It’s November. Time for NaNoWriMo – What’s That?

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NaNoWriMo – have you heard of it? National Novel Writer’s Month. Honestly, I never heard of it until six months ago. NaNoWriMo is the month (November) writers and anyone who wants to enhance their writing skills commit to their goals for writing. People dream about writing a novel or book or becoming a better writer, but we all know dreams don’t mean anything unless you set a goal because goals have a deadline. NaNoWriMo is the month people commit to write 50,000 words for their novel or other writing project during November. Fifty thousand words divided by 30 days is 1,666 words/day. What activities can you shave out of your day to make time for writing? Less TV, less time on social media, less time sleeping? Maybe you’ll have more time one day than another. That’s okay. The idea is to set your goal and stick to it.

We’re all busy, but if we’re serious about writing, let’s take the challenge. When I plan things or carve out time for tasks I’m able to hit my goals. If exercise, violin lessons, meetings, etc. are on my calendar, I’m more organized and my brain doesn’t have to “remember” things. Therefore, I’m less stressed and have a clearer head to finish things faster and easier.

At this time in my business and life, if I aimed for 50,000 words this month, I’d fail. Wow, did I say that? Yep, but I’d rather say it up front than to say I’ll write 50,000 words this month, not do it and then criticize myself for the next five years! So, my goal for November is writing 25,000 words. That’s 833 words a day which is doable. We’re creating new programs, writing more blogs, and writing a book for 2017 so 833 words on average a day for the month of November is my goal. I can commit to that. How about you? What’s a goal you can stick to and not blast yourself for the next six months if you don’t reach your target?

It’s about having fun, setting a goal, managing your time, and finishing or moving closer to completing your novel or writing project. If you want support during this month, follow us in our Facebook Group, Your Literary Prose Writing Circle. It’s an interactive group where you ask questions, find support, and more. We’re announcing new things to come and provide daily tips and more! We hope to see you there!

We look forward to hearing your goals for NaNoWriMo this month. Comment here and in our FB Group. Peter and I will post our updates daily in the FB Group too.

Here’s to NaNoWriMo and making it work for you – no matter what your goal is for writing this month!

Until next time,

Colleen and Peter

Your Literary Prose

Here’s more information on NaNoWriMo.

 

Halloween…Ghostly Fun for Kids and Memories for Kids at Heart!

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Time flies by and life is so busy, I can’t believe October is over.  Carved pumpkins still sitting on house steps, fallen leaves not yet raked still on the ground, and on November 6 we gain an extra hour of sleep. I used to love the time change and now that I am older…not so much!  By 6:00 p.m. it’s already dark – boo, and I don’t mean the ghostly boo; I mean yuck!  It seems like it’s already time for bed. I’m already making a list of things to do in the evenings!

On with my story:  While wracking my brain on what to write about for Halloween, I came across the picture for this blog and remembered an event that happened 21 years ago. When I saw it, I knew I had to share my story. I chuckle when I see this photo. People who know my sister Mickey will understand and laugh, and those of you who don’t will hopefully laugh and enjoy the story because with any luck I will write this so you can envision it as you read along.

Rewind 21 years. How many of you remember the Olan Mills picture plans from years ago. The plan offered a “free” 8-1/2 x 11 picture four times each year if you came in for a “sitting.” Well, we all know the “ploy” of going through the door and you never just leave with that 8-1/2 x 11 because let’s face it your kids are just too cute.  Peter is our only child so we have pictures from Olan Mills from age three months to four years old and then we start with his pre-school to kindergarten pictures hanging down the hallway stairwell from our upstairs, and we call it the “Wall of Peter.”  During the beginning of the “Olan Mills” years Peter was the only grandchild (besides two older grandchildren) on our side of the family for several years and then boom, boom, boom, three boys within six months of each other: Mitchell, Kevin, and Donovan.

Kevin’s mom is Mickey, and Mickey and I did a lot together (she’s about 12 hours away now). When Kevin was born our mom “gifted” Mickey the Olan Mills’ picture package too.  So Kevin’s first Halloween Mickey said it would be fun to take Pete and Kevin and have their picture taken together and dress them up in a costume.  So being the “leader” I am, I followed right along.  We arrived at Olan Mills and we “dressed” them in their Halloween costume and the picture above is the most expensive photograph two people probably ever spent on two children and you can’t even see their faces!  Now mind you, Kevin was six months old and Peter was 3-1/2 so you have a 3-1/2 year old holding a 6 month old underneath a sheet to make them look like a ghost.  I actually stood behind them and propped Kevin up against Pete so he wouldn’t fall off the table. We were laughing so hard during the entire time it was amazing the photographer was able to take the pictures.

