The End of the 1st Half of 2017

If you accomplished something significant, the post title probably gives you satisfaction.

If you accomplished little, you probably have a sense of depression or even desperation stealing over you.

The bad news is you can't undo the last 6 months so just get over it. Put it behind you. Make a plan for the rest of the year.

The good news is that you do have another 6 months to make your mark, to accomplish something great--something that only YOU can do. So lay the foundation then build that something 1 brick at a time.

Takeaway Truth

Success is achieved in dribs and drabs--1 small action at a time.

Just a Bit of Inspiration

Today is a busy day of hospital visits and doctor appointments.

Before I race away, let me give you a bit of wisdom that helps me through difficult days.

"That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger." ~ Nietzsche said it long before Kelly Clarkson turned it into a song.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes the best way to get through hard times is to just do what comes next and not think about all the other "nexts" to come.

Indispensable Tool: Online Character Counter

I want to share with you an indispensable tool for anyone who uses Twitter or who needs to create a Product Description or other text with a character limit.

Character Count Online is a webpage you'll want on your Bookmarks Toolbar.

Visit the Character Count Online webpage and you'll see that it counts:

Characters, Words, Sentences, Paragraphs, and Whitespace.

Counting the Whitespace is especially valuable because some webpages like Twitter limit you to a certain number of characters that include the whitespace.

I use this free web tool to create spreadsheets of Tweets that I upload to Twittimer each month.

All I have to do is make a tweet that I know is 140 characters or less (actually, I make one that is 137 characters), paste it into my spreadsheet, then it's easy to see if any succeeding tweet I paste in is too long.

Takeaway Truth

The Internet offers all sorts of free apps and webpages that can save you a lot of time. Try Character Count Online, and you'll find it just as useful as I.

Why Book Trends Come and Go

Many authors constantly try to outguess what book publishers want to acquire. In the indie self-publishing world, we try to outguess what readers want to buy.

Both of these actions are doomed because the book industry isn't static. It's always changing. What publishers or readers wanted last year won't be what they want next year.

With both traditional publishing, you must stay attune to trends because what publishers bought last year when a trend was hot won't even be on the shelves until next year or the year after.

With indie self-publishing, authors also must stay attune to trends. It's easier to catch a wave if you indie-publish than with traditional publishing, which has less flexibility in responding to the marketplace.

Publishers Gamble

Every time a publisher buys a manuscript, he's gambling that the subject matter of that manuscript will still be of interest in a year or two when the book rolls off the presses. Sometimes that gamble pays off in a big way. Usually this happens when the publisher has been building an author so that the author is who readers buy, not necessarily a particular book. The author has grown an audience so that readers anticipate the book because of previous books.

For indie self-publishers, this is also an important fact. Grow your audience book by book. 

Sometimes the trad publisher loses the gamble, and the losses can be huge for the publisher and for many of the other contracted authors.

Sometimes, an author in whom the publisher has invested time and money hits a roadblock. Either the book or the author's personal life becomes an issue that turns people off. Often, it's because the author has unwittingly written about something that in the interim period has been linked to tragedy or an infamous event.

I remember many years ago a romance author had a book come out that featured an astronaut as heroine. The book hit the shelves in the weeks after the Challenger disaster. No one wanted to read about a woman astronaut after Christa McAuliffe and Judith Resnick died so tragically despite Sally Ride's previous success. The book couldn't find an audience.

The Market Changes

Book publishing also changes because culture is always changing--because people are always changing.

Basic human nature doesn't change, but how people want to be entertained does. It changes in response to societal changes. Our culture is less inhibited than our parents' generation. We grew up on R-rated movies so many of us want a reading experience that matches the movies--sexually explicit, violence in action, realistic language, etc.

What was new and innovative last decade is old and passe this year. Ten years ago there was little demand from publishers for erotica. Now that market is huge.

Years ago, paranormal was a limited genre with more offerings on TV i.e. Buffy, Angel, and the SciFi Channel than in book publishing. Now, that genre has saturated publishing. Editors and agents say they'll croak if they see another vampire book. Yet the genre seems to be chugging along. Will it crater this year? Will zombies finally die off? You'll just have to wait and see.

