Monday, May 20, 2013

What do they REALLY mean???

I'm asked frequently asked about the best seller list...and when I'm going to be on it. I'm not real sure why I look like the Shell answer writer but....as it happened, this last week a rather interesting article landed in my inbox- this is part of it. "The New York Times Bestseller List, the most influential of the bestseller lists, is a prime example of the problematic methods used to collect bestseller information. The Times gathers its information from approximately 4,000 booksellers and wholesalers each week. Rather than having those booksellers report on their top selling titles, however, the Times sends out a list of 'expected' bestsellers, mostly compiled from books submitted by the major presses. A book selling just as well as the ones on the list could be missed entirely by this system. While booksellers can manually add titles to this list, a recent column by Pat Holt of the Northern California Independent Bookseller's Association indicated that books added by independent bookstores rarely, if ever, show up on the list, and that booksellers take a less than serious approach to filling out the forms. While there are advantages to being a New York Times reporting bookstore, not all bookstores participate. After the NY Times began linking from the list posted at their Web site to Barnes & Noble's online bookstore, many booksellers stopped reporting their sales in protest. Even those independents that do report have less clout than chain bookstores, whose results are given more weight. (The New York Times recently added a list comparing bestsellers at independents and chains to appease smaller book stores.) This system tends to result in a list of books with large PR budgets rather than true bestsellers. Publishers and authors with clout and money can easily subvert the system. In 1995, Business Week ran a story about two authors who successfully pushed their book onto the New York Times list by purchasing 10,000 copies of their own book, and convincing their corporate clients to buy 30,000 more. The New York Times has even included books in their bestseller list before they become available in bookstores. Different Lists, Different Results Of course, the New York Times is not the only publication that compiles a bestseller list. USA Today, for example, tracks book sales at 3,000 booksellers including the online bookstores. The USA Today list is notable in that it mixes all categories of books together, showing how different types of books (fiction, nonfiction, etc.) rank against one another. Comparing the USA Today list of 150 bestsellers with the New York Times list can often be educational. Occasionally books in the top 10 of the New York Times list will not appear at all in the top 150 of the USA Today list. Which list is less accurate is up for debate. Publishers Weekly compiles 9 different lists from stats compiled at 3,000 bookstores. PW's lists are meant to be useful to librarians, bookstores, literary agents and publishing houses rather than the general public, so the lists are compiled a little differently again. And, of course, most daily newspapers have bestseller lists their city, region or state, online booksellers compile their own bestseller lists, and publishing associations often compile their own lists as well. A mention on even the most obscure of these lists can lead a publisher to call the title a bestseller. The consumer, after all, will never know the difference. So the next time you see the words BESTSELLER in shiny bold letters across the cover of a book, grab a healthy dose of skepticism and remember that it sounds more important than it really is. So, now that the secret is out...lists are not all that they are cracked up to be.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May

This is my absolute favorite time of year! Two years ago I chose it as my wedding month because I love it so much.

I'm probably in over my head, but I started a huge garden for the sheer joy of planting something, nurturing it, and watching it grow (not too different from writing when you think about it). I think I was also a bit giddy that winter and the spring flooding came to an end. May is my New Years. The date in my mind that offers new beginnings.

It brings sunshine, hope, and beauty....a little of which I thought I'd share with you today.












Happy Spring!!





Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's time for a Vacation!




Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I don’t know about you, but now that we finally have warm weather in Michigan I’m ready for a vacation! Bring on a hot, sandy beach, lounge chair, and an awesome book! And don’t forget the Margarita! J

Sometimes, it’s hard to justify the expense of a vacation especially when you’re watching your pennies. So, this is how I justify it and I thought I’d pass it on to you. Vacations are important to our health and well-being. That’s right. I take vacations for health reasons! The same reason I eat chocolate! (It has anti-oxidants in it.)

Studies show that vacations relieve stress. It has been proven that a good vacation can lead to fewer stressful days on the job at least five weeks later. A vacation is a gift you give to yourself.

Studies also show that taking time off to recharge your batteries keeps you healthier, which makes you less likely to call in sick, which increases productivity. I find this interesting and I wonder why more companies don’t encourage their people to take their vacations.

In fact, workers who take regular vacations are less likely to experience burnout. This makes them more creative and productive than their co-workers who don’t take a vacation.