Every year during the Halloween season, I look at this picture and it brings back fun and fond memories of two small boys who are now 24 and 21, two wonderful young men, and I wish I could stand behind them and protect them like I did 21 years ago, but today they stand on their own and I pray God protects them and they stay smart enough to protect themselves.

What’s your favorite Halloween memory? We’d love for you to share your story!

Until next time,

Colleen

[Updated post from four years ago.]

You have cancer…

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Three words you never want to hear – You have cancer.

Three words my family members and friends have heard all too often.  Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d share my mom’s journey with breast cancer.  Her first diagnosis was 26 years ago.  My mom didn’t have her first mammogram until the age of 58.  Her doctors kept telling her she didn’t need to have a mammogram.  My sisters and I (there are four of us) kept telling her that she needed to have a mammogram.  It wasn’t the doctors’ lives that were on the line.  It was her body and she needed to have a mammogram.  My mom is of the generation that does whatever the doctor tells them to do (I realize it was the age factor but I’m stubborn and would not go for that).  Eventually, we talked her into having a mammogram.  Thank God she did.  They found something on her film, called her back and scheduled a biopsy.  She went in for the biopsy and the doctor said he would call her back with the results.  He never called, but the nurse did – to schedule her for a modified radical mastectomy the following Monday, which was Christmas Eve! My mom said, “What?”  The nurse said, “Oh, the doctor hasn’t called you to let you know the results yet?”  “No.” Imagine my mom’s panic and ours.

The next few days of tests and doctor appointments for pre-surgery workup, etc. were a blur.  Mom had her surgery and all things considered was actually very lucky.  The cancer had not spread to any of the lymph nodes; therefore, she didn’t need to have radiation or chemotherapy except for tamoxifen.  Still, the ever-lingering fear of the return of cancer stays with you for some time and depression sets in, but our family humor eventually came through.  My sister and I went with mom to have her prosthesis fit; somehow my sister and mom ended up naming it “Bitsy.”  We went with mom to some breast cancer survivor support groups and life continued.  Each day/month was a little better.  The fear started to subside little by little.  The next year, four days after my son was born, my dad found out he had prostate cancer.  A year after that, his cancer had metastasized to his bones.  Oh, this disease; how I hate it.

Life went on, my mom’s fifth anniversary came and five years means you’re cured!  Wow, what a blessing; a miracle.  We knew my dad would never be cured because once cancer has metastasized to your bones it’s just a matter time depending on how fast the cancer decides it wants to eat away at your body.  At that time, mom and dad were both doing well.  At mom’s seven-year mark, she had her annual mammogram and her remaining breast showed something.  Are you kidding me?  Not again.  Okay, same drill.  Testing, biopsy, and the doctor came out of the biopsy and said, “Everything looks great.  It doesn’t look like cancer.  It’s just a cyst.”  Thank God. We were ecstatic.  Three days later, mom received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that the biopsy showed cancer.  A completely different type of cancer than the first time.  We were in shock. Again? But the doctor told us it wasn’t.  Why would he do that? It was like moving around in a haze. Was this really happening?

Okay, what’s the plan.  She opted for another mastectomy; again, she was lucky there were no lymph nodes infected with cancer so she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy except for Raloxifene (the new “tamoxifen”).  We were all grateful and she is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met and her faith kept her going.  My dad lost his battle with cancer a year later (2010).  He’s been gone for 16 years now, but my mom, is a survivor!  It’s been 26 years!  She turned 84 this summer and she is a true miracle.  She took her health into her own hands; thank goodness she didn’t wait for her doctors to tell her to have a mammogram or who knows what would have happened.

I took my mom to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure a few years ago and each survivor receives a hat and they put a pink ribbon on the hat for each year you are a survivor and at that time my mom’s hat had 22 ribbons.  There were ladies who came up to her who were one or two years out from diagnosis and said to her, “Can we take a picture with you with your hat because you’re our inspiration. We hope we’ll be a survivor for that long too.”  Does anyone have a Kleenex?

