My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

They call me Slim Shady...

I'm back! I'm back!

After a two-week unexpected and unplanned hiatus from all things social media (Twitter, my blog, etc.) I am now back online!
Through my personal retreat, I got my newly hectic life in order and think I am finally going to be able to balance my extensive work life with my personal life and online life. Which is great news, because I have missed all of my followers and friends on the Internet! I am looking forward to starting again with a renewed energy and focus on what my top priorities are. I can't wait to reconnect with some good friends and to meet new people, every day!

On a completely different note, Grit City Publications new catalog comes out tomorrow (yay!), with titles that cover almost every taste. If you like to read romance, sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, or suspense, then you need to check out the newest emotobook selections! There are EmotoSingles and EmotoSerials, so there is something to fit any attention span. While B&N and Apple haven't quite got on the ball with these titles as I'm posting this, they will be getting on the bandwagon very soon! For now, you can always purchase Swing Zone by , Lingering in the Woods, and/or Suburbians from the Grit City website, Amazon, or Smashwords. I will post the links for each emotobook below. Enjoy!

Swing Zone by Jodi McClure (author), Alexis Jenny (editor), and Zach Revale (illustrator):

Lingering in the Woods by Cynthia Ravinski (author), Alexis Jenny (editor), and Loran Skinkis (illustrator):

Suburbians by William Kosh (author), Rebecca Hoffman (editor), and Loran Skinkis (illustrator):
(Yes, that is my name beside editor. I'm so excited!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cutting Back

I recently got a promotion at Walmart, which bumped me up from part-time to full-time. Back in January, I started working with Grit City Publications ( as an editor. So, now I have two jobs that demand a lot of attention. Unfortunately, this means that I cannot go on posting one post every single day. I tried doing it this week, the first week in my new position, and it is just too much. However, I will still be posting on a regular basis. My new aim is to post every other day. That little bit of extra time should be just perfect!

Thank you all for being patient with me, and keep checking back for new writing tips and publishing news!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just Do It!

A few days ago, I was reading a post on Jenn Greenleaf's Wearer of Many Hats blog, "Don't PLAN to write...WRITE! ( She wrote about the different traps that writers can fall into: spending more time reading blogs, chatting on social networks, and buying books on writing, instead of actually writing.

I think she has a good point. While it is important to do your research and to read what others have written, it should not come before your own writing. You can read as many how-to's as you want, but when it comes time to put pen to paper, practice is the best way to develop your skills.

Now, I am not saying that these things are bad. Interacting with others, reaching out and forming connections, learning things that you would never discover on your own; these are all important aspects of being a writer today. You need to have a prominent online presence and develop a network in order to get your work out there. In reality, I believe that these things are all very good and can lead to a more successful career as a writer.

My biggest point here is that you need to find a balance. Focus on your writing while allowing yourself time to send a few tweets, read a handful of blog posts, and flip through the pages of a new book. Expand your knowledge base in any and every way you can. Just don't forget what your purpose is and remember to divide your time evenly.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Social Networking

A few days ago, I was reading a series of posts on Jenn Greenleaf's Wearer of Many Hats blog ( She writes about many things as a blogger, from cutting coupons to becoming a better writer. The topic that I want to talk about, that she covers quite well, is how to find a balance between promotion and interaction on social media.

I appreciate Jenn's blog most because of her honesty. When she's trying new things, even if she is unsure of the outcome, she keeps her readers updated and gives them her opinion through each step of the process. I was recently inspired by her posts that involve Twitter and other social media outlets. Like many other people in the publishing world (writers, editors, etc.) she is trying to find the best way to use the Internet to her advantage. Now, this doesn't mean she is abusing it; that's not what I mean at all. I just mean that she is trying to find a way to interact with her readers while staying true to herself and her published works.

