Friday, November 30, 2007

blogs of note for 11/30/07

Here are a few blogs to check out. Remember, if you've seen a great blog this week email it to me at with "Blogs of note" in the subject line.

I'd love to hear what you thought of these blogs and tell me about others!! Tiff

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Caitie's Corner: book picks for kids, by a kid

Hi, this is Caitie

I have some old books and new books that I like. Maybe some of you would like to read them too.

Pilgrim's Progress:
This is a story about survival.

Barbie: the mystery of the lost valentine. Mystery files #5
This is better than a plain mystery

In Jesse's shoes [by Beverly Lewis]
It tells what other kids are like [mom's note. She reviewed this book. Check archives]

Santa and the Christ child.
It's about Santa meeting Jesus.

The angel and the ring [by Sigmund Brower]
A boy goes to find his father

Loves Long Journey
A time of wonder. That's what I think it's like [mom's note. She's read the book and seen the movie and loves it.]

American Girl's "Addy Series"
It tells me what it was like in the past.

Green Eggs and Ham
It's a funny book.

I like other books. I'll write more next week.

Bye for now, caitie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is the book dead?

I read an interesting post today on Michael Hyatt's blog. He had previously discussed the changing technology in the book industry. Here is the link to the blog.

What I found so interesting is the emotional attachment some people have to books. I suppose since I'm a visual learner that it would be assumed that I prefer reading books. But I don't. I love to be carried away by books on tape [or CD].

Maybe it hearkens back to when I was little and my dad would read to me from a picture Bible before bed.

Maybe it's because my life is so jammed that I have to multitask constantly.

Whatever the reason, I love the idea of books in various formats to reach a wider swath of readers.

I think as authors we should consider how various formats would affect our book marketing. Should we consider audio formats? According to Chip MacGregor on a recent blog, most publishing houses lose money on audio books and thus don't offer them to writers.

I wonder if it is the chicken or the egg. Do they lose money because audio books aren't profitable OR [as I believe] are audio books unprofitable because they aren't being effectively marketed.

I mean, we have music coming out of our PHONES for crying out loud. Is it that far fetched that somone would download a book on their ipod? If I could download books cheaper on an ipod I'd do it.

So, how should we, as authors, market our books? Should we work to build an audio platform or should we focus on what we know works?

That's the question I pose to you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't know what you've got, till you get it back.

When I thought about what to say the Monday after Thanksgiving [in the US] this phrase kept running through my mind:

Don't know what you've got, till you get it back.

This year has been a time of getting back most of the things I'd always taken for granted. The year started with the possibility that cancer had returned in my husband's body, followed only days later by the death of my husband's grandpa. From that first week of January until the middle of October we saw the loss of jobs, a blown engine in our only car, health issues, family strife, and nearly the loss of our house. It was a really rough time made bearable only because we had faith and my husband and I leaned on each other.

But this blog isn't about what ALMOST happened; it's about what did happen.

What did happen was I learned to be thankful for the things I'd always taken for granted. You don't realize how much you value family until you have to spend time away from them.

You don't realize how much you value your home, until you nearly lose it.

You don't realize how much you value your job, until you don't have one.

The main thing I realized is the value of a mom and dad to their children. I've been a SAHM [Stay at home mom] for almost nine years now and I felt like...well I didn't feel good about myself. I had a college degree and recruiters calling me straight out of college. I had Grad Assistanceships available for the asking. But my husband and I learned we were expecting in my last semester of college and I wanted to be a mom to the child I was carrying.

When things were tight I always thought "Well, if I get a job it will all be okay." When I had to get a job I realized the grass might be greener but it still had to be mowed.

I know this isn't the usual topic of my blog but for today consider what your goals and priorities are. No amount of writing success will be worth anything if you forget what is truly important.

You only truly know the value of something when you lose it, and then get it back.

I'll see you tomorrow with our usual fare. And sorry for my long absence, I haven't had internet for almost 5 days and right now am paying by the hour for dial up. :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

What a great idea!

