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1. Get Traffic to Your Website with Inbound Marketing - New eClass

It’ll soon be a new year and with that I’ll be offering a NEW online marketing e-class through WOW! Women on Writing. As valued readers and visitors to this website, I want to keep you in the loop. Just like the marketing arena is ever changing, so are my classes. The reason is to keep up with all those changes. Beginning January 5, 2015, I’m offering a new 4-week e-class: GET TRAFFIC TO

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2. To Blog or Not to Blog...Is Anyone Reading?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 3 posting of the IWSG will be T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!

"To Blog or Not to Blog...Is Anyone Reading?" 

by Donna McDine

With another year coming to a rapid end and reflecting on 2014 and that I've been blogging since 2007, it's mind-boggling to me seven years have flown by since my first blog post and three months since I've joined #IWSG. Yikes, where has the time gone!

From early on in my writing career I have read about the importance of building one's platform through various methods with blogging being an essential part of those efforts. The central focus of my blog is the children's publishing world, whether it be about my journey or that of my colleagues. 

Overall, I am Snoopy dance
pleased with my traffic stats...averaging 475-625 visitors per day, but I'm always disappointed on the lack of comments. 

I am in awe of fellow bloggers who achieve high comment numbers and often wonder how they do it. 

I know one of the key parts is commenting on other blogs, which I need to get back into the groove of doing. As of late, I've been focusing more on my W-I-P than surfing blogs and commenting. It's definitely a balance I'm striving for, but without finishing my W-I-P what's the point of blogging in the first place?

If you visited and read this far, I'd like your advice on how to engage and promote one's blog. 

Be sure to leave your blog URL so I can visit and comment at your blog. 

Thanks a bunch for visiting and hopefully commenting. 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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3. 10 Must-Know Tips on Creating a Search Engine Optimized Website

There needs to be at least 10 of me to keep up with all the great information online. I just read an infographic from QuickSprout.com on structuring a search engine optimized website. Having been affected by both Google Penguin and Panda, I look out for SEO strategies from reliable sources. So, here’s a breakdown of Neil Patel’s post: 1. Your URL matters. I’ve known this for a while, but

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4. Content Marketing - Are Long Sentences in Your Blog Posts Good or Bad for Your Rankings?

I’ve been getting more involved in my website analytics lately. Due to this, I found an interesting ranking element I didn’t know about – sentence length. I know about sentence length in regard to writing for children, but had no idea it was a ranking element for your website. Apparently, long sentence reduce content clarity. This has me thinking and editing as I’m writing – adding more

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5. 3 Power-Packed Elements to SEO Ready Content

There is much to know about SEO ready content. The most important thing is to create content that search engines will find valuable enough to use as the results of a search query. Below are three power-packed elements needed to create this type of content. 1. Create ‘shareable’ and keyword optimized content. The ‘old’ SEO involved optimizing keywords that search engines would find,

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6. Blogging with External Links - More Value to the Reader and More Ranking Power

There are so many tips, tricks, and strategies to blogging ‘effectively.’ Anyone can blog. It’s simple - you just type away, publish the post, and share it. But, to blog effectively, you need to pay attention to lots and lots of blogging strategies to make the post more valuable to the reader and make it search engine friendly. One technique to add a power-punch to your blog posts is to

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7. Did You Write a Book? Sell It Through Your Blog

How to Sell Books Through Blogs Guest Post by Kim Staflund In today's digital environment, selling books through blogs is viable and preferable for many authors. Here's more information on how to sell your published books through blogs. • Interest: You need an audience that has an interest in your book. A series of blogs can help to not just develop, but engage that audience. Let them know

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8. I don’t THINK anyone is trying to hunt me down

heathers01 I dont THINK anyone is trying to hunt me downLast weekend my friend Lori was in town and we took the dogs for a walk in the schoolyard across the street. Three tween girls were hanging out on the jungle gym and as we passed they started whispering ostentatiously in our direction and laughing meanly. ‘Girls that age” said Lori, a middle-school math teacher in the Bronx, “are the worst.”