I think this is a question that all writers are trying to find an answer to. Where do you draw the line? You don't want to push people away by promoting yourself too much, but you also want them to be interested in buying your book. How much is too much? How much is too little? How much personal information do you share? How often should you post? You certainly don't want to crowd the page of your followers, but you don't want them to forget you exist either. How do you find that middle ground?

Due to the new nature of all this, it is hard to determine. The best way is to experiment and keep track of your progress. Ask a few trusted colleagues or friends to give some input and feedback. Keep a close eye on your followers and interactions. When your friends and Tweeps aren't happy, you'll know it. You just have to pay attention and stop looking for a blanket answer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Street Grammar

I disagree with the cop

Me too

Have you ever driven past a billboard and shuddered at a very large spelling mistake? Have you ever shaken your head at bad grammar in a television advertisement? Then you just might relate to these two cartoons.

In today's technology-driven world, it can be easy to lose sight of the rules of proper English. While "b4" in place of "before" might be okay in your texts to friends, it is not okay in a resume. If you find yourself using "lol" in an email to your boss, it might be time to crack open a grammar book. You must always be aware of the image you are giving off and maintain a professional appearance if you want to be taken seriously in the publishing world.

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Retired" Writers

(I apologize for not posting yesterday. Daylight savings time really threw me off track!)

There is one thing that really inspires me lately: older men and women that are still writing, editing, and publishing their work. Now, I don't mean that negatively or condescendingly. I just genuinely admire them for their hard effort and for continuing to let their creativity fuel them. While many people their age are enjoying retirement by sitting around on their butts, watching the grass grow, and going to the lodge (nothing wrong with that!), these people are hunched over their desks, pen in hand, struggling to find the right words to get their creative ideas down on paper.

I hope that one day, when I am old and gray (or white or bald), I have the motivation and determination to keep doing what I love. That I will have the willpower and the strength to write a story or novel; to go back through the rounds of edits, proofreading, deleting, and adding; to submit to and work with a publisher; and to help promote that book. It's a lot of work for a retired person, and I admire them for refusing to let their age deter them from writing.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Abusive Muse

A few days ago, I was reading a post on the Ink Stained Pawprints blog, "Friday Flash – Capturing the muse" ( ). She wrote a very short fiction piece about the interactions between a muse and a writer. While I normally don't necessarily believe in a "muse" as an entity (a muse can run away from you; creativity, however, is stuck within yourself), I was intrigued by this post.

Instead of admiring the muse as a person or spirit a writer can call upon at will, Shen (the blogger) sees it as something that controls you. It tortures you and acts as a dominatrix. She tears you down, overwhelms you, and feels no remorse. The muse is so abusive that it brings the writer to tears. Instead of being an angel of creativity, she is a a devil who enjoys hurting you with ideas.

This lends itself to the idea of the tortured writer. The poor soul who locks himself or herself in a room for days on end, struggling to come up with the perfect word, the perfect phrase, the perfect story. The writer who throws themselves so completely into their writing that one wrong step can send them over the edge into insanity. The writer who is always searching for the next big idea, the one that will shoot them into a league with the greatest writers of all time.

Why, though, does it have to be this way? Why do some writers intentionally torture themselves? I firmly believe that writing should be enjoyable. Even through the hard work, the editing, the criticisms, a writer should still be happy. Yes, it's difficult to succeed in today's publishing world. There is a lot of competition, a lot of emphasis on having the best idea and presenting it in the best way. However, writers still need to relax. Love what you are doing. Don't let the stereotypical abusive muse bring you down. In the end, you still control her.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Keeping a Journal