I started having mammograms when I was 32; I wasn’t going to wait until someone told me I could have a mammogram. I’ll be 56 next month and in the last four years I’ve had two scares and my heart falls to my stomach when the phone rings and the doctor’s office calls and says, “Your mammogram showed something and we need you to come in for more films…”  I can only look at it this way… I have not control over it (I am a control freak so this is huge for me to “let go”), I know this disease runs in my family, I have my yearly mammograms, I do my monthly checks, and I have my yearly doctor visits so I am proactive about my health.  If something shows up and is that horrible “C” word, I know I did everything to the best of my ability and it will hopefully be cured.  I ask anyone reading this to do the same (man or woman).  Early detection does matter.

Take care of you!

Until next time,

Colleen

Try These Writing and Editing Processes… Your Time Is Money

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In the long run, separating the writing and editing process, setting a timer just to write, and avoiding distractions can end up saving you time and money.  We’re all busy and try to multitask everything we do, but sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try to combine doing everything at one time because we end up going back and starting over again. When I write, I find I need my brain’s undivided attention!

Write First; Edit Second.

One common trait many writers and authors wrestle with is disconnecting the writing and editing process.  I struggled with this for years; if I knew something was not correct while writing or typing, I immediately went back and corrected it so I wouldn’t forget to change it later, but realized at some point that I was losing time, and let’s face it, time is money. After years of doing this, I finally started writing the article or blog, etc. and then editing. “Letting go” of this was excruciating for me, to say the least! My advice: Put all your thoughts down on paper or type them on the computer and then revise the grammar, duplication of word usage, incorrect spelling, etc.

Wait to Write Your Introduction.

Introductions are hard to write so if you struggle with your introduction just start writing your first key point from your outline and then after you write your chapter, article, blog, etc. go back and compose your introduction.

Set a Timer.

I’ve mentioned this before in different “writings” but it’s a great habit to start no matter what type of business you are working with; i.e., coaches, speakers, lawyers, Fortune 500, etc. When you determine the length of time you want to write, set a timer and write. You decide the amount of time – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – it’s up to you, but during this time, until the buzzer sounds – write. Focus on writing; no checking email, making phone calls, checking Twitter or Facebook, cleaning off your desk, etc. Write.

Keep Moving.

What? I mean keep writing even if you want to edit as you are writing. This is one habit I have really worked on; however, it’s a struggle, but I have found that if I keep writing and edit later, I do save time. I have a system for notes or information I don’t want to forget about; I highlight the area and mark it with bold letters. You could try this or write a note to yourself or use {brackets} to record your notes and come back later and edit the material.

DD – Duck Distractions!

It’s difficult enough to write when you aren’t interrupted, but constant interference can play havoc with your writing progress. Some helpful hints to DD:

  • Tell people you are writing and need to concentrate; give them the hours you are not available.
  • Turn off Skype, Twitter updates, your cell phone, office phone ringer, etc.
  • Find a quiet place – a place you can close the door, or perhaps a go to a quiet park or the beach.
  • Put on a pair of headphones – people will think you are listening to something (even if you aren’t) and less likely to disturb you.

I post tips and suggestions on Facebook and received the following comments from two people:

Introductions: Michelle Campbell from Forte Virtual Support Solutions:

“This is a great tip, Colleen. I always do this. I rarely start from the beginning and finish at the end. I jump around from section to section and point to point, especially when I get inspired to discuss a particular point. It’s much more difficult to write if you force yourself to stick to an outline you create.”

DD – Duck Distractions: Patti Cooper from Big Sky Social Media Management:

“I find it very difficult to concentrate when working from home, there’s always someone around. I usually just go in the bedroom and close the door. But the headphone idea is a great one. I’ll be trying that now, thanks for sharing!”

What steps do you take to Duck Distractions?

My tip for you – keep moving along when you write, and edit when you have finished your article, blog, chapter, etc. See what happens. You might find you are more productive and the system works better than editing as you write.  What are some of your tips and tricks? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Colleen

What is it that keeps entrepreneurs moving forward?

