Murphy’s Law – As It Applies To An Author

As authors, we are beset by hills and valleys of success and failure. Some days, we may feel there are more valleys than hills. Some days, Murphy’s Law has the upper hand.

What is Murphy’s Original Law?

If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.

Other wise men have opined similar notable truisms.

  • Etorre’s Observation – The other line moves faster.
  • Franklin’s Rule – Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will not be disappointed.

Such profound truisms speak to life in general.

In my experience, I have found that some days just reek of… Murphy’s Law!

1. The chance that your copy machine will break down is proportional to the importance of the manuscript that needs to be copied.

2. When you arrive at your Writer’s Conference pitch session appointment, you find you’ve left the synopsis at home.

3. There will always be candy and soda cans on the floor of your car when the writing instructor asks for a ride home after class.

4. Any time you are unable to resolve a scene in your manuscript, ask your critique leader. She probably won’t know either, but she will fake it.

5. If you’ve spent all your money earmarked for “Advertising and Writing Conferences,” someone will always remind you of what you wasted your money on.

6. Your computer will play havoc the afternoon you have to finish an article for a 5:00 press release.

7. At the Writer’s Conference, you forgot to attend an important lecture you signed up for on Day One.

8. Your neighbor will cut down trees on the day you planned to work on that difficult chapter.

9. Your laptop will fail during the main speaker’s lecture at the Writer’s Conference.

10. To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer. (I didn’t make up that one.)

Yes, even Christian writers can fall prey to the trials and valleys set upon us by events beyond our control, but take heart. We have the ultimate secret weapon for success. We have a friend who gives approval and comfort when things go wrong. Whether we write devotionals, women’s fiction, or cozy cat mysteries, if we are writing to glorify Him…God will bless our efforts in His own way and in His own good time.

The Lord has always been our greatest support and our most devoted fan.

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”  Psalm 45:1

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

 

Elaine Faber has published four novels, various magazine articles and multiple anthology stories. Elaine lives in Elk Grove with her husband and three house cats. She teaches an Inspire critique class and volunteers  at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop.

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot
Black Cat’s Legacy
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel

Becoming Known Part 4: Guest Blogging

by Carol Peterson

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If Jesus is your Senior Editor, He expects you to get your writing to the people who need to hear the message He’s leading you to share. Becoming known is one part of reaching those people.

Writers are often advised to blog as part of their process of becoming known. But not everyone has the inclination or the time or technical ability to set up a blog and keep it going. The blogosphere, however is still open to you. Even if you already have a blog, you should still consider expanding beyond the cyber boundaries of your own little URL.

One way to expand your world is to guest post on other folks’ blogs. Unless you’re a New York Times bestseller, you might not snag a spot at the hottest blog on the web. But chances are, you will still be able to find guest posting opportunities that will allow you to get your message (and your name) in front of others.

  1. Look at blogs you read. Would a message you have to share be a fit with that site? Check to see if the author has submission guidelines for guest postings. If not, she might still welcome them. Send an email or leave a comment with an idea for a post you might contribute.
  1. Look at sites in the genre you write. If you write Christian novels for women, find sites that have blogs for those readers. If your novel is set in a particular locale, is there a blogger who focuses on that location? If your protagonist rides horses, are there Christian cowboy church blogs that might like to hear from you? Brainstorm and Google ideas where what you have to say might be welcomed.
  1. Look at your personal associations and memberships. Does your church online newsletter post articles from its members? Does your writing association have a blog or newsletter that is looking for articles from its members? (Hint: for Inspire Christian Writers, the answer is “yes” for both the blog and newsletter).

When you find a blog where you would like to guest post, write up a one or two sentence summary of your message; indicate a word count and when you would be able to submit your piece. Make sure you follow the blogs guidelines for guest posts. Then…ask.

Managing a blog is time-consuming. Many bloggers welcome a guest post that will give them a break in their blogging schedule. The key from your end is to think how you can be helpful to others in a way that not only provides something of value to them and their readers but also helps you practice your craft and inches you out into the world.

Work to become known in your own little sphere and then make your sphere bigger.

This series on becoming known has looked at:

Why becoming known as an author follows the example of Jesus.

How to tackle the technical aspects of creating an Amazon book review.

How doing book reviews for other writers can help you become known, too.

 

Carol Pecarol_petersonterson is a Christian woman who can’t stop writing about God, His great big, beautiful world and our place in it. Carol writes for women and children and blogs at: http://carolpetersonauthor.com

She writes to educate, entertain and inspire–children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres.