According to the Virginia Women’s Center  53% of employed US adults report feeling rested and rejuvenated after a vacation, and 34% come back from vacation and feel better about their jobs and are more productive at work.

But let’s not just focus on the positive benefits of vacations on your career. Vacations can also strengthen bonds between family members.  They are a great way to reconnect with your spouse and kids.

Having a strong bond with your kids is very important to their well-being also. Everyone knows if you have a strong family unit your kids are less likely to fall prey to peer pressure and less likely to be bullied at school.

Vacations do cost money though. So what happens when you want to take a vacation but just can’t afford it? Then go on a staycation.

That’s right, stay home but take vacation time away from work. Most major cities have activities that parents can do with their kids. And if you don’t live in a major city you can probably drive to one. It won’t be like that tropical dream vacation that you have in your mind’s eye, but it will give you the same benefits as that one in the tropics would.

Thanks for stopping by today! I’d love to hear from all of you. Please share your thoughts on where your favorite vacation spots and/or activities are. I’d love to hear from you!

And if you have a tween/teen who needs a good read on vacation. Check out the Super Spies series! The covers, blurbs, and links are below. The third book in the series is scheduled for release sometime in August. They’re a great way to keep your teen away from the TV too. J




This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…











This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?












**** I would like to thank the Virginia’s Women’s Center and About.com for some of the information provided in this post. Here are their links.







Friday, May 17, 2013

24 Ways to use Pinterest to Increase Sales



 24 Ways to use Pinterest to Increase Sales

Pinterest is a huge time waster.”
“It’s one more thing to do.”
If these are your reactions to using Pinterest to market your product and increase your blog/website traffic, stick around.  I’ve got a few things to teach you.
Pinterest is growing at such a fast rate, it’s hard to “pin” down any statistics, but this is how it stacks up against Twitter and Facebook in the data I found:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Users
1 billion
500 million
17 million
Time spent per visit
12 minutes
36 minutes
****1 hour, 17 minutes***

Look at that data again.  An average visitor spends 77 minutes on Pinterest per visit, twice as long as on Twitter, and it’s thirty times smaller.  Plus, Pinterest has a high “half-life”, an indicator of how long its content stays alive on the internet.  Think about it – Tweets have no long-term benefits, while YouTube and Pinterest content is passed from one user to another.  The rate of referrals, hopefully back to your blog or website, is priceless.  Would you rather spend your precious marketing time on a Tweet or a Pin?
Pinterest is highly visual.  Each pin is a mini ad campaign, pulling in your customers and touching their emotions.  The best sales are based on relationships and emotions.  But, you have to know how to connect with your niche and how to position yourself so that your visual promotion makes your target audience click their way to your website and product.
How do you do that?  I’ve studied the experts and made tons of notes on what makes a successful pinner.  Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Create a Pinterest name that either identifies your brand (Oahu Homes) or is the public face of the brand (CherylsOahuHomes).  There is a space limitation.  I had to truncate my profile name to www.pinterest.com/cheryloahuhomes, but I’m satisfied with it as I can use the correct name in the header.
2. Create a profile.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  You have 200 characters to describe you, your brand or your product to anyone who clicks on your name.  Remember, every time you repin something, the person before you gets an email announcing the fact.  I click back on each one because I want to know who they are and if they are worth following.  If enough people follow them, and they’re following me, that increases my exposure.  But, in 99% of the cases, all I see is their name.  Maybe their city.  This is a golden opportunity to promote yourself, so make those 200 characters count.
3. Pick beautiful, unique, clear, inspiring or remarkable images to repin.  Wipe out the description and add your own, rich with keywords, phrases and hashtags or @theotherpinnersname, so when people are searching for antique sewing machines, fantasy fiction or a good real estate agent in Hawaii, your image will pop up.
4. Link to useful articles, videos (under 5 minutes long), audio files, podcasts, tutorials, slideshows and excerpts.  People want content, and you can be the outstanding expert in their niche.
5. Know your niche.  It’s powerful.  Tap into the passion of its users, whether it’s American Girls, Nascar, D&D, or people looking for homes on Oahu. In fact, the narrower the niche, the more passionate your audience.  Go small.  Find out what’s popular and tailor your pins accordingly.
6. On the flip side, keep marketing to less than a third of your pins.  No one wants the hard sell, so intersperse your pins with other subjects.  You’ll be pulling from a different audience that might be interested in your main product.
7. Verify your website through Settings to lead people to it.  Your website will appear under your profile, the first place Pinterest takes people when they click on your name.
8. Tie your Pins to Facebook and Twitter so that every time you pin, it shows up on other social media.  Add your Pinterest address to your email signature and on other social media sites.
9. Generate pins from your website.  Install a Pin It button on your website. http://tinyurl.com/adbydxf is a great site to help you do this.
10.         Schedule your pins through www.pingraphy.com so you’re not bunching them all at once.
11.         Saturday is the most effective day to pin, followed by Wednesday, with 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. the most popular times.
12.         Celebrate seasons and holidays with like-minded pins.
13.         Rearrange your boards so the most popular are in the first two rows and center.
14.         Give stuff away through Pin It to Win It contests.  Conduct a poll.  Fuel dialogue. Ask questions.  Keep your pinners engaged.
15.         Open up some of your boards to other pinners with group boards.  You must follow at least one of their boards to invite them to join you, but inheriting some of their followers is a great strategic move.  I investigate everyone who re-pins me.  If they have a large following, and their boards are similar to mine, I’ll invite them to join me on a group board I’ve set up.
16.         Don’t just like a pin.  Add comments.  These will show up below the image, giving you more exposure.
17.         Don’t pin everything.  Steer clear of poor or too small images.
18.         Keep your pins organized on boards with clear categories, using keywords for searches.
19.         Check the link to make sure it leads back to a content page, not an image only, or the dreaded 404 error.
20.         Credit the source.
21.         Go outside of Pinterest.  Better than repining is finding new content online.  Best is to upload original images to your website with original content, then Pin It.
22.         Follow the top influencers on Pinterest at www.pinreach.com.  What are they pinning?  Does it tie in with your brand?
23.         Pin every day.  If you know your audience and what will serve them the best, you won’t have to spend a lot of time on the site.
24.         Keep educating yourself on how to market on Pinterest.  A good source is www.marketingonpinterest.com

