How to open a link in a new Window – and why you should #Blogging

Hi folks – I see too many bloggers who risk losing their audience by NOT using this one simple step on their WordPress blog – don’t be one of them!
If you AREN’T already using this simple tool, skip over to the full post for easy to follow steps to keep your readers on YOUR blog.

deborahjay

We all want people to read our posts, don’t we? Why else would we devote so much time to blogging?

makeintentionsknown-220x135

So in amongst your material, you include helpful links to other articles.

What you may not realise is that more often than not, once a reader clicks away from your page, they don’t come back.

Particularly if you’ve put a link fairly early on in your post, you may have inadvertently lost that reader to someone else’s blog.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing readers is great and part of the fabulous ethos of the community of bloggers and writers, but what if there was a way to keep your reader on your blog at the same time as sharing someone else’s post?

Well, strangely enough, there is!

I learned this way back when I first started my extensive research before ever dipping my toe into the deep water of indie publishing and blogging…

View original post 253 more words

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs – Let’s Talk

lets_talk_century_gothic

Let’s get a conversation going this morning. I’ll start. 😀 I have a new mantra: It takes what it takes to tell the tale that needs tellin’. Bulky, yeah. Probably won’t look so great on a t-shirt. But I’ve finally realized that it embodies the way I write.

My beloved beta readers often ask me how many chapters will be in a book I’m working on. My answer is, I don’t have the slightest clue. I don’t work out the number of chapters at the start of my draft, because I never know where the story might take me. I know what it will be about, in general–where  it will start, and where it will end. As for all the stuff that happens in between, not so much.

I may have one or two things I know must occur, but overall, the characters tell me what they want to do and why. And I let them. Not because it’s how it should be done, but because it’s the only way I, personally, can travel from point to point. I turn my characters loose in a setting and see what they decide to do, and write it down. They almost always surprise me.

In my current WIP, That Darkest Place, all I knew going in was that I’d left one of my characters from Finding Hunter in a horrible mess, and another one unharmed, but unhappy. I knew what I needed to do to fix the first one, and that the second one needed to find an HEA by book’s end. And that’s all I knew. As the story began to grow, the details came pouring into my mind, and the overall theme of the book came to me:

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in, and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.” (Hunter Painter)

That Darkest Place is a book about brothers–how  they stand together in the worst of times, and help each other make it out of those black holes of despair. As I wrap up my draft, and get ready for editing, I hope I’ve been able to tell their story in a way that will resonate with readers everywhere. But whether it works out that way or not, I’ve been true to who the characters are, and how they relate to each other, in good times and in bad. I’ve told the tale that needed tellin’, and I hope I’ve done it well.

Now. Your turn. How do you do it? Do you work out every scene in advance, or go with the flow? Do you have an overall theme in mind when you begin, or does it grow out of the story in a more organic way? I’m hereby inviting you to share your thoughts and ideas today, so we can enjoy getting to know more about each other, and possibly learn a few new tricks along the way.

Let’s talk!

 

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs

 

whole thing
“I Can’t Believe I  Ate The WHOLE Thing!”

Short and sweet POV today: Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

There’s an old expression (someone remind me who said it) that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for? While I think this is true in the main, as I said last week, I do think goals should be attainable. With lots of work, perhaps, but within reach. Except for those truly lofty ideas  we might expect to receive only after reaching whatever afterlife we might aspire to.

And that’s it. Aim high, but not impossibly so. Reward yourself for each goal you accomplish, and most importantly, never give up. Makes sense to me.

NOTE: BTW, I answered my own question. The quote is from a poem by Robert Browning, just in case anyone else was wondering. 😀

#MidWeekPOV – Thank You! #wwwblogs

196110_434438519923133_330533822_n
Some Days, I Need All the Legs I Can Get!
Extra Hands Would be Good, Too!

Just want to say thank you to everyone who shared the news about #MysteryGoneMad, which is moving along very quickly, AND to all of you who have contacted me about my recent post on Sharing. I’ve been reminding folks regularly that this blog is for ALL of us, but something struck a chord this time. I’ve been inundated with wonderful emails from followers who would like to let the world know about their work, and  we have some great guest posters coming up in the days ahead!

My Wednesday POV?  Here it is: Writers are the most supportive and encouraging group of people  in the world! Yes, I’ve said it before, but it’s STILL my POV, so it’s worth repeating. We share our news, and then we share the news of others. It’s what The Write Stuff is all about!

Thank you ALL for everything you do to help spread the word! And stay tuned for a brand new guest poster on Friday!

#MidWeekPOV #Deadlines and Revelations

deadline

For the last three weeks, I’ve been clomping around the house, snarling at everyone within range, including the cats and dogs. I’ve grumbled and fretted and whined and complained, and generally let stress become my constant companion. Why? Because my . . . *shudder . . . DEADLINE was approaching, and I wasn’t making fast enough progress on finishing my fifth book.