When I was very young, my step-grandmother gave me a diary for Christmas. It had a very tiny, fragile combination lock that connected the covers. I immediately ran back to the spare bedroom, sat in front of the lighted Christmas tree, and wrote until my tiny hand cramped. I was so excited to have something to write everything down in! Now my thoughts could be recorded and I would be able to seal my memories in ink for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to fourth or fifth grade, nearing the end of my time in elementary school. My diary was stuck in a corner of a shelf, dusty from being touched once every couple of months. I wanted so badly to write everything down, but I lacked the discipline. However, I watched the movie Harriet the Spy, and my vigor was instantly renewed. Not in a good way, though. Despite the fact that her log of people got in her trouble, I was hooked on the idea and started my own journal about my classmates. I wrote down why I loved them, why they annoyed me, why they were ugly, or why they were beautiful. I made fun of them, I praised them, or I dismissed them. Soon enough, I received a similar fate: my notebook got in the wrong hands and ended up with the principal. My gentle, old, almost-retired principal stared me down and I started bawling as he told me that what I had done was wrong. He made me feed it to the industrial-sized shredder in the office and promise that I would never do that again. My spark for writing in a journal was crushed.

When I was nearing the end of my high school career, I started writing again in earnest. I filled the back of every class notebook with famous quotes, my own poems, and notes to myself. I documented traumatic experiences and squealed about the good things that happened in my life. I wrote angry notes to people who had betrayed me (such as when I found out my boyfriend and one of my best friends had been hooking up behind my back for months). I scribbled about what I wanted the future to hold and how scared I was that my world could fall apart. While it was mostly typical teenage problems, it still got me back into writing on a daily basis.

After I entered college, I started to study Creative Writing in earnest and quickly forgot about writing daily. I would write poems and short stories when I was bored in class, but other than that, my writing was restricted to the required homework. The creative pieces I came up with for my Fiction and Poetry classes was more than enough for me. I would try to record my thoughts in a notebook, attempting to keep them all in one place, but I just could not find the interest required to do it consistently. Somehow, by going to school to study and perfect my craft, it smashed my passion into oblivion.

Now that I have graduated, I have started to turn my love for writing into a more manageable task. While there are many bloggers, writers, editors, and publishers out there that advocate keeping a journal or diary, I had to learn to tweak that to fit my own needs and habits. I am not the type who can write daily about my life. I've tried again and again, but I just can't do it. Instead, I keep the journal by my bed, because most of my ideas come to me when I am falling asleep or waking up. I write down snippets of dialogue, story ideas, or the starting lines of poems. While I rarely ever finish these one- or two-liners, they allow me to look back through and find inspiration when I need it.

Recently, I was starting to have trouble finding things to blog about. I want to keep this blog about writing and editing tips, on helping a writer through the process, from the first inkling of an idea to promoting and selling the finished product. I soon started drawing a blank when I went to write a new blog post. That night, however, I had an idea hit me. I sat up in bed, grabbed my journal and pen, and wrote it down on a fresh page. From there, more ideas hit me, flooding my mind with things I could write about. I tried to keep up with my handwriting, and now I have over three pages of potential topics. Whenever "writer's block" starts to hit, I reference this list and I instantly have several starting points to choose from.

My advice for my readers today is to find your own style. While it is good to read other blogs and writing tips, to take their ideas for success into consideration, it is just as important to mold their tips into something that works best for you. Don't be afraid to deviate from their suggestions. What works for them will not work for you, and that's not a bad thing! You just have to find a way to take the gist of what they are saying and fit it to your own lifestyle. Be true to you and you can never go wrong.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quality vs. Quantity


When it comes to perfecting your manuscript, the best thing to focus on is making each sentence, every word, and each punctuation mark count. You have to be able to step back and see your writing from the reader's perspective. Does this sentence add to the story or does it simply act as filler? Does this word pack the meaning you want it to or is it bland and overused? Does your punctuation help convey your message or does it draw attention to itself? You have to look at your novel or short story objectively and work out what works best for your audience. In this situation, quality is more important than quantity.

