#Reblog Alert – Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Weekly RoundUp

This week, Sally Cronin’s Weekly Round-Up post is absolutely bursting at the seams with goodies of all kinds! It’s always a pleasure to share these vastly entertaining and amusing posts, and I highly recommend you stop by to check this one out. (And be SURE you don’t miss the video with the horse. I defy the hardest heart not to be touched with that one!) So what are you waiting for? Go take a look! You’ll be glad you did! 🙂

You can read Sally’s Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up post HERE.

And that’s all for now, folks! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Fabulous Friday Guest Blogger D. G. Kaye #Aging Gracefully

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D.G. Kaye Author

A misnomer – aging gracefully; pretty words for a difficult time for many who face new dragons at this certain time in life where physical appearance changes, yet some women bow gracefully to the onslaught of face and body alterations.

I admire the attitudes of many women whom just accept the changes, but I am a polar opposite to that kind of acceptance. I will use my last ounce of vanity to seek out the best methods I can find to combat aging. Sure, it’s inevitable; I’m not immortal, but most likely, I’ll leave this world wearing something leopard, a pair of stilettos (if I’m not caught dead at home on my computer wearing slippers), and sporting my signature orange lipstick and flaming red hair. All of these things became a part of me at a younger age, and I’ve maintained them for decades, so why would I cave?

Why should I have to stop striving to be the me that I’m comfortable in just because I’m in my mid fifties? I don’t have to. And nobody has to if they don’t want to. Getting older doesn’t dictate the rules on when we have to stop caring about the way we look and feel. That decision, my friends, is all up to us. From the choices we make for health and diet, to our preferences about our outward appearance, including skin-care – body and face, we all get to decide how we want to face the progression of time. We can let it slip in through the night like a thief, or we can ride the waves kicking up our heels.

I am anything but graceful. I’m assertive, inquisitive, investigative and bold, but I’m downright afraid of getting old. I know my attitude stems from my feelings of inadequacy I’ve harbored since childhood, and since that time, I’ve been an ongoing work in progress with myself, always striving for ways to feel better about myself; mentally and physically. And just when I thought I had the perfect antidote for my self-esteem, menopause came along and assaulted much of my diligent lifetime work of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. And so I persevered in a new battle.

I’m not delusional, certainly when we approach our fifties and onward, we’re not going to look or feel thirty. But with a little maintenance, we can look remarkably good as the years and decades try to take control of us. Now, I’m not talking about man-made alterations with surgeries and injections. I’m talking about taking care of ourselves from the inside and out with healthy eating, a little exercise, and a plethora of choices available from the beauty department. My decision not to ever have to succumb to polyester, elastic waist pants and orthopedic shoes is a driving force within me that keeps me focused on my maintenance plan. Continue reading

Have your #reading habits changed since the advent of #ebooks?

I posted this on my own blog a couple of days ago, and thought as it has relevance to indie authors, I would share it here as well.

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Like so many, when ebooks first arrived on the scene I was a bit sniffy about them – “I like a real book,” I said.

I know quite a few who still haven’t succumbed to the electronic reader, though they are a dwindling group.

When I finally embraced the indie revolution and decided to self-publish, it went without saying that I purchased an ebook reader (Kindle Fire, in my case), and downloaded a kindle app to all my devices, so I could:

  1. check out my own books
  2. check out the competition
  3. read lots and lots of books that didn’t cost much and didn’t take over every shelf/cupboard/window ledge (and under beds) in my entire house.

Next, becoming an indie author and maintaining a blog involved producing content, and after a bit of experimentation, I settled on a mix of news, reviews, articles on writing – and hosting other authors on blog tours.

As a result, I find myself signing up for a number of review tours, and reading books I didn’t originally go shopping for, but which sound interesting. And here is where I’ve noticed how far my reading habits have changed.

Sadly, I find I’m becoming less tolerant. Back in the day, when books cost £8 – £10 a copy, I would read from cover to cover whether I was enthralled or not. I’d paid for the book and damned if I wasn’t going to get my money’s worth!

Those books were, of course, traditionally published; but that doesn’t mean to say they were all good – I’ve read many a turkey and wondered how the hell it got published. But no matter how crappy it was, my habit was to always finish.

Nowadays? My habit has been well and truly broken.

My kindle is stuffed to bursting with far more books than I will ever read, and I add more daily. The majority are indie books, and many are very good.

Unfortunately, many are not.

I really hate adding to my DNF list, as I know intimately how much time has gone into writing each and every book; the passion, the agonising over whether it’s good enough, the money spent (patently not on all of them, but most). But with that plethora of reading material available, I just don’t have time to invest in a book I’m not enthralled by.

Hence the change in habit. I now give a book 2 chapters to win me over (provided I haven’t ditched it before that, due to formatting and writing errors, or construction and/or word choice I just can’t bear), and if I’m not thoroughly hooked by then, I stop and delete.

