Category Archives: blogging

Create Your Author Platform in 10 Steps

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I came across this awesome post recently and wanted to share it.

Whether you are a seasoned author or just dipping the tip of your toe in the waters of writing your book, it won’t be long before you hear that you will need to have an “author platform” if you wish to sell your book with any success. And if you are looking to land a contract with a traditional publisher, having an author platform can mean the difference between being published and not being published. So, what is a platform and what do you need to do to develop one?

An author platform is your sphere of influence when it comes to your notoriety. It encompasses many things that converge to tell the world who you are and why you are a person to listen to when you have something to say. The greater your platform, the higher your book advance. That’s why ex-presidents, celebrities, and previous bestselling authors can command multimillion dollar advances. A platform tells a publisher that if they take on your book, their risk exposure is limited because you have people who already know who you are that will hear about your book.

Ideally, a platform will tie in to the subject of your book. For example, if you are an oncologist, you will probably have a stronger platform if you write a book about cancer than if you write a book on the history of NASCAR. However, if you are an oncologist who blogs every weekend about NASCAR, then you may have a platform for your History of NASCAR book that other oncologists won’t have.

That said, you can still leverage your current platform for an unrelated book. How? Because if you have any authority in your field, and if you are followed by others, then you can use that to help you promote your book. This is exactly what actors and actresses do when they come out with books on subject matters that they hardly qualify as being an expert on. However, they have people who know who they are, who are willing to listen to what they have to say, and are ready to buy a book that they write. You can use the same premise to leverage your platform with your new book.

Here are 10 tips on how to create your author platform:

1. Chose a subject related to your book and become an expert on that subject. Blog about it, submit articles about it, speak on it. The more you communicate on the subject, the more you are building your author platform.

2. Comment on other people’s work. Visit blogs that deal with the same subject matter and lend your authoritative voice to the conversation.

3. Create articles for giveaways on your site for people to download or read on the subject.

4. Take advantage of guilt by association. Who are the perceived experts with the same platform? Find them, communicate with them and submit writings to the same places that publish their writings. If you are able, go to the same conferences and conventions they go to.

5. Join appropriate trade associations. If your subject has professional associations, then look into joining one or two.

6. Become active in civic/community organizations. Not only will you get your name out there, but you will find speaking opportunities through those groups that may give you air time or get your message in print.

7. Become active in a charity relating to your platform. Many organizations desperately need volunteers to carry on their good work. You may find yourself in a position of helping with a noble cause while gaining notoriety in that role.

8. Mentor others who are looking to build the same platform that you are building. This can be one-on-one or by teaching classes or conducting seminars. This is a way to position yourself solidly in a leadership role regarding your platform.

9. From business cards, e-mail signatures to personal meetings, always introduce yourself as it relates to your platform. “I’m Tony Eldridge, oncologist and NASCAR historian…” If you have two separate platforms you are cultivating, you may want to have your business collateral separate (i.e., one business card for your oncology practice, another for your NASCAR gig).

10. Stay up to date in current news/events relating to your platform and comment early when news breaks. Don’t be afraid to strongly state your opinions. Experts are people who commentate on important events; reporters are people who regurgitate it. Be an expert, not a reporter.

All of this can be summarized to say:

1. Know your platform well
2. Communicate your platform well
3. Commentate on on your platform well

Do this, and not only will your followers continue to follow you, but your platform, sphere of influence, and your credibility will get stronger and stronger over time.

Two Quick Notes:

1. The new videos tips are out. You should be getting your e-mail soon with this week’s tip and link location. If you have not joined the Marketing Tips For Authors Video Newsletter, then you can do so now. This week’s video walks you through how to use a back door way to create multiple pages on your blogger blog and how to integrate your Blogger blog into your current website.

2. Make sure you enter the “Win A Signed Library Of Book Marketing Books” contest going on now through April 19th where you can win a library of book marketing books signed by their authors to the contest winner.

Guest Blogger Bio:
Tony Eldridge is the author of the award winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site that publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect athttp://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/

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Things I Learned About Writing in 2009

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2009 was the first full year of my life I spent predominantly writing.  My family had to learn to be more self-sufficient (especially the 15-year-old male who kept saying, “Whatcha gonna fix for me to eat?” and walked away disappointed when I said, “You can do it yourself.”)