Change Or Die

The only constant is change. I'm looking at other genres and sub-genres with the thought of expanding my reach. I'm exploring change. As the market changes, you must change with it or die. In the writing business, to die means you don't get published. For indie authors, that means you publish but your books don't find an audience.

Sometimes, you have to explore new genres if you want to keep writing and selling. I don't mean sell out and write something that's not you.

Instead, find an element in an existing market or the trending market that has resonance for you. Embrace that and write for the popular culture in which you live.

Adapting to popular culture while remaining true to yourself is a fine line to tread, but successful authors do it every day. Read widely and find authors you like and respect. Use them as role models for what you wish to achieve.

Takeaway Truth

Carpe diem!

3 Simple Rules About Contracts

I've read many discussions over the years about authors who discover a publishing contract doesn't mean what he/she thought it meant.

I heard another example of this recently then I happened to watch a Judge Judy episode with a case determined by what the contract said because in most cases--I hesitate to say all because there may be an exception--what the contract says determines the outcome.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to give 3 simple rules about contracts, and this applies to any contract from a book publishing contract to a contract to buy a car or to join a gym.

3 Simple Contract Rules

1. If it's not in the contract, then it means nothing.

2. You must read the entire contract.

3. You must understand the entire contract.

If you haven't followed these 3 rules, do NOT sign the contract.

What's In the Contract

If you and an editor or a car salesman discussed any benefit if you sign on the dotted line, and that is not stated in the contract, it doesn't count. Only what is in the contract is legal. If there's something you've been promised, then don't sign until the contract has been revised to represent that.

Read the Entire Contract

Read the entire contract? Yes!! Every sentence. Yes, it takes time, and the gym rep is rushing you, but take the time--no matter how long--to read the contract before you sign.

If you're signing a contract with a literary agent, the same holds true. This way you can ask questions about elements you may not understand.

Understand the Entire Contract

If you don't understand something, ask questions. I'm amazed how many people see doctors and never ask questions. The same holds true for contracts. It's as if people who aren't lawyers are embarrassed to ask questions about what happens to any funds due you if the agent dies suddenly. Or, what happens to your royalties and your book if the publisher shuts down. Or any number of other things with which you should be concerned.

Ask questions unless you're an attorney who knows about intellectual property law. You need to remember, you are protecting yourself and your assets. If you get hassled about asking questions, then that's a red flag. Walk away.

Some traditional publishing contracts are long and can be hard to understand. If you belong to any group that offers contract advice like Authors Guild or even RWA, contact them with your questions.

There are many books out there (check Writers Digest Books) on understanding contracts. Educate yourself even if you eventually plan to get an agent to work for you.

Takeaway Truth

An informed writer is a writer who is less likely to be taken advantage of.

If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Caroline Clemmons

Caroline Clemmons, one of my friends from the Smart Girls Read Romance group blog, is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of 39 historical and contemporary Western Romance novels and novellas.

A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets.

When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends.

And other Web Pages
Find Caroline

Blog * Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Google+ * WattPad * Shelfari * Pinterest.

Click on Caroline's Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter to receive a free novella, Happy Is The Bride, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you? Caroline loves to hear from her readers so email her: caroline at carolineclemmons dot com.

If Only I'd Known: The Value of Networking
by Caroline Clemmons

One of my mom’s frequent phrases was “If only,” and I believe if she’d won the lottery, she would have said, “If only it was one of the larger amounts.”

We still joke about her glass-half-empty (with a crack down the side and a chip on the rim) attitude. Yet, each of us probably has a long list of things we wish we’d done or known years ago about which we say “If only.”

When Joan invited several of us to submit a post for her new feature, I had trouble choosing which of the many things I wish I’d known at the beginning of my writing career.

One day, my very supportive husband (whom I call Hero) told me he’d learned there was a group of romance writers that met not too far away on one Saturday a month. Over the years, I had been in garden clubs, book clubs, Bible study groups, women’s church groups, bridge groups, and home extension clubs.

I’d worked for a newspaper, and thought I knew how to write, and I already had plenty of friends. Why, I asked Hero, would I want to sit around with a group of women just because they also wrote romance?

