Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Even I was surprised.

Hello Everyone,

Today is Wednesday. I cannot believe how quickly this week is flying. I'm busy teaching, mentoring, building the new coaching site, and finishing up the articles that are due end of the month.


Also, I'm sliding toward my birthday this weekend so I'm trying to make sure I get everything done so I can spend a little extra time with the family.

Here is why I titled this blog "Even I was surprised."

I was spending some time last night researching in preparation for today's blog. Since Friday starts a new month already I thought I'd look over the January numbers for this blog.


My daily readership has DOUBLED between January 1 and January 29 as compared to the period from Thanksgiving through Dec 31st. Now you could say holidays were down but during that time this blog was experiencing a surge in readership.

So we doubled our surge!

Not only that but I had set the goal to double our blog subscribers in the first 3 months of 2008. As of yesterday our membership is 110% what it was on December 31st.

Do you want to see that kind of increase in your traffic? Of course you do. And I want you to.

I first checked to see if this could be entirely attributed to James Brausch mentioning me on his blog. While that did give me a boost, when I looked at sources of traffic this was actually fairly small in the overall growth. People came, and some stayed, but the vast majority found me another way.

I have found that there are two major ways people are finding me: Blog Carnivals and Blog tours.

If you found me another way PLEASE post a comment. I want everyone to learn how to get traffic to their site.

I did see some traffic come through the Blogrush, and it was enough to keep the widget on my site, but it seems the vast number of people who are writing and linking are traced back to blog carnivals.

I have also found in the month of January there have been a consistently picked up on google. I'm trying a new way of locating where I appear online. As soon as I'm able to actually UNDERSTAND all it is telling me I will report back to all of you so that you can use it as well.

I have to tell you, I'm ending January very pleased with the growth we've experienced. I will continue to capitalize on what I've learned and focus my efforts on what is most effective. I'd suggest you do the same.

Oh, and if you'd like to know more about blog carnivals search my previous posts. Here is one I did back in November:

And again, if you found me another way let us know in the comments section. If you found me on someone else's blog post the link in the comments.

I hope you will all apply this to help growth on your own blogs. Now I'll share a bit on HIGH and then get this website finished up!!


Wow, we're already to part 18 on this story. We're about to enter Feb. and we're still talking. :-)

When I left off I had told you about sending my story off to a second publishing house. Actually I sent the query, only a few weeks later I had the SECOND request for the manuscript. I revved up the suspense, packaged it up and shipped it off.

wow was I excited.

But I had another story beginning to brew inside me. The publishing house that had rejected my work said I was a little too intense for their line of cozy mysteries. I had never thought of myself as suspense but here I was, submitting a Romantic suspense.

The book that I saw, the voice in my head, was NOT a nice person at all. He was a killer. But I could hear him clearly.

Pause-for anyone who is NOT a writer reading this blog...we writers actually DO hear voices in our head. Our characters become a part of us, for a season, and we experience what they do. If you are not feeling the anger, joy, fear, love, hope, despair of your characters...odds are you're not quite ready to be published. Your readers won't feel it if you don't.

I had learned a great deal on my previous MS. I now knew that I needed to start typing and when the entire story was laid out in front of me I would sketch it out.

That happened around Father's Day 2006 when the A/C line went in my van. I had to spend an entire afternoon [about 5 hours] alone in a repair shop. I started by typing on my laptop [a refurbished one that had been a 30th b-day gift from my mentor]. But the battery was starting to die so I turned that off and pulled out my spiral notebook. By the time I left the AC was back in my car and my entire book was outlined.

I'd also made another great decision that would change the way I did my writing. I hired a freelance editor to read thorough my MS and make comments. Since I knew there was someone following behind to help me when I made a mess of my story, the creative juices flowed. I began typing in late June and by mid July I had a 50,000 first draft.

Things were good and they were about to start moving at light speed! Not only was my fiction going but the marketing ideas and time management strategies I'd shared with other writers were taking on a life of their own. The Writing Career Coach was forming. We'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No matter who you are, be consistent

Are you consistent in your writing goals?

This is an important to ask yourself. Equally important is how honest you are in answering it.

Do you have a time set aside to write on a REGULAR basis?

Some people think that means they need to write every day. I have a good friend who has a super busy life. She is only able to write on Saturdays. She's a multi-published author.

She is consistent.

I remember in college [that was BEFORE I had 4 kids, 2 dogs, 2 businesses and a part-time job] I consistently spent 3-6 hours every day [except Thursday] studying. I had a schedule and I kept to it.

And I graduated college with a 3.9 GPA from the honors college despite working part-time, serving on committees, getting married and getting pregnant with my 1st.

For me the most difficult part of learning to be consistent AFTER children was the idea that being consistent meant working constantly. It doesn't.

It means doing something on a regular basis.

I used to work on my writing consistently in the evenings when my husband was at work. Then when we had our third and adopted our fourth my evenings were too chaotic with the kids to do anything but collapse in the evenings. I watched TV for an hour or two and then fell asleep. I created that habit.

Then when Chris was going through Chemo for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma [those of you reading my story of "How I got here" know about my husband's cancer battle] I spent evenings with him talking or watching movies together on the couch.

And now I've had to break those habits. Chris works at night a few nights a week and the kids are grown up enough that I don't have to keep going upstairs. I've had to break old habits and create new ones.

I have a to-do list [I write one every evening, consistently]
In the morning I start going through my to-do list as soon as my kids start their school work. [They start at the same time, consistently]
I use a calendar to schedule activities so I don't feel I have to run and do something because I just remembered it. [I schedule consistently]
I stay on task; I do what I can; I go to bed guilt free because I know I did all I could.

It is a process you go through. Find the things that are wasting your time, eliminate them, focus on your goals [remember last week], and be consistent. This Writing Career Coaching and Mentorship program was created by little pieces that I did consistently. They added up and suddenly I realize I have something that has taken on a life of its own...and that's what you want.

I will pick up HIGH tomorrow. I want you to spend those three minutes today writing out your to-do list for today or tomorrow and move forward.

And if you haven't yet subscribed using the feedblitz box to the right, do it now. The Mentorship site will be up soon. Even if YOU don't need a mentor the link I send out will be transferable and you can pass it along to anyone you know who could benefit.

Caitie's Corner: Book Review

Since there are so many of you who are new I'd like to introduce Caitie's Corner. My 9 year old daughter LOVES to read. She was doing weekly book reviews but reading a book a week with her studies and theater got overwhelming. Caitie will now return with reviews of books...but a little less frequently.

Morning Glory

By Katy Pistole

Hi, it's me, Caitie again.

Sorry about the last few weeks. This is the 4th book after the Palomino, Stolen Gold and Flying High.

One night Sunny is in Labor! The Foal was stuck! A few hours later Glory was born.

Sunny nearly DIED giving birth to Glory. On the way back to Jenny's home they see Vanessa driving the car next to them. Then about 30 minutes later they see a Tornado!

Vanessa gets cut above the knee. Then lots of other exciting things happen.

In the end, Jenny learns to love her enemies.

It's a good book. Read it.

That's all. Bye for now, Caitie.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saving time and winning awards

Happy Monday

I'm sure some of you are wondering where I was this weekend. Sorry, I had problems getting online to post the interviews. I'll post it later tonight so you get a chance to see two postings today.

Today I'd like to share with you a way to help you save time reading not reading them.

My husband ran across this great website "PimpMyNews". What this website does is use audio software to convert blogs in to audio files. It sounds a little robotic but I think it's great. Now I can listen to up to 10 blogs every day while I'm making lunch for my kids, cleaning off my desk, or driving in the car [by downloading it on my iPod]. This is a GREAT time saver.

In an effort to keep you guys updated quickly with great content I requested that they add my blog. I'm happy to announce Writing Career Coach has recently been added to their list of blogs you can listen to. Click the link below to try it out. And please, spread the word. This is a great time saving device and I hope many people will use it to learn from the blogosphere.

I have two contests to announce. First, is the ACFW Genesis Contest. I am a judge in this contest so I know the amount of care that goes in to judging submissions. The contest is open to unpublished authors who are members of ACFW [you may join when you register your entry]. The fee is $35 but the best part is judges leave comments on your writing.

Here is the link:

This is CBA [Christian Booksellers Association] so it reflects a Christian Worldview as well as no gratuitous gore, foul language, or open sex. CBA is one of the largest growing segments of publishing currently [at least that's been the trend over the last couple of years]. Many CBA houses are being purchased by mainstream publishing houses because of this. So you get high callibur judges to read through your work and help you see how to improve your Novel writing.

I also know some of you are already published [for both royalty and subsidy publishers]. For those of you who are self published I was just made aware of this contest:

I hope this will help you grow as a writer. We don't spend a great deal of time here talking about craft but none of this makes any sense if you don't have the craft to write a great book.

I have been feverishly working to get the mentorship website up. I hoped to go live tomorrow but I don't think I'll be able to do it AND eat, shower and sleep. :-)

So, if you'd like to be among the first to know about my new mentorship [and receive a special link that offers the first month at 60% off for you and anyone you'd like to share it with] be SURE you've subscribed to get this blog emailed to you. Here is the link: Subscribe to my blog:

No matter when the website goes live my subscribers will hear first, those who visit my blog will find out the Tuesday AFTER the unveiling.