It was also a year of personal growth unlike any other I’ve had. Even as a new mom or new teacher (many years ago), I felt I learned more about life this year as I observed others and wrote about them or created new characters using those observations.

Things I learned about Writing for Children and in General in 2009:

This is a biggie. I attended a Picture Book Writing Conference because it was close to home (none are EVER held in North Florida) and came away with enough knowledge to write four really nice picture books which are being considered by a publisher as we speak. YAY! I’d never considered writing picture books because I think so grandly, but it was an interesting challenge to refocus my thinking. I might even do some more.

I also took a very blah Middle Grades novel and rewrote it from stem to stern for a YA audience with romance and new twists and turns. I played around with a MG version as well, but have decided to move on to the second book in the series instead.

So what did I learn?

KISS-keep it simple stupid. I started with a huge premise that was overwhelming and even I couldn’t keep track of it. After losing a lot of that (destined for future books in the series) the actual story became clear and writable.

Know your Characters . The first characters I designed were flat and dull; one dimensional and too goody-goody. So I threw them out, renamed them even, and gave them flaws and quirks and attitudes. That’s when the love triangle appeared and really worked! See my posts about designing characters. How to Create a Compelling Character Part I  & II (https://rebeccaryalsrussell.wordpress.com)

Outline the basic book before writing. This provides several aspects that you won’t have to go back and try to insert later.

Arc-Every story needs an arc, a curve, a bell curve from start to finish. Without a basic outline you can’t see where it is or even if there’s one present. A story without an arc is flat and uninteresting. Each chapter should have one as well.

Inciting Incident-What happened to cause a story to begin?

Plot Points-There should be three definitive times when your main character and/or plot change direction or learn something.

Climaxes-Yes, I said plural. That’s because the climax should be broken into three parts. If you don’t outline, this could come too early or too late in the story. It shouldn’t occur before 50 pages from the end of the story, according to several blogs I read over the course of the year.

Climax A– Lighting the fuse

Climax B– Watch it burn

Climax C– Kaboom!

Denouement– Wrap up.

While editing is critical, you can over-edit as well. I’m bad for that. Every time I look at my MS I want to change things around, add something or remove something. After a while it’s not the same MS I sent off. There comes a point when you have to say, “Good enough” and move on to the next book. BUT, you also MUST edit. No one writes the perfect MS first, third or even the fifth time. It takes time to write a good book.

There is so much more I learned but can’t list it all here. Start your own list for 2010 and you’ll have a finished blog for January 2011. That’s what I’m going to do.

Things I learned about Blogging in 2009:

  • Do it often. Every week to ten days you should post something. (Although I don’t find the time to do this myself.)
  • Choose an audience and keep your posts relative.
  • Keep a file of Blogging Ideas from the news, other blogs, your own thoughts…
  • Shorter posts are easier to read. Break long posts into Parts.
  • Keep blog pages organized and clutter-free.
  • Keep pictures to a minimum as it takes them too long to load and some might lose interest.
  • Proofread posts before posting. Editors, publishers, etc, will see them.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help stimulate you to write or begin a blog or look into improving your writing by reading others’ blogs, etc. It’s how I’ve learned. There’s a wealth of good info out there waiting to be found.  I might even do a blog on that…

Dragons -Real or Imaginary? Extinct? Actually a Dinosaur?

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Have you ever wondered whether dragons really existed at some time on Earth? I mean, if you take a good look at some of the newest dinosaur fossil finds it’s not that far a stretch to imagine that once upon a time those magnificent beasts soared over the hills and dales of our lands. After all, there are animals that once existed but are now extinct; like the Dodo bird, Irish Deer or Cave Bear.

Can’t you just imagine searching the skies for leviathan shadows before making a mad dash to the well for water to cook dinner or to visit your friend at the hut in the distance?  And if you were a sheep or cattle rancher, you pretty much figured a certain amount would go to the King of the Skies whenever he was hungry.

Or maybe they were completely benign, like antelope or lemurs. They raised their young on the craggy mountainsides, hunted wild creatures and left humankind alone. Or maybe they were wise and people sought them out for their wisdom, which would account for the piles of treasures they supposedly slept on top of (ouch?) and hoarded.

Why DID they hoard treasure? It’s not like dragons could go shopping at the local marketplace. What good did treasure do them? I guess that brings me back around to their being evil, right? Hoarding is greedy, greed is a sin, sinning is evil, therefore dragons are evil.  Sounds like good logic to me.