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Picture me banging my head against the desk as I recall that foolish remark.

One of the most valuable aids to my writing was joining a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. At the local RWA chapter meeting, women didn’t just sit around talking, although they did network before and afterward.

Monthly programs were presented on a segment of writing. I soon realized I knew nothing about writing a romance—at least not if I ever wanted to sell one. We heard about point of view, pacing, internal and external motivation, conflict, character flaws, dialogue, editing, character arc, and much more.

I drank in every presentation, went to conferences, and formed a critique group. How did I publish my first book? One of the members of that RWA chapter told me the name of an editor who was buying for a new line and suggested I submit my book.

Amazingly, the editor offered me a contract—and major edits.

If only I’d know to join a local RWA chapter before writing my first book! 

Lorraine, Bride Brigade Series, Book 6 by Caroline Clemmons

How to escape marriage to an odious man? Leave the state.

Lorraine Stuart joins a group of women traveling to Tarnation, Texas, a town with numerous bachelors but no marriage-aged single women.

She longs to meet a man who will admire her and the writing ability that has her published in several publications, by a pseudonym of course.

Just her luck, out of all those in Tarnation, she falls for the most stubborn man she’s ever met. But, the handsome newspaper owner is the only one who makes her heart flutter.

Grant Pettigrew has worked hard to establish the Tarnation Gazette. He is intrigued by Lorraine but he won’t let a woman write for his newspaper. Besides, he can’t afford to hire anyone yet. But the redhead is gorgeous and ignites dreams of family, even though he’s never met a more obstinate woman.

Will two immovable forces join to form a forever love?

Click to add Lorraine, Bride Brigade Series, Book 6 to your Romance Library.

Takeaway Truth

Writers, don't isolate yourself. Writing friends and writing organizations have a lot to offer whether you're a beginner or a multi-published pro.

How Many Words Make You Salable

Have you written enough words to make your work salable? I bet you've never heard that question before.

I was thinking about this as I was sitting on the porch this evening and scribbling in a notebook.

Darling Hubby and I left Houston this afternoon, thinking we'd get away before the forecasted torrential rains from Tropical Storm Cindy.

We arrived at our house in the country and enjoyed an unseasonably cool evening courtesy of the approaching storm. So I took advantage of the cool evening to sit on the porch and write.

Writing Routine

Most of us who write a lot get in the habit of writing on a computer of some sort. We get in such a habit that we think we can't write unless we're at the computer.

The truth is that most of us have lives outside of writing. If we write only at the computer, we lose a lot of time when we could be getting more words in the can.

How Many Words Is Enough

Most commercially successful writers adhere to the theory that you must write thousands of words before you ever write anything salable.

Dean Koontz said this very thing in Writing Popular Fiction, published in 1972. (I think that was the first of his books on the subject in which I read that.)

Anyway, Mr. Koontz said: "A writer must write X thousand words before anything can be written worthy of publication. What that X is varies from writer to writer."


How many words have you written? Estimate your thousands of words. Are you happy with that? Maybe you need to write more by taking advantage of the short blocks of time you find during the day and evening.

Perhaps you should also try different media to take advantage of those minutes. It's easy to keep a notebook and pen nearby or tucked in your purse or in the car console. Try writing that way as well as with a note app on a tablet, voice dictation on your Smartphone, or an old AlphaSmart if you have one, as I do. (I'm going to hold a funeral when my AlphaSmart dies.)

It's really amazing how many words you can write just with pen and paper. Sometimes, because you're writing slower than when keyboarding, the words are more thoughtful and may need less editing.

Takeaway Truth

You'll get more words cranked out if you use your time effectively. It just requires a little advance planning.

Review: Zoo for Frights and Thrills

I've been binge watching Zoo, a CBS series, now on Netflix. (Both seasons are also on Amazon.)

What attracted me to the series is the premise that's at the heart of the dramatic: a widely-used chemical in products all over the world is altering the DNA in the animal kingdom, resulting in the animals viewing humans as prey no where near the top of the food chain.

I'd just finished reading up on the Monsanto/Round Up situation and had also watched some documentaries about this chemical.