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We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the sayings:

  • “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.” ~ Maeve Greyson
  • “When you feel like quitting think about why you started.” Unknown

And the list goes on and on…

A few weeks ago I had a pretty discouraging outcome from something I have worked and put my heart and soul into for the last seven months: a one-minute message for my speaker’s reel. Many of you probably think what’s the big deal? It’s one minute. Yes, it was one minute of information I am an expert on; so what made/makes my heart race and my thoughts turn to confusion when I look into a camera or talk in front of a group of people?

Friends who know me would never guess speaking in public or in front of a camera would make me freeze like an ice cube because I can pretty much talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime… However, the head chatter, “I’m not good enough” or “Why would they want to listen to what I have to say” or “How can I make this interesting because they’ve probably heard it before” surfaces, and it takes practice to keep the chatter at bay. Lots and lots of practice and a change in mindset because we are enough, we do have things to say people want to hear, and we are interesting!

Entrepreneurs are a special breed; I’ve been one for 20+ years, and even when I was growing up I sold enough Camp Fire Girl candy every year from second through eighth grade for summer camp scholarships (yes, my mom was our cheerleader and we went door to door every weekend but hey, who doesn’t love a little kid trying to sell candy – that helps right?). I also remember going around collecting canned goods for Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Carnivals… The entrepreneurial spirit is in our blood and deep down I think it’s because, whether we want to believe it or not, we’re BRAVE. During my walk the other night I was listening to my music and the song “BRAVE” came on and it clicked in my head… Entrepreneurs are BRAVE; why else would we do what we do? Okay, maybe the term “entrepreneurs are a bit crazy” comes to mind too, but to put ourselves out there speaking, coaching, hitting the pavement, doing the best we can for clients, learning to balance and not be taken advantage of but providing great customer care and more. We’re BRAVE:

Brilliantly Responsible, Authentic, (and) Vibrant Everyday.

  • Brilliant(ly): As entrepreneurs, being brilliant at what we do is crucial because if we aren’t there are plenty of other people out there with the same skills we have. How are we going to stand out and do it better? Keep learning. Keep reading…
  • Responsible: Are you responsible? Do you meet deadlines? Do your classes, products, programs fulfill the promise you gave clients? How do you handle responsibility?
  • Authentic: Be yourself. If you like a lighthearted, casual atmosphere for work and can make sure you meet deadlines, etc., that’s okay; it’s okay to laugh and have fun. If you’re more formal, that’s okay too. People would rather work with the real you than an imposter. Authenticity is where it’s at!
  • Vibrant: Sometimes the words “happy and excited” wouldn’t describe your day or what’s going on in your business, but when you’re out networking or speaking with a client or at an event – be happy, smile. It goes a long way and you never know who might need that smile or laugh you bring to them that day! Plus, people remember a smile and a laugh.
  • Everyday: Bring your best self to the table everyday. We may not always feel like it (trust me, been there, done that), but the entrepreneur in us has to show up daily so find a MasterMind group, network in person and meet people, find a support system outside the office and go for it!

We all have days, great and not so great; it’s life, it’s business. What do you do that shows you’re BRAVE? Love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Colleen

*BRAVE by Sara Bareilles

The Easiest Way to Start Your Book Today

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Welcome back readers.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want to write a book?” Or, maybe you’ve heard an increasingly large number of entrepreneurs are writing books and you want to jump on the train. Maybe you want to spread your story and expand your audience beyond your current clientele. We’ve heard these types of comments and questions from many people and we are here to help. Over the past month we have put together a guide for authors, speakers, coaches, and businesses owners to start the book they’ve always wanted to write.

Today I’ll break down what we created and why we sectioned it out the way we did. From the first day of writing to finding your readers’ problems to brainstorming ideas for your cover and everything in between, we have you covered.

What we did?

Making it easier to start your book!

“Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” is our way to help people who want to write a book but do not understand where to start. One of the hardest parts of writing a book is starting. Newton’s first law, as stated probably one too many times outside of the field of physics, still holds true – “An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest.”  The aim of our guide is to help writers to just start, to create a certain time to write in a creative place, and to begin planning the entire process of writing, publishing, and marketing their future book.

Each manuscript goes through three main processes, which you have probably heard from us before: writing, publishing, and marketing. We divided our ten days into three, three-day blocks tackling the three tasks in each period block. But, that only adds up to nine days. The last day, and in our opinion the most important day, is the day in which we encourage our writers to take the time to plan out the rest of their book, and to take the next step forward.