When it comes to developing a manuscript, however, it is best to come up with many ideas. Personally, I like to keep a journal beside my bed where I write down every idea that comes into my head. Many never go beyond the brief notation in my notebook, but some develop into larger ideas that can branch off into its own story. The more ideas I have to choose from, the more likely it is that I will stumble upon something worthy of attention. When you are brainstorming, allow one note to let your mind move on to another topic. What is most important is to just keep writing down everything that comes to mind. In this case, quantity is more likely to lead to quality.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Worthy Charity

Today, I decided to take a break from writing about writing. Or, at the very least, from promoting writing tips like I was paid to do it (which I'm not, by the way; I'm just enthusiastic). I know that means that some of you will instantly navigate to a different page without bothering to read this new post. And that's okay. You need to do what makes you happy. But, I also know that some of you will stay. And for that, I thank you.

I read a post on another blog recently about improving your life. It had all the generic tips, such as pushing negative people out of your life and making attainable goals. But what does that mean for people in the real world? What if that negative person is your elderly mother that you take care of? What if you are boxed into a corner with no way out?

It's been said time and again that no situation is hopeless. Even if you have no money, no family, no friends, you can still improve your life. But they make it sound so easy! I have never been in that situation, thank god, but I feel great empathy for those that have. If everyone around you is telling you that you can't, if you have been told your whole life that you can't, then where is the self-confidence going to come from that enables you? For the person that has been beaten and broken into a person with no self-worth, how can they rise above their surroundings?

It can be easy to say that they should join a support group, reach out into the community, go to church or the YMCA, etc. But, what if this person has a young child and they have to work two jobs just to pay the bills? They don't have the time to take care of themselves, let alone take the time to build a support system.

It is my greatest hope that today, and every day in the future, we can all take a moment to think of these people who have been placed in the worst of situations, through no fault of their own. And even if they are there because of their own actions, because they submitted to their own weaknesses, as long as they want to change things, who are we to look down on them?

Next time you see someone in need, whether it is someone without a quarter to put air in their flat tire or who is short a few bucks at the grocery store, I sincerely wish that you will reach out a helping hand. You don't have to throw lots of money at charities to make a difference (though they certainly won't turn you away if you do). All you have to do is give up your spare pocket change or spare a smile for someone that looks down. Say hello and wave.

Just by doing the little things, we all can make a difference in someone's life. You don't have to change your life to change the world, just a simple gesture will do.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Post: Jen Smith

For today's post, Jen Smith (@JenSmithSICK) has generously offered to share her writing experience and provide a little inspiration for everyone going through a hard time. Dig in!

Why I Wrote SICK.

After years of debauchery, addiction, bad choices, and confusion, I found recovery and began a life consistent with someone who would be considered a productive member of society. This was painfully weird for me at first and still is a bit awkward. In pursuit of a legal means to support my son, I went back to school and attained a few degrees, the most intense being a Masters Degree in Financial Economics. Soon, it was time to get a job. The idea of working was also painfully weird for me but by that time in my recovery I had seen it done by others. One of my first interviews was with Sovereign Bank. They showed me the cube in which I would be working. It was a solitary dark space with high, confining walls around it. I cried all the way home.

I did find work in a reputable investment company in a cube that was a little less dark with walls a little less high. It was, however, positioned down a back cold alleyway filled with stale air. Despite this, I commenced to assimilate into the corporate environment, working my tale off learning as much as I could as fast as I could, accomplishing a lot. My boss was a tall, well-connected man. Before long, his deep-rooted low opinion of woman was unmistakable. A smart man, his detrimental belittling and minimizing of my abilities were subtle, never saying or doing anything that could be outwardly pined as sexist. This wore on my spirit and had residual effects on how my all-men colleagues treated me. Finally this culminated into my boss deciding to demote me from a salary to hourly employee without reason. He said it came down from corporate but the other two men who were my equals were not affected and remained salary. I thought to myself, no matter how much money I make for this company, and I had made a lot, I’m never going to get anywhere under this man. So I began to write.

My story is one of addiction and survival of domestic violence and abuse. Through pain, I've grown and recovered with hope to clear a path in some small way for other women to come up behind me. This is why I choose to tell my story. While the escapades and criminal activity may be interesting to some, the real story is the little bits of awakening woven in here and there, about the insidious devastation of abuse. My desperate attempts to understand how a human being can so deeply hurt the one they say they love were sometime futile but sometimes revealing. It’s just sick.