Oh, I am SOOO excited. Now, on with the story.


So I turned 30, sent off my first requested full, and began living the writer's life.

How could it be better? Everyone I knew had read this story and said it was the best thing I'd ever written. It had flowed through my fingertips. It was meant to be.

Then it was March...My husband had just finished his 6th [and final] round of Chemo. [He had some really rough chemo. We called it Drano.] For some reason on this round he hadn't bounced back yet, even though it had been more than a week.

Then he developed a fever. This was worse. He was over 101 so I called the oncologist. He told me not to panic but to get Chris to the ER.

Just before we'd called the doc I had been introduced to the next phase of the writer's experience: Rejection of a completed Manuscript.

Thankfully since the doctor called only moments after getting the rejection I didn't have time to wallow in it.

We got Chris to the ER and found out he had pneumonia. He was able to go home with strong antibiotics and all was well.

Thankfully the worst of our cancer battle was behind us.

On my writing I wrote up a query and submitted it to a second publishing house.

But already the next book was starting...It would be the next major jump on my path to publication.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Check this out

Hello and happy Friday.

I got this blog carnival in the mail today and thought it might bless you to see a list of blogs to help you drive traffic to your site.

Tomorrow we will have a special Saturday edition of the blog with a book review of Katy Pistole's third book [reviewed by my 9 year old reader, Caitie] and we'll have an author interview. See you then.

See you tomorrow, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Successful publication about getting word out." According to new blog

Seems like an odd name for a blog, doesn't it?

I did that on purpose. That's because today we aren't talking about blogs; we're talking about Press Releases.

Have you ever seen a press release? Do you know how to do one? These are questions that can be answered, to a certain extent, at

Go to this website, and follow the free online tutorial to help you craft your press release. Also, look around this website with an eye for marketing.

1. How does this website cause repeat business [look for changing content]
2. How do they get traffic to the site? [Offer helpful service to both sides, writer and editors.]
3. It's not a blog but content is still free and useful. [They do sell a service but look at what I had you link to. Meaningful content to help you with press releases. Don't you think you'll return if you need to do a press release? It is likely.]
4. It's free to sign up [but the service has a fee]. This allows them to get in contact with you to share special offers.

How can you implement one or more of these features in your own marketing? Depending on how a person uses them, press releases can be very helpful, or a waste of time. Likely your publicist at your publishing house will help with the press release but do you have something to say now? Something that is valuable to your community? Take 30 minutes and learn a bit about how these can help.

Now, HIGH 16

I told you yesterday they'd requested my Full MS [manuscript] but if you were following closely you'll realize I'd only written those 40 pages. Now I had an editor wanting to see an entire Manuscript. I remember it was a Tuesday night-and two days before my 30th birthday. Happy Birthday to me!!

We were preparing for Chris' next round of Chemo [which would also be on my 30th birthday]. The story was a wonderful distraction from all that was happening. I couldn't write until after Chris' treatment but when the kids were gone I planned on moving quickly through the story.

On Thursday night, after the kids had left, I sat down to write. The story was moving along but my brain was moving faster than my hands. I was thinking about scenes that would occur for 50 pages.

It caused brain freeze.

I stared at the computer feeling my one chance to be published was fading away. I couldn't get control over these characters. I sat my laptop aside and grabbed my notebook. I started writing one sentence summaries of each scene on my notebook. I scribbled for hours. When I was done I had 12 pages of notebook paper front and back with sentences like:

"She meets him in town. He is handsome. Leaves quickly and asks pharmacist about who was in recently. She's still not certain Mr. Colewick's death accidental."

The cryptic little sentences were enough to job my memory later. However, I still had to get the book written. And all I had was 12 pages of "scene sentences". I didn't know it yet but I had created something that would completely revolutionize my writing.

I started writing scenes based on my notes. I was amazed how quickly the scenes were flooding out of me. Then I could double back and add red herrings or bits of foreshadowing since every scene was numbered on my paper.

The story was flooding out of me.

I had it written and edited and off in 20 calendar days. And I hadn't had time to write every single day.

I sent it off, ready for my Published career to begin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Focus on one point


There are many ways to use this word but they all come down to one need. Consistently moving towards a set point.

In your writing business you need to focus on your ultimate goal. By doing that you can separate what is necessary and what are distractions. One of my first goals this year was to double my subscriptions in the first 90 days of 2008 and release my first product before the end of January. Along with that I had the NF collaboration, my fiction writing, and my coaching. Those are just the writing related tasks. I focused on this blog daily. I wanted to consistently provide useful content. And by January 18th I was only 2 people away from doubling my subscriptions. My Writing Career Coach product is still on target to be released in January. The delay has been a result of all the content that is going in to it. There are four sections with 4-8 topics in each section. I'm only through about 1/2 of the topics and I have 19 single spaced pages of information.

So how do you maintain focus. With all you have to do. You need to have a business plan. Where do you want to be in 90 days [the writing industry can be slow so it's best to put goals you can control (like # of queries) at the beginning of that 90 days and a realistic result to be accomplished by the end of those 90 days]. Have you put it somewhere you can see it?

In one of Robert Kiyosaki's books in his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series he says Focus stands for:


Everything you do should be through this prism. But first you need to know what that course is. You also need to have a quantitative measure of success. That is why I have goals I can control [Edit two MS, rewrite 1 MS, and write 1 new MS]. I can do that by setting out specific goals. So what are your writing goals. While having a goal to read one book on writing is fine, you need to also do some writing.

You will likely have two or three courses running simultaneously. You'll have your parenting course. You'll have your professional course and you'll have your business course. On each one you'll have one target to focus on to become successful. What is that for you? What is your mark of success?

Check this link out. Here is someone who is taking action to move forward by first changing how they look at things and working in the new reality rather than simply complaining that it is unfair:

And now, I am in the process of redoing my website. I'd like to add comments from people who have learned from my blog or my course. So please, if you'd like to be quoted [I will link back to your blog or website as well] email me at and put Endorsement in the subject line. Write a few sentences [I'll have to edit for brevity] and put a note at the bottom that says I have permission to use your comment on my blog or websites.

Later this week we have a book review and an author interview. I hope you'll enjoy that but for today we'll pick up on HIGH.


My initial thought when I heard "tumor" was a fatty mass or something in his leg. I wasn't worried at all. However, by the end of the day the reality was sinking in. We had two doctor friends and they, along with an internet search, told us we were looking at cancer.

On November 17, 2005 [our oldest daughter's 7th birthday] we were told that it was likely an extremely rare and very aggressive cancer. Osteosarcoma. Thankfully the doctor who wrote the protocols for treatment of this cancer was 30 minutes away. It would mean removal of his femur, and possibly his entire leg. It had grown quickly from imperceivable on X-rays in mid-July, to over 4 inches in length and filling the bone marrow by early November.

After a whirlwind of doctors and specialists the biopsy was done Dec 5th. It took ten days for the biopsy to come back. Lymphoma. What a relief. While it was still cancer Chris would keep his leg and he could see the local oncologist. Chris' Chemo began January 4, 2006 [yes, it took 2 months to begin treatment]. Chris would have 6 rounds then radiation.

It was rough seeing him go through that first round. Thankfully friends and family stepped up and took our kids for the 4 days following each treatment. Our kids were 7, 6, 5, and 2 when he started treatment. Chris was 29.

It was after the second round of chemo that the writing portion of this story picks up again. Chris was sleeping. The kids were gone. I couldn't turn on the TV or Radio. Everything was silent.

"Don't go to the holler."

I heard the thick southern drawl in my head as clearly as I would if the person was next to me. I suddenly could see this beautiful wooded land like on the OH/KY/WV border. I typed as quickly as my fingers could fly. By the end of the weekend I had over 40 pages done. I emailed it to a publishing line that I knew was looking for electronic submissions.

12 days later I got an email.

Your story looks good. Can you send us the full MS?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Free Advertising

It's a snowy Tuesday in NW Ohio. Temperatures in the teens with wind chills below that. I'd love to say it's toasty warm here but my desk is right next to the cold air return so it can get a bit chilly here.

I'd like to continue a bit on Free Advertising. I was checking out other blogs today [as I usually do] and Randy Ingermanson [Advanced Fiction Writing] has a bit about websites today. He knows his stuff so you should go check out what he has to say about domain hosting as well as getting your own website.

Chip MacGregor also had some great advice about becoming an professional writer that you should check out. The name of the blog is "State of Confusion" and it's from January 20, 2008. His blog address is

Now, ways to get free advertising.

I've shared that traditional advertising isn't always the most effective form BUT it can be useful. One way I've been able to get free advertising with a local publication [as well as online publications] is to write an article in exchange for a free ad. Sometimes this is a good idea. You get a by-line as well as an advertisement in their paper. Your article shows that you're a professional [at least, that is the perception by many] and then when they see the advertisement for your website or product it can drive traffic, even if they're only curious.

My step-mom did this. She works as an interior designer [or is it decorator, I always forget the difference]. She started writing articles for a local magazine that talked about real estate. She was a little TOO effective because she found people stopping in to the store she worked at just to meet her and say they loved her article. That would be GREAT except that would take "her up" [which meant her turn to talk to a walk-in customer]. When business got really slow she may have only got 1 or 2 ups a day. When those were taken by fans it didn't have the desired effect.