That encounter stayed with me as I started exploring the saga of YA author Kathleen Hale and the Goodreads troll, which Hale described at great, great length in the Guardian. What did the editors think to let her go on for 5000 words? Perhaps they are part of the great catfishing* conspiracy erected to oppress Ms. Hale, because while you begin the essay thinking “poor her,” as Hale unravels you start to smile nervously and look for an exit. It’s far away.

Then I went to a blog that Hale cited as an ally in her fight against the Dark, Stop the GR [Goodreads] Bullies, which I thought would be, I don’t know, some kind of manifesto about maintaining decency in book discussion. Instead I soon felt like Jennifer Connelly discovering Russell Crowe’s crazypants chalkboard diagrams as pages of scans and proofs and links and trolls and catfish whirled about each other with manic glee. Here, as in Hale’s confessional, I saw no victims, just bullies on all sides.

I know it’s unlikely–or NOT, he adds, as the madness infects him–that any of the participants in this circus are twelve-year-old girls, but watching the accusations fly and the drama being whipped up reminded me of those kids at the school, a big helping of attention-seeking with a side of hostility. I’ve avoided Goodreads only because it was too much like work, but it always seemed like such a nice place. Now it looks to me like those spy novels I love, where the apparent placidity of daily life  and ordinary citizens is completely at the mercy of the puppet masters. If you want me, I’m in hiding.

*as Liz Burns points out, that word does not mean what Hale thinks it does.


share save 171 16 I dont THINK anyone is trying to hunt me down

The post I don’t THINK anyone is trying to hunt me down appeared first on The Horn Book.

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9. Content Marketing- 5 Powerful Traffic-Generating Strategies

The greatest way to drive traffic to your website is through content marketing. If you’re not sure what content marketing is, it’s simply a marketing strategy using content to create inbound traffic to you and your website. It’s also the strategy of using effective copywriting techniques to motivate your readers to take a desirable action. Content marketing includes copywriting, SEO writing,

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10. Celebrating Eleven Years

Today marks eleven years of this little old blog. Where has the time gone? It certainly doesn’t seem like I have been at this for eleven years which means it must be fun otherwise I wouldn’t keep at it. So how appropriate was a sort of celebration Bookman and I did yesterday: Bikeworm.

Bikeworm was the first of what I hope will be many, sponsored rides for bookish folk. The Twin Cities Book Festival was yesterday at the State Fairgrounds, the ride, advertised for those who had a hard time deciding between a book or a bike, started at the downtown Minneapolis Central Library. We got a little backpack with a snack, a bike map of the Twin Cities, a bumper sticker that says “Make Your Next Stop the Library,” a bookmark, some discount coupons for booths at the festival, and a raffle ticket to win $500 worth of bike gear. The ride was limited to 100 people and I believe we ended up with 97. At 9:15 we got on our bikes and rode together along the Dinkytown Greenway, a newly completed off road bike only route that took us most of the way to the fairgrounds. It was an easy and pleasant, though chilly, 6.5 mile ride. Bookman and I have never been on a group ride like this before and we had a blast.

We even had two authors riding with us, poet and musician Ben Weaver who, at the conclusion of the ride, read us a wonderful poem he had composed for the occasion about bicycling. The other author was Terry Kerber who has just published Major Taylor. Taylor was a black cyclist and in his day the fastest man on a bike in the US.

Bookman and I locked up our bikes and went in to the festival exhibit area and wandered around to all the tables, browsing books and sometimes chatting with authors or publishers. I suck at this kind of chatting so it was really me looking interested and nodding my head a lot while Bookman did the talking. He is so good at this kind of thing I marvel to watch it. We managed to slink by the Dianetics booth without any of the Scientologists there trying to lure us over with some kind of stress test. The man in front of us wasn’t so lucky. One of the publishers had a book judging poets by the weight of their beards. I flipped through it giggling. There were no bearded female poets in the book, though if there were it would have been even more interesting.