If you want to learn a bit more about how to start writing your book, download “Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” today and begin your path to publication. Or, if you know of someone interested in writing a book, please share this post with them. We appreciate it! 

Until next week,

Peter

Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You

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Happy Mother’s Day… Reminiscing as They Grow Up Too Fast!

Pete Senior Night Fam Picture

On being a mother… What is it about motherhood that changes everything? After waiting eight years to have our miracle, Peter, I was terrified I wouldn’t know what to do or be able to love a human being like a mother should. Really. I hated babysitting when I was growing up; the thought of slobber on my clothes, in my hair grossed me out – what was I doing?

Fast forward eight years of trying to have a child, a miscarriage of twins, and our miracle came into this world, a fighter from the first breath he took. It’s personal for him so I won’t go into everything he’s been through, but he is the light of my life. Below is a blog I wrote after his senior night year in high school. I hope you enjoy it. They grow up too fast and leave (and sometimes come back and that’s okay), but being a mom has been the greatest joy of my life (yes I love my husband!), but there is nothing like the bond of mother and child, and I have loved him since his first breath – how could I think I wouldn’t be able to love him?

Senior Night LaSalle High School 2006 – Memories

At the start of each school season I always reminisce about the coming year’s school seniors.  I recall when they were freshman, and how young they looked and how scared and uncertain they seemed.  As seniors, they are leaders standing tall, and I think how time flies.  People always say “time flies” but do we actually contemplate the reality of it?  Pete was a senior two years ago. This August he started his sophomore year of college-it can’t be!  Pete was in the marching band during high school.  His major is Music Education (you may not laugh-at least he is going to college) :).

We still support The Pride of La Salle Marching Band by attending football games and marching band competitions.  This is the last year we’ll recognize most of the band/color guard members and it’s bittersweet.  Life goes on; change is inevitable.  Today I came across the poem I wrote to Pete on his Senior Night and started thinking about this year’s seniors and thought I would share the poem and a funny story with you.

I like to be different and so I didn’t want to write a letter; all the kids receive letters from their parents and I wanted this to be special.  I knew Pete would be leaving for college the next year, and so I thought I would write a poem.  He’ll take it with him, he’ll think how cool is this?  This poem was not easy for me to write.  I labored over this for days.  Did I say days?  Anyway, Senior Night came, we put our “gift” to our child into an envelope, handed it over to the band director, and he presented it to our child.  Well, as a mother (maybe a father too), but as a mother you are usually sentimental and teary eyed and thinking how did they like the letter or poem?  Did they appreciate it?

I kept watching Pete that night, wondering if he read the poem.  I couldn’t tell because that night was about him and his friends; their night.  I didn’t want to push but after two days Pete hadn’t mentioned anything about the poem.  I had to know.  Did he like it, did he receive it, why hadn’t he said, “Thanks mom.  The poem meant so much to me.”  So eventually I gathered my nerve, went up to Pete and casually asked him how he liked the poem and he said, “You know me mom, poems aren’t really my thing.”  Kaboom!  Crush!  My heart fell to my toes!

Today I am able to laugh about it; I know one day the poem will mean something special to him, but at the time I felt like an idiot.  (He really is a great kid).  Live and learn and remember:  TIME DOES FLY, LOVE COMES FROM WITHIN and YOU LOVE THEM NO MATTER WHAT:

PETE, MY SON, MY ONLY ONE

Pete, my son, my only one,
You came into my life
Little did I know I could love
A child as much as you, my wonderful son.
We knew you were special your first breath on the clock,
A fighter, a warrior, oh the strength you would need
The name we had chosen, Peter, the Rock
So appropriate, God knew, did we unknowingly take heed.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Things you’ve been through have made you strong.
Your dad, ALWAYS there helping you, ALWAYS taking his turn,
Laughter is the best medicine, I’m starting to learn.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Why did the years fly away?
Just yesterday it was play, have fun, and run.
Now it’s still have fun but in a different way.

Pete, my son, my only one,
How proud I am of you, I love you, I’ll miss you
But I’ll always be here
To guide you, to nag you, to love you, no matter where.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Your Guardian Angel will hover if you ask him to.
Take God with you in prayer in all you ever do.
Trust Him, Love Him, Thank Him for all you are able to do.

Pete, my son, my only one,
You came into my life
How much I so love you
Pete, my son, my wonderful son.