But imagine if your advertising sent one or two curious people a week to your blog or website, do you have a system in place to capture them? Will you be able to make them regular customers? [By customers I don't always mean they buy something. I consider all of you customers of my blog.] Are you providing a service that is helpful enough that a person will come back regularly. If yes, how can you make it better? If not, how can you make it better?

There are also other forms of free advertising that we haven't discussed. There is public speaking as well as radio interviews. Now, before you go running off calling radio stations you need to learn HOW to approach them. I have a connection in the radio industry that I can contact. How much interest is there for this? Let me know.

Oh, and if you're a casual reader and haven't yet signed up through feedblitz to get my blog do that today. I will soon be launching my mentorship program and I'll email a discount link the day before the new site opens to every person on my subscriber list. I'd encourage your to tell your writing friends about this blog in preparation for the big announcement. They can sign up to get the blog delivered to them directly by simply clicking this link:

Now, HIGH 15

Thank you for your patience on picking this back up. On Friday I told you I was about to enter a bumpy road. It was June 2004 when I didn't win the writing contest and I was crushed. I was even more devastated than I had been when my teacher gave me a 'D' on my story. I had worked so long and hard for this and I had nothing to show for it.

I continued to write articles for the local paper, and enjoyed that, but beyond that I had given up on writing. No more characters chattering in my head. I focused on submitting queries to various magazines and collecting more pages for my "fan mail binder" [which held all my rejection letters]. In August of that year we began the process to adopt a deaf 4 year old girl from Siberia, Russia.

From that point on my time was filled with paperwork, documents, notaries, and paperwork. My writing had to be completely put aside. I continued to write the monthly article but everything else, including reading, stopped. On April 4, 2005 we boarded a plane to the region for court and to pick up our daughter. On April 11, 2005 we were named her guardian and April 15, 2005 our daughter became a US Citizen when our plane touched down at JFK Airport. [The adopted child of 2 US citizens becomes a citizen upon touching soil in the US. This is fairly recent.]

Oh it was an adventure. Our daughter had no language other than squeals and chattering sounds that were like a chipmunk or squirrel. It was a rough road. Two weeks in to it I wondered why I had turned my life upside down. I was exhausted and she was aggressive. My calm house had become one of screaming [when she hit her sisters-her other form of communication] or stomping [the only way to call her to us from across the room was to stomp on the floor so she could feel the vibrations]. In May, on the advise of someone in the writing industry, I put my writing completely aside. It was painful and I cried for weeks but I knew I couldn't do it all.

In June my husband's knee started to act up like it did every spring [yes, up here it is still Spring in early June]. He got it X-rayed and the doctor said it looked like the childhood injury had turned in to arthritis or possibly a tore meniscus. There was not much to do except deal with it. He could have a CT scan to see which it was but since it was only a little painful he left it alone.

By October the pain in his knee was unbearable. He had a hard time at work [he's a Paramedic] and we prepared for imminent surgery. It would mean weeks off from work and with the adoption loan adding to our expenses we wanted to hold off as long as possible. On November 9, 2005 he went in for the CT.

At 9:25 am November 10 they called with results. I saw my husband sit down.
"They found an 11 cm tumor in my bone marrow."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Free Advertising

Happy Monday and Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. DAY. This posting will be a little shorter than usual because of a technical snafu. I budget 1 hour a day for blogging and blog reading. I'd spent almost 40 minutes writing up a very detailed blog only to have the battery in my laptop DIE just as I was getting ready to hit the "Post" button. Not to worry...blogger backs up. right?

Yes, but it's not often enough because it only saved the first 3 lines of the blog. As I teach when I'm talking to my apprentices [who I affectionately call 'mentees'] budget your time. So I have only about 1/3 of the time to do this blog that I originally took to write it. So in addition to the teaching I am giving of free ways to advertise I also want to tell those of you with "blogger", don't rely on Autosave. There is a blue "Save Now" button that I'd never noticed before. It will save your blog as a draft. Learn from my mistakes. :-)

So for free advertising there are some questions to consider.

Are you using the free advertising available to you? Do you even know where or what it is? Do you know what you're advertising?

These are important questions to ask yourself as you create a marketing plan and strategy that will be effective in reaching your target audience. Are there blogs that you can write? Before you answer that does your target audience read a blog? Is there a better way to reach them? Would submitting an article to a local parenting magazine be a better use of your time and resources? Do they attend church or synagogue? If so, are there local community events paper targeted to that audience.

These require time and thought but it's been my experience that asking these questions rather than running out and throwing money around is far more effective use of your time [and money]
Is there a possibility of going on a blog tour? I know PR firms that sell blog tours for thousands of dollars but maybe you already know some people who will allow you to join their blog for a day as a guest blogger. If you're going to do this try to find a way to track this. I'd suggest mentioning a particular blog in your blog. For example:

"I've learned a number of things as a writing career coach and as a writer. Some lessons have been more expensive than others. On January 1 of this year I talked about an important business lesson I learned. It has been one of my top 5 most visited blogs. You can check it out at: "

Then, if you've got tracking software like google analytics [ ] you can check that particular blog for hit count on the date. It will drive people to your site to see what you have to share with them [we're all curious] and you can see how many people clicked through to check out your blog.

Now, don't do this too much. You never want to make a blog, yours or someone else's, an infomercial. If I was writing a normal blog and had that one link above I don't think anyone would feel I'm trying to jam something down their throat. I'm not. My Writing Career Coach program is designed to help fiction, non-fiction, journalism, and other writers learn what they need to reach their writing goals. When I've accomplished that, you will trust me when I recommend a product as well. I trust you to give me attribution when you copy something [I only ask that you post my name and this blog address] and you can trust me to share solid information without trying to get you to open your wallet every day.

I hope this one technique to getting free advertising [and also ways to track those posts] will be helpful. And if any of you would like to host me on your blog I'd love to come chat.

I'll continue with the HIGH story tomorrow. I'm out of my 15 minutes and now it is time to spend an evening with my Marketing Director [aka my hubby]. Tomorrow I'll be sure to keep my lap plugged in so I don't lose 40 minutes of work and so I can share even more on Free Advertising with you. I can't wait to see you tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Are you ready now?

Yesterday I gave you a call to action. What is your plan?

So, are you ready now?

If you were to suddenly get $1000 could you create a future with it? What about $500? $200? $175?

That is my goal. I want to help you create a way to market yourself and your writing so that you have a plan that will allow you to pursue your dream the moment you have the capital.

Maybe money is not your issue? Maybe your issue is time.

Then my goal is to show you time management skills.

Everyone who knows my schedule wonders how I do it all. One reason is I have an awesome husband who is behind my dream but it's also because I manage my time.

Maybe the issue is not knowing what to do.

That is why I have this blog and I try to teach you how to move forward. Post your questions. I'm happy to answer them.

But whatever needs to happen are you READY NOW? Are you ready to move forward when that final piece of the puzzle falls in to place?

If not, then start to do what you CAN do. Luck happens when you're prepared. Go get ready to be lucky!

H.I.G.H. 14

We've had SO many new readers in this last two weeks let me tell you what HIGH is. HIGH stands for How I Got Here.

So, yesterday I was talking about when it looked like my writing career was suddenly taking off. I had two national publishers paying me for articles and a local publication that wanted me to write monthly for them. It was an amazing time, and after only 1 year of pursuing publication full time.

Over the next few months I wrote those stories while finishing the final draft of my novel. I sent my manuscript off in January to the Novel contest, and received an offer to collaborate on a book that same month. It was a non-fiction book about a local man who'd been active in local and national politics. My degree was in Political Science so the project couldn't have been more perfect. I was excited to be doing the work of a writer fairly consistently. I drove to Cleveland to do research [which I LOVE] and it gave me an opportunity to hang out with my uncle who lives in Cleveland. [Which I also LOVE] Life was good.

I was in Cleveland in March when my first national publication hit newsstands. It was awesome. We drove around looking for a store to buy the magazine and my uncle told the woman at the checkout that I was in it.

I loved ever minute.

It was also around this time that I found out my manuscript was semi-finalist in that major writing contest, Operation First Novel. The top prize was publication and a $50,000 cash advance. So learning I was in the top 20 had me vibrating with excitement.

By June I was a wreck. Literally. the national winner would be notified any time. A group of us were talking in forums about the contest. It was my all consuming through. And then came the night when I learned...

I wasn't in the top 3.

This was one of my least proud moments. I was literally crushed. I was a mess. No one could understand how crushed I was [in fact, looking back even I can't understand why I was so crushed]. I had put all my hope in this one opportunity to succeed. I had elevated this contest so high in my mind that I believed I couldn't make it unless I won this particular writing contest.

Looking back now I realize how GREAT it is that I didn't win that contest. It goes to what I said at the beginning of this blog. You have to be READY when an opportunity presents itself. I had a complete story written but I didn't have craft down to where it needed to be, NOR did I have the network of people, or the marketing plan in place to capitalize on the book's publication.

If you run in writing circles you'll learn bad sales numbers can be worse than being an unpublished writer. If I would have won that contest and NOT been ready to market myself [especially with such a HUGE cash advance] I could have done great harm to my future career as a writer.

It's all about preparation. Are you ready?