Round Up (glycophosphate), widely-used on the planet, has affected the way wheat is grown and has found its way into our food supply. Scientific studies have linked glycophosphate to autism and also to the huge jump in auto-immune diseases.


Zoo is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. This scary drama series stars:

James Wolk as Jackson Oz, a zoologist
Kristen Connolly as Jamie Campbell, a journalist
Nonso Anozie as Abraham Kenyatta, a safari guide
Nora Arnezeder as Chloe Tousignant, a French intelligence investigator
Billy Burke as Dr. Mitch Morgan, a veterinary pathologist

In Season 2, these cast members were added:

Alyssa Diaz as Dariela Marzan
Josh Salatin as Logan Jones/Edward Collins
Gracie Dzienny as adult Clementine Lewis


A group of people from various fields investigate the violent animals attacks upon humans begin occurring all over the world.

Some of the animal scenes are really frightening. I wouldn't let impressionable children watch this, or they may become scared of cats and dogs.

The series is well-acted, and each episode is imaginative in the way it escalates the threat from the animals--including fish, birds, insects, etc.

Along with the increased threat, the team seeking to alert the public to this menace as well as a way to reverse the genetic changes in the animal kingdom find themselves imperiled.

Like all evil corporations, the officer's companies have influence with the politicians. Thus the team finds themselves labeled criminals.

The evil corporation of course has a plan to cover their tracks and hide their culpability while at the same time fattening their wallets by offering their own solution to the growing problem.

Takeaway Truth

For chills and frights, watch Zoo. The series returns to CBS on June 29 for its 3rd season. Watch Season 1 and 2 now so you'll be ready for this summer thrill ride.

The Joy--and Pain--of Gardening

The way it looked before. Now it's a weed patch.
I spent the day working on Phase 1 of Yard Renovation at our house in the country.

I Hate Armadillos

The reno was necessitated by an armadillo in 2013 that completely destroyed the yard that summer by digging  under the house in every shrub and flower bed we had worked so hard to create.

You see, in the country there aren't a lot of landscape crews to do the hard work for you. In fact, it's hard to find anyone who wants to do landscaping work.

The end result? Dead plants, mulch that ended up everywhere but in the beds where it was to keep the weeds from growing, and massive holes all around the house. In the morning, I would fill the holes, only to have darn animal make new ones each night.


The yard never got repaired. By the time the armadillo probably ended up as roadkill, we had started renovating the townhouse in Houston we'd bought and moving. The next year was taken up by reno, moving, and going through treatment for the trapezius muscle I had damaged doing all of the above.

Then in 2015, too many life challenges landed in our lap. We rarely came to our little house in the country. When we did, it was only to mow and go back to Houston.

Another Armadillo

I thought last year I'd finally have the time to devote to what was an overgrown weed patch--everywhere.

You couldn't even see the landscape rocks that had once edged the shrubbery. But Life had other plans--and another armadillo.

Eventually it must have met its fate on a country road. According to research I did, there's really no way to deter an armadillo. The only thing that makes it go away is death.

Fields of wildflowers
2017: I Have A Plan

I think I can be here every weekend for a few months. So I  decided to work on 1 area each weekend. Make it a blank slate by removing all landscape rock, pull all the weeds, put down new weed block cloth, dump a ton of mulch over that, and place the rock borders back.

I'm inspired. I'm pumped. I'm...tired!

I worked all morning on the lantana bed at the corner where the driveway and sidewalk meet. It's a blank slate now.

I finished that shortly after noon. Now I'm waiting for the sun to start going down so I can finish that one area with the weed block, mulch, and rock.

One thing about gardening in Texas in the summer. You must pace yourself and work before noon and after the sun starts going down. The heat is just too great otherwise.

Takeaway Truth

Phase 1 is almost completed. Now, I have only--gulp--14 more phases to go. Oh, dear. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Elaine Raco Chase

My guest today is Elaine Raco Chase, the first published author I'd ever met!

I was totally in awe. She was one of the top romance authors back in the day of print bookstores that were found in all the malls. We're talking huge sales! Fast forward to today, and she's still at the top of her game. Like many bestselling authors, she's made the transition to ebooks and audio books.