Wow, I have learned so much from people who run successful businesses these last few weeks. These are people who not only blog to share useful information but also run their business using their blog. One in particular has had a huge influence on me. One thing he does is give gifts to his blog subscribers.

So I decided that I am going to do what these people do and offer you gifts for your loyalty to my blog.

So here is the deal:

1. Every person who is subscribed to my Blog will receive a product worth $20. No this is not a coupon to be applied toward a purchase. This will be a FREE product with a retail of $20 that I will give you. Feel free to tell your friends about my offer, post my offer on your own blog [just link to my site] but this is FREE and it is my gift to you to thank you for your loyalty to my blog. I will send these gifts out all at once in December. [you can subscribe by putting your email address in the subscription box to the right of this blog]

2. I am going to offer a HUGE discount on my successful Writing Career Coach Course. People around the world have used this and told me what they've learned. [By around the world I mean the US, Canada, and Australia so if you're in another country let me know so I can add you to my list!!] This is regularly $35 but I am offering it for the next 58 hours for only $12. But to get this special offer you must go to paypal and send $12 to my acct greatcommission2 @ aol dot com [take out the spaced. That is so spammers don't take my address]. Next, email me at that same address to tell me you've taken advantage of my offer. For details on the course and the added mentorship go to I think you'll see it is WELL worth the $12.

3. I'm going on tour and I'd like to visit you. If you'd like to have me come visit your blog send me an email or post a comment. I will contact you to schedule a date. Then I'll post on my blog where I'll be each week.

4. Finally, I'm adding a post on Fridays called "Blogs of note". If you've seen a particularly good blog that deals with marketing, business development, &/or writing email me the link. I'll pick a few to feature each Friday [I will check out each blog and not "rubber stamp" them so I will have to limit them to about 5 each week at the most. And yes, you may submit ONE of your own blogs each week.

So there you have it. Something free, something cheap, something fun. Remember to subscribe. Now isn't that a GREAT idea??

Here is the direct link to this blog. Feel free to copy and paste this link on your own blog or website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What about "Il changeait la vie"?

Don't worry, this blog is in English but last night this song by Jean-Jacques Goldman got me thinking. I think it will make you think too. I think you'll see how this can help not only your writing but your perspective as well.

The story in the song is a few different people who were ordinary but became extra-ordinary by changing the way people looked at things. Goldman presents this thought in a super clever way.

The title of the song is Il Changeait la vie which loosely translated means "He changed life/the world".

BUT when it is spoken [not written] it also sounds like Il changeait l'avis which translated means "He changed the way we look at things."

There is the craft and the art. In this song he evokes strong emotions in the mind of the listener. He uses just a sentence to create an entire picture in the listeners mind. Think about the implications for your writing. Think on how you could use just ONE sentence, only a few words, to paint an entire scene in a readers mind. What word choices would grab the reader and hold on to them?

Then there is the subtle under story. This song can be listened to in a couple of different ways. It has layers!! Are you layering your stories? That is how you'll have a reader mulling your story over and over in their head. When they realize that the assumptions they brought in to the story influenced the way they saw things but if they looked at the story with a different set of would be totally a different read.

Since many of you are loyal readers you know my thrust is marketing. I don't spend a great deal on craft and today is no exception.

It occurred to me that if I try to make my back cover copy a song...what would happen. If it suddenly become a short story with an unknown ending how would it grab a reader? Think about it yourself. There were a series of commercials about a year ago on TV and Radio where they started a story and then said for the ending visit this website...WOW. They always grabbed my attention.

What if your back cover copy and other promotional materials did the same. What if you created a short story and left it hanging with a question? Would your reader buy your book to find out the answer.

One line from this song repeats over and over in my head:

Les reves de sa vie les prisons de son coeur.

I don't know how the french ear hears this but to me it says "His life's dreams, the prison of his heart". And inside me I think "Am I so passionate about my dreams that they imprison my heart?" Are you so passionate about your goals that you pursue them with singular focus?