Have fun and report back if you see a noticeable increase in followers and sales!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

This Crazy Life

Live, as I know it, is always changing, but I'm getting pretty tired of the changes that hvae come of late. First a dear friend found her cancer has spread, then my sister gets diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, another friend recently lost her mother-in-law, and yet another lost her beloved dog (yes, fur kids 'count"). These kinds of "changes" I can do without.

The one kind of change I can deal with is changes that relate to my writing. Last week I flew out to be with my sister, help install her new organic garden, and to bake, bake, bake, and bake. Baking is one of my stress relievers During my major bake-fest, I developed a modified version of one of my quick breads using spelt flour and no sugr, along with a guaranteed soft-bake version of my favorite oatmeal cookies with an easy substitution.

That means, it's back to the recipes once again, a few more updates and some rearranging of my soon-to-be-released cookbook. I had targeted June for my self-published date, but I've yet to arrange to bake for the necessary photoshoot. I hope to do that soon.

Life is crazy, always has been. I could do with a little less crazy these days. I long for a single day of peace and quiet where I'm not thinking about work, yardwork, finances, writing, or any of the other mundane day-to-day concerns.

Someone please stop the world, I'd like to get off for at least one day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My love/hate relationship with galleys

by Joselyn Vaughn

If you're not familiar with them, galleys are the very last editing step before your book is released or goes to print. All of your content and line editing should be done and now you are just looking for typos.

My first set of galleys (for CEOs Don't Cry) looked like a photocopied version of the book. I was so excited when the stack of paper arrived in the mail, I almost cried. My writing was really going to be published.

The whole editing process for that book took several months, so there was lots of time to breath between in between drafts and rereading the book.

Since then the timeline has become more compressed. Galleys become the sixth time I've been through my manuscript in six weeks. I feel like I've read the words so many times, I only see what I expect to see. I'm supposed to be looking for typos, missing words, etc. and my eyes are glazing right over. All I can think about is how tired of this book I am.

But underlying all that the excitement of having a book published is still there. A new book with a fabulous cover with my name on it will soon be available for sale. And hopefully people will enjoy reading it.

The upcoming book, Climbing Heartbreak Hill:



Tara’s cheerleading career ended abruptly and she faces an upward climb beating the stereotype as dumb blonde in her new calling as an accountant. Framed with defrauding the IRS during the last weeks of the tax season, Tara’s tentative confidence is shaken, but Ryan coaches her in ensnaring the true perpetrator. She cheers him on in discovering his identity as a coach rather than an athlete.