I railed at every delay, shaking my fist at the sky, and shouting imprecations. Okay, maybe not quite that much drama, but I can assure you, I was not a pleasant person to be around. Ask my husband. I had set my mind to having this book published before the end of May, and it seemed obvious to me that the Fates were conspiring against me. The last edits were hampered by everything from me falling ill (Stress-related? You think?) to an uncooperative internet that had emails taking up to six hours to reach my editor.

Oh, it was SO unfair, and I was just totally wrecked by the very idea that I was going to miss that hideous,  looming deadline. It became a certainty, and there was simply no way around it. Even tossing and turning for two straight nights didn’t improve the picture. (Imagine. As if that ever solved anything.)

But guess what? Yesterday morning, I awoke calm and stress free. (Mostly. Let’s not try to alter my basic make-up, here.)  Somewhere during the night, I’d had a revelation, to wit: I am not in control of Time. Not on a cosmic scale, or even on a day-to-day basis. It is far beyond my capacity to do anything about Time, other than aim at certain, usually arbitrary goals.

And therein lies the other part of my revelation. My deadline, which I’d been slaving and sweating and stressing toward reaching, was arbitrary. Arbitrary. As in, “Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system. Whimsical. Capricious.”

Excuse me? Whimsical? Capricious? Well. In a word, yes. I did it to myself, for no good reason other than I thought I could have the book done by that date. And then I beat myself up day and night, because it wasn’t happening the way I planned. How stupid is that? (Rhetorical question. Please stop shouting out the obvious answer.)

The bottom line is, I set that deadline, and I could, by golly, eliminate it! I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen firsthand how many times release dates get pushed back, even by my favorite authors. Not naming any names here ( Jim Butcher), but it happens. And the world doesn’t stop spinning on its axis. Rifts in the space/time continuum don’t suddenly appear. Life finds a way to forge ahead, with or without that particular book on the Kindle Store shelves.

Revelations rock! Yesterday, I smiled at the morning sun, and strolled outside to water my slowly recuperating garden, just as if I had all the time in the world at my disposal. What happened, you ask? (You did ask, right?) Simple. I let go. Of the stress. Of the worries. And mostly, of the freakin’ impossible to reach deadline!

***

How about you? Ever stress yourself out in this way? Setting impossible to reach goals and then smacking yourself around because you fail to meet them? If so, you might need a revelation of your own.  Deadlines? Put ’em to rest!

deadlines

 

#MidWeekPOV – Gratitude – #wwwblogs

thank-you-clothesline-752x483

In today’s crazy, dangerous world, sometimes it’s hard to remember to be grateful for all we have. I know I’m guilty of being upset about the negative things that show up, uninvited, and forgetful of the good things I have around me every day. Even the roof over my head and food on my table puts me in a better place than the majority of people on this planet, and that’s the unvarnished truth.

Every morning when I get up, I do try to remember to be grateful for all I have–family, friends, remarkably good health for someone my age, and a new path in my life that has brought me so much joy. But some mornings are more difficult than others. Getting out of bed stirs up a few aches and pains, and it’s harder to remember to say thank you. And then, you find something like this.

rainbowonmyfloor
(Completely unretouched or Photoshopped, I swear!)

If a rainbow on your library floor isn’t a “gentle” reminder to express gratitude, I don’t know what is. So today, I simply want to say thank you to everyone who is dear to me, and that includes all my wonderful online friends!

You guys make Life so much better. And you ROCK, too!

 

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs Recharging Creativity

85a80ce7c53efb60fd6097879907a83e

Ever sit down to write and discover your creativity has closed up shop for the day? Oh, I don’t mean the so-called writer’s block, wherein you don’t know what to write next. I’m thinking more in terms of knowing exactly what you want to write, but the words showing up in front of you are looking really tired and uninspired. Maybe that IS a type of writer’s block, but whatever you call it, it’s darn annoying. Especially when you’re on a deadline, and you’re already running behind.

What do you do? How do you recharge and forge ahead, happy with your day’s writing again?

I have several old standbys that usually seem to work. I find great comfort in my garden. My backyard was a large, empty canvas when we moved into this house twelve years ago. Thanks to my husband’s beautiful brick pathways, it is now a series of patios and beds, with nary a blade of boring (to me) green grass anywhere.  Two years ago, before I started to spend every waking minute writing, it was really very pretty. Roses, salvias, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hanging baskets full of color were everywhere. Now, it’s a disaster, but I find cleaning it up and restoring it still works wonders for my creative renewal.

belindasdream2
My garden, BEFORE I decided to become a writer!