When you become so driven then maybe you too will "Changer la vie". [Change the world]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Caitie's Corner

Hello, this is Tiff rather than Caitie.

Caitie will not be posting a review for the next two weeks so she can finish up school projects before Thanksgiving. [And her birthday is November 17th and there is much partying to be done.]

But don't fear!!! We have a group of books that are being sent to Caitie for review and she will be back on November 28th with her weekly reviews to help you plan Christmas shopping for the children in your life.

Next Wednesday Caitie will tell her top 5 books for kids. These are books she loves and thinks other kids will love too. So check this space November 21st for Caitie's picks on Caitie's corner.

Bye for now, Mommy [aka Tiffany, the Writing Career Coach]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is a helpful blog?

Today I planned to tell you about a couple of blogs/websites I visit regularly and how they help me as the owner of a writing business. I will still do that but first, I'd like us to talk about what makes a blog worth visiting. Because that is the most important step of this process.

I'd have to say first is regular new content.

We live in a microwave culture. We crave new information. Why else would we check email 17 times a day at work then twice at red lights on our cell? We always want to be the first to know anything. I did an experiment on my shoutlife page. For a few weeks I had my hubby spend two hours a day greeting friends of mine. Then I spent a few weeks not visiting anyone's blog and simply posting new content 4 times a week.

I found that my numbers jumped when I added new content but barely creeped up when I spent hours visiting all my friends. So content is key.

Know your audience

If you don't have content geared to your target audience even the readers you do have won't last long. My target audience is people who are serious about writing. Whether that is the aspiring author, multi-pubbed author, or the reader. I want to have content for each group. So Monday and Tuesday I teach, Wednesday Caitie does her book reviews, Thursday I have industry interviews. My doing this I can keep the amount of time required to maintain my blog manageable while providing new content to my readers. It is working because more and more of you are coming and staying.

In fact, some of you have even joined to have my blogs delivered to your email box. A great idea because it saves you time and will alert you to the special Christmas gift I'll be giving to my subscribers soon. If you'd like to subscribe now look to the right on my blog for the subscription box.

Be credible

Credibility is something I take VERY seriously which is why many times I won't tell you about something until I've done it myself and seen that it works. When I put my name on the line you are trusting me to have integrity. I respect that and do all I can to maintain that trust.

Now, having said that I'd like to direct you to a few blogs that I trust.
For those of you who don't know're missing out. He is a witty, funny guy who knows the industry inside and out. I subscribe to his blog and learn something with every post. Today he added an interview with Steve Laube. Go over there right now and check it out. It will be well worth your time.
What can I say. Read this entire website. There is so much to learn from Randy Ingermanson my brain explodes at his genius. He is also extremely kind and humble. I spent time talking with him at ACFW's conference this past September and was impressed by his sincere desire to help other writers. He gives away far more content then he ever sells in his courses. And his courses are so far under-priced I feel I should give him a percentage of my royalties. [But I won't Randy, so don't email]

So how about you? Do any of you visit these blogs? Are there others that you visit often? Tell us about them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Reaching more people with your blog

Today's blog has information I am super excited about sharing. These are things that I've been testing to help increase traffic to my blog. Now that the results are in I'm ready to help you drive more traffic to your site too.

First, why do you have a blog? Do you use it to keep in touch with family and friends? That is the case with many people who have blogs on adoption. When we were in the process of adopting our daughter 3 years ago many people talked about their blogs. At the time I didn't really visit blogs [big mistake] but I did visit forums [very wise] and learned a great deal from them.

Now that blogs can be delivered to my in-box it's even better.

But why do YOU have a blog? This blog is to help writers, and people who'd like to write, learn how to build their platform for the release of that first book. This post is to help you build your blog traffic, to help you build your platform for the release of that first book.