The other day a friend of mine stuck in the cycle of abuse referenced a part of my book where I made an attempt to break the cycle. She said this gave her strength to make an attempt to break the cycle in her life. That was it. That was all I had hoped for by writing this book. Just one person was enough for me. So anything else that happens with this book is icing on the cake!

Being in recovery, I have had the opportunity to work on the situation with my boss and the resentments I've carried. At first, my thoughts led to questions like, how could this be happening to me? Hadn't I been through enough? Didn't I deserve to be treated equally and be judged on my merits? Later, my work turned towards things like, where could I have stuck up for myself more? I believe we attract what we have in our lives and there was something about me that attracted one more sexist man into my life. The process of writing my book has helped me get rid of that last little bit of victim I was holding on to. Deep into my writing, my boss was replaced with a women who, although only my boss for a short period of time, empowered me. The fact that she demoted my prior boss and took away all of his direct reports was nice too. Today, I have a fair, respectful male boss. But the truth of it all is that from my despair came the strength and determination to follow my dream of telling my story and empowering women who experience abuse.

If you’ve read my book, stay tuned, I’m busy writing the rest of the story for you. You won’t believe what happens next…

Monday, March 5, 2012

Human Emotions and Writing

make your words do this to your reader

This holds true for both writers and readers.

As a writer, you want your words to reach out to your audience. You want them to get caught up in your ideas and become absorbed in your scenes. You want them to feel emotions as strongly as your characters and taste, smell, hear, and feel the elements of your writing. Your words, sentences, and punctuation should allow your readers to forget they are reading and believe they are actually part of the story. The focus should be taken away from your style of writing and instead be put on the action, dialogue, and feelings within the story itself. Let the physical disappear in the face of the tale you are telling.

As a reader, you want to let yourself go. Be open to the possibility of leaving all your current situations behind. Allow the story to unfold before you and dive right in. The world presented in front of you will become your own world and will replace your emotions, worries, and concerns. If you do this, you might find the answers to your own problems and inspiration to improve your own life. If you are a writer as well as a reader, you can learn the tips and tricks for doing the same to your own readership. It can also allow you to gain ideas for the next step in your own writing process. The best way to improve your writing style (besides writing as often as possible, of course) is to study the work of the writers you admire.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Typos Online

Recently, I was reading an old (well, old to today's Internet standards) by John Bethune, "Innocent and Malignant Typos and the Case of Filloux v. Jarvis." ( He talks about the permanence of typos in printed media. In a journal or newspaper, they can run a correction in the next edition, but it still stands forever in history. When people go back to do research or find the old newspaper in an abandoned garage, they will see that mistake, loud and clear.

While everything lasts forever on the Internet and nothing can ever be entirely erased, it does leave a little more wiggle room is this area. If you accidentally miss a typo in a blog post, online article, or wiki entry, you can easily go back in and edit it. No doubt, some people will have already pointed it out and made your mistake very public, and their remarks will remain. But, you can still go back and correct it. Future readers who visit the web page will see what you meant to say, not what you initially typed.

But this also leads to another idea: Why is proofreading so absent in online publications? With the prevalence of typos out there in the blogging world, why aren't people more careful of what they write? Even though these errors can be fixed easily and change the record, it still makes a bad impression. We all know that spelling is not a sign of intelligence level, but many still perceive it that way and will judge you for a simple mistake that could have been caught early. Many blog hosts come with spell check built in, but even if yours doesn't, you should still be able to copy your work over to Word to use its spell check software. Also, don't doubt the importance of giving your writing a read-through before publishing. Read it backwards, have someone else read it, print it out to look it over, whatever you have to do; just make sure your writing is a proper representation of yourself before you send it out into the world to be judged.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Guest Post: Aimee Fry