I wasn't ready for what the next 18 months were going to bring to my life and my writing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some great information and H.I.G.H. 13


According to my statistics this is one of the low readership days. So for you loyal readers out there I have some great information for you.

1st. Thanks for the great response to my Mentorship program. I'm moving forward on it and hope to have something to release very soon to all of you. You've really touched my heart.

2nd. I've run across some great information here recently as I've read around the blogosphere. One great blog if you've ever had an editor rejection for Episodic writing.

This is a blog posting by a published writer quoting an editor. I think it will help you as you work on craft to avoid that kind of writing in your fiction. I know it is not directly marketing related BUT building a great platform will do nothing if your writing isn't up to par.

Also, you know I'm all about planning. I read this blog earlier in the week and LOVED it. It is all about plans and goals which I've talked about here recently.

Okay, the blog may not be as loving as mine are [wink] but it is so true. I've seen it in my own business. For every 10 people who purchase my Writing Career Coach course I have 1 who finishes. Not because it's hard but people are easily distracted. They think buying the product will make it easier. That is why I'm creating the mentorship program. That will allow MUCH more interaction and accountability.

You know this makes me think of my ow path to becoming a writer. I had a number of mistakes [that we'll get to over the next few postings]. One was, when we had a bit more money, is I would buy things...then never use them.

So here is my challenge to you. Think of one great idea you've had over the last 3 days and implement it. If it is something that will require money that you don't have then write out EXACTLY what to do and EXACTLY how much it will cost, create a plan to earn that money, and DO IT.

That was how this program was born. I can't wait for all of you to start to have great results. Actually, you'll see that that was key to my writing career suddenly taking off.

Now H.I.G.H. 13

So I had just accepted this great opportunity to write an article about a local family who would be featured on National Television.

I was terrified.

See, what I hadn't shared up to this point was I was PAINFULLY shy with new people. Being in direct sales had helped that just a little bit but I was still TERRIFIED, to the point of shaking, when I had to call someone I didn't know.

And now I had to call and interview this local celebrity.

I got the contact information and asked a quick question to the interview subject. He was so nice. He chatted away about what had happened to them, the miracle that occured, and then what it was like to be featured on National TV. He talked to me for about an hour and I wrote feverishly on my notebook [why hadn't I learned shorthand???]. When I hung up the phone I was so excited. I ran out to tell my step-mom all about the conversation.

I wrote up the story and emailed it to the publisher [it was a donated article]. For the next two weeks I was a ball of nerves. I had continued to submit stories...and add pages to my rejection binder [which I'd affectionately named 'my fan letters'].

The story hit the stands on September 1, 2003. I grabbed about 10 copies of the paper and came home. I typed up a nice letter to that national publication I'd spoken with previously and told them I now had a feature by-line. I sent the front page of the publication as well as the center spread where the article appeared.

Seven days later they asked me to do an assignment [for pay]. The next day I received a letter in the mail from a second major national publication asking to publish one of my articles I'd submitted.

Two national paying markets in two days!!

I could hardly believe it. I fired off emails accepting the assignment and giving permission to publish the other story. I was starting the 12th month of my full-time writing career and I now had two national publishing credits.

Then I got an email two days later from the publisher at the local paper. Would I like to do an assignment every month for their paper.

My mind was swimming. I was a REAL writer. I was going to write every month. Smooth sailing now.

But there were waves up ahead and I was about to learn even more about the twists and turns of life, and the writer's life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who would you like to hear from? and H.I.G.H. 12

Who would you like to hear from?

When I thought about what I wanted to talk to you about today I had this sentence bouncing around in my head. Originally the question was who would you like to hear from in the industry. I'm going to begin to post some editor and agent interviews in addition to the interviews with writers and I wondered who you would most like to hear from.

So what are some questions you'd like to ask editors and agents in the industry? Post them in my comments section and I'll start getting some answers for you. I know from speaking to you that some of you have many connections in publishing while others are just starting out. I'd love to answer questions for both of you. So leave them below.

But then I started to wonder how this also relates to marketing your writing. Who would you like to hear from on your work? On your platform development? Are you actively building your platform and sending in proposals?

Here is one way to build using articles. Do you look inside the cover of magazines you read? There is a website and sometimes even reader guidelines. Check those out. Then decide who you'd like to submit an article to this month. Would you like an accountability partner? Then tell us who you're submitting to in the comment section.

One tip, before you submit to a magazine read some articles out of a few different issues of that article. This will give you a sense of tone. The articles I write for ACFW's Afictionado Feature is much different than the articles I write for the Toledo Business Journal. Each publication has its own voice just like each character in your novel has its own voice. Part of growing as a writer is learning to hear that voice and recreate that voice.

So where are you publishing? Where are you submitting?

Oh, and I'm really excited about the response so far to the Mentorship Program I am starting as part of my Writing Career Coach program. Continue to email me if you'd like to be emailed when it goes live but there's been such a positive response I think I'm going to post the link on the blog as well.

H.I.G.H. 12

The Ambulance was screaming down the road and I was following behind in my car. I was calm. Quite calm actually. I can't explain why. I would guess shock. Over those next five days I would stay at my daughter's bedside as she went through countless tests and she saw more than 4 specialists over the weekend. She had lost consciousness a couple of times in the ambulance but once she got to the hospital she was screaming. The weekend passed and we never did learn what happened.

Life returned to normal and I returned to my writing. My step-mom flew up from Florida for a visit in August. She is an avid fiction reader. She was helping me think of ways to work on my manuscript [remember the writing contest?]. I also showed her my clipping from that first story that had been published in December for the local paper. I had recently written the publisher to see if they needed articles written [even without pay]. A national magazine had contacted me the month before but since I didn't have any clippings that showed my ability to interview a subject and write a good story they had decided not to give me an assignment.

It was the second day of Brenda's visit when the local paper emailed and asked if I'd be interested in writing a story. A local child was going to be featured on the National TV program "It's a Miracle." They wanted to do a cover feature for the paper and didn't have anyone to write it.

OF COURSE I said yes.

It wouldn't be long before I found out the impact that decision would have on the rest of my writing career.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What would you like to see? and H.I.G.H. 11

Do you know the difference between a goal and a business plan?

Not much at all if you don't use either.

But I'd like you to think about what your goals are and if you've created a business plan to get those goals accomplished. As I was preparing to write this blog today I thought about what my goals and plans were for my Writing Career Coach Program. I am already 1/2 way through January; have I made progress towards my goals for this month?

One goal I had was to double my subscriptions in the first quarter so I was pretty excited that my subscription has increased over 30% in the first 14 days of the year. Not only that but my daily blog traffic has more than doubled in that time as well.

Another goal I had was to release my first new product of my revised Writing Career Coach Course. I'm excited to say that it is almost complete. I've had other important projects as well that have pulled my attention away from focusing only on that but I've made SO much progress on it I'm certain I will reach that goal.

The funny thing about goals is they change. In fact, as I was working on this project I started to have more and more people approach me about mentorship. It was pretty exciting but, at first, I didn't know what to do about it. So I went back to my business plan [Have you made yours yet? Now you will see why they are important!! Do it if you haven't done it yet.] and I started to look at what I was doing, what I wanted to do, and how it fit in to my overall plan.

This is a great time management skill. We'll cover this in some detail down the road, but for now what is important is to know where you're going so you know what you need to start doing, and stop doing.

For instance, I saw that one of the places I volunteer was no longer a part of where I was going. Even worse, it was sucking much needed time from other volunteer opportunities that were more in line with what I am doing. Without a business plan and a clear sense of direction I would have had a hard time deciding what to stop doing. With a plan I knew.

So back to this mentorship thing. The idea started to churn inside of me. I wanted to help more people but how could I do that without being on the computer 24/7? Then I saw it!! I'll tell you all about it another time but first I need ALL of you to give me your input:

If I offered a mentorship program with your own password locked website with additional content, 1/2 off all my new products, EVERY special report I publish [retail $3-$5 each] for Free, and 30% off all my editing, proposal writing and, Marketing Advising services would you be interested? It would be $25/month for all that I listed above [which if you ask anyone I mentor pays for itself in NO time]. What I plan to do is offer the first month for $10 to try it then $25/month each month after. [Those of you already in the program would get your next month at $10 then back up to the usual $25]

What I need to know from you is if there is enough interest for me to spend extra time to take it live ahead of schedule. PLEASE email me no later than Thursday and let me know if this is something you'd be interested in. Put "Coaching" in the subject line. If you email and tell me you would be interested I will reply to that email when the new site goes live to offer you that special discount. You will get in two days before I announce it to everyone so you don't have to worry about bogged servers, etc.

And I'd love your input. What kinds of things would you want to see over there AND on this free blog?

So take some time to write out your Business Plan today. Are you on track to reaching your January goals? If not, you still have 1/2 the month to get back on track. Do it!

H.I.G.H. 11

Suzanne, thanks for the great comment on the story. I am writing it early so you aren't going insane all day. :-)

So I was living in slow motion watching my infant's chest rise and fall slowly. I tried to rouse her again but she was limp. My neighbor had already called the Ambulance. We live in a rural area so it was an all volunteer force. My husband was a part of the department so the scanner in the other room chattered out the call:

"7-0 Central on the air for Station 8-7 and 8-8. We have report of unresponsive 8 week old at..."