Getting out on the St.  Johns River is always good for my soul, too, and restores some equilibrium when my days have gotten out of control, and my brain feels fried. These days, I’m more apt to go out on the Naiad, the eco-tour boat that was my inspiration for the Undine, in Swamp Ghosts, rather than in my own canoe. (Old back, new pains.) But a boat ride with Captain Jeanne Bell, and her photographer husband, Doug Little, goes a long way towards sorting out my head.

boat on tourThe Naiad, plying the waters of the St. Johns River

And last, but by NO means least, I read. Losing myself in someone else’s fictional world is still my very best escape, and always will be, I expect. And the more complicated the real world gets, the more fantasy I lose myself in. For the first time in my life, I find myself moving past even URBAN fantasy, and into the epic stuff. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb for the last year, having decided magic in other worlds is just what my heart needs at the moment. And dragons, of course. Who knew how much I’d love them? I’m currently in the midst of reading our own Deborah Jay’s The Prince’s Man. Yep, fantasy is a great way to think about things far removed from the day’s headlines.

rsz_pm-ebook_flat_2
Escaping into fantasy, and loving it!

I’m leaving shortly to do lunch with a new friend, which is in itself, another way to restore humor and sanity to my life. But, before I go, I wanted to ask what you folks do when your creativity gets sluggish? How do you recharge? Your turn! Come on, tell us. Inquiring minds wanna know.

#MidWeekPOV – #wwwblogs Small Miracles

wood-stork-xxximg_0222mw
Wood Stork on the Wing

Some years ago (too many to count), I developed a little habit I call “looking for the miracle.” It started as a small superstition that if I saw something truly beautiful or uncommon at the start of a long car trip, it was a sign all was well in the world, and I’d get where I was going, unscathed. Yeah, I know it was silly, but it made me feel surprisingly good, and you know what else? I found that when I was actively watching for them, small miracles showed themselves to me nearly everywhere I looked.

bald_eagle_stock_by_crystalsm

Of course, with my long-established love of nature, I often looked for special birds or wildlife along the roadside, as an omen of good luck. I’d spot a bald eagle soaring overhead (always an inspirational sight), and say to myself, “There! That’s this trip’s miracle.”

0052-121-800-750-80-wm-right_bottom-20-DougLittle-255-255-255-20

Or I’d see the summer’s first swallowtail kite, my very favorite bird of prey, and feel so happy, I just knew it was good omen, and my trip would go smoothly.

B9317081945Z_1_20150422173109_000_G4IAJ4HG4_1-0

Over the  years, I’ve spotted all sorts of interesting animals and birds along the highways and byways of my travels. A flock of wild turkey is always a good sign, to me . .  .

10b-1101

. . .  and my first Florida sighting of a half-grown black bear made me smile for the next twently or thirty miles.

3572680404_ca66aba192_z

Over time, I saw other things that I counted among my miracles. Rainbows are always good, and double rainbows mean my trip home will go well, too.

phlox_10-04-0718

A solid purple field of wild phlox takes my breath away as it announces its miracle status in no uncertain terms.

CrestedCaracara14

A crested caracara sitting in a tree,

grazing2

deer grazing in a field,

bunch-of-baby-donkeys-600x350

a baby donkey standing in the front yard of a farmhouse–all have given me a sense of the magical, the beautiful, the miraculous, at one time or another.

You may count other things as your good omens, but whatever speaks to you in that way, I promise if you make it a point to look for the miracles around you, you’ll find them. And whatever you’re doing at the time will suddenly seem happier, taking on new significance.

Miracles abound, if we but open our eyes. Try it. You just might be amazed.

#MidWeekPov – Using Animals to Set the Scene – #wwwblogs

LASSIE
Beautiful Animal, Beautiful Setting

I’ve been thinking about my last #InspirationBoardSunday post, and I’d like to talk a bit more about that. For any who missed it, or who just looked at the pretty pictures, and skipped the text–Oh, come on! You know you’re out there!–I want to chat about the role animals play in our lives and in our environment.

Human beings love their pets, for far too many reasons to list here. Pets are therapeutic, affectionate, loyal, and beautiful. I mentioned in Sunday’s post that I give almost all of my characters a pet or two, because the type of animal they enjoy spending time with can tell the reader a lot about them. Continue reading

#MidWeekPOV #amwriting #wwwblogs How I Write Part One

Picture-13

In the interest of better time management and maximizing my writing output, I’ve read a lot of articles and books on how other writers do it. Over and over, I’ve read the first thing you should do every morning is write, to the exclusion of anything else. Most say they take their cup of coffee (Oh, look! They DID make an exclusion, after all. 😀 ) and head for their computer/typewriter/legal tablet (shudder), and start writing. No checking their blogs, no answering emails, nothing to put a damper on the morning’s inspiration and output. To that, I say, balderdash! Tommyrot! And, I don’t theenk so! At least not for me. Continue reading