Writing A Blog, Leave Your Formulas At The Door

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Photo via Visual hunt

Writing a blog is important when reaching current and potential customers. But how do you come up with what to write?

Editorial Calendar

A way to organize your ideas for the present and the future.

I know what always trips me up when writing a blog is coming up with the topic to write. You might have heard that the biggest enemy of writers is that blank page. It’s true. If you’re not prepared to write you’ll push it back, again and again, until you find your big idea. The problem with that is you might never find that idea, or worse yet you think of that idea but you forget what it was when the times come to pound the keys.

Recently, I talked about the importance of using a content calendar when working with social media. Another tool you can begin to implement is the editorial calendar. This tool is important for anyone who creates content. Using an editorial calendar helps you plan out the content you will write for your blog, newsletter, or any other content you create.

What I find works best is to find one day a week you will release your blog, newsletter, videos, etc. and stick to that day. If you’re even more ambitious you can go for two or more blogs per week. To create your calendar, highlight the days you will release your content. When you decide on the days you’ll release your content all you need to do is fill those days in with topics for you to write about. We’ve used a couple of different calendars in the past to do this; if you work in WordPress there is an editorial calendar plugin you can use to plan out your posts, or you can also use Google Calendar, a hard copy calendar, or any of the planning tools out there.

Finding Your Topics

Writing what people will read.

Great, you’ve set up an editorial calendar, now all you need to do is find out what to write about for your planned posts. With an editorial calendar you can plan out your posts whenever you come up with an idea. All you need to do is place your topics on the calendar so you see what is coming up in the future for you to write. This way if you need to work on a topic in advance you know when to have the information ready.

What makes this tool great is that you can organize and reorganize your content. Say you plan out your next month of newsletters and two weeks later you are offered an interview you want to recap. For your next newsletter you can review that interview and reorganize your current week by pushing it back or just taking that topic and moving it the the end. This will keep your ideas fresh when they need to be and ensure you have topics to cover if the muse has not visited you one week.

By planning out your content you can tailor your writing to the audience that you want. Each time you write you probably learn more about your style, I know I do. You gain valuable information such as who learns from your posts but also who enjoys them. By having this in mind you can direct your topics to those who your readers both want and need.

Let The Writing Commence

The hard part is over.

Okay, after filling out your calendar you should have all the tools set up for you to write. By looking into the future you probably have articles or books you want to reference all ready. Now all you need to do is sit down and write.

Hopefully by reaching into the future you know, at least vaguely, what you will say. When I sit down to write, at least the first draft, I sit down and put everything I can think about on the page. Let out all of your information on your topic, let the words flow and the ideas sprout, let the meat and potatoes of your thoughts stew on the page. Sit and write, and don’t stop to re-word that second paragraph, or find that perfect adjective, there is time for that when you edit your work. Only after my first copy is finished do I go back and rewrite and edit my work.

In my honest opinion, there is not a formula to writing the “perfect” blog. Your blog should have some character, let your reader know you a bit more after they read your work. When you follow a formula sometimes you lose sight of what you want to convey, you’re focused more on the structure and less on the substance. While the perfect formula is not out there I do believe there are some necessities that should be included.

Substance Over Structure

It’s what you say that really matters.

Yes, every building needs a foundation but what draws people to a Frank Lloyd Wright building is what they see on the outside. Let your readers see your personality, your thoughts, let them connect with you through your words. You need to let your readers know you, after all you’re not a robot. By focusing too much on a formula you can lose the artistry, and yes even writing a blog on business is art. Take the time to focus on the artistry, you won’t be perfect that first time you write but you will learn what people like, what helps you write, and how those mold together.

There are a few things all of my blogs have in common.

1.) First the introduction. I like to introduce the reader to what they will see throughout the blog; a sort of thesis for what the blog is about.

2.) Next comes the body of the work. I like to keep my word count around 1000 words (this one’s a bit longer), and I like to divide my body into sections to break up the monotony of word after word, sentence after sentence. I use headlines to break up my sections, providing not only a hint as to what this section is about but also a little intro sentence to guide the reader.

3.) Finally a call to action of some sort usually closes out a blog. Recently, I have used a conclusion section but sometimes just a simple question or two at the end of the blog can drive engagement and spur critical thought in your reader.

Conclusion

Blogging Made Easier.