 

Show us your smiling face!—How to Create a Gravatar

Welcome to Inspire’s new website and community! We’re so excited you’re joining us on this newest journey. Hey, wouldn’t you like to see who you’re traveling with? I know we would!

Below is a YouTube video and printed instructions on how the create a Gravatar—that little picture that shows up in our Member Directory and beside each comment you make, not only on our website, but on other blogs as well.

Here are the written instructions:

  1. Go to http://site.gravatar.com and click on the “Create Your Own Gravatar” button
  2. Enter the email you use when signing into the Inspire Writers website
  3. Enter an account username and password, then click on the “Sign up” button
  4. Once you receive the confirmation email  from WordPress.com and Gravatar click on the “Activate Account” button to take you to the Gravatar website
  5. Click the “Sign in to Gravatar” button
  6. Whoops, looks like you don’t have any images yet! Click the “Add one by clicking here!” link
  7. Choose where you want to upload the image from and browse to the photo you want to use. Please use a photo of yourself, it’s the best way for us to build community!
  8. Select the image you want to upload and click the “Next” button
  9. Adjust the crop area, then click the “Crop and Finish” button
  10. Rate your photo, hopefully it’s a G (a new page will open with your account info and image you uploaded)
  11. Vwah-lah! When you go to the Inspire site your gravatar will show up in your profile and next to any comments you made on the blog posts.
  12. Thank you for participating!
julie_williams1I know this sounds like a lot of steps, but it’s easy and I’m here for you if you need help. So, if you’re an Inspire Christian Writer Member, enter your phone number and best time to call you in the contact form below and I’ll personally walk you through the process.
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Marketing Your Writing Online: The Art of Thinking Backwards

When authors ask me to help them with their online marketing, they usually open with, “My agent told me I need a Facebook fan page, so I had my son create one for me. But I haven’t posted anything to it. I don’t even know how to use it. Help!”

Most writers struggle to balance the demands of writing and marketing our writing. Unsure about how to woo readers, we use the ‘spray and pray’ marketing method: we create a blog and multiple social media accounts, spray out random updates and pray someone pays attention.

‘Spray and pray’ doesn’t work. I hereby grant you permission to ignore people who insist that you have to be on Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / LinkedIn / Google+ / YouTube / Instagram.

Instead, choose one network you feel most drawn to. Then “think backwards” by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What do I hope to get out of joining this network?
  2. Who is my ideal target reader, and does my reader hang out at this network?
  3. How will I help people who visit my page?
  4. How will my updates invite two-way conversation?
  5. How often will I publish fresh content?
  6. What is my “time budget” for building relationships on this network?

Rather than joining seven networks and using all of them haphazardly, use one network consistently and strategically. You’ll be happier, and you’ll reap a much better return on your time investment.

Laura Christianson helps everyone from pre-published writers to best-selling authors establish a vibrant online presence. She owns Blogging Bistro, a Seattle-area marketing company, and has authored three books and thousands of articles.

Laura is excited to be serving on the Board of Directors for West Coast Christian Writers (WCCW), which is affiliated with Inspire Christian Writers.

 

How to Blog Your Way to a Book Deal: An Interview with Allison K. Flexer

Anyone can start a blog, especially in this age of easily accessible technology and do-it-yourself websites. However, developing a marketable book idea that meets the needs of a specific target audience, crafting a publishable manuscript, and establishing a platform through blogging are much more complex and challenging processes.


Allison K. Flexer
 is an author, speaker, and blogger who is passionate about communicating the love of God to others.

She started blogging in 2008. In her debut book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press), Allison tells the story of her single journey and gives practical steps for letting go of the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women.

A contributing writer for Devotional Ventures (Regal Books, 2006) and Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman (Zondervan, 2014), Allison joins Inspire Christian Writers to share how blogging led to her first book deal.

Allison, how did the blogging process prepare you for publication in online magazines, periodicals, and other book projects?

My writing skills improved as I blogged regularly. I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but the discipline of blogging taught me so much about the craft of writing.

Blogging opened a lot of doors for me. I met other writers/bloggers online who encouraged me to attend writers’ conferences. At those conferences, I met editors looking for submissions for smaller projects (devotions, take home papers, online articles, etc.) Anytime you can make a connection with an editor, submit according to guidelines, and receive an acceptance and publication of something you’ve written, it’s a huge confidence builder.

How did blogging contribute to the completion of your debut book?