That was my address on the scanner. "This will be the Colter residence." They repeated the address and then the scanner went silent. Within moments the chattering began as people began to call en route to our home. It was, what they call, a "Y'All Call". When it is a kid, people come running. This is a small community and so many people knew about our newborn. This call was personal to many of them.

I took the phone and called my husband. He wouldn't know about the run because he was working in the city that day. I had to dial the phone 3 times before I dialed his pager number right. I'd had nightmares about forgetting how to dial the phone in an emergency. And here I was living it.

I punched 911 in to his pager and hung up. About a minute later my husband called and asked if I'd paged him. He thought it was one of his friends playing a practical joke [if you know a FF/Medic you know they're great jokers]. I told him the ambulance was on the way and that the baby wouldn't wake up. He said he was on his way. For some reason, that to this day I don't understand, I was confused by him coming home. I figured he'd meet me at the hospital or something. Remember, this was the 3rd time in 8 months one of our children had been taken to the hospital.

I hung up the phone and looked at my baby. She was starting to move again but her eyes were still closed. I heard the first truck, then a second, in our driveway. I heard sirens in the distance. The firefighters and Medics and EMTs started coming in the backdoor. My neighbor started to give a run down and those with medical training circled my baby.

I heard another set of sirens. There was one from the Northwest and one from the Southeast. With my baby in the hands of the department I went upstairs to check on the other two girls who were still playing and completely unaware of what was happening.

"Daddy" the two year old yelled when she saw the ambulance turn in the driveway.

"Tiff." My neighbor yelled from downstairs. I went down to see it was the woman from down the street [the mom of the woman across the street.]

She would stay with the kids until my mom could drive in from an hour away. More sirens. I heard the baby cry. There was chaos all around. About a dozen people jammed in my dining room.

Then I heard my husband's voice. Chattering with medical talk. I needed to call my mom. I needed to follow the ambulance.

"Tiff, what happened?" Chris, my husband, was looking at me. I know he was asking as a Paramedic. I told him in one long sentence. He knelt down next to the baby and I went up to tell the girls mommy would be back soon and Ms. Linda would be with them. I looked out the window and saw Chris carrying our baby to the ambulance. I remember than one arm dangled down, limp.

I got downstairs and Chris said goodbye from the truck. They closed the door to the ambulance and flew down the road. Lights and Sirens blazing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Disaster averted and H.I.G.H. 10

Happy Monday,

As always I am so excited to start the new week that I smile when I wake up. I love pursuing my dream and feeling a sense of moving forward. Do you feel that way? Do you want to? What steps are you taking to get there?

I'll tell you a good habit I RESTARTED is making a list the day before of what needs to be accomplished the next day. When I was working for a Recruiter he told me to make the list out before I left the office because you'll do it quickly and you'll write what NEEDS to be done. If you do it when you come in the office in the morning you'll use list writing as a way to dodge work. Wise words and I still use them today.

Yesterday I had a near disaster. My computer wouldn't boot up. I have spent this last week doing some research and preparing to do a few blogs on how to best back up your data in case of computer disaster. I wanted to ask a group of writers from the ACFW what they do but I'd been buried in working on my multiple writing projects that I didn't have time. I'd been leaning towards getting Carbonite for my own needs, even spending a good deal of time Saturday reading through their website. I'd heard great things about them but wanted to check out other options. Then computer wouldn't boot.

AHHHH Panic!! I spent over an hour praying and making various deals with God "If you will let me get in to my data I promise I'll back the whole thing up." Then I jump on my husband's laptop and see that I have a new registration to my Writing Career Coach Course...AHH it's locked on the computer that won't turn on. And all the new products? They're on there too. An annoying chorus of voices singing to the tune of "You'll shoot your eye out." from the movie "A Christmas Story." Now chant at me "You should've backed-up"

After 90 minutes I sat down and said, very sincerely, "God, show me what to do." I hit control+alt+delete and a window popped up asking me to enter my password. I did and VOILA there is EVERYTHING. I immediately ran to and backed up all of my data. WOW. And I'd planned on sitting down after church and spending to quiet hours reading a novel. Silly me.

So, I always tell you that I tell you what it is I'm doing to succeed. I'm using Carbonite to back up all my data. I'm not very computer savvy, unless it is Word or Excel, and this thing was easy for ME to figure out. If any of you want to use it the website it but I also have this link: When you use that link you get 15 day free trial and an extra month if you use it. They also give me a couple of bonus months for referring someone so you DON'T have to click this if you don't want to. My goal is not to get you to give me free months. I only added that link since it said it would give any of you who used it a free month.

So whether you use or you use something else take a minute to back up your important documents today. Even if it is only to print them out.

H.I.G.H. 10

So I told you last week about how I was now published in a local paper and diligently working on my first novel. I also told you how my family was suddenly experiencing health problems that landed my daughter in the hospital. It was now May and I was 7 months in to my writing journey. I began to submit to every publisher I could find and I was collecting an attractive folder of rejection letters. Some of these letters were little three sentence emails that essentially said "Thanks but no thanks" and some were nice rejections on stationary. I kept writing and submitting and was spending a good bit of money, and time, I didn't have doing it. Would I ever publish again??

I had also begun to go to the gym again. There was a local ladies gym, Lifestyles, that had tanning, gym, and childcare for one price. It was great. I could spend 30 minutes on the treadmill reading a novel or a book on tape, then I could grab a quick 30 minute nap in the tanning bed, and take a shower without a 5 year old busting in on me. All for the the cost of the gas it took to drive there and back. So three times a week I started heading to the gym to have a break from screaming kids. I also started to hear the ideas for other stories begin to percolate in my brain. Now it wasn't just that first book I was hearing but a second. I didn't know what to do! I had two novels vying for my attention and it was only getting "worse". Ideas for articles seemed to spring from nowhere when I was driving, rocking the baby, or cooking dinner. I felt trapped. I loved being a mommy but I also felt overwhelmed with all I COULD do if only I had time. And the complete exhaustion from dealing with a colicky baby who never slept was catching up with me. How was I going to accomplish all of this?

My youngest daughter was now 8 weeks old and my other two were 2 and 4. What person in their right mind would try to do all this. It was the Thursday before Memorial Day and I was at the gym trying to work through all of this in my mind. I went and got the kids from the child care room after my shower. As always, the baby was screaming in her car seat. We drove the 20 minutes back to our house and I was nearly in tears. I was overwhelmed and the only thing I could see to give up was sleep or writing. I pulled in my driveway and unloaded my kids. They ran in the house and I followed behind carrying the baby in her car seat.

The next hour would be forever chiseled in my mind. I sent the older two up to their bedroom to play while I gave the baby her Acid Reflux medicine. As always she didn't want it but I managed to get it in her mouth. I then lifted her out of her carseat to sooth her. Her head flopped back and she moaned.

I remember at that moment felling my blood go to ice. Something was wrong, I could sense it. My husband [a paramedic] was at work so I called the neighbor across the street who was an EMT. I asked him to please check on the baby for me. He came over and asked what was wrong. By the time he got there the baby was crying again and I was trying to explain to him what was going on over her screams. I felt a little silly trying to say I had a bad feeling because the baby moaned when clearly now she was fine.

Then she dropped her head on my shoulder. Silent.

My neighbor and I looked at each other and I called the doctor's office. I kept assuring myself that she'd just worn herself out crying and that all was well. It was 5:30 and so I had to wait for the answering service to pick up.

I remember explaining quickly to her what was going on.

I remember her asking me to wake the baby up to see if she was okay.

I remember how I felt when the baby wouldn't wake up.

I remember watching for her chest to rise and fall.

I'll see you all tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

When people steal your ideas and H.I.G.H. 9

Hello and TGIF.

Well, I don't think I'll get this in under the buzzer. It is 11:57 on Friday night Eastern Time. I am a sign language interpreter for a local group and I was there until almost 11pm.

Ricardo posted a good question two days ago in the comments that I said I'd addresss here. He said:

What steps can you take when someone copies your content and places it on his site without acknowledging you as the source, and has refused to answer your repeated attempts to contact him/her?

As a writer, I guess one of your profitable assets is the content you write about. I know that with internet technology, while it's become easier to publish, it also becomes easier for content theft to take place.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Well, I cannot claim to be an expert on this. What I can do is tell you what I would do in such a situation. I would post in the comments section a thank you to the author for posting your content and then put a link to the original post in your comment post. I cannot promise the person won't delete the comment but it is a way to give credit back to yourself.

It is frustrating when people steal your content and give you no attribution and I wish I had a better answer but really that is the best idea that comes to mind. I don't look at all for specific quotes [although I have started to do it a bit more simply to track all the places I'm being quoted]. I have found it too frustrating. Besides, I have so much to be thankful for I don't want to look for things that will make me mad.

Incidentally, that is why I urge people who want to be published NOT to post content [fiction stories] on their blogs or websites. Too dangerous. I don't even really talk about my stories at all so there is no chance for someone to steal my stuff.

H.I.G.H. 9

So here I was starting a new year and a new writing career. I'd had my first publishing credit and I'd had major health issues with my daughter. But as those of you who work with kids know, they crash fast and they can perk up fast.

