5 Tips to Blog Success

Good morning! It's a beautiful Sunday here with lots of golden sunshine which makes the 34 ° F. pleasantly cool.

I love what Edward McKendree Bounds said about Sunday:  "We need the spirit of Sunday carried over to Monday and continued until Saturday."

Why I Still Love My Blog

My 17th anniversary of beginning this blog is in a couple of months. I still enjoy writing my blog. Seldom do I feel it's a chore. In fact, I often start my day by blogging which helps me seamlessly switch to the book I'm writing. Writing begets writing.

I've learned a few things along the way, and I'm sharing a little blogging advice today.

5 Tips to Blog Success

1. Don't make assumptions about your blogging audience.

Don't assume that everyone who reads your blog is an expert in your subject matter. In reality, new readers find your blog because of they're searching for something in a browser that matches the title or meta data of your blog.

2. Blog readers look for content that addresses their interests and is written in a way that "speaks" to them.

Someone can read a dozen different posts, but he/she doesn't "get" it until they come across one that clicks. That's why so many books and blogs explore the same subject matter. What speaks to one may not click with another. 

3. Format content so it is visually accessible to online readers.

Blog readers read "vertically" which is easily illustrated by looking at text content on your cell phone.

See how it's a vertical column of text? Instead of being wide lines of text like you see on a written page, you have slender columns with no more than 5 or 6 words on a line.

The reader's eye easily skims down that vertical column, reading quickly. Format your blog post that way. Never have huge blocks of text. Break it up into short paragraphs.

Use sub-headings in bold to alert the reader about the salient information that follows. Use images that connect to what you write to create visual interest and break up the text.

4. Always proof what you write so it is "clean" for the reader.

Most of us are willing to overlook a few typos in a blog post because it's generally presumed that blogging is a more casual approach to writing.

If I find a blog post with so many misspelled words, wrong words, punctuation errors, and—worst of all—wrong information, I won't read beyond a paragraph or two. I'll probably never visit that blog again.

There are excellent books on grammar and writing easily available so there's no excuse for not educating oneself. Develop the skills necessary for good writing.

5. Never be dull and boring.

No matter what you write, make sure you entertain. No matter how compelling the information you wish to impart, no one will read it if you bore them.

Takeaway Truth

Blog consistently. Pick a schedule and stick to it. You lose blog readers when you have big gaps between blogs.

Saturday Share: Canned Tomato Substitutions

Yesterday, I was making Wendy's Chili—a copycat recipe that, to me, tasted most like the original.

The recipe calls for tomato juice, tomato sauce, and tomato puree.

Well, I had only tomato paste in the pantry—a case of it which is how Costco usually sells their canned goods.

I didn't want to go to the store to buy the other tomato canned items so I got my Mom's old cookbook out. It's got a great substitutions section.

Canned Tomato Substitutions

Tomato juice is the thinnest of the 3 canned tomato items. Next in thickness is tomato sauce. Tomato puree is the thickest of the 3 items. 

Tomato Juice
1 part tomato paste plus 4 parts water and blend well.

Example: 1/2 cup tomato paste + 2 cups water, blended together until smooth = 2+ cups tomato juice

If you have only canned tomatoes in the pantry, pour a can into the blender, and liquefy it. Voila! Tomato juice.

Tomato Sauce
1 part tomato paste plus 2 parts water plus salt and sugar and blend well.

Example: 1/4 cup tomato paste + 1/2 cup water + small pinch of salt + even smaller pinch of sugar, blend together until smooth = 1/2+ cup tomato sauce. (Season with sugar and salt to your taste, but be sparing with it.)

If you have only canned tomatoes in the pantry, drain the juice from a can, and blend well then cook on the stove until it thickens. Voila! Tomato sauce. (That's a lot of trouble so buy canned tomato sauce next time, right?)

Tomato Puree
1 part tomato paste plus 3 parts water plus salt and sugar and blend well.

Example: 1/4 cup tomato paste + 3/4 cups water + small pinch of salt + smaller pinch of sugar = 3/4+ cup of puree. 