Did I buy any books? Why yes, yes I did. At the Coffee House booth I bought a copy of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

by Eimear McBride. I’ve heard the beginning of the book is particularly perplexing so I opened the pages and read the first paragraph. Yes, perplexing, but in a delightful way. The Coffee House person at the booth, thinking, perhaps, that I would be turned off like so many other people are by experimental writing and difficult books, started trying to sell the book to me and assured me that after the first ten pages or so it would start to make sense. She was a bit surprised when I told her I knew all about it and loved this kind of thing, here’s my credit card.

At the Graywolf Press booth I got sucked into buying two more books, The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter and The Art of Daring: Risk Restlessness, Imagination by Carl Phillips. Baxter’s book discusses subtext in fiction. Phillips, a poet, takes on poetry and “its capacity for making a space for possibility and inquiry.” They are slim books and are targeted at writers which explains why the person at the Loft Writing Center table who saw me buy them tried to get me to sign up for writing classes. The books may be aimed at writers, but I am always of the mind that there are plenty of things readers can get out of them too. Writing and reading are feedback loops in a way. Reading teaches one about writing and writing teaches one about reading. There were a few other tempting books but remembering I came to the festival on a bicycle, I figured three books was enough.

Katha Pollitt was scheduled to speak at 12:30 and I really wanted to stay for that, but my cold is lingering and by 11:30 my energy was beginning to flag. Bookman reminded me we had to ride home, so I gave in and we headed out to our bikes. Our return trip included a woman named Cathy who had signed up for the group ride but had driven in from the burbs and missed the group, riding over alone and not really knowing where she was going. So she asked if she could tag along with us. Of course. She was really nice and grateful for the company. Back at the library we parted ways. Bookman and I rode to the metro train station a block away and hopped on with our bikes, got off at the station closest to our house and rode the rest of the way home. I then collapsed on my reading chaise for the rest of the day, much more tired than I should have been. But it was a fun day. The ride was a success and I suspect it will happen again next year. I hope it does anyway!

Now, to also celebrate eleven years of blogging I thought it might be fun to open up my Donny and Marie diary from 1979 when I was eleven years old. Turns out I didn’t have much to say that year because the only month filled in is January, but oh, what a laugh those 31 days are. Here are some samples with all the misspelling intact.

January 3, 1979
Today we were playing a game Cat’s Eye. I was playing with Alicia and my sister Cindy. Cindy was cheating! I’ve started to write 3 storys but, I still haven’t finished yet!

January 8, 1979
Today Sha came over and Cindy got mad. She told my mom of course. Now my mom said next time I write a story it has to be what a good sister is.

January 10, 1979
Today we went to room 16 only the 5th graders. We had to do mouth to mouth on resea Andy. that was the manican’s name. I did it and it was awful hard to pinch a rubber nose.

January 16, 1979
Today it was cold but it did not rain. I got a letter from Tricia today. I’m going to write her back as soon as I can. We are having chille for dinner. I don’t like chille.

January 17, 1979
Today at school we saw Iland of the blue dolphins. It rained and Cindy and I are playing school we are pretending to be freshmen.

January 27, 1979
We made a hop scotch out on the patio. We walked to the store with mom.

And there is a glimpse into the ever eventful life of me when I was eleven. I have no recollection of the “storys” I refer to nor do I remember not liking “chille” because I like it just fine now. I like to think in the intervening years both my writing and my spelling have improved. Perhaps one of these days I will go back in the archives and check out some of my first blog posts. But then maybe not. It is easier to forgive my eleven year-old self for being silly than it is to be kind myself from eleven years ago.

But now I’m just rambling. Blame the cold medicine.

Thank you all for visiting this little corner of cyberspace. The internet is such a big place and you could be anywhere else but here. I do so appreciate you stopping by. Each one of you are part of what has made this blogging thing so much fun and I am ever so grateful.

