Celebrate my Blog-a-versary!

Today is the anniversary of my blog! I don’t recall exactly how long–3 years? Maybe. But what an exciting–and sometimes crazy–ride it’s been. From character interviews to writing/editing tips to today with the Confessions series and social media emphasis, blogging has been anything but boring.

I just wanted to say thank you to all you lovely people who’ve been with me on this journey. Followers from the old days and people who have just joined the journey. There’s nothing more encouraging than to know that other people care. You all are the best. *hugs all around*

Blogging has not been without its own set of issues. My website was hacked once, and I lost all my previous blog posts. All those fun character interviews–gone. I had some pretty crazy issues with my previous website host, which resulted in a downed website and ultimately me switching providers. Earlier this year, a buggy plugin made it impossible for me to even get into my WordPress dashboard to blog. But my new trusty website host fixed it for me.

But that’s all in the past.

So what do we have to look forward to in the next year?

I’m continuing with the “Confessions” series for now. It’s been quite popular, and I think many of you readers find a little bit of yourselves in a lot of the posts. I know I do. I’m going to try to mix it up a bit, though, invite some non-writer people to share a bit about them and their lives. The point is to show how we all SHINE Beyond our circumstances.

I have at least 2 books coming out in the next year. So, there will definitely be a few posts about those along the way.

New to the blog, I’ll be posting about book marketing and social media, each on a separate Friday of the month. For the non-writer followers, I still think you might get something out of the social media posts, and you might just enjoy hearing about the insides of my book marketing journey.

I’m bringing back Tea with Me! For those who don’t know, these posts are an opportunity for YOU to ask me questions–about anything. Questions can be about me, my writing, life, science … anything! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find it; if I can’t find it, I’ll make it up. It’s tons of fun. This is one of my favorites, and readers seem to enjoy READING the posts. But I’ll definitely need y’all to be sending me questions for this once-a-month post. I usually put out a call on Facebook for questions, so be sure to follow me there.

While I don’t send my blog posts out via email anymore, I do highlight popular articles in my monthly newsletter. Sign up below so you don’t miss a thing!

 

Bellanok Sale

In addition to this week being my blog-aversary, it’s also my birthday week. And to celebrate, my fantasy novel, Bellanok, is on sale for 99 cents. That’s right. A fantasy adventure, right at your finger tips, for only 99 cents. Who’s ready to party? You can find more about Bellanok in the My Books tab!

 

Do you celebrate your birthday with any traditions?

Tea with Me: Of Bellanok’s Origins and Characters from OUAT

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged regularly. I’m excited that one of my goals is to get back into it as I so enjoy sharing with you all. So, I’m glad you’ve taken time from your busy schedule to join me for another spot of tea.

There are several questions that I get asked over and over again. So, I thought, in addition to the ones I specifically get asked on my Facebook page, I’ll try to answer at least one of those on my “Tea with Me” posts.

Where did you get the idea for Bellanok?

Like most writers, a lot of my story ideas are inspired by things I see, hear, read, etc. In fact, we writers sometimes have the oddest of muses. (You can read about some of mine on a post I did for AC Williams’ blog.)

Bellanok, though, came out of no where. I don’t remember doing anything particular at that moment, besides praying. The title came to me first. And the more I let it roll over my tongue, the more this picture came into my mind. A beautiful island with all the legends and myths began to take shape.

When I started writing the story, I knew little about it except that a demon found a way onto the island and started changing the creatures that lived there. So, of course, the ultimate goal would have to be for someone to defeat said demon. But who? How?

Well, I won’t go into too much detail–you’ll just have to read the book! Yes, I know, not fair.

Adrienne: Who is your favorite character from Once Upon a Time?

Oh, that’s easy: Snow White. Or Emma. Or Henry. Or Hook. Arg–maybe not so easy.

OnceUponATime+PeoplesChoiceAwards+snow-white-425x239Seriously, Snow White is my favorite. I love her inner strength and willingness to fight for love and for her family, and the way she believes in the best of people. I relate to her the most because so much of the advice she gets from family and friends–and even those who are neither, like the Evil Queen–is stuff that I have heard much of my life as well.

Thanks, Adrienne. And thank you all for joining me today! I hope you learned a little something about me and I’ll see you around here again. (Sign up for my newsletter!) And, hey, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, leave it in the comments below or e-mail it to me through the contact form in the tabs above.

Who is YOUR favorite character from Once Upon a Time?

Tea with Me: ToDoIst and Inspiration

file9951347375728It’s a bright and sunny day here with a tad too much humidity for my liking. Heat indexes over 100 are no fun! So let’s move on to something more fun while I drink some lovely iced tea.