If you have only canned tomatoes in the pantry, drain the juice from a can, and puree what's left. Voila! Tomato puree.

Takeaway Truth

Make your own chart of substitutions. It comes in handy in a pinch.

Google Go Round

Agh!!!! I've spent most of today trying to migrate elements of one Google Account to another Google Account.

I've had my blog since 2005. Google bought Blogger in the interim years. I always kept my same email login which was not a Gmail account.

A couple of years ago I had to start a gmail account in order to access Google Drive components. Immediately, my email login was switched to the gmail addy for login. That began my problems. Even though directions say it's easy to use any email to login, that is simply not true. It defaults to the gmail every single time.

Now I've got files, passwords, apps saved in both Google accounts, and it's not easy switching back and forth when you get Smart TVs added to the mix.

New Year Resolution

I decided to bite the bullet and close out the other gmail accounts, keep one I set up using my name with an added word (someone had already taken my name!), and migrate everything to the single Google persona.

So much easier said than done. I wasted precious writing time today trying to answer important emails sent to one of the gmail accounts, but my answers kept getting rejected because the "wrong" gmail addy was sending them even though I'd changed the default setting which somehow kept changing back.

Takeaway Truth

I decided I wanted to abandon the internet, email, and everything associated with that world and take a hammer to my computer. Fortunately, I had a cup of tea, a few minutes of meditation, and thought better of that solution.

Thursday3Some: 3 TV Series That Should Live Again

I'm having a difficult time finding TV shows that attract me. 

So many seem populated with characters who act and react in ways opposite the previously established personality, attitudes, experience, and intelligence.

I won't even mention the plot holes big enough to drive a truck through or the contrived events to make the plot work. Seriously, all the good TV series seem to be on streaming services. 

I'll quit complaining and list 3 TV series that should live again.

1. Firefly (but only if written by Joss Whedon) I ignore talk of rebooting it with a new cast.

2. Longmire (but only with the Aussie actor Robert Taylor who played Longmire). Netflix had their chance with this one, and they canceled it. Interestingly enough, the audience keeps discovering this show and loving it.

3. The Catch (with the original cast of Mireille Enos and Peter Krause). That was a delightful romantic comedy/thriller in the spirit of Remington Steele.

3 Disappointing Streaming Offerings

1. Season 4, Cobra Kai. They could have called the season History Repeats Itself since the middle school kids are acting like the high school kids who acted like the senseis of the original movie. Couldn't they think of any other kind of conflict?

2. Don't Look Up with Leonardo di Caprio. OMG! What was he thinking when he signed on to make that movie. I guess it's just me, but the movie comes off as an uncomfortable ménage à trois of comedy, satire, and drama—or is it parody, action, and something else?

3. The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard. OMG again. I hope those actors were paid well. You know how many times Pacino says, "F***," in the movie Scarface? 

Well, THWB surpasses that by hundreds I guess. Technically, they say F*** and m*****f*** and various forms of the words every few minutes for the length of the movie. (I don't have a mature rating on the blog thus I imply the words so my rating stays clean.)

Takeaway Truth

Okay, I'm finished griping. If you watch any really good network TV shows or streaming series or movies, tell me about it in Comments.

Review: Lovers in Training by Alicia Street

Have you ever had so many ebooks on your Kindle that you forget some of them until you start cleaning out your Kindle?

I hate to confess that's me. I buy so many ebooks and get free ones too, and I don't have enough time to read all of them. Sometimes, I think I've read a book, but I haven't.

That happened recently when I thought I'd read Lovers in Training by Alicia Street, but it wasn't marked read on my Kindle.

So I opened the book to read the first page, knowing I'd remember the book if I'd read it.

Guess what? I had not read it. Also, after reading the first couple of pages, I couldn't stop. I was sitting at the hospital, keeping my sister-in-law company. As she slept, I read. Over the next couple of days, I escaped into the story as time provided. Lovers in Training is a wonderful romance.

Well-plotted, great characters, believable motivations and conflicts, the story kept me interested and made me root for Shannon Rocklyn, the heroine, as she earned her happily ever after.

