms, rude editors, or poor customer service. But, in my humble opinion, it should have a point. Some type of take-away value for your readership. And please be brief.  Humor also is appreciated. Here’s one I wrote that most writers can relate to. See if you agree:

9. Sites with annoying pop-ups and intrusive Ads---Sometimes it takes a while for readers to be convinced to commit to actually following a blogger on the regular. It certainly does for me.
Give visitors the time to navigate your site, read your content, check out your style, and determine if your offerings address their needs, before deciding if they want to sign-up for future updates or become a member of your “tribe“. It can be really annoying when in a matter of seconds, a pop-up appears from out of nowhere, multiple times, urging you to sign up or purchase something. “Good things come to those that wait.” J

10. Long posts for the sake of length---There’s no doubt about it. Sometimes size matters. And long posts are reported to have various benefits. According to studies conducted, posts that consist of around 1500 words and up receive more social media shares, increase time spent on your site, and are favored by the “Google Gods.” Still, they shouldn't rival "War & Peace."

Read more related interesting facts here: 

If not approached correctly, for me, they’re more of a bore than a benefit. Tread carefully.

Well folks, that's it. That's all.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to vent. Please feel free to add your two
cents. :-)
Consider this as "Free Speech" Friday.
Agree or disagree?


Image Credit: Kitty No-No Linda O.
Cat w/Wine, Bandit--Randy R.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is it Time to Re-evaluate Your Blogging Commitment?


Blogging can be both a blessing and a burden.
Just like any other “relationship” it demands time, attention, consideration, commitment and a periodic “renewal of vows.”

Ask anyone who’s been at this for a while and they’ll attest, it’s harder than it looks.
Coming up with endless ideas, responding to readers’ comments, (or agonizing over the lack thereof ), maintaining a site, choosing images to display, and promoting posts via social media circles, can be a bit taxing at times, (no matter how much we love it).

And if you’re a professional writer with other things that tug at your time (book deals, clients’ deadlines, a regular corporate gig, etc.), keeping it all balanced can be a tall order.
Which causes many bloggers to ponder…“To be or not to be?”

In fact, I entertained this very question this year. Call it the “7-year itch” if you will.
(It’s a contributing factor to why I took a blog break from July to August).
It was important to re-assess. I’d advise the same for you too, if you’re struggling to keep going, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and under-valued, or if you have simply “lost that lovin’ feelin.”

Blogging on “auto-pilot” can cause you to lose sight of your creative vision and do more harm than good. When you’re not “invested” and committed, blogging becomes just another one of your endless activities and weekly routines.

Rather than it serving as a creative outlet that you enjoy, that adds to your quality of life and that of your readers, it feels obligatory and meaningless.

…”Lather, rinse, repeat.”

It’s also the reason that boat loads of bloggers have abandoned their blogs in the seven years I’ve been on the scene; and unfortunately, some have been among my favorite bloggers.

Here’s what I discovered during my hiatus…
For all its work and worry, blogging suits me. At least at this time in my journey. :-)
In a world that seems so disconnected; with random violence, uncertainty and upheaval,
I find that blogging can be a safe haven for me (and you) to express our thoughts, bond through commonalities, offer support, have a degree of constancy, laugh, learn, and build bridges not walls.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Still, blogging is not for everybody. If you don’t “publish” you won’t “perish.”

With this in mind, here’s why a blog project, (much like your body), requires a periodic check-up for optimal performance and longevity.

Perhaps when you started, your objective was to garner the attention of agents or publishers; now you have a book deal. Or you moved to a new city, didn't have friends, and blogging helped you connect with other people. Fast forward, you've formed some neighborly connections. Do you continue?

For instance, a single woman gets married and later has different priorities, a newborn baby, or limited availability. Or recent health challenges prevent you from communicating with your audience on a regular basis.

Though you’ve monetized your site with the objective of making money, you have yet to sell a book, product, course, service, your soul... You're spinning your wheels in vain. "And time is money."

Blogging should add to your creative accomplishments, not take away from them.

I noticed, when I took time away from blogging, that I surprisingly missed it more than I thought I would.  Many of my readers (I’m happy to say) are not just “spectators.” Our association has evolved into important “connections” online and off. And I am indeed grateful.
While I was away, I found myself constantly taking notes and coming up with topics I was excited to be able to share with my readers, upon my return. (That's how you know it's in your blood).

How do you feel weekly about blogging? Is it a bore? A chore? Or a joy? Only you know the true answers.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of your excellence. If you’re not making the progress you’d like, perhaps you need to change your niche, or your blog‘s focus, or your targeted readership. Be open to change. I say this respectfully, but many times I visit blogs that have absolutely no comments week after week, post after post. If your audience is not “speaking to you” in terms of comments, perhaps your writing is not “speaking” to them. Readers’ “silence” can sometimes communicate volumes. Listen.
If you’re still in a “blog fog” as to whether or not you should continue blogging or pull the plug, below are some areas you should examine:


Word to the wise: Obligatory blogging is boring for you and your readers. Don't just Blog because everybody else is doing it. You're better than that.

Periodically look at the reasons you decided to become a blogger. Do they still exist?
Are your creative goals being met? Are your contributions adding real value to the blogging community? Or are you just going along for the ride?

Reflect. Assess. “Do you solemnly vow…?”