Just meeting her--a woman who had a husband, kids, a dog, and a house to take care of--made me realize that authors weren't demigod geniuses up on pedestals, but normal people. Like me! She inspired me to pursue writing for publication. Even more importantly, we became lifelong friends.

Meet Elaine Raco Chase

If you like sassy, laugh out loud, contemporary romances - some more explicit than others - you have found the right author!

Reviewers have called them: "cat & mouse" - "slow burn" - "hot and steamy" - "highly addicting" - "solid characters & lots of humor" - "amazing reads!"

I call them fun! Her heroines are NOT: thin, petite, clueless or submissive. They are strong women who aren't looking for a man - until the right one comes along! And those men! Tough-guy, alpha males who don't know what hit them! But do know they want MORE!

Elaine has written a dozen romantic comedies, some more explicit than others, and she also writes explicit mystery/thrillers featuring Roman Cantrell and Nikki Holden.

Dangerous Places is their first adventure, followed by Dark Corners, with Rough Edges currently a work in progress. All of the thrillers are stand-alone novels with continuing characters but no cliff-hangers. So far, both have been Romantic Times Top Hot Picks for romantic suspense.

Elaine also wrote the Agatha Christie nominated non-fiction "How to write the Amateur Detective Novel" which is in the FBI Forensic Library at Quantico.

Despite having not been to college, Elaine has taught creative writing at colleges and universities in the U. S. and Canada. She taught most recently at Miami-Dade College in Florida.

Find Elaine Online

Website * Twitter * FB Profile * FB Fan Page. What's really fun – visit Elaine's Pinterest Page and see Roman, Nikki, Alex, Darnie, Rudy, Duncan, Edgar and all the other characters! Plus places, food, clothes – everything!

If Only I'd Known: Write What You DON'T Know
by Elaine Raco Chase

If only I'd known...anything!

Honest…when I think back, it's a miracle I was ever published. It was 1977 (we were still writing on papyrus), and I was home with two kids under five and not much time to read. When I did read it was assorted hardboiled detective novels and Mills/Boone romances.

The romances made me cringe…these were frail, frightened damsels who needed help crossing the road and were always in distress when the romantic hero showed up. And he of course, scowled, growled, and treated fair maiden rudely for 198 pages…then on page 199 stated: "Of course I've always loved you."

Where…where was that love…not in the first 198 pages.

I Did It My Way

That's when I started writing romances and mysteries and kicking to one side all of the publishing rules. Seriously, that's exactly what I did…I wrote the opposite of all the rules and that sage advice: write what you know.

I knew nothing. I never went to college – well, let me correct that – I studied wiring computer boards and Fortran programming – all perfect requirements for being a writer. Not!

What I did have was a talent for writing dialogue, for creating fun characters, smart women who had careers and didn't need a man to help them. Actually the men needed the women more!

In 1978, Dell saw something in my romantic comedies that started an entire new romance genre!

Back to Today

I celebrate 40 years as a writer this August…and a lot has changed both for major publishers and indie authors that can be summed up in one word: eBooks.

If only I'd known – but I would not have done anything different. I still NEVER write what I know… I love the hunt of learning.

I still never censor myself, and I've taken some nasty reviews for it. And I still never follow the rules…where's the fun in that? There's always a new genre to be created…and maybe you'll be the one to do just that.

Dark Corners (Roman Cantrell-Nikki Holden Mystery II) by Elaine Raco Chase

Exciting Explicit Extraterrestrial?

All over south Florida people are seeing things – things that can't be real –or can they?

Nikki's boss gives her the most bizarre assignment of her career. 

More than 200 solid citizens have reported sightings and contacts with UFO's! Soon she's on the trail with help from the University of Tennessee Space Institute & the Air Force!

Roman comes to the aide of an old Army buddy and finds himself with the most baffling case of his career. Did the US Army actually hijack an armored car? Or is his buddy feeding Roman a pack of lies?

When their cases converge – Roman and Nikki become trapped in a plot that's stranger than science fiction but as real as death in Dark Corners.

Takeaway Truth

If you like smart dialogue, high concepts, captivating characters, and sizzling relationships, read Dark Corners or any of the novels by Elaine Raco Chase!