When Shannon was a teen, she vowed to never let a man hurt her the way her father had hurt her mother. She's grown up to be a woman who never gives away her heart. When she meets  Tate Kruger, instant attraction arises between the two.

He's as obstinate as she, and he refuses to let something good slip through his fingers. He has the means to get Shannon assigned as his private fitness trainer. Shannon is determined to keep it strictly business, but she hadn't counted on liking him so much.

Does she like him enough to risk a relationship with a client?

My 2¢

You know Shannon's going to take a chance because the heart wants what the heart wants. How it works out, and how her charcter grows to the realization that not everything was the way she remembered is believable and heartwarming.

Takeaway Truth

Lovers in Training is on Kindle Unlimited, but it's only 99¢. Buy it and keep it forever because I think you'll want to read it again. You'll probably want to read the other 3 books in the series too.

New Book: Claiming Shandy by Bonnie Edwards

I'm happy to tell you that my friend Bonnie Edwards has a new book, Claiming Shandy.

You're going to love this romance because it's Book 4 of Return To Welcome.

Getting to Know Bonnie Edwards

Bonnie Edwards has been writing all her life, starting with a poem about Santa suffering with gout. She was seven, Santa was a thousandteen years old.

Delighted with writing, she went on to write family sagas, humorous contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic paranormal ghost romances and more.

She may jump around within romance, but all her stories come with a tear, a laugh, and a happy ending.

Published by Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) Bonnie’s stories stretch from short stories to novellas and novels. Now, she's happy to be publishing her work herself.

With 40 titles to her credit, she has been translated into several languages and sold books worldwide. Aside from standalone romances, she has 6 romance series that include Christmas romances and beach reads.

Contemporary family sagas find a home in Return to Welcome. Learn about more exciting releases and get a free romance by subscribing to her newsletter, Bonnie’s Newsy Bits.

Follow Bonnie Online 

Amazon * Website * BookBub *  Twitter * Facebook 

About Claiming Shandy

She thought her divorce was final…

Welcome WA, where rumor, gossip, and old grudges endure long past their best before date.

Justin Camden wants his life back. His wife back. His son back. And he’s returned to Welcome to get them. Justin has a plan for the Christmas season and moving in with his ex and his boy is just the beginning.

Shandy Camden is stuck. Her big oaf of an ex-husband has finagled his way into her home for the entire month of December. He claims to want an old-fashioned family Christmas with their son. She’s forced to let Justin stay because refusing will break her son’s heart.

Slowly, Shandy sees that her ex may have another agenda. But she doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas the way their son does. Helpless and forced to live with her ex, Shandy struggles to overcome her growing attraction to the only man who’s ever left her. The only man she’s ever loved. But Justin left once and if he leaves again, she’ll never recover, and neither will their son…

When the truth comes out, Shandy and Justin may well have discovered that more than anything, Christmas is about love.

Warning: This book has lots of groveling in it. If you don’t want to read about a divorced man making things right, then this romance isn’t for you.

Excerpt, Claiming Shandy, Return to Welcome Book 4

Chapter One

December 1 Welcome WA

Justin Camden was no quitter. Never had been and he wasn’t about to give up now. But first he had to do battle against the dragons breathing fire in his gut. 

He’d never been this scared. Not even at fourteen when his dad caught him out driving his mom’s car at midnight.

He parked outside the Welcome Bar & Grill and called his buddy, Jake Morrow who was inside with a group of friends. Friends who included Justin’s wife, Shandy.

Everything he wanted to accomplish tonight hinged on whatever BS line Jake had come up with. “It’s me. I’m here. What did you tell her?”

In the background, Justin heard happy people greeting each other over the distant sound of a Christmas song. The season had begun. He climbed out of his car while he heard Jake excuse himself to take the call.


The background noise had receded, but Justin couldn’t have heard right. “What?”

“Every hotel in the area’s infested. Didn’t you know?” Jake said with a smirk in his voice.

“She’ll never believe that.” He had his hand on the brass door pull. Yanked it toward him.

“I believe she does believe me.”