Filed under: Blogging, Books

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11. A Checklist to "See" Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books

I was honored to present at the Kidlitosphere's 8th Annual Convention in Sacramento, California, where I shared ten tips for adults interested in messages about race and culture that might go unnoticed "under the waterline" in books for children and young adults. I've offered these in other contexts, but here they are for bloggers and reviewers. As always, I welcome questions, corrections, and clarifications.
  1. Look for overused tropes like an older magical negro or a noble savage.
  2. Notice a smart/good peer of color whose only role is to serve as a foil for a flawed hero. 
  3. Check the cover art for whitewashing or overexoticization.
  4. Pay attention to when and how race is defined, if at all.
  5. Notice if the setting, plot, and characters are in charge of the casting.
  6. Pay attention to how beauty is defined.
  7. Notice outsider “bridge” characters and generic versus specific cultures.
  8. Check for a “single story” that underlines a stereotype about another culture.
  9. See who has the power to make change and who has the power to be changed.
  10. Ask questions about the storyteller’s authenticity, privilege, and power. 

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12. Content Marketing – 7 Powerful Benefits of the WordPress Content Management System

Before the benefits are listed, you may want to know what a content management system (CMS) is. The CMS is what allows you to manage the content on your website. According to Small Business.Yahoo, “It stores all of your documents, images, videos, and any other type of online content in an organized way.” Another feature of the CMS is it allows you to have more than one administrator or editor.

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13. Promo Friday: To Blog Or Not To Blog

I've been blogging for twelve years. As far as I'm concerned, there is no question as to whether or not I'm going to blog. I do have doubts as to whether new writers should start blogging now, though.

When I started, I found six children's literature blogs on-line. Now, between review sites and children's/YA authors, I'm guessing there are thousands. Just look at the litbloggers who have registered with Kidlitosphere Central. And the writer bloggers who have registered with it. Oh, and here are some more bloggers with Kidlitosphere Central. And how many children's lit blogs of all kinds are out there who haven't heard of Kidlitosphere Central? Yet we're all competing with one another for readers.

The number of blogs has escalated. The number of readers, not so much. Many blogs that have been around a while have seen a decrease in activity. Blogging is like publishing. You hear about bloggers with readership that skyrocketed in just a few months. But then there are all the others.

Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, which does "theme-based marketing for children’s authors, illustrators, and publishers,"  is well-known in New England, if not the country. She is definitely a fan of blogging for writers. In her blog post, SCBWI Whisper Pines, she answers questions from participants in last winter's Whispering Pines Retreat. Over and over again, she says things like, "Gosh, my answer is always to blog" and "I hate to sound like a broken record, but I guess if you have very limited time and have to focus on one thing, it would be blogging deeper."

Actually, she's kind of encouraging, making points that a blog post has the potential of reaching more people than a public appearance and is out there waiting for people to find it while an appearance is done and over. I don't know how often that happens, but right this minute I'm kind of pumped up.

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14. Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and what she has learned about herself and her writing.

* * *


It’s amazing that you could go through something so profound health-wise and chart a new path for yourself coming out of it. What’s the response been to your essay?

I’ve been blown away. As life-changing as my stroke was, the response, too, will probably go down in my life history as a turning point.

I had a blog — and I’ve been blogging since before it was called “blogging,” back when it was called “web journaling,” back in the days when Justin Hall was on links.net and when I wrote my posts in HTML. But before I spun up my anonymous blog, I was asked to stop blogging by a few family members. I was putting them at risk, they said, I was not to make myself so public.

Bottom line, I didn’t want to stop blogging, so I started up a blog under a pseudonym. I never told them about the blog. A few months later, I had my stroke.

The blog was one of the first places to which I turned when I had my stroke, before I knew I’d had a stroke. I wrote in my journal, too — but I turned to my blog in the wake of my stroke, which for me was a largely isolating event. I made some great friends. Got support that way. It was my village, for a time.

Also, my blog has always been a place to do some “low-stakes writing” — writing without the intention of publication, writing that is more therapeutic. That said, blogging has always been a venue for me to refine my writing voice — because after all, it is still a public space with readers.

What are the odds that a person could suffer a stroke at 33?

According to the New York Times, about 10 to 15 percent of strokes happen to people under the age of 45. That’s supposed to be about 1 in 1,000. And oftentimes, young people who have had a stroke are misdiagnosed and sent home.

I was the youngest person in the DCU (aka “stroke unit”) in the hospital by about 30 years during my stay. Most doctors were astonished by my age. They certainly didn’t suspect I’d had a stroke until they saw the MRI and its uncontested results. I could see how I could have been sent home and had to shoulder a mysterious ailment. I was lucky in that they figured it out and I got the care I needed to ensure the recovery I eventually had.