Review: Blue Gold: American Jeans

Never throw away your jeans--or denim anything for that matter.

That's the takeaway from watching Blue Gold: American Jeans recently. It's available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

In fact, check out your parents' and grandparents' attics for old denim clothing. No matter how worn and raggedy, vintage denim is worth big dollars in the collectible market.

I cringe when I think of my old Sasson and Jordache jeans I blithely donated to Goodwill when that fashion jean craze waned.

I wring my hands in despair when I think of darling hubby's old Levi 501 XX that he replaced when they developed holes from years of wear. We could probably buy a new luxury vehicle if we had those to sell now.

American Jeans Truly Are Blue Gold

Blue Gold: American Jeans is a fascinating documentary released in 2014 and narrated by actor Edward Burns.

Written and directed by Christian D. Bruun, the film tells the remarkable story of blue jeans, a garment created for gold miners in America in the 19th century. From those humble beginnings, jeans have spread all over the globe, with all cultures embracing them. One fact they brought out is that American blue jeans are called Texans in some countries. I love that!

The film profiles fashion designers and those in the forefront of jeans culture as well as vintage jeans experts and traders who travel the highways and byways of America in search of blue gold: denim clothing made in America.

Sadly, like so much industry and manufacturing, jeans-making left these shores during the 1990's. In 2003, Levi Strauss followed the other jeans makers to China, India, and other cheap labor countries. Only 2 or 3 "boutique" jeans brands are now made in America.

The documentary has some thought-provoking scenes of factories filled with children and old people, sitting on crates and working long hours at monotonous jobs in the manufacture of jeans for the new century.
All in all, this documentary is entertaining and educational. It's also consciousness-raising.

You'll never again look at a pair of $25.00 jeans in a discount store without thinking about how they came to market at such a low price.

You also may find yourself visiting every thrift store near you, looking for the elusive 501 XX Levi's made prior to 1980.

Watch the trailer for Blue Gold on YouTube. Learn more about the film at Blue Gold: The Movie.

Takeaway Truth

I guess the policy to adopt is never throw anything away! You might be throwing away blue gold. Another good policy would be to support manufacturers that truly do make in the U.S.A.

Prayers for the Wounded

My prayers are with those injured in the shooting at the Baseball Park in Alexandria, Virginia, and with their families.

I grew up in an era when people were allowed to have dissenting opinions about most anything, without fearing they would be shot for having differing opinions.

What Is Happening to the Land of the Free

I find myself confused and bewildered by those who think it's all right to settle disagreements with weapons whether that's a disgruntled Democrat attacking Republican members of Congress or a school kid attacking a classmate he dislikes.

What's the Answer

The answer to this violence is not to ban guns or knives or whatever the handy weapon of choice might be. The answer is to banish the idea that people can't compromise and live in peace. Banish the idea that only one group knows what's best for the country, and everyone not a member of that group is the enemy.

When I went to school, what Voltaire said was deemed to be what our country stood for: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

We are all Americans. We should all cherish the idea that we can have different opinions without doing violence to each other. We should all be willing to work together for the common good.

Takeaway Truth

God bless America.

Provide Editorial Sustenance

When it comes to blogging, don't assume anything. (Remember the old joke about assume? Assume makes an ass out of U and ME.)

Don't Assume What

Don't assume that everyone who reads your blogs is already knowledgeable about: your blog's subject matter, the internet, blogging, etc.

By making a false assumption, you're not serving your reading audience. You may decide not to blog about website monetization or how to handle viewpoint in fiction because you think your readers already know that.

In reality, your reading audience is probably composed of those who wish to learn the fundamentals of a subject, because they're newbies, as well as those who are old pros looking for a new twist or deeper knowledge on a subject.

Content That Speaks

If we are to provide editorial sustenance for all readers, we must create content that speaks to all levels of proficiency. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Like so many things in life, simple isn't necessarily easy.

Here are 6 ways I think a writer can create content that educates the beginner AND entertains the pro thus keeping both the beginner and the knowledgeable reader glued to the page or the screen. After all, we want things to be sticky. (Read yesterday's post if you don't know what that means.)