The first thing is not only easy to do but it takes almost NO time once it's set up and reaps huge rewards. It is blog rush. Go subscribe to blogrush right now using the link below and then I'll tell you why it's so awesome. It's okay, go now. We'll wait:

Here is why this is so awesome!! In just the last two days my blog has been advertised 800 times on blogs that are in my SAME TOPIC. That means my target audience [aspiring authors] can see my blog topic and come visit me. This not only drives traffic to my site but it benefits the people I seek to help!! That is so wonderful.

Next, my readers benefit because on my blog there is a posting that tells of other blogs in the "aspiring authors" category. So my readers can go to other blogs that will help them with other aspects of THEIR writing. Since my goal here is to help authors, and to help authors learn from each other, this is a win-win.

Even if your blog isn't about writing you can get in a loop with other topics and network with like-minded people.

And the more people who join the more we can learn from each other. So it doesn't become about competition, it's about learning from each other. Isn't that the purpose of the blogosphere?

Second, Blog Carnivals. Maybe you've heard of them. If you have, tell us about your experiences in the comments. I just started to post on them via blogcarnival []. I've had so much traffic that my marketing assistant [My super-handsome husband, Chris] goes in each week and submits posts to blog carnivals for me. This is a much more time consuming task but it will also drive traffic to your site and increase your readership.

So, share with us your experience with Blog Carnival and go sign up for the BlogRush right now.
Here is the link again: On Friday come back and post a comment telling me how many times you've been syndicated. I think you'll be SHOCKED at your exposure!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Caitie's Interview with Katy Pistole

Online Interview

What gave you the idea for the titles to your books?

I had a friend who desperately wanted a palomino horse. I helped her find one and that search caused me to think of The Palomino as a title for a book. Stolen Gold came during a brainstorming session with my editor. I wanted to call it The Golden Colt but my publisher thought it would be confusing. Flying High was named after I finished the manuscript and Morning Glory had its name from the moment I thought about Sunny’s filly and her name.

In the middle of writing did you stop and think about a time when you were a kid?

I thought about being a kid the whole time I wrote the books. I am Jenny or I was Jenny. I was a horse-sick girl until my parents bought my first horse. Then I was hooked. I still am horse crazy some 35 years later.

What gave you the idea for the main character's name?

Jenny is one of my favorite names. I had a horse-back friend when I was about 13 whose name was Jenny and her sister was Tessa. As an adult I had a student who was riding one of my school ponies. She trotted past me and her blond pony tail and the pony’s blond tail moved the same way. It was very cute and made a picture of a girl with a palomino pop into my head. It seemed natural to call her Jenny.

Why was the vet in Stolen Gold so mean?

The vet in Stolen Gold was motivated by greed and money. Greed can make people mean.

Why did Vanessa want to kill Sunny?

Vanessa wanted to kill Sunny because she couldn’t figure out any other way to control her. Control is very important to Vanessa, you’ll find out why later. Vanessa represents what can happen to anybody who tries to be in charge of their own lives. It is a sad, lonely place and it makes people do things they should not.

Caitie's Corner

Stollen Gold

By. Katy Pistole

First I want to apologize that I didn’t get this put up yesterday.

Now, to the story. This story continues from the Palomino but it’s a year later. When Kathy and Jenny were riding horses a girl name Vanessa [I can’t say her last name] comes up and says Sunny the horse is really a different horse that’s worth over a million dollars.

Jenny and her two friends are trying to get Sunny back. Once when Jenny finds Sunny in Vanessa’s barn she meets Danny, Vanessa’s nephew and they talk together for a little bit. But one day Danny calls Jenny and says that Vanessa is going to try to kill Sunny.

What is Jenny going to do?

Will she be able to save Sunny in time?

Or will Vanessa kill Sunny?

That’s all for now.

Bye, Caitie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When do you give up on a project?

I was given a great piece of advice about four years ago by a multi-published author.

Know when to put a project away.

At the time I was writing articles fairly regularly. I had created a system to writing a list of magazines that published the kind of writing I was doing. Then I'd submit an article to one place, then the next, then the next, until I'd reached all five-and been rejected at all five.

But while I was submitting those articles, I was also working on a novel. It was a masterpiece. There was a perfect heroine who was dealt a great injustice but she overcame it without breaking a sweat.