That must be why I chose dragons to represent demons in my book, Between the Dark and the Light: Vigorios for Alcedonia. They make great bad-guys! Dragons can have all sorts of looks. They can be Pokemon cute or Lord of the Rings horrifying or anything in-between.  My dragons are well-mannered, clean, shape-shifting demons, some of whom prefer to stay in their person-guise because of the attention they attract. Others prefer to remain as dragons because they enjoy being fierce and terrifying.

What kind of dragon do you prefer? Do you think dragons talked, if they existed? Should they talk in literature? Since mine are demons, they have to talk. Do you think dragons really shot fire? I can’t imagine a dragon without the fire feature – it would just be a dinosaur. Of course, they were pretty terrifying, too.

Which would you rather confront on a field, a dragon or a T-Rex? Why? Leave me a comment with your answer.

Technology: The More I Learn the Behinder I Feel

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I’ve always considered myself pretty tech savvy. Always had the latest (or nearly) computer, digital camera, Blackberry, etc. And guess who the IT person in our house is….

So how did I get so far behind on all of this internet stuff? I’ve been on the internet since its inception; have 3 websites; but only recently discovered Podcasting, Twittering, and Blogging.

I guess I’m one of those old-fashioned people you hear about who’s clueless, or nearly, so now I’m running breakneck to catch up. The only problem with new technology is the more you try to stay current, the behinder you get.

So, now that I have this ‘fancy’ blog up and running and my websites are finished, I’ll move on to my podcast. All I have to do is figure out how to get it from my computer to the internet. But that’s what Google is for. Shouldn’t be hard to do, right? I’ll let you know.

One thing all writers with blogs or sites SHOULD have is a Social Media Page.  Check out mine and feel free to copy. Look at Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s. Hers was the first I saw. But add one of your own and make life much easier for yourself and followers.

Stay tuned for future blogs, I’m researching one that will be a HUGE benefit to all writers but especially if you’re building a platform.

Pump that Dye: A Heart’s Tale

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Once upon a time, in the early 1960’s, there lived a little girl. She played in the streets of a new type of neighborhood called a suburb. Her house looked just like all of the others on the streets. She wasn’t anything special, either; not a beauty, not an athlete, not a genius; she was just a little girl.

HOWEVER, she and her dad loved to watch football games on their b & w television. Especially the college games. In fact, it was so much fun, her dad had stacked four tvs on top of one another so they could watch all of the really important teams play each week.

Now, it so happened that during the football-game-watching afternoons the little girl and her dad would enjoy a large bowl of crunchy Cheetos and potato chips and fresh fruit from the yard. She would sit on his shoulders and together they would finish off the bowl.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings the little girl was responsible for cooking the slabs of bacon in the frying pan.  Her mom had put it in the utility room with a windowfan on to suck out the grease, but no one thought about a way to suck it out of their bodies.  After frying the bacon her mom taught her how to fry everyone’s eggs by spooning the hot, delicious bacon grease on them. Then they would pour the rest of the ‘gravy’ over their grits.  Not one drop of bacon fat was wasted.

On Sunday nights they would enjoy a rich, fatty steak.  It was always the little girl’s job to start the charcoal and get it hot enough. And the mom would put real butter and real sour cream on the table for the potatoes. Everyone ate happily and had to clean their plates because, “There are starving children in Africa.”

Some special weekends about once a month the little girl’s family would host a huge fish fry in their large back yard. All evening everyone would gorge on fresh fried fish, fried hushpuppies and baked potatoes with all of the fixings, especially that real butter and sour cream.

And DESERT!  There was always a desert about an hour after dinner. Apple pie, rhubarb pie, real ice cream, puddings, brownies, cakes, cookies. Everything in the little girl’s house tasted delicious because that’s what counted.

Year 2009: Intervention Cardiac Physician’s Office

Sitting in the doctor’s office I recalled our lifestyle of the 1960’s, ‘70’s, even ‘80’s until doctors and advertising finally convinced some of us that fat in foods and no exercise was bad for us.  That combined with the deaths of many from that era by heart failure with massively clogged arteries (atherosclerosis).