6 Ways To Provide Editorial Sustenance

1. Write with a compelling voice that makes the reader feel as if they're having a great conversation with the writer. That way, they read the words, not skim the copy, because they're afraid they'll miss something entertaining.

2. Punch up the copy with something unexpected. Quote something germane to the subject and make that quote humorous or starkly thought-provoking. People remember things better if linked to emotions.

3. Use numbered lists. Readers love this because psychologically they feel as if they're getting step by step help in an area. Even pros will read lists because they're always looking for new ways. Sometimes, a numbered list really resonates with the reader.

4. Use metaphors and similes that speak to the audience's cultural experiences. That will knock the old ball over the fence. Note the baseball metaphor? It's summer which is baseball season and just about everyone understands a baseball home run. Sports allusions are great for male readers, but female readers understand them too. Don't be afraid to use sports, literary, political, or whatever-floats-your-boat metaphors and similes.

5. Tackle a subject that's been done before. Always remember that different writers present the same information in different ways. Maybe you've read 100 articles on writing or blogging, but number 101 is the one where you really "get it." The way you write it may be the way that speaks to someone who still doesn't understand the subject.

6. Reference what others have done. Don't be afraid to refer to what others have written on the same subject. Acknowledge the body of work that has already been created. Give links if possible. Honor your fellow writers.

Takeaway Truth

Do these things, and you'll be providing content that provides editorial sustenance.

Goal: Be Sticky

Yes, be sticky--as sticky as you can get. Sticky is good, when it comes to websites.

By the way, when I say website, I don't distinguish between blogs and what you may traditionally consider a website.

If it's a page on the web, whether it's your dot com or a blog or an author page on a big website, then it's a website.

What is a sticky website? It's a website that visitors stay on for prolonged periods and return to often--as if they're stuck to it like chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe.

A website's stickiness is measured by analyzing the traffic it gets. What is it that makes visitors stay on a website? What makes them return?


Content. It's that simple. Give them content that means something to them in terms of "what's in it for me?"

So what's in it for visitors to your website?

Entertainment. Education. Surprises.  Freebies.  Friendship.

Goals for Your Website

All of those--entertainment, education, surprises, freebies, and friendship--should be the goals for your website.

Not to sell books. That's a nice by-product of a good website, but not the reason for the website. You want visitors to stay long enough to appreciate what you offer. You want visitors to return to your site. You want visitors to tell others about your site.

What You're Selling

Every site sells something. Sure, it's easier to spot what overt retailers sell, but every site is a selling
site. If you're an author, you're not really selling a physical product. Your selling yourself--your authentic self.

You're saying, "Hey, I'm a nice person. I love books. I love writing. I want to share that passion for books and writing with readers and other writers. Come visit and get to know me."

Reading was my first love. Writing came second, but I love it too. I adore sharing that. That passion for the written word is what I'm selling I suppose with all my websites.

Best Word Forward

Your websites should be a representation of your best efforts. Make the websites visually appealing with intelligent content tied to what your website is all about. If you write about books and writing, then don't launch into a political diatribe. That's not why your visitors come to your website.

When you see the same visitors again and again, it means you've succeeded in your goal. There's something on your site that brings them back.

If that happens, then chances are your content will bring others also, and your popularity will grow.

You'll build an audience for you, your words, and your product. You'll build friendships.

Is This High School

To some this may sound like a popularity game. I guess to an extent, it is. The only difference is that you don't have to be a football hero or homecoming queen to win visitors to your website. You just have to be willing to be generous to your visitors.

Takeaway Truth

Fortunately, for most writers, offering good content, being friendly, being respectful and generous-hearted comes fairly easy.

Good luck with your websites.

If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Loretta Wheeler

SlingWords welcomes Loretta Wheeler who writes in the friendly, casual style with which she speaks. Reading her post is like having a conversation with her over a cup of morning coffee.

Loretta is giving away a copy of her latest novel, The Verandah/Southern Breezes ,. All you have to do to win is leave a comment and your email addy. She'll choose a winner at random and notify you by email.

Loretta has 7 books available on Amazon: 3 short stories, 3 novellas, and a full-length novel which is her latest release under the name Loretta Wheeler, The Verandah/Southern Breezes.