If you’ve ever been stumped writing, especially if you can’t come up with the ideas you need, creating an editorial calendar can help you keep your thoughts in order. While people today are focused more and more on the formula, the structure of blogs, remember to add the artistry to your writing. If you can’t show yourself to the reader, can you expect them to remember your writing?

Do you use an editorial calendar? What about blogging formulas?

Until next time,

Peter Wietmarschen

What’s a PAA and Why You Need One

Nine Ways a PAA Goes Beyond The Words

Many of you might be wondering what a Professional Author’s Assistant (PAA) does. In short, a PAA is someone who helps authors complete their books. From the manuscript to the publishing to the marketing, a PAA guides an author through all the processes of a book that many authors don’t think about but are just as important to overall success of their book. In fact, Colleen wrote a blog earlier that goes into more detail about what a PAA does.  But you still might not know why a PAA is important.

Here are nine reasons why an author needs a PAA.

1. Can an Author’s Assistant Help You?

The answer is YES!

Over 80% of the population desires to write and publish a book, but many don’t know where to go or what to do once the manuscript is finished so it sits in a folder on the computer or in a desk drawer and the paper turns more and more yellow as the months and years progress. Well, no more. If you decide to self-publish your book, a certified author’s assistant can help you publish from start to finish in two to three months. If you prefer to go the traditional route, they can still help, but the time period is longer to publication (closer to 18 months). At this point are you asking yourself who is a professional virtual author’s assistant and how can they help me? They are professionals who have successfully completed an intensive training course and passed a rigorous final exam and earned the title of certified Professional Author’s Assistant (PAA). PAAs have specialized skills and knowledge to work with authors.

2. Keeping You — and Your Books — Organized

A Professional Author’s Assistant saves the author time and money by organizing and scheduling tasks so the author can write. There is much more to completing the manuscript, publishing, and marketing a book than writing it. There are too many duties for one person. The author’s job is to write; we offer worry-free writing to clients and take care of the other multiple details. For a more complete idea of how a PAA can help you, visit our website.

FYI: The PAA can help you through the entire process or for the parts that you need most help; it’s entirely up to you.

3. Have The Best Resources On Your Side

A PAA has professional resources and connections. The PAA is someone who understands the industry and technology and knows where to go and who to use for whatever you need. No more need to assemble your own team to help publish your book. A PAA has a trusted team consisting of professional printers, graphic designers, web developers, book designers, marketing experts, professional proofreaders, and more!

4. The Support You Need

A PAA collaborates and supports the author during the process so time isn’t lost between writing, publishing, and marketing the book. From the very beginning, the PAA works with you on your timeline and budget (remember a professional PAA gives you a reasonable timeline). During the process you aren’t alone; the PAA is a source of assurance guiding you so you meet your end goal of publication and sales!

5. Invest In Your Book

Not only is hiring a PAA a cost-saving advantage, it is making an investment in your book. A PAA knows what the author needs to professionally finish a manuscript, publish and market it. If you try to figure everything out on your own, you actually spend more money than if you hired a PAA. Reiterating, your job is to concentrate on what you do best – write!

If you spend the time and energy to both learn and complete all the administrative tasks a  PAA knows you will lose that time to making money in your field. If you are a psychologist charging $200/hr and you do these tasks yourself that is time you cannot bill. Not only does a PAA already know these jobs, they can help you finish these tasks quicker, meaning you can publish you book sooner, leading to more sales.

6. Keeping The Facts Straight

Did you know when you quote someone in your book you must ask for permission to use that quote? Or, if you use a statistic in a book you must find the latest source document and cite it and make sure that it is the most up-to-date information for the survey or statistic?

There is more to finishing the manuscript than writing it. PAAs help organize the author’s source documents, research the target reader, fact check information in the book, obtain permission to use the work of others, including quotes and interviews. They help coordinate professional peer and target reader reviews as well as research potential publishers and send book proposals, complete a comparative analysis for the book proposal, and prepare the manuscript to submit to the publisher.

7. It’s Time For Publishing

Did you know it’s important to have someone review the printer’s proof other than your original editor? It is also highly recommended that the author does not proof the printer’s preview copy of the book. A fresh pair of eyes will catch more than those who have seen it before.