 

Teddi: What’s a  tool/software/strategy that you found useful in the past week?

Me: Well, Teddi, I’m glad you asked. I found a new to-do list app/program! ToDoIst is flexible to-do list program that can be as easy or as complex as you need it to be. It has a free membership and a paid membership ($29/yr). While I probably could have “made do” with the free option, I sprung for the paid version. Now I have all sorts of options to divide up my various to-do lists (personal, writing, editing, social media, Realm Makers, KCWC, ACFW . . .). I’ve only been using it for a few days, but it’s been fantastic! I love that it integrates into all my computers/phones AND into my G-mail and Chrome. Yay!

 

Cindy: Best cure for insomnia?

Me: A sledgehammer.

Or, I’ve heard that having a bedtime routine and tranquil surroundings help to trigger your brain that it is “sleep” time. Develop a routine that starts 30 mins. to an hour before bedtime and get into the habit. It may take a few days or a couple of weeks, but your body should come into routine. Also, no caffeine after noon–but that would never work for me! I’d be asleep by 4.

 

Cindy: If you’ve tried everything the experts said to do and ROI was abysmal, whaddya do next? 

Me: I’m going to assume you’re talking social media/marketing and answer from that perspective.

The first thing I would do with a client is to go back and reevaluate who their target audience is, what their greatest need is (in relation to the service the client is offering), and what the client is doing to meet that need. 90% of issues lie in that alone. OK, I made up the percentage, but it is one of the most common mistakes.

Time is also a factor. If you try something for a week and then evaluate ROI, it’s not likely going to look like it’s working. Success in social media (and often in marketing) does not happen overnight. I would ensure the client had been trying what the experts recommend–consistently–for at least a month . . . longer if they were starting from nothing.

Personality also has an impact. Social media and marketing require a bit of “go out there and get it.” You don’t have to be a bubbly extrovert, but you do have to show passion and knowledge in your field. If you’re a writer, that means being excited about books/reading/etc. in your genre (and in general). It means being knowledgeable about topics and having a passion for themes addressed in your books. If you don’t have passion, readers/followers won’t care.

If, after the evaluation, I determine the client really was doing everything right for a good amount of time, then it’s a new ballgame! Time to the think outside of the box. It becomes a total “individual” brainstorming session that doesn’t have a list of steps yet–a lot of trial and error until we find what works!

 

Thanks for hanging out with me today. I’m about to go snuggle with some kiddos before I dive into my critique partners latest novel–a steampunk! Bring on the day!

Do you have any questions for me? They can be about anything–doesn’t even have to be writing or marketing related (as you can tell from Cindy’s question). These are just supposed to be fun, quirky, sometimes helpful/informative posts! Ask away!

What are your plans for the weekend? 

Tea with Me: Marketing and Muppets

boldtcastle_library2I’m so excited to bring back the Tea with Me posts. It’s so much fun getting to know people and to be able to help them where I can. Welcome to our newest round-table sit down. Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and let’s get down to business.

Cindy: Do specific marketing efforts actually do anything useful or should I just focus on writing the next story?

Ralene: This is actually a 2-part question, so you’ll get a 2-part answer. Yes, specific marketing efforts do make a difference, but which ones are a matter of knowing your target audience and yourself well enough to bring the right marketing plan into play. That right there is a whole 3-part series of blog posts, though.

But ultimately, the best marketing for you is getting your next book out there. Authors need to balance their time between writing and marketing, with a weightier balance on writing. That’s why, with marketing, you need to work smarter–not harder.

Cindy: How many Muppets does it take to change a lightbulb?

Ralene: After thorough research, I have determined that the answer is none. Either they don’t have lightbulbs in the Muppet Kingdom, or the glow from the TV screen is bright enough. (No muppets were harmed in the development of this answer.)

Robert: If you do plot arc critique, what do you do if the author isn’t receptive to your take on their work?

Ralene: Sadly, not everyone in the world agrees with me. I think life would be so much better if they did, but, alas, it is an imperfect world we live in. So . . .

Honestly, if I were to find an author who isn’t receptive to my take on their work, I don’t know that there is much that I could do. I do know that I would not argue with them. If they ask for examples of something I said, I’d be happy to point that out, but I’m not going to argue every little point just to get my way.

And if they aren’t receptive to anything that I suggested, then I would just assume we weren’t the ideal team to begin with, wish them the best, and move on.

Do you all have anything to add to my answers? Join in the discussion now!

Also, would you all like to see the Tea with Me posts once or twice a month? 

Have a great weekend!