The day after Pookey was admitted to the PICU she was discharged to go home. She was 100% fine. Life started to return to normal and we prepared for the final 12 weeks of my pregnancy. My husband had just finished building a new room upstairs to accommodate the new baby and I was getting the nursery around for our new arrival.

As I told you I was a part of the Christian Writer's Guild and I received an exciting email from them. They were launching a brand new contest Operation First Novel. The top prize was $50,000 and publication with Tyndale Publishers. The deadline was February. I quickly pulled out that 50 page story that I'd put away so many years ago and set out to make it 50,000 words or more. This was how I was going to break out on the scene. This was my moment of destiny, I knew it. Each night I put the kids in bed at 8:30pm and then I'd sit at my computer for 2 1/2 hours and type until 11pm. By the end of three weeks I'd typed almost 13,000 words.

But then I noticed something. The deadline was a YEAR away! It was February 2004. I breathed a sign of relief and completed the first draft of almost 35,000 words by mid-February. The story was still rough, and I knew that, but I was getting closer. I had a perfect heroine who was dealt an injustice that her near perfect husband was trying to help her through. The gripping story had turned in to fluff. I worked at it more and more adding words a little at a time to get the story to word count. But now we were to March, and the baby would be here soon.

It came time to deliver and I had my guild lessons with me in my hospital bag. My youngest was born 9am on March 27th and that afternoon while she slept I worked on my guild lessons. I now had a new baby and I was going to be busy. I had a dream, yes, but my baby was my priority now.

We left the hospital and came home with our 3rd daughter. Her big sisters were 4 1/2 years old and 22 months old. It was a busy house made busier by the babies complete inability to sleep. My writing time began to fade away and was replaced by complete exhaustion and no sleep. By 5 weeks she was diagnosed with acid reflux and put on medication to try to help relieve her pain and constant screaming. Just at the moment I was about to step in to my dream I saw it being pried from my fingers. I finally let go and accepted that, for a season, I'd not be an author.

And three weeks later I was back in the hospital, this time, it was my infant in the hospital bed.

See you Monday.

Thank you again for your comments and for the kind emails you've been sending. I'll see all of you Monday with H.I.G.H. part 9

I'd love to have others chime in on this topic. Post it in the comments section of this blog OR better yet, blog about it on your own blog and leave the link in my comments section. That way all of us can come over and learn along with your normal readers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You've gotta read this and HIGH 8


Thursday already. I tell you, I'm living my dream. I love being a writer. The week flies by, truly it does. Right now I'm collaborating on a Non-Fiction book with a woman who has SUCH a sweet spirit. I look forward to each and every day. Truly.

I have something great for you writers out there. Check out this blog:

This is a freelance editor for award winning authors. She has some great tips for you fiction writers on how to make your characters come alive. Some of you will recognize her name; she wrote an endorsement for my Writing Career Coach course on my last website. This woman knows her stuff, and her endorsement was a HUGE honor to me. When I saw this blog posting above I knew I had to share it with you. When Susan Lohrer speaks, I listen. For those of you in fiction she'd be a great blog to check. She only posts about once a week so it won't overwhelm your inbox but the content is worth it [remember our discussion on content yesterday?]

And Ricardo, aka, Primeprojects had some great questions in the comments of yesterday's post. I will address those tomorrow so everyone make sure you come back.

H.I.G.H. 8

When I last left you my little girl was in PICU. It was a very scary time for me. She'd had emergency surgery the night before because her intestines had slid inside each other and created a blockage. It is extremely rare from what I am told and usually occurs in boys when it does happen. The fact that Dr. Scooby caught this DAY Dr. Scooby can do no wrong in my eyes. She saved my little girl [the family calls her Pooky after Garfield the Cat's teddy bear].

But what I remember most about that day was what was happening just before she took a turn for the worst. She'd had emergency surgery just after midnight on Tuesday going in to Wednesday. On Wednesday morning my husband was sleeping on the couch in the hospital room and I was reading a book "Heaven's Wager" by Ted Dekker while Pooky slept. My husband had brought the book to me because we wanted the room quiet while she rested.

I read this book and the power of the story overwhelmed me. I felt myself being changed from the inside out. I finished the book and determined that when I wrote my books they would impact people, not just entertain them. That has been my driving force all along. I sat in amazement that my daughter had a condition the night before which was "Not conducive with life" and today...she was sleeping soundly.

When she began thrashing around a few hours later and was eventually moved to the PICU the message of the book I'd just read kept beating around in my mind. Even now, 5 years later, that book continues to make me THINK as no other novel has before or since.

Isn't that what we want our stories to be? We want to entertain, yes, but all of us want to leave this planet better than when we got here. Suddenly writing for me was more than a dream, it was a mission.

But excellent writing needs conflict, and there was much more conflict brewing ahead before the next ray of sunshine broke through.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Answer to your question and HIGH Part 7

Happy Wednesday,

I have to tell you, I live a GREAT life. I am blessed to live my dream as a writer and I'm getting such wonderfully sweet emails from some of you. I don't have words to tell you how much they mean to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I had an interesting question from Primeprojects in the comment section of yesterday's blog. He asked me how often to blog.

Well primeprojects, and the rest of you, I can only tell you what many successful bloggers have told me. If you're not updating about 3+ times a week you're not going to get traffic. I started this blog doing Mondays-Thursdays but then decided to do all weekdays. The reason was I noticed many people coming to my blog on Fridays. That meant there were people popping over searching for content.

I also started my blog by doing the exact same thing every monday, every tuesday...Have I mentioned recently that I'm type A, laugh.

My husband had a great point about doing that. He told me that if I ALWAYS post in interview on Thursdays that people who don't like interviews won't come on Thursday. Okay, then I wasn't posting Friday-Sunday...and Monday is a bad day for my blog in general [everyone is back to work] so then my readers were really only getting content a couple of days a week and they might miss something that would really help them.

That is why you see now I just post what I've learned. And I post Monday-Friday. Every once in a while I'll bop over on a weekend if I ran across something great at another blog that I want you to see. I go in to a great deal of detail in my new Writing Career Coach Course that I'm creating. The whole thing is building a platform and I spend PAGES talking about blogs and the internet. So leading up to that release I'll be talking about much more over here on the blog to help all of you out.

Oh, and Primeprojects had a GREAT post today when I bopped over to his blog. Here is the link. Check it out and tell him hi while you're there.

Now, H.I.G.H. Part 7

Yesterday I told you that I had found this great Writer's Guild. It must have been what Columbus felt like when he saw land at the end of a long voyage. That moment when suddenly you go from despair to hope again.

Wow, it was amazing.

I would look at that page every day. Remember, by this point my successful network marketing business was falling apart around me and I was sick with "morning sickness" that went all day long.

I don't remember where we found that first bit of money to sign up for the course [at that time you could pay $250 for each of 4 sections. As soon as you paid, the next section came. They have since changed that.] The first section came in the mail in mid-late October. It was all about articles. I, like most novelists, scoffed at trudging through article writing when I was really destined to be a novelist. Why waste my time??? [Now I teach an entire class on why novelists should waste their time with articles, but that is for a different day]. I introduced myself to my new mentor in the Guild and tore in to the lessons.

OHHH I felt so alive. Here it told me how to find out where the paying markets were and gave me ways to practice my craft. It was so incredibly exciting I don't even have WORDS to tell you what it felt like. Suddenly ideas were gushing out of me all the time. I carried a tape recorder to write them down. And within 2 weeks - YES I said 2 weeks- I had my first article accepted at a local paper. It was an amazing feeling to hear that editor say "This is a great story. We'd love to publish it in our December issue. Can you send us a photo to go with it?"

There I had it, a by-line, and so quickly. I kept plugging away at my lessons through December eager to place my next article. At Christmas everyone in my family got a copy of my first published article in addition to their Christmas gift.

Then came January. It started out just fine. We found a great deal on a van [which we now needed since we were expecting our 3 and all 3 would be in car seats.] and I was six months pregnant and I'd hit a lull in my morning sickness. But my 2nd daughter, who at the time was 20 months old, was having horrible temper tantrums. She would scream and throw herself around. She'd had lots of ear infections, but this time had no fever. So I took her to the doctor but, as always happens, she was a fine, happy, child. They agreed with me that it was likely the terrible 2's starting up but, on a hunch, Dr. Scooby [that's not her real name, but that's what kids call her. I'll use it here to protect her anonymity] ordered an ultrasound and emergency X-ray. Both came back in under an hour, both fine.

She sent us home and said if she threw a fit again like that to call and I would take her to the ER. We went home a little frustrated from losing a day driving all over town, but glad it was nothing.

Two days later I'd be sitting with my husband at her bedside in the PICU [Pediatric Intensive Care Unit]

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Update your blogs! and H.I.G.H. Part 6

Hello everyone,

It is with a heavy heart that I faced a new day. Yes, my precious Ohio State University Buckeyes lost...again. After an amazing season with only one loss they entered the bowl game number one. LSU was ranked number two. Ohio came out strong with a 10-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game...and then, welll.

Okay, now on to marketing and helping YOU build a strong internet business. Yes, that is what I said because while you are a fiction writer, a non-fiction writer, a blogger, or something else you are running an internet business and you must look at it that way to build a strong marketing platform.

So what must you do to build this platform? Reach your customer base.