Loretta, writing as L. Reveaux, recently released  Siren's Call which has a much higher heat level than her other books.

More About Loretta Wheeler

Loretta Wheeler lives in the south along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dog, Jack. Both pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved.

Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. She says she writes of southern things because most of her stories speak to her in a southern accent. Something she recognizes easily since her own is so strong.

Find Loretta online: Website * Facebook Profile Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter.
Author Loretta Wheeler

If I'd Only Known: Change Is The Only Constant
by Loretta Wheeler

Boy, if I knew then what I know now, no telling how different things would be. How many of us say that? All through life, we glance over our shoulders, shake our heads and murmur (or if you’re a guy, you mutter) those words. The movie, Frequency gave us a good look at what being able to travel back, and share a few well-placed words, could do for us. We’d be off and running, right? Yelling Yahoo! all the way to the bank.

Well, since no one has broken the linear time line yet, the next best thing is to research what those who’ve gone before us have to share. Or heck, even research the ones running alongside us who took a slightly different path. And, just so you’re prepared, the path keeps changing. Bring a second pair of running shoes, or maybe a pair of hip boots. It can get mighty deep in here.

Everything Changes Faster Than You Can Imagine

What the path required even a few years ago is different than what is required now. This includes writing styles.

Throw out starting a paragraph with “It was.” That doesn’t fly anymore. Charles Dickens would be rewriting like crazy. Heck, even he might be muttering (See? Males mutter.) about finding the right freakin’ path.

The marketing path also changes often. What works best for a couple of years, suddenly wears thin because everyone’s doing it, and no one pays attention anymore. They scroll past all the familiar jargon and well-worn paths, selecting just a few footprints left behind. If you’ve chosen to stay with blogging, one thing that remains the same is to offer something free. If you yell Free it still garners a second look.

Be Prepared

I suppose, the gist of what I’m saying is be prepared to constantly change. You may even have to bend your style a little. I’m an “It was” gal, and I still love to start with an opening scene, not right in the middle of action. Be prepared to change your style.

Be prepared to change your marketing techniques, because sugar, the times, they are always changin’ when it comes to marketing. And with change comes a new learning curve. Whether it’s losing the oxford comma, eradicating passive voice, or donning a new hat labeled Marketing Guru, or MailChimp Madame.

I’ve bought the marketing hats, but the Guru and Madame hats are way too big for my head. Thank God there are others running alongside me who sport that Guru and Madame side like they’re walkin’ a runway.

I’m trying to keep up with them, but I’m thinkin’ there better be some signposts up ahead warnin’ of Slip-Falls and Avalanches. And further up, one with flashing lights, screamin’ in big letters: Changes Ahead!

Southern Breezes/The Verandah by Loretta Wheeler

Watch the Book Trailer!

What if everything you’ve hoped for suddenly comes true, almost as if it’s divinely orchestrated? But what if it’s accompanied by a ghost who’s dressed in clothes straight out of the Roaring Twenties?

It’s spring on Galveston Island, and everything’s running full tilt. Spring breakers swim in high curling waves, turquoise umbrellas line the sand, and the Pleasure Pier is lit like a bejeweled princess, her lights flashing with temptation.

Shelby Alexander, a New York Times Bestselling Author, has come back to the island to live. She and her friends came every summer when they were young and daydreamed often of living there when they were grown. Good to their word, all of them have now returned.

Shelby is finding that even though she’s thrilled to own a part of her Aunt Sookie’s house, the excitement’s only just begun, because a gorgeous guy has also arrived along with a scruffy dog named Charmin’. Fast on their heels is a ghost—a ghost who seems quite comfortable lounging on Shelby's verandah, blowing smoke from its cigarette—and who is always, always surrounded by a deliciously sensuous fragrance.

Time For Reading Fun

Add The Verandah/Southern Breezes to your Library. It's in Kindle Unlimited or buy for $2.99.

Remember, you have a chance to win a copy of this book. Just leave a comment with your email addy. Loretta will pick a random winner and notify you.

Takeaway Truth

How delightful! A romance with a ghost, a gorgeous hero, and set on fabulous Galveston Island. Thanks, Loretta, for giving writers the benefit of what you've learned.