For today's post, Aimee Fry (@TheAuthorWorks) has generously offered to share her writing experience and provide advice on how to make the most of your publishing experience. Dig in! –

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the majority of established and aspiring writers will be in want of enthusiastic praise. Whether you write novels, articles, short stories, or poetry, praise will always be greatly appreciated at whatever stage you are in of your writing career. Of course, in order to receive these wonderful comments, your work needs to be read, and this is where the difficulty lies for a lot of us.  As most writers will agree, gaining publication or even getting past the slush pile of publishing houses, agents, or editors is not an easy task; nevertheless, it’s the biggest reward. It certainly is a tough profession to get into, yet so many still crave to break it.
Advances in the world of self-publishing mean that having your work in book form has never been easier. However, whether you are fortunate enough to have your writing published or you try your luck with self-publishing, this has never meant that all your hard work, drafts, and edits will be a guaranteed success, placed proudly amongst other best sellers and selling like hot cakes. Hot cakes have that huge advantage of their tempting, mouth-watering, freshly-baked aroma that no one can easily resist. Unfortunately, books will probably never sell so easily without the right promotion.
With online booksellers playing such an important role in book sales today, web promotion can certainly boost your chances of a wider readership, and this therefore gives self-published writers a fighting chance at breaking into the top lists of publications. Websites such as Amazon will offer your book for sale and display your finished work to millions of people around the world.  It’s possibly the best way to sell your book online, regardless of the publishing route you choose to take, but it is not necessarily the best publicity or the way to initially build up your fan base.
A lot of authors will have a devoted page to themselves and their work on websites such as Amazon, and if they’re published, maybe their publisher’s website too. This, however, cannot be classed as your own website.  Your website, just like the covers of your books, needs to convey a unique message depending on the style and genre of writing. If you write romantic poetry, you will need the design and arrangement to showcase this. It is said that, on average, you have three seconds to convince a website visitor that he or she has come to the right place, so your design needs to instantly attract them. Any website, regardless of anything else, should be professionally enticing. It doesn’t matter if you have one book available or ten; professionalism is a must if you want your website to have a chance at increasing your potential.

Appearance Matters
Promotion can be the key to a book’s ultimate triumph and part of that all-important tool could be having your own web presence. You may ask ‘What do I need a website for?’ and the answer is simple: because readers, publishers, agents, and the media will expect you to have one. The Internet is one of the best and most popular advertising markets in the world today, and you will be doing yourself no favours if you ignore it. If you are selling something, or yourself, you need to have it displayed on the Internet. You may already write a blog and this can be a nice addition to a website, but, at the end of the day, it can become all about you and not your writing. Readers or researchers of your work may be interested in reading the diary postings of your day-to-day life, but when it comes to finding lists of your current releases, it can become more difficult to navigate, and they may look elsewhere.
With no limited space for descriptions, pictures, or excerpts, a personal website can promote in a unique style that best suits the genre of your unique work.  And in the world of the Internet, there is no restriction of where your work can reach, possibly attracting a global audience of devoted readers.
If you’re already an established author with one or many books under your belt, you may already have a website. The saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ springs to mind; alas, the majority of us do. It can be the same with your website. If your design isn’t appealing and professional, this can, unfortunately, reflect the same impression on your work.  Take a careful look at your website and compare it to that of a highly popular author. Be totally honest and ask yourself: is yours as good as it could be? Ignore the fact that they’ve had ten top bestsellers – their websites have promoted that work and sold the image of a much-loved author. Consider this: if people get the impression that your work is good by the professional design of your website, there is more chance that they will buy it.
You may feel as if you neither need nor deserve a professionally-designed website, that your writing is not good enough or the one that you have is ‘fine’, but remember, it is a worthy promotional tool and gives an impression, so it should be a good one. Whether you are releasing your first book or have already built up a fan base, a polished website can give an extra boost to potentially increase your chances of fantastic sales figures.