Blogging taught me to organize my thoughts and follow through on ideas that came to mind. A blog is a great repository and online journal. Many times, while working on my book manuscript or writing for a compilation, I would go back to previous blog posts and use them as a launching pad for writing a devotional piece or chapter. All of my work was there for me to easily access (versus combing through written journals). I would have forgotten many of those stories, but blogging preserved them. It was amazing how many of the topics fit seamlessly into my manuscript.

How has blogging helped you interact with readers and grow your audience?

By looking at the popularity of posts, you learn what works for your readers and what doesn’t. My most popular blog post was a letter I wrote to my newborn niece the week she was born. You wouldn’t believe how many people Google “Letter to my Niece.” For a long time, my post was in the top three results on Google for that search term. Although that topic didn’t fit with my book project, thousands of people ended up reading a letter that contained Scripture and Truth from God’s word. We never know the reach our words may have.

As writers with a Christian worldview, we don’t ultimately do this for the money or the publishing credits. When we hear from a reader who was touched by our words, we know we’re on the right path.

Please share your top tips for successful blogging.

Pick a general theme for your blog and establish your brand. Decide who you want your audience to be. For example, I started my blog with a general theme of seeking God’s grace in everyday moments. My goal was to write inspirational or devotional material to help people see God in their daily lives. That doesn’t mean I can’t post a recipe or a book review occasionally, but it’s important to stick to a main theme and brand. Also, I recommend always including an image with every post (and ensuring you have the rights to that image). I use the website PicMonkey.com to edit my own photos and add text.

How have you increased traffic to your blog and nurtured interaction with your readers?

I regularly visit other blogs and comment on them. I ensure my blog’s web address is linked with my comment. I see a lot of visitors to my blog that originate from those comments I left on other blogs. Giveaways are another great way to increase traffic and get your readers to leave comments. If you read a great book that your blog readers would enjoy, consider reviewing the book and giving away your copy. Finally, Twitter has been instrumental in growing my audience. I find other ministries similar to mine and engage with their followers. Often, they will follow back and check out my blog, which is linked to my Twitter account. I find Twitter to be much more effective than Facebook for growing blog readership these days.

What final word of encouragement do you have for writers who are struggling with creating and maintaining a successful blog?

Look for inspiration in your daily life. Blog about something you’re currently struggling with. Readers aren’t necessarily looking for someone who has all the answers. They are looking for someone relatable. Be genuine and readers will be drawn to you.

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Inspire Blog Readers, please join the conversation.

You can encourage Allison by signing up for her blog, following her on Twitter, and liking her Facebook Author page.

 

It’s your turn: What is your greatest challenge regarding your blog?

What have you done to make your blog a positive experience for you and your readers?  

Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher. She encourages and equips women to embrace a lifelong commitment to total surrender and trust God through all circumstances. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, Devo‘Zine, Inspire Victory, and at www.xedixon.com.

12 Ways to Glorify God with Your Blog

As Christians we want our writing to shine as a beacon into our world. That means if we have a blog ministry, we want it to be the best. Here are twelve ways to provide your readers with God glorifying copy:

  1. Use compelling content–stories from your own life or retold Bible stories with life application.
  2. Insert Scripture with or without Bible address. God’s word does not return to Him void.
  3. Use good grammar and spelling. Nothing stops my reading faster than poor writing.
  4. Avoid purple prose (adverbs). Use active verbs (Try not to use helper verbs like “is, was, were, have, had, has, to be, would, could, should. . .”)
  5. Use pictures. The Internet offers many free graphics and photos. I use Plus! Image or my own photos.
  6. Keep posts short. Aim for less than 300 words. No more than 500 words.
  7. Engage your readers by asking questions or opinions.
  8. Read and comment on other blogs. Link to other blogs or websites.
  9. Use labels that are likely to be used in searches (i.e. God’s love, God’s grace, Jesus loves me, Bible story titles)
  10. Choose topics that appeal to readers. A good example today is how to find joy in a troubled world.
  11. Use Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and Linked In to publicize your posts.
  12. Use compassion when responding to comments on your blog.

Join the discussion. How do you use your blog to glorify God?

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Author of more than eighty articles and stories, Sue Tornai lives with her husband John and dog Maggie in Carmichael, California. They enjoy camping and fishing at Lake Almanor and the Feather River in Northern California. Sue has taught elementary Sunday school for more than twenty years. Her most rewarding experience as a writer is when someone tells her that something she wrote touched a heart or changed a life. “That’s why I write,” Sue says. “I write to inspire people about God’s amazing love. I write for His glory.” Visit Sue on her website at www.suetornai.com.