Can you talk about some specific posts that led you on a path both during and after your stroke?

Definitely, the post during which readers told me to go to the hospital!

I’m not sure where I found my voice after the stroke, really. I think there were people out in the internet reading — Carolyn Kellogg, who writes for the LA Times, had a blog called Pinky’s Paperhaus at the time, and she linked to me as a writer recovering from stroke. So there was definitely interest in my story and situation.

I really don’t think I found my voice regarding my stroke until years later. I wasn’t able to write about it until my post for Nova Ren Suma, who did a Turning Point series on her blog, to which I contributed with a reference to my stroke.

Not only has blogging my stroke experience refined my voice, it was also life-saving. And anonymity provided sanctuary.

What is your life like now?

It is as normal as I imagine it to be. It’s, honestly, better than my life pre-stroke. I’m following my dreams and choosing very carefully what it is I want to do each day, each month, each year. While in recovery, I had very limited energy, and had to be particular about my priorities; I decided to keep doing that, go forward.

And what about your writing?

Once you go through something like that, when so many of your abilities are taken away, your life is pared down to what it is you really want to get back.

I went through a very dark place at some point in my recovery — and although I don’t look upon that phase with fondness, I did learn what was most important to me, and what it is I most desired out of my life. And my writing became a front-and-center goal. I’d always known writing was important to me, but after the stroke, I knew I would channel everything I had to get back to writing.

Now that I’m writing again, I’ve more a sense of structure with regard to my writing projects; in fact, I’m obsessed with structure, because recovery is so much about stages and regaining structure. Because my brain was injured, I understood how writing happens, in my brain at least — that stories are modular, that I need quiet, that layers come with each retelling.

Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress.com

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15. Content Marketing - 10 Simple Steps and 5 Powerful Benefits to Content Curation

Content curation is the process of using the content of bloggers with authority on your own site. BUT, you don’t simply reprint it with their byline (which not all bloggers allow anyway), you write your own lead-in to the curated content and then link to the source. The 10 step process is easy. 1. You read an interesting and/or helpful article on another blog (preferably a blog with authority

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16. Content Marketing – Add Screenshots to Your Blog Posts to Increase Reader Engagement and Understanding

Visuals convert. And, the purpose of your content marketing efforts is to do just that: Convert attention to interest, visitors to readers, readers to subscribers, subscribers to customers. Think of screenshots as an image on steroids. The screenshot not only provides a visual which is engaging to readers, but it also provides clarity. It’s laser-focused to enhance the reader’s understanding

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17. No, Freelance Writers, You DON’T Need a Blog

blogfaceSay you’re a new freelance writer. (Sound familiar?) You ask someone with more experience whether you should start a blog to help attract clients and let you use blog posts as clips.

Chances are, the other writer will tell you it’s absolutely, totally imperative that you have a blog. I even heard one freelance writer tell a poor newbie, “You only have a website? But that’s so STATIC!”

I’m here to tell you that if you’re asking whether you should start a blog, the answer is No.

And if you’re wondering what topic to start you blog on, the answer is that you shouldn’t.

If you start a blog, it need to be because you already have something you really, really want to say. Something you’re so passionate about that you can’t hold it back. Something that you can envision yourself writing about regularly for the indefinite future.

For example, Diana and I have written over 1,000 posts since 2006! That’s the kind of commitment you need. If you don’t feel inclined to write 1,000 posts on a particular topic, a blog may not be right for you.

Blogs are not an easy clip. If you start a blog, you will need to keep it updated, because nothing looks sadder to prospective clients than a blog that hasn’t been updated in six months.

Also, you’ll need to promote your blog if you want to get comments — so you don’t feel like you’re just writing to yourself all the time. Blogs are meant to be read.

And…what happens when you start getting some real published clips and no longer need the blog? Will you just let it die? Will all that work be for nothing?

It’s way easier to just start pitching clients based on your experience — for example, if you have a foodservice background you would pitch businesses in that industry — or to do a free assignment or two just to get the samples.