Today we're going to talk about how blogging can help you do that but we're also going to talk about how it can hurt your business. I don't think we will get it all covered today but we can pick up what we miss tomorrow.

As I'm sure you expect I will tell you that one key is to update your blog.

I am as guilty as anyone else of neglecting my poor blog. I started blogging a year ago this month and for the months I did almost nothing with it. I was frustrated by the lack of traffic and by the amount of time I had to spend doing it. Eventually it became a dead site with only some random posts from people essentially saying "Tiff, where are you?"

So my first piece of advice to building your platform, your internet business, or anything else is to update your blog. I actually am in the process of creating a new product [I'm super excited about it. It will help SO many people and since I found a place to make it very inexpensively I can offer it for less than the price of a book. But more on that later] that will talk about blogs and other things and how you can use them to explode your business like I did mine.

The simplest thing I can tell you to do though is this: update your blog. But you can't just post up any old thing. You need to have content people will actually want to read. That is what you need to learn to do. Once you have figured out what people want to know about, be consistent and provide it.

That is the best advice I can give any of you right now.

Oh, and remember if you have questions or comments about my about them [hey, there is content for you :-) ]. Then post a comment in my comment section with a link to the post. I will come over to your blog. That way I can help your readers get the answer to the question and all of my readers can come over and see the answer to a question I may not have thought to post on my own blog.

I am looking forward to your questions.

Oh, and I found a super cool blog today. I told the woman I was going to tell all of you to check it out. Here is the link.

Now, H.I.G.H. part 6

There used to be a spot on the morning news "Everyone has a story" where a guy threw a dart at a map and went to that town. Then he'd pick a name at random in the phone book and go to see that person. We learned lots of neat things. I loved that segment.

Well, I guess this is my version of "Everyone has a story". I told you yesterday that things in my life were about to get shaken up. That is an understatement if ever one was spoken. I could give the long, agonizing version of it but I won't. The point here is to help you learn from my mistakes and develop your own writing business.

So the first lesson I hope you've learned is: Be confident in your gift/call.

I, unfortunately, was not. See, I was terrified of failing. {Yep, Type-A all the way, Baby!} So in April I knew it was time to return to my first love, writing, but that meant closing my business. [Because at the same moment I felt my call back to writing I also felt it was time to leave my network marketing buisness.]

I didn't do it and by July my business had gone from highly successful to hemorrhaging money. I would rack up over $2,000 in debt before finally relenting in January of the following year and closing my doors.

And my two little girls who were 3 1/2 and 11 months? By July I learned I was pregnant with my 3rd [That was my dh's anniversary gift for me that year.] My little girl is a huge blessing but it meant I was SICK! SICK! SICK! Yes, I'm one of those blessed souls who got all day sickness that lasted the first 4 months and then came back for the last 3. :-)

And what of my writing? I discovered a full page ad in a Current events magazine [I think it was called World but now I've forgotten] for the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writer's Guild. They said "What is your story?"

OHHHHH I was so excited. Here was what I needed to get going. But we had no money. We had just bought our new house and my husband was working 4 [yes I said FOUR] jobs to pay the bills. We both wanted me to be a SAHM and so Chris worked on the road as a Paramedic, then worked 20 hours a week in the ER at a local hospital [because his full time job had horrible insurance], then he worked a couple of days a month at two different Fire Departments to fill in holes in their schedule.

I couldn't ask him to sacrifice for a childhood dream.

As it turned out, I didn't have to. Things were about to start moving and I could never have dreamed of what would happen over the next five months-neither in my greatest dreams, or my worst nightmares.

Oh, and if you battle fear [or are type A like me] you should check out this blog posting I put up a couple months ago. It is my most read blog currently. I think you'll like it.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Marketing in your proposal and H.I.G.H. 5

Great comments from Friday.

I'm late putting this up tonight but I'm committed. I am updating this blog while watching the OSU-LSU Championship game. Currently LSU is up 24-10. I am a diehard Buckeye so I'm waiting for a rally.

Well, I love the chatting we've been having. I have been thinking about marketing and research when you're writing a proposal. How much do you research your market before you dig in to writing a proposal. I have to confess, many times I have a book written and I have to wonder "What other book is out there like this?" Then I dig around and find a few, check them out, and write up my marketing section.

I know it's not the best but honestly, I try to avoid any books that at all resemble mine when I'm working on an MS so that I can be sure I don't accidentally copy someone else's plot point, character, or setting.

The only difference is when I'm working on articles. When I'm working on an article I read four or five articles from a few different issues of the magazine so I get a feel for the magazine's voice. I met an author once who wrote genre romance and she said she'd read three books back to back in the line then pick up and start writing her own. I can see some merit to that as well.

Finally, I read book reviews. Although it makes me hungry to read more books than I could in a lifetime it gives me a bit of a sense of what the market is doing and if there is something of note [strong characterization or dialog] mentioned in the review then I'm sure to grab the book to improve my own craft.

I guess I'm not sold on which way is best to feel out the market. I'm curious what you think out there.

H.I.G.H. part 5

So here I was with a prompting to begin to write again. I told you I made my first of many mistakes at this point. See, life was good. I didn't want to shake things up. I had always wanted to write but I was successful where I was. I was comfortable. I had a 1 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. I was busy. There was no time.

But I didn't ignore the prompting entirely. I did start to write down some of my ideas on that 10 year old manuscript. I still knew the plot line and I knew I wanted to be published. So I found a bunch of novels in the house and I started looking at the names of the publishers. I googled those publishers and then went to their websites.

Have any of you done that? What was the first thing you saw?

"No unsolicited manuscripts"

Surely that didn't mean ME?? Well, I decided that probably wasn't the right publishing house for me. So I looked at another book...and another...All said the same thing. Rejection again, and just when I'd started. I tried to google things like publish your book or write a novel but what I found wasn't what I needed. I needed someone to show me how to do it. How to get from my dream to a printed book.

I was stuck.

So, once again I tucked that dream of mine away. That was April 2002. Business was good. Life was good. Great husband, two healthy girls, owned our own house. Writing was bad. No one was going to ever see my writing.

Within 3 months everything had turned upside down. My life started to change in ways I could have never imagined faster than I could have ever dreamed.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, January 4, 2008

An interesting point and How I got here: part 4

Hello and TGIF

Actually it is almost Saturday as I write this. 11pm right now on the East Coast. I've had the second kid this week come down with a stomach bug so my days have been spent on things other than blogging.

I wanted to speak to something Wayne said in yesterday's comment about people being overly encouraging when they're coaching writers [I hope I'm not misrepresenting you Wayne].

You sound like my husband. Don't sugarcoat it, just tell him like it is.

I agree that people need to be honest but I don't think that means they can't be encouraging. There is enough rejection in writing land. Don't just reject me...tell me WHY I was rejected. As a content editor I know sometimes the only answer is "it's just not quite there" but other times you can say "I'm not feeling this scene."

Writing needs to engage the senses. My favorite quote about writing is something Stephen King said in his book "On Writing" He said "Writing is Telepathy".

I agree some people can be over encouraging and they set up unrealistic expectations but then others can be unnecessarily critical. I wonder what some of the rest of you think? Feel free to comment on this on your own blogs then leave the link in the comment section. I'll stop by and see what you have to say. You can also leave comments for me on my blog like usual.

So we're now going to get to part 4 of How I got here. I'm not sure how many parts this actually will be so I'm going to start to abbreviate this as HIGH. It's actually kind of cool how that turned out. I hadn't planned it that way at all.

Okay, HIGH part 4

As I said, I was so crushed that my teacher completely hated my writing that I stopped all together. In retrospect that was really silly. I wrote suspense/thriller kind of stuff [even then] and loved the plot twists of Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone. My teacher [the one who hated my writing] counted Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson among her favorite writer and poet.

But, just the same I allowed that one rejection to stop my writing. Life didn't stop during those next 10 years. I studied in France as an exchange student, went to college and earned my BA, got married, had my first and then my second child, and started a successful networking Marketing business. I was a very busy lady and felt life was where it should be. Then in April 2002 I was sitting in my chair reading a book and suddenly it dropped in my spirit "I should start writing again." My very next thought was "I need to close my business and write." I hadn't thought about my stories [although I moved them with me from one apartment to the next, one house to the next during that whole time]. I can still tell you where exactly I was sitting, what color the chair was and that leaves were starting on the trees. I could tell you it was a weekday [although which one I don't remember] and it was around 2pm.

I remember all these details because it was my fear of rejection that delayed my execution of that prompting inside me. That was the first mistake of many that I'd make in my new writing career.

But then that is a topic for Monday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How I got here: Part 3

Hello everyone

This post may be a bit shorter than usual. That is because I have two articles due tomorrow and one of them isn't even started yet. I am NOT good at pressure. In college I always had all my homework done at least 2 weeks early. In fact, in my final semester I was done with my assignments a full one month before exams. This worked out great because I found out I that semester that my husband and I were expecting our first child.

Ah, but I'm starting to ramble. I wanted to tell you that I read a great blog today. You can check it out at Rachelle Gardner's blog:

You'll see I left a comment there.

Oh, and if you have a question you'd like to ask blog about it. Then post the link in my comments section. I'll come over to answer the question that way not only will you have your question answered but your readers will as well.

If you're one of the dozens of new people to hit this site today, welcome. We're on day three of how I got to where I am as a writer. You can read the two previous posts to get caught up.