With the help of the junkyard king and a mechanical bull, can Tara and Ryan find the courage to climb Heartbreak Hill together?

Check my blog (http://joselynvaughn.com) on May 21 for purchase information.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cliches and Creativity by Temple Hogan

This morning I sat up in bed and looked out my window at the lake.  A slight wind roughened the placid surface of pale blue water and on the distant shore cottages were scattered in an untidy row like a child's building blocks, flung down and forgotten.

Cliche?  You bet.  But I maintain that sometimes cliches have a place.  We can create a mood in a few words, a sentence or two, straight, simple.  An image has been drawn in the readers mind, we're on a lake and it's a beautiful day.  From here you can go anywhere.  You can continue writing a sweet, romance or you can mention what lies beneath this innocent surface, perhaps some horrifying subspecies of life form, or a body of someone important or not, but which drives the whole story toward finding a killer, or some long forgotten item that brings back long forgotten memories of the past.

Cliches often get the job done with a minimum of fuss, giving you the writer a springboard to go forward with your tale.  Like those building blocks mentioned above, they can provide a base for your creativity.  Here's the rub.  You have to use them carefully.  Too many cliches and your writing becomes stale and hackneyed.  There's a cliched word if ever there was one. 

When I'm reading a book, I actually welcome cliches now and then.  When I've picked up a book by a writer who's words are so strong and unrelenting in their purity, I practically weep for the need of a cliched phrase or word to ground me back in the joy of reading.  I think of Phillip Susskind or Cormac McCarthy whose book, THE ROAD was devastating in its power to evoke images.  I envy that kind of writing even as I mentally fight against its almost cruel intensity.  I want to be entertained.  I want some cliches.  I don't always want to be turned inside out and left bleeding.  The need for that has gone along with my youth.

Yes, I still pick up those books and read them, because some masochistic part of me wants to feel a new surge of intellectual and emotional self-flagellation, but sometimes I want and need the the comfort of familiar thoughts and images, like a child with a beloved favorite bed time book.  I really feel a writer can give both to a writer and in the same book.  Not all of our books have to be raw wounds of emotions evoked by a driven use of words, sometimes the writer can be kind.  Our creativity prods us forward with such compelling insistence, that we constantly search for that blazing word, that perfect image that's never been conjured up before, that we forget the readers needs.  I guess that's where as writers we have to consider our market, but in doing so, we fall back into a cliched world.  But again is that so bad?.

I guess what I'm trying to say with this long harange is that our fear of cliches is over-developed, because as writers we have a natural compulsion to expunge them and we should indeed edit ourselves, but maybe not so stridently.  I kind of like the expression sky blue, cornflower, blue, heart beating, placid surface, well you get the idea.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  Did I resolve your questions on this?  I highly doubt it.  In fact, I may have added to your unrest about cliches or when you're using that red liner, maybe you'll not be so adamant that all such things have to go.  

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


by Patty Kiyono

For some reason, I love to take on challenges. Every year I participate in GRRWG's Winter Nano, as well as the Roar into Writing (information about both challenges are described on the GRRWG Challenges tab above). So when my publisher announced an open call for a summer regency story with a deadline only three weeks away, I had to start brainstorming story ideas to see if I could come up with something that could be developed into a story. Fortunately, the call was for stories of five thousand words or more – in other words, the length wasn't a problem. So I put my other projects aside and went to work.
I write every day on a website called 750 words. This is an online journal that keeps track of the days your write, shows you many words you've written, and sends reminders to your email if you haven't written by a certain time. It also gives you cool "badges" that you can collect for different writing accomplishments, like writing so many days in a row, writing without interruption, writing early in the morning, etc. So for the past two and a half weeks I've used the 750 to write scenes for this story. One day I wrote out my list of scenes and found out I have what I think will work for a story outline. I identified the scenes I still need, and the character development I still need to highlight. The deadline is today. Did I finish?
Yes! The manuscript is a bit rough because neither of my beta readers had time to go through it, but the story is there. I managed to get a synopsis out to a senior editor with my publisher and she approved it, so I know the story line is solid enough, but the writing has some weak spots in it. Still, I'm relieved because I got it done and it has been sent. Mission accomplished. I feel great.
Now, I just have to dig myself out from under a mountain of dirty clothes,unpaid bills, etc. In other words, back to the real world. But while I'm doing that, I'll be thinking about my next story.