He shook his head. No way. Shandy was the smartest woman he’d ever met and for the past three years, she’d been made of stone. He had to make her crack, but nonsense about bedbugs wouldn’t do it. The flame-thrower in his belly belched. Maybe he should turn around and leave.

“Plus, I told Shandy how much Brianna and I are enjoying our honeymoon period,” Jake was saying. “She can’t force you to stay with us. She has to let you stay at her place. She’ll have no choice.”

“Our place.” The home they’d bought together, to raise their family in. “You ass. Bedbugs?” He was inside the vestibule now, looking through the stained-glass partition, searching the restaurant side of the building. “I see the table.”

Jake stood a few feet away from the group. “Don’t worry, you got this,” he said, looking right at him through the multi-colored pane.

“My best and only shot.” He ended the call, plastered a smile on his face and made his way through the tables to where Shandy sat beside an empty chair. If this crazy bedbug story worked, he’d have a chance to get her angry. He needed her angry.

If she were angry with him, it was a sign that she still cared. That he could still make her feel something for him.

An angry Shandy was honest, and open. Angry Shandy was not a stone angel, cold and remote, the way she’d been for too long. He needed honest and open or his plan to return to Welcome and be the husband and father he wanted to be would fail.

Justin Camden was no quitter. He doused the flames in his gut.

Takeaway Truth

Bonnie Edwards writes heartwarming romance that will make you believe in love. Get your copy of Claiming Shandy today.

5 Simple Inexpensive Ways to Market Books

Monday = Make Things Happen Day.

These Monday posts aren't for authors only because what I've said applies to any product if you have very little marketing money.

Of course, I want these posts to be  helpful for authors because most of us aren't marketing professonals, but I've learned a few things along the way.

If you missed the other posts this year, here's the list:

Does Marketing Sell Books

Immutable Laws of Marketing

5 Accessible Inexpensive Ways to Market a Product

With decreased sales, many authors are struggling to find ways to market their books on a non-existent budget. For many, it's a back to the beginning way of gaining exposure for a book. These ways still work, but in a small way. However, the more you do them, the more exposure.

1. Blog consistently.

You have  a blog, right? If not, start one. The blog is not dead. At the very least, join a group blog so you get exposure but don't have to blog every day.

Most people don't leave comments on blogs. I guess they want to put their name out there, but statistics show that blog posts get read.

I get a report from Google every month that shows my reading audience, and I'm always amazed at the thousands of readers who read my older posts.

Choose aspects of your writing branding that you want to talk about on a consistent schedule in a way that entertains, not hammers home the message "buy my book" because that won't gain you blog readers.

Blog readers can become book readers if you go about it the right way.

2. Guest Blog

Again, the blog is not dead. Tap all the people you know who blog. Ask for a guest spot. The best way to guest blog is to find bloggers who draw a different audiences so your message gets seen by many people, not the same bunch over and over.

Also, create a different post and graphics for each guest blog spot. That way even if the same readers are in the audience, they'll look at your new graphic and read your new excerpt, ad copy, or whatever.

2.  Be consistent in publishing your Newsletter.

You do have a newsletter, right? If not, start one. 

Your subscribers should become your devoted audience, and they will be the most likely readers to buy your books.

If you don't subscribe to my newsletter with news about new books, bargain books, and free books, sign up now. You'll get a free ebook when you opt-in or confirm your subscription.

3. Swap newsletter listings.

Exchange features with your friends who have newsletters. Create a different "ad" for each newsletter because most authors draw many of the same readers. Different content and graphics for the same reason as in #1 above.

4. Make a list of 2-5 things, at a minimum, to do each day to market yourself and your book. 

The list may include: tweet 3 times a day, promote your book on 2 or more FB reader groups, post to your own FB fan page, make a new graphic each day for one of your books (retire any old ones that seem outdated or over-exposed), create a new tagline or review quote for your graphics and social media posts, mine your reviews for social media content.

5. Brainstorm a list of every inexpensive thing you can think of that I haven't touched upon.

My 5 suggestions may be the tip of the iceberg. You may have some wonderful ideas of your own so leave a comment about those so others can try your ideas.

Takeaway Truth

Most of all, write up a marketing plan that you work every day. Quit winging it.