Now, here's part 3

I told you yesterday that I had two different teachers at two different schools encourage me in my writing. Then at the end of my Freshman year I moved to a wealthy suburban school district.

I didn't fit in at all.

The black nail polish and biker jacket that I'd wore at my previous high school now made me the subject of ridicule. I felt more an more isolated in this new world. I was excited to learn there was a gymnastics team [I varsitied two years]. However, my stories still ate at me. Whenever I felt lonely or scared I'd sit and write. Some were the "poetic" musings of a 15 year old heartsick girl while others were the opening scenes to stories.

I kept writing, and reading, and dreaming of "being famous one day".

Then late in the first semester at the new school a ray of hope!! A writing assignment.

For the third time I went to my Literature teacher and asked if I could rework this project and turn it in if I could prove I had added the required number of pages. My teacher was very happy to encourage a budding writer and thus I went home and dug in to the story some more. The story now approached 40 pages and was getting even more detailed. Sandy [the heroine] and her husband [Todd] were comforting to me. Now it was like I was back in my home town. A safe place...far from this rich school who had rejected me.

I completed the assignment and turned it in and waited.

A week later I got the paper and tore to the final page: D-

I couldn't believe this was my grade. I began to look through the story. There was blood on every page. Red ink slashed through word after word and phrases like "what is this?" and "what does this mean?" filled the margins. Even my Alfred Hitchcock twist at the end was met with the phrase "So did this happen or not?"

I slid the paper in my folder. Clearly those inner-city teachers had only tried to boost the confidence of a poor girl. I'd never had any talent.

It would be ten years before I wrote another story. And when I did I had no way of knowing what was about to start.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Pleasant surprise and How I got here Part 2

Can you believe it is Wednesday already?

This week has just zipped past me. I had something really exciting happen to me today. I was at the grocery walking through the meat section and scouting out deals when my husband called. It seems James Brausch [yes, the one I spoke of yesterday] somehow picked up on my blog post and told his subscribers to come check it out. I was so excited I actually forgot a few things on my shopping list. Now, I didn't get the extensive write up that Randy Ingermanson got on his recent series of posts "Writing 300 pages in 30 days" but it was a huge honor just the same. [Many of you know that I adore and respect Randy I. for not only his willingness to teach and mentor writers but also the quality of the products he sells].

What a huge honor to be pointed out like that. So if you are one of the over 100 people who bopped over to visit because of James' post, welcome. And if you're one of the MANY who decided to subscribe after visiting. Thanks! You really made my day.

So let's get on to part 2 of how I got here.

As I told you yesterday my first launch in to "Full-length Fiction" was a 22 page project for my 8th grade English class. Dr. Lloyd had assigned the project to the class. Since that was, a-hem, years ago I don't remember every detail but I DO remember that Dr. Lloyd started reading the stories to the class, at least a few of the best. I remember because I got the flu and missed a day of school. When I returned to class I had a number of classmates come to me and tell me how much they were enjoying my story and how they couldn't wait to hear the next part. That day in class Dr. Lloyd read part two of my story. I remember my heart pounding in my chest as he read line after line. The voices echoing in my head. After he had turned a few pages I looked around to find the entire class staring at him, eyes unblinking.

They were caught up in MY story!

The bell rang for the end of class before he finished and he promised to share the final installment the next day. As we left the room people started coming up asking me what would happen next. I couldn't believe this was happening to ME. I had gone from invisible to popular in just a few days. I told my mom when I got home, then called my dad and told him. They were both happy for me. I felt so alive!

The next day the story ended and they told me it was great. I don't remember much about it until the next fall. It was Freshman year and I had Lit, honors Lit. The teacher was James Meister.

Mr. Meister had a way of commanding respect while at the same time putting his students 100% at ease. I was intimidated by him at first. I could feel he was a man who wouldn't let me skate. I was a good student but Freshman year at home marked a number of difficult changes and I wanted to forget about School.

Then Mr. Meister assigned a creative writing assignment. I remember the thudding in my chest. I was going to pull my old assignment out! When class was over I went straight up to his desk and asked if I could add to a previous story I'd written. He said I could as long as I added enough pages to meet the assignment.

Thus I entered phase two of the writer's life. Editing.

I went back to that story and added dialog, scenes, subplots, and characters. Once again the story poured out of me as fast and my pencil could scribble. [Yes, this was before computers were everywhere.] I turned it in, once again with a knot in my stomach. This was more than an assignment, this was my passion. This was my story!

I don't remember exact words but I remember he LOVED it. A high school Literature teacher, whose life was devoted to BOOKS said I was good!! It was beyond words. I cannot imagine my first book contract could be any sweeter. In 8th grade I had the approval of my peers. Now in 9th grade I had the approval of the "experts".

But Jim Meister's impact on writing history wasn't over. When my birthday rolled around that February 2nd He gave me a gift. I tore open the wrapping paper eager to see what was inside. The cover of the book was blue and hard. "The Writer's Handbook: A guide to the Essentials of Good Writing. Second Edition."

This was a book for writers, real writers. And a Lit teacher had given it to ME. An innercity girl with second-hand clothes. Could someone like that REALLY be a writer?

Inside he'd written a note "To Tiffany, Become famous someday! J. Meister Feb. 1991" Those notes quickly scribbled to a now 15 year old girl would end up being the driving force behind who I am today. Mr. Meister told me to become famous and I was going to do it. One way or another I would!

That word would be something I'd hold on to because that summer I'd move 3 hours away from that inner-city to a completely different world.

It would also see me enter phase 3 of writing. Rejection.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Lesson Learned and How I got here

Hello all.

Let me start with an apology. My internet has been almost completely down for the last three weeks. I haven't been able to go online unless I paid by the hour for dial-up [which is my back up internet]. I've been bursting to share with you some of the great nuggets I learned about writing, marketing your writing, and life in general. I'm going to start by sharing a little lesson I learned on December 26th about taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

Then I am going to start sharing my story with you. I always enjoy learning from people who are further down the path than I am. Sometimes knowing someone else has faced rejection and setbacks makes me feel like less of a failure. Other times, I've learned from the things others did [both good and bad].

I'm not sure how long my story will take to tell because I will post it along with regular content [to help you with your business] but I hope you'll enjoy it. And, if not, it will be easy to skim past.

So first, Lesson learned.

I read every blog posting from internet businessman James Brausch. I think he has great nuggets and have learned a huge amount from him. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I've listed some of his posts as recent "Blogs of note".

He gave a gift for Christmas to his subscribers. It was $2,000 worth of products to help with each person's internet business. What he did is had people who wanted it sign up. Then he sent out a postcard to each person who signed up and said to come watch for an email from him on Christmas day. On Christmas day the email arrived with the link to a webpage where we learned what we were being given.

As I mentioned previously, I've had a huge number of internet problems recently and so I signed on, opened the email and clicked through. Then I posted the links to a Word document, clicked print and signed off.

The next morning my husband asked about the gift [he helps me with my marketing]. I looked everywhere for the printed page. It was not on my printer, not in my office, nowhere. Not to worry, I'd saved the email. When I opened the email and clicked the link there was one line:

"Christmas is over"

I was angry, so angry, at myself. I got off the phone with my husband and walked out of the office to cool off. I was angry that I'd squandered an opportunity to use something that cost far more than any product I'd ever bought. And it was a GIFT. For a moment I was mad at James Brausch, but truthfully only for a moment. I actually stopped and said to myself "You are not OWED anything, Tiff. If you don't take advantage of opportunities when they appear than shame on you."

I went about my morning tasks which included a large number of writing and editing projects. I was excited to have so much work on my desk to be done. I printed out a few pages of a rough draft I was working on. I'm applying to teach at a conference and I was working on how I wanted to do the worksheets. When I clicked on the printer it started to print. And there...were the links to the $2,000 gift.

A few hours later I got an email that James had posted another blog. It seemed many people had missed the opportunity to download their free gift. Many of them were going on their own blogs and bad-mouthing James for putting an expiration date on his gift. For me, he gave an even greater gift than the $2,000 one many people were expecting.

In life, opportunities will pass by us all the time. Each day we have a chance to change our life. Are we going to take advantage of these opportunites, or watch them go by?

On that thought I'll start to share a bit about how I got here.

This actually ties in nicely to what I just shared. I had always dreamed of being a writer. When I was six I wrote my first story. When I was eight I began telling everyone I'd be a writer. By the time I was in 7th grade I was reading Writer's Digest Magazine. Every issue, cover to cover, I'd pour over lessons and interviews in my pursuit of writing.

I had two great teachers along the way who encouraged me in my dream: Dr. Thomas Lloyd and Jim Meister. Every person needs a starting point, and mine was there. Dr. Lloyd assigned a story of a minimum of 7 typed pages. I still remember the story pouring out of me. As fast as I could write, my mom would type it on our little "word processor" typewriter. These people were as real to me as anyone else. I could hear them talk; I could feel their emotions. I was engrossed with the story. I don't know how long I wrote but I remember it was after dark when I stopped for the night. The next morning it was with trembling hands that I turned in my 22 page story. I had hoped that I would get an A.

What I got instead set me on a path I could never have expected.

I'll see all of you tomorrow for Part 2 of my story.