And don’t forget that your (static!) website works as a clip. If you have some kick-ass copy on there, prospects will be able to see you can write.

There is the issue that fresh content will push your website up in the search engine results, and blogs are of course perfect for that. But you can get a similar effect by updating your portfolio as you garner new clips.

If you have plans to monetize your blog and a topic you’re passionate about, go for it. And if you want to offer blogging as one of your services, you’ll want to show prospects that you can do that. But if you feel you need to blog just for the clip — there are better, easier ways to do that. Ways that won’t have you on the hook for the rest of your working career.

How about you: Have you wrestled with whether to start a blog? How did it end up? Or did you start a blog for the clips and later felt burdened with it? Let us know in the Comments below!

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18. WordPressers Making a Splash

We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.

Rebecca Hains

princess problemWriter, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

broken light

Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.

Hungry Sofia

cuban table

Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month,  Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.


Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.

Jack the Ripper

Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.

Ever Upward

ever upward

Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.

Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.

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19. Lovely and Inspiring

The kind Sarrah has awarded me a One Lovely Blog Award and the marvelous Litlove has named me a Very Inspiring Blogger. I feel so loved!

Conveniently, both these recognitions come with similar results: I am supposed to say thanks — thanks! — share seven facts about myself, and nominate fifteen other blogs. The more these recognitions go around the more difficult it is to share the love all around, but I will try.

So here are seven things:

  1. How I have answered the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” at various times in my life: ballerina, teacher for the deaf and blind (Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan were my heroes), horse racing jockey, forest ranger, computer scientist, zookeeper, field biologist for National Geographic, actress, large animal/exotic animal veterinarian, high school biology teacher, high school English teacher, professor of literature, independently wealthy, I have no idea, human maybe, librarian, grow up? When will that be exactly?
  2. I am very ticklish, especially my feet. I am so ticklish that when I was a kid all my dad had to do was pretend he was going to tickle me and I would collapse on the floor in a hysterical fit of laughter.
  3. Speaking of feet, I hate shoes. I have a high arch and a wide foot and have a difficult time finding shoes that fit well. I would prefer to go barefoot all of the time. Or wear thick socks if it is cold. I wish my employer would find bedroom slippers acceptable footwear.
  4. I am very likely doomed to never being able to speak a language other than English. I have tried Spanish, German, French, Spanish again, German again, Spanish again. I’ve gotten furthest with Spanish. But even if I should ever make it to close to fluent, I will always have a terrible accent. No matter how hard I try I am always told my accent is terrible. Seems like the only accent I am good at is a Minnesota one.
  5. When I was a pre-teen I used to sometimes wait for my mom to leave me alone at home (parents used to leave their kids home alone and see what sort of trouble they’d get into?) and I would raid her under-the-bed stash of Harlequin romances looking for the “dirty bits,” which in those days weren’t very dirty at all but involved lots of heaving bosoms, passionate kisses, and burly men tossing women over their shoulders. When I read Judy Blume’s YA book Forever, it was more explicit and shocking than my mom’s romances and I never felt the need to raid the Harlequin box again.
  6. I also loved reading fantasy and science fiction and still do. I was more interested in magic and dragons, aliens and space exploration than trying to figure out what was dirty about the dirty bits in my mom’s romances. I mostly wanted to know details so as not to embarrassed by my ignorance at school. It was so much more interesting imagining myself killing orcs and overcoming evil or figuring out the complexities of space travel and trying to communicate with aliens than it was imagining myself being tossed over a burly man’s shoulder for a night of passion on his pirate ship. In fact, if I ever imagined being thrown over a burly man’s shoulder I probably ran him through with my awesome elven sword before he could even lay a hand on me.
  7. After ten years of blogging it is really hard to come up with seven remotely interesting things about myself.