When it comes to publishing your book and/or eBook, the PAA coordinates the self-publishing process and coordinates testimonial requests. Your Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant assists in managing the information for the book cover, the book interior, and obtaining the ISBN, the bar code, and Library of Congress cataloging information for the book. Your PAA helps you prepare the eBook, if you decide to publish one, consults with you on a printer and publisher, or helps you set up your own publishing company. Let’s face it; you want to publish your book and the sooner you write it, publish it, and market it, the sooner you’ll start selling it. You need someone organized who can walk you through the process from beginning to end. A PAA is detail oriented and knows the importance of deadlines.

8. Becoming a Bestseller

After you’ve published your book, either with a traditional publisher or self-published, did you know it is still your responsibility to market the book? Traditional publishers do not market your book for you. That’s up to you and your PAA has the knowledge to walk you through the process and find the experts needed to successfully sell your book.

Your PAA helps coordinate the book marketing activities including the marketing plan and publication date, obtain industry reviews, helps you prepare a media list, your media kit, and article submissions, coordinate the development of your website, including a social media campaign, and blogging, help you create a virtual and/or live book tour, launch an Amazon best seller campaign, maximize the book’s Amazon web page, coordinate an author video, suggest book award competitions, and the list continues. A great marketing plan is a lot of work but it is fun because it’s when sales happen. Look at it as an exciting time for any published author!

9. Industry Guideline for Services

PAAs have industry guidelines to offer estimates* for the amount of time each service should take (obtaining ISBNs, fact checking, gathering testimonials, coordinating the self-publishing process, managing live and virtual book tours, etc.). Keeping the author informed when the estimated time is close is imperative and goes back to great communication between the author and the PAA.

(*Due to variables, estimates cannot be guaranteed but offer a measure. Comprehensive proofreading/consulting is not included in these guidelines.)

Everyone has stories to tell whether it’s fiction, technical, etc. When you’re ready to tell your story, a PAA has the knowledge to help you organize, save you time and money!

Until next time,

Colleen

2015’s Top Blog Posts

2015 sparklers

Hey there readers!

As the year comes to a close we take the time to review what this year has given to us. Starting our new adventure this year we decided our review would be a quick and helpful recap of our top five blog posts. If this is your first read we hope you enjoy these next few articles and discover something useful, and if you are a returning reader you might be reminded of something you read or missed the first time around.

5. Five Approaches to Editing; Keep it Fun

When it comes to editing and proofreading, there are many factors to consider. When writing, the main goal is to make sure the message is communicated clearly and effectively. The purpose of the writing project should be known from the very beginning. But what happens when poor grammar and minor mistakes are in the way? The message is lost and the errors distract the readers. Remember the suggested approaches below to avoid common writing errors and keep your audience interested: [Read More] 

4. Five Time-Saving Tools for Every Business Owner

As a business owner, there are many tasks you perform every day. How can you save yourself time on daily jobs? Here is a list of some great tools you can use to save time and energy working on your business. [Read More]

3. Tips for Aspiring Authors

You want to write a book, but you’re not quite sure you have the skills or what you say would be of interest to people. What should you do?  Below are some suggestions to help that aspiring writer in you take shape and write the book within you: [Read More]

2. Six Articles Every Facebook User Should Read

A Collection Of The Best Articles About Facebook

In a 2014 study, the Pew Research Center stated that 57% of American adults use Facebook. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder why some of the largest companies use Facebook to interact with their customers.

Whether you are a large multi-billion dollar company, or a small start-up business, or an individual, Facebook is almost a necessity in today’s world to “stay in touch.” If you are new to the world of Facebook, you might have a few questions about how to appropriately set up your account to maximize your social reach and ROI.

Many a blogger has created their own guide on how to best use Facebook and today I am sharing articles from some of the best sites on how to best use Facebook and all of its features. [Read More]

1. The Four Top Reasons Authors Need a Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant

Yes, most of us would like to think we are superhuman when, in reality, deep down we know we aren’t! Shocking, I know… [Read More]

Now we hope you learned something new. Stayed tuned next year for even more great articles to read.  If you are looking at writing yourself more this upcoming year visit us on Facebook and join our 14-Day Writing Adventure starting early 2016. Write blogs or a book or a newsletter each day. We can provide insights and thoughts if you would like and if you get a bit stuck, we will have a new writing prompt up each day to help you with ideas.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Peter M. Wietmarschen
M. Colleen Wietmarschen