My father, after being obese his entire adult life, died of a massive coronary two years ago, his second one, after a quadruple-bypass. And that was after living with congestive heart failure for ten years and taking high doses of rat poison (Coumadin) so his blood was thin enough to flow through his arteries.  After the heart attack he changed his eating habits, because mom forced him to, but it was too late. The damage had been done when he was a youngster and then a young adult. AND he had passed on the family bad HDL genes as well, so I was now fighting for my health on several battlefields.

The real story started in June after dinner. For many years I’ve tried to prepare fairly healthy meals and with three vegetarians in the family it’s not always hard. In addition, my husband and I will have a glass of red wine with dinner a few times a week. So I was working on my book when my heart started doing flip-flops in my chest. Literally.

I froze and waited anxiously. I could feel my heart stop, wait a second and then BOOM it would beat again for a few strokes then stop. I broke out in a cold sweat and became very nauseated. I didn’t want to upset anyone, so I got my husband’s attention and softly told him what was happening, in case I passed out or something.  I sat, listening to my body and fearing the worst.

“I’m too young to die. I have young children and an unfinished book. I can’t die yet. God, please don’t let me die this young.”

It lasted about half-an-hour then just eased away. The next day I made a doctor’s appointment.  When I explained what had happened she immediately gave me an EKG in her office.  The result?

I had had a mild cardio infarction. A heart attack.

She asked why I hadn’t gone to the ER, but I hadn’t had any pain or numbness, no tingling.  She put me into the hospital overnight for tests.

The nurses, technicians and doctors gave me several more EKGs with the same result, an EEG (abnormal) and monitored everything I did.  The doctor wanted me to recreate the event so the heart monitor I was wearing could pick it up.  I walked and literally danced down the halls, listening to my iPod, after visiting hours, of course, but to no avail.  The nurses waved as I passed their work station for the fifth, eighth, tenth time.  No reaction.

“Come back tomorrow for a stress test.”

So I went home to my own wonderful bed and slept like a log. Although hospitals are meant to make people feel better, they wake you every two hours for blood pressure, vitals, blood samples or just to listen to you breathe deeply and make sure you’re still alive.

The next day I went in for the stress test which took several hours. They injected a radioactive isotope called Thallium into my bloodstream after taking a set of pictures of my heart at rest. Then I waited a while before they took more pictures and compared them.

Meanwhile, I went upstairs for the chemical part (stress without the exercise) of the test. They injected Dobutamine, a form of adrenaline, directly into my IV causing my vessels to dilate instantly.  It was the weirdest medical test I’ve ever taken. My whole body instantly flushed hot, my head felt about to burst and it felt like elephants were sitting on my legs.  This passed in about a minute, but that was a verrrrrry long minute. The headache remained for several hours.

After this injection I went back downstairs for the pictures of my stressed heart which would show where the blockages were.

The result? 90% chance of blockage leading to my legs.  I would need a heart catheterization.

The next test was the quickest and most definitive of them all, but also one of the most expensive.  The cardiologist made a tiny incision in the artery at my groin, where the right leg is attached, then inserted a dark dye through a catheter. This is called coronary angiography.  Pictures were then taken of the heart and arteries, following the dye progress. In my case the dye remained dark and highly visible all over the place, NO BLOCKAGES!  Yay!

Dye results in heart

Dye results in heart

Had they found blockages, the doctors would have inserted a stent, a small metal basket-tube on the end of a balloon catheter. Once in place the balloon is expanded pressing the stent against the walls of the artery and opening it for better flow.  In my case that was not necessary.  My father, however, had that procedure before his bypass.

So I have a follow-up appointment with my regular doc next week to discuss everything.  I know he’s going to insist that I lose weight, and I’ll try harder this time. But the prognosis is pretty much this:

  • Eat healthy
  • Small portions, even if it means 5 meals instead of 3,
  • Low fat,
  • Low salt,
  • Plenty of fiber
  • Drink plenty of water or green tea (antioxidants)
  • Reduce caffeine
  • No smoking (I don’t anyway)
  • Drink red wine occasionally
  • Exercise! Even if it’s just walking for 30 minutes every day.

Will I listen to these guidelines?  Absolutely.  I was given a wake-up call.  Just glad I answered.

Here are just a couple of awesome sites to check for even more information  about heart fix-ups.

http://www.heartsite.com/html/chemical_stress.html

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/stress-test–(dupe)

http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4491