Websites for All
Not all writers necessarily produce books but this doesn’t mean that professionals such as journalists and short story writers can’t benefit from a personal web presence. It can be a great way to advertise your writing or editing services and you may even gain work from someone who has seen an example of your writing online. A simple email address, if prominently placed, can encourage enquiries that may even turn into a wonderful opportunity. And opportunity can’t knock if they can’t locate your details, can they?
Have you recently completed work or a manuscript that you are considering sending to agents and/or publishers?  WAIT!  Before you do, look into getting a professional website. Some agents admit to visiting websites of writers they will potentially represent, to find information and genuine impartial opinions of the author and their work. Consider placing the first chapter or a selection of your writing on your own website for visitors to sample and accept their reviews and comments. If your writing is good quality, the readers will acknowledge it as such. What better way to promote your hard work?
Self-published authors can really use the Internet to their advantage. Some companies that offer the self-publication of your work do just that; print your book and then may offer help with the listing of your work with various retail companies. If your book is represented by a publisher, they will have a well-researched routine for stocking your title in the major book shops and Internet sites; however, some self-publishing companies don’t offer the advantage of their experience and contacts. Whether you are fortunate to have this help or not, a website designer can help you achieve the possibility of greater exposure online and give you a chance to shine.

Get Blogging
As I said previously, a blog is a great addition to a website. You need a website to showcase your work and a blog or news reel will keep your readers interested in hearing what you are working on or have recently published. It can allow friendly and fun interaction between yourself and your ever-growing number of readers. Certain blog software that website designers use allows fans to ‘follow’ your posts and, if they like, comment on each entry. Now, consider the vast amount of bloggers and followers around the world. Each person can see what new blogs their friends are looking at and they will then easily be able to have a quick look at this recent addition. If your posts are intriguing and the design is as eye-catching as your website, they too may add you to their following list and you can achieve an ever-budding list of potential readers. And if you are fortunate enough, they may even mention your work in their own blog and create even more interest.
Despite the work, blogging doesn’t have to be a chore. If you choose a subject that interests you, such as your progress with writing or the struggles and solutions you come across, it can become a time of day that you really look forward to and enjoy more and more. Maybe you could blog at the end of every other day and record how many words you managed to write, how you overcame your fight to concentrate, or comical things that distracted and inspired you such as the postman that caught you in your dressing gown at noon because you were having such a flourishing morning of writing that you lost track of time! Then again, everybody blogs differently and you could blog weekly, daily, or whenever you have something new and exciting to tell. And remember, with every struggle or achievement you reach, your followers can sympathise, encourage and congratulate you along the way.
As well as promotion on your website, a blog can be another opportune place to display your work and get feedback. You could potentially increase your chances of publication by a phenomenal amount if the comments on the first chapter/poem or article that you posted on your website and matching blog are voiced enthusiastically and praised positively.  This also gives an agent or publisher a chance to see the amount of followers you have and these followers are all people who will potentially buy your published piece of work.
Social media has become a central tool to websites, and blogging, Tweeting, and posting on Facebook contained in your website keeps your pages looking fresh. This not only keeps your visitors interested, but it tells Google and other search engines that your website is regularly updated, benefiting your search engine optimism.

Show Me the Money
Owning an attractive website need not cost an arm and a leg or become time-consuming, but, as with writing, you should do your research. If you think you can’t afford a professionally-designed website, I certainly would not advise that you consider a cheap alternative company that offers plain templates. Unless you are an experienced website designer, it will show none of the character in your writing and once the content is in place within the template it can be very difficult to move, resize, and have what you want, where you want it. It can turn out to look like a site disaster and can do you more harm than good.
If cost really is an issue, contact a website designer and ask them what they can do with your budget. It can be daunting to justify the cost at first, but once you start the process, it can be a fun and enjoyable experience. They may be able to offer a discount for less pages or payment spread over an agreed time. But at the end of the day, at least you will have a website that is custom-designed to suit your work and style.
Website and graphic designer Aimee Fry ( has the experience of working with both authors and journalists, including Adele Geras, Mary Hooper, Judith Spelman and Terry White, amongst others, as well as partnering with publishers to offer in-house design to their published authors. They offer professional, bespoke designs at a very competitive rate. It can prove to be a great investment for any type of writer.
And remember, a website designer can offer much more than an attractive design – they can help your website get noticed and appear in keyword searches, help with social media, provide a management system to keep your website up-to-date, and install optimizing tools such as Google Analytics that you alone may not be au fait with! After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Guest Post: Trey Knarr