This post, like my earlier rant about cliff hanger endings here, has been prompted by a book I really wanted to like, but just couldn’t. I took it on as part of a review tour, and had to pull out (which I feel slightly guilty about), but the first chapter left me cold, and while the second was markedly better, I realised that it was the main character I did not care for, so not a good basis on which to continue.

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The concept is terrific. I scanned the book to see where it was going, and the plot looks as good as it promised to be from the blurb. But that MC? I understand the issues with writing a somewhat unsympathetic character, and this was an exiled fae, with major issues in his life that led him to be rather cold and unpredictable emotionally and in his dealings with other people. I get that. But I couldn’t warm to him, so sadly that was that.

I find that I’m also much quicker to dismiss a book on its blurb – if I’m not hooked in the first two sentences, I don’t look any further.

I find this change a bit sad, but I’m guessing there are many other readers out there becoming more discriminating too, and I take it as a wake up call – indies, polish that blurb until it can’t fail but grab the right reader (of course it must be tailored to the genre), and for goodness sake, start your book with a dynamite scene!

How long do you give a book before you put it aside? Or do you still doggedly finish everything you start?

We all know we need to build a platform, but how many planks does it need?

I had lunch one day last February with my brother’s boss, a high-level marketing guy for a company whose product is wildly popular. He also co-authored and self-published a business book that did so well the Big Bookstores picked it up, so I wanted to pick his brain about what I could do to get my writing out into the world beyond my blog. I explained that, though I blogged fairly regularly, I didn’t do much to try to promote it.  The real focus of my writing efforts was a quasi-memoir that revolves loosely around my relationship with the first house I owned. I wanted his thoughts on how to pitch the quasi-memoir, which at the time was 70% complete, to agents, publishers, etc.

He held up both of his hands and said, “Wait a minute, Karen, you haven’t published anything yet, have you?” I shook my head. “Then you’re doing this all wrong.”  He went on to tell me I needed to build a platform and find a way to generate demand for the quasi-memoir even before it was written. This seems like such obvious advice, especially since my minimal efforts to promote my blog guaranteed that it hadn’t been seen by anyone who doesn’t share my DNA. He suggested that I read a marketing book that’s oh-so-helpfully called Platform.

I greet business books with the same enthusiasm as I do tax returns, so I won’t lie and tell you I read it in great detail. I skimmed it, focusing on the areas that interested me most and skipping right over duh counsel like “create great content.” The insights I gleaned from the book led me to crank out the collection of humor essays that I self-published on CreateSpace and released on Nov. 4. But doing all of that still isn’t enough, because you have to promote it.

Which is how I find myself staring down Day 23 of Shameless Self-Promotion Month. (Happy SSPM, everyone!) I understand that, no matter what you’re “selling,” you must have a social media presence. But how do you figure out where to allocate your time without cutting into your precious writing time, especially if you, like me, have a non-writing full-time job? Do you choose only two or three outlets –facebook, twitter and Goodreads, for example–and focus on those? Or do you try to touch them all and then stick with the ones where you get traction?

And I would especially love to hear from anyone who has figured out how to make sense of what feels like cacophony to me on Twitter. I know people form relationships and connections there all the time but I don’t quite understand how that happens when so much content is flying around so quickly.

Hoping to hear from all of you wonderful folks out there!

Happy Tewe’s Day Evening!

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Hi, Folks!

Sorry I’ve been gone most of the day, but now that I’m home, I just want to say thanks to each new follower who signed up today. I hope you will pass the word to any of your friends who are writers, as well. I’m so looking forward to building a strong, USER-FRIENDLY community, here, where we can look for support, encouragement, advice, practical suggestions, and fun chitchat with others who know exactly what we writers…especially we new writers…are going through. I’m really excited about the potential.

Yes, I know this is not a new idea, and there are established boards and communities out there, but I have found some of them to be a bit intimidating, or difficult to navigate. I just wanted something with a lighter, friendlier feel, though I would certainly never discourage anyone from taking advantage of every resource available. But my aim for The Write Place is kind of like a corner bar for writers to meet up at the end of a long day. Only without the alcohol, of course. Well…I won’t have any, anyway. You guys are free to have a drink on your desk if you like. I’d just fall asleep. 🙂

I am open to ideas and suggestions as the blog evolves into something we can all enjoy and benefit from. I’ve already got a couple of people interested in doing guest blogs, and of course, until we have enough participants to keep us busy, I’ll be posting some of my own thoughts, and work, as well.

Anyone up for sharing an excerpt from a book you’ve published? (We’ll do WIP’s, too, eventually.) Or a poem or two you’d like others to read? Email me at mmeara@cfl.rr.com or comment here, and we’ll do it!

What an age we live in, where this type of thing is possible. Amazing, isn’t it?