So, in a word, it was annoying.

But I executed it fairly well because it made the top twenty of a national writing contest of full novel MSs.

So I kept polishing it, editing it, tweaking it. And after TWENTY rewrites [yes, I said twenty] I finally put it away. I knew I'd never be a great writer. I was stuck writing articles for eternity. And shouldn't that be enough? I'd invested nearly two years of my life to this one book, and all for nothing.

That was when my mentor told me "You have to know when to put something aside."

Of course, at the time I had no idea that most published authors aren't published until the third or fourth manuscript. [Yeah, I'm on number four now!! Any day I'll get that call :-) ]

So you have to know when to put a project aside. But when is that? For me, it is the moment I pitch it.

Yep, if you know me for any length of time you'll learn that about a month after a project, sometimes less, I'm on to the next one. While a partial, query, or requested full is sitting in a slush pile somewhere I'm pecking away at my next project.

There are a few reasons for this:
1. You have SO much more confidence in your writing when you can say "I have a project sitting on an agent's desk right now under review." [That is my usual answer when someone in the family asks "How is that writing thing going?"]
2. If I'm writing something else I don't stare at the in box or mailbox. I am focused on the next project, improving my craft, and living the writing life.
3. If someone DOES like what they see and they say "What else do you have?" I like to be able to say "I'm outlining book x and I'm 10k in to writing book y. Which would you like to see first?"
4. Honesty. See, honestly your first few MS are practice. In all likelihood they'll never see the light of day. Yep, those masterpieces of literary genius will sit on a shelf for eternity. This isn't always the case. Sometimes you'll pull them down and completely rework them-but in their current form they won't.

The best way to live as a writer, a productive writer, is to see it as a cycle. You write, edit, query/pitch, send off partials and fulls. But as project 'A' is off making the rounds you're working on project 'B' and researching project 'C'.

It's like spinning plates. And if you ask any successful author you'll learn that IS the writer's life.

I'd love to hear where you are in the journey.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Selling your project

So you've done it. You've completed your first project.

Now you need to sell it.

Whether a book, article, column, or concept-you need to know how to sell it.

Depending on your project the way to sell it will be different.

For articles you want to pick up a Market Writing Guide. For people in the CBA I have Sally Stuart's guide available to the right of my blog. It is a MUST HAVE resource for CBA writers.

Most places will want a query letter. You can find many resources for query letters or I will offer an evaluation service for $8 [email me at with "query letter Eval" in the subject line for details.]

If you'd like to write Fiction proposals [for books] then don't submit until:
1. You have the novel completed and revised.
2. You have a current copy of the submission guidelines
3. You have done revisions and it is polished. [yes, I meant to say that twice]
4. You have your marketing plan, synopsis, biography, etc. ready and polishes
5. Make sure they publish in your genre.

For Non-fiction:
1. Again, know the requirements and what the publishing house does.
2. Have a detailed outline written out
3. Have the first few chapters written [expect to rewrite them later] so they can see the quality of your work.
4. Have a marketing plan, biography, etc.

By far, the easiest way to publish is through networking at conferences. This is almost to the point of necessity anymore. [although a close second is fiction writing contests. I had an agent request a full from a writing contest win]

If you'd like help with creating proposals I also offer these and content editing. Email me if you'd like details.

This writing business is about craft [writing] and marketing [business]. Once you are able to understand that, and excel at both, you are on your way to success you never imagined.

See you soon! Tiffany Colter

Thursday, November 1, 2007

That Blasted First Draft by Sharlene MacLaren

I'd like to welcome author Shar MacLaren to our blog today. She is the author of three novels, the most recent is Sarah, My Beloved released by Whitaker House.