For today's post, Trey Knarr has generously offered to share his writing experience and prove some insight into why honesty is so important in art. Dig in!


I’m writing this – late at night, a healthy number of Budweisers in, with a looming sense of the baby’s awakening – on a computer, the space bar of which has gone MIA (well, it just kind of fell off; I was there). However, every word I type is exactly as I intend it.

The point I’m making is that the paragraph above features something many writers (especially beginning ones) tend to overlook: that guttural, cathartic, “from-the-heart” style the late Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson exuded with such perfect naturality. When did the strutting class of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) devolve into the limping crass of Twilight (2005)?

And if your answer was “Between 1897 and 2005,” well, technically, you’re right.

I can forgive modern art, to an extent. For all the havoc Justin Bieber has wreaked upon this world, at least you or I can’t acknowledge (well, won’t want to admit, at least) that he isn’t telling the truth. Love, “swag,” Michael Jackson-rip-offs: doesn’t everybody want these things (and only these things) throughout those troublesome, hormonal, adolescent years?

All kidding aside, many writers, including yours truly, went through a sort of bohemian existence and favored rational derangement of the senses in an attempt to produce high art that was somehow closer to an unrealistic idea of what art should be. In the years that followed, I have come to believe that honesty rules all. Like the great blues singers, it ain’t about what you’re preaching; rather, how you preach it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Blog Pet Peeve

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to blogs is when they do not have a "subscribe" option, besides the automatic RSS button. If I read your blog and I like it, I want to be able to subscribe to it! If you don't have one, you are forcing me to bookmark your blog and try to remember to come back to it later. While this is a feasible option, I love so many good blogs that it is a pain to have to jump all over the Internet to see if you have a new post up. (This may be called laziness, but keep reading and I'll explain my reasoning).

There are many different ways to allow your readers to subscribe. There is always "Google Friend Connect," which allows a reader to keep all their favorite blogs in one organized place. This basically offers one-stop shopping and allows me to access blogs I have subscribed to with one click. It also allows me to see summaries of new posts in one convenient place, allowing me to click to read more about an article that intrigues me.

 My favorite, however, is being able to subscribe by email. I love receiving new posts in my inbox every day and being able to read them without having to go all over the web to find them. This is even more convenient than Google Friend Connect! Also, if I have a post I particularly enjoy, I can save that specific post in a folder to keep forever. I can go back to it for inspiration, advice, and just to absorb it's awesomeness. I can flag it if I want to keep it even closer. I can forward it to others and use it as a reference. I don't have to search for your blog, it comes straight to me and demands my attention.

While I understand that an RSS feed is useful, not everyone has a Kindle, a Nook, or another device that easily supports RSS feeds. I recently acquired a tablet (my family generously got me one for my birthday mid-February), but I still use my laptop most of the time. I have the Kindle software downloaded on my computer, but I still prefer to have my blog posts delivered by email. I check it daily anyway, so it is just much more convenient for me.

I have come across several wonderful blogs that have no options to subscribe whatsoever. I would like to ask these bloggers, what are you doing? You want your readers to fall in love with your blog, to come back again and again, to get more traffic and keep them coming back for more. So why in the world would you not give them an option to subscribe to your posts?

My advice? Give your readers as many options as possible. Put all three on your blog. Allow them to connect with you. If you can find other ways to allow them to subscribe, then do that too! There is no way that this can hurt you; it only benefits yourself and your readership.