An author friend wrote to me nearly in tears, speaking of her utter frustration with writing/completing the first draft of her chick-lit novel. She was “stuck” and couldn’t seem to work her way out of the mire and muck of non-flowing ideas, pointless paragraphs that weren’t leading to a conclusion, and downright fear that perhaps she’d never finish it. At a recent writing class she’d attended, the well-meaning instructor had told her students they should write EVERY day, even if it meant sitting at their computers and keying in a line of question marks. At least they’ve written something and helped to keep the river flowing, she’d told them. My question to that is…WHAT?

Okay, here’s what I wrote in response to my dear friend’s plea for help.


I feel your pain, I honestly do. I don't know how many actual mss I've written, but I'm about to see my fifth pubbed book and sign a contract for another three-book series (all praise and honor to God, my Father, by the way!). I'm rewriting, reworking a couple of older mss trying to get them ready for publication, but the others may just sit in a "kettle" on a back burner and rot, never again to see the light of day, since they're not worthy of my even lifting the lid on them right now! But that’s okay. I wrote them in “the early days” and maybe I didn’t know quite as much then as I do now.

I'm probably in the minority here, and might get "the boot", but I no longer ascribe to the theory that a writer should just write for the sake of writing, even if it's a line of “????”. Huh? That keeps the flow going? What it does in my opinion, is make more work for me, the writer, when I have to go back and hit the delete key! Yes, I try as hard as I can to write something every day, but I try my darnedest to make it something relevant to my story. THAT might get deleted later, but not a bunch of blather that I knew right from the start was never going to fly because all I was doing was filling in space for the sake of saying I was writing.

Okay, when I get "stuck", the best thing for me to do is let my writing rest. I take a day or two or five. After that, I'm refreshed, my mind feels "alive" again, I've got new ideas flowing, I don't feel as frustrated, my brain is literally singing. Why? I've given it a chance to "reboot". Even computers need to be shut down once in a while (I think) just to clear their "heads" and start anew.

This third book in my series, "Courting Emma", was the first book I ever had to write under deadline. Granted, I had about 9 months to complete it b/c when I signed the contract, I'd already finished the first two--and those at my leisure. But even with nine months, believe me, I had moments of total panic! What if I couldn't do it? What if my mind dried up? What if my river of ideas stopped flowing? What if I couldn't come up with enough scenarios to keep the story interesting? TONS OF PRAYERS flew past my lips as some nights I lay trying to sleep--or perhaps while I sat in front of my computer and stared at that stupid sentence that hadn't changed in three days.
I learned a couple of things throughout this nine-month stop-and-go process of completing the third book in my series. I CAN finish something I start. (It just takes charging through thick walls.) Aren't you glad I shared that?

It's okay to take some time off when you feel blaahh and kind of dead inside. If you're a true writer (and YOU ARE or you wouldn’t be so frustrated), the energy and fire will rekindle itself. Don't beat yourself up over it.

If you've written something, say an entire paragraph, or even a couple of pages, and your first instinct tells you you're going in the wrong direction, make no doubt about it, you're going in the wrong direction. (That's God's still, small voice giving you fair warning.) If you don't delete it now, you will delete it later. Why wait?

I'm not saying you need to try to make everything perfect the first time around. All authors have to edit, edit, edit once they've completed the first draft, but try to make it as "right as possible" the first time, even if that means giving it a few days rest. It will come back to you, this burning desire to write, to grow your baby into an adult. You will bring it to completion. It's a process. It takes time and patience. If you don’t bring it to completion then maybe it’s one of those that will have to sit in a kettle on a back burner for a while. That’s okay. It’s not going anywhere.

And most important,If you're a true writer, GOD PLANTED THAT SEED OF PASSION! He will help you nurture it. It is by His might and power that you’re able to write--even on those days when it's not quite so fun or energizing.

Don't give up, because, whether you realize it every day of your life or not, GOD HAS PLANS FOR YOU! I didn’t start writing until I’d passed the mid-life point (age 52) and I’m experiencing more fulfillment today than ever before.

He is a good and faithful God, generous to a fault, forever and fanatically chasing us down! Slow down and let Him catch you. Listen to His words. Don’t fear, don’t panic.


He will guide you in the “write” direction.