And the fifteen, trying to not duplicate the other lists in no particular order:

  • Bookgirl’s Nightstand. Iliana not only reads a lot but she also makes books and is creatively talented. Also she loves washi tape and gifted me with some extra she had for which I will be forever grateful.
  • Bookpuddle. Cipriano is a Jose Saramago fan which proves he has great taste. He also loves cats, has a fabulous plant named Robert Plant, has a coffee addiction of which I approve and a hamburger addiction which I forgive him for.
  • Magnificent Octopus. Isabella loves smart science fiction and she has added to my TBR list without mercy. She also likes to read NYRBs classics and, I don’t think she knows this, is responsible to getting me hooked on Doctor Who.
  • Marks in the Margin. Richard is always thoughtful and very kind. He likes novels and movies that make him think. He loves Florence, Italy and is a world class surfer who spends his winters in Hawaii.
  • Whispering Gums has been giving me an education in Australian literature for a number of years now, adding books to my TBR list and making me curse US publishing for not printing more books from Australia. She also is a former librarian, travels a lot, and regularly attends live music/dance/drama performances then writes about them so beautifully she makes me think perhaps I should move to Australia someday.
  • Wuthering Expectations. Tom is always thoughtful and interesting, frequently funny, and often challenging. He got me to read Sartor Resartus and Edmund Burke on the sublime. An intrepid reader, he frequently ventures into books no one else would even consider in order to find forgotten and neglected gems.
  • BookerTalk. Booker winners and classics and more. I’m always interested to see what she is reading and learn her thoughts on it. Plus, I get to live vicariously through her when she goes to the Hay Literary Festival.
  • Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses and Prejudices. Funny, always kind, and a fellow lover of poetry, Cirtnecce is always a pleasant stop on my blog visiting rounds.
  • Indextrious Reader. Melwyk is a Canadian librarian who loves reading books of letters and other postal related books even more than I do. She also has an awesome eye for finding dress patterns that match the dress on the book cover. One of these days I am going to succumb and actually sew one of them for myself.
  • Things Mean A Lot. Ana is one smart cookie. She also likes fantasy and scfi. And she never fails to call a spade a spade. I love her perceptiveness and honesty.
  • Time’s Flow Stemmed. Anthony is a thoughtful fellow who loves many of the same authors I do and some I have never heard of, which also makes him a dangerous influence on my TBR pile.
  • Stainless Steel Droppings. Carl is one of the biggest SFF geeks around. He regularly forces me to add books to my TBR pile. Or to my husband’s TBR pile. Plus, he is the ever gracious host of the annual R.I.P. Challenge during which I get my fill of melodramatic gothic literature and creepy but not genuinely scary because it will give me nightmares reading.
  • Pining for the West. An avid reader and just as avid gardener in Scotland, visiting her blog never fails to be enjoyable. Plus she regularly provides lessons on Scottish words so should I ever visit Scotland I just might be able to understand what they are saying.
  • Biblioglobal. She’s trying to read a book from every country in the world and regularly expands my reading horizons. Hers is a project I cannot help but admire.
  • A Garden Carried in the Pocket. Jenclair is an eclectic reader, talented crafter and quilter, and also a gardener. She feels no shame about adding to my TBR list and her works of art never fail to earn my admiration.

If any of the named bloggers choose to play along, I give them the option of choosing their award, the Lovely Blog or Inspiring Blogger, though all of them deserve both!

Filed under: Blogging

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20. KidLitCon Update!

2014KidLitConLogoThe 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference is rapidly approaching. KidLitCon is an annual gathering of children's and young adult book bloggers. It is incredibly fun, educational, and rewarding. This year, KidLitCon will be held in Sacramento, CA, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, on October 10th and 11th. The theme is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next? As one of the organizers of this year's conference, I wanted to give you all a quick update of what's been going on with the KidLitCon planning. 

My friend and KidLitCon14 co-chair (with Sarah Stevenson), Tanita Davis from Finding Wonderland, has an excellent new post up at the Kidlitosphere Central blog: What Do We Mean When We Talk About "Diversity" and How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation? 

Tanita discusses the general buzz around diversity these days, and acknowledges that it can be difficult to even define what we mean by seeking more diversity in books and blogging. There are, after all, many types of diversity. She makes a few suggestions for both diversity-themed and more general session topics that might be submitted for KidLitCon. She concludes:

"We blog, because blogging gives us a voice. We blog about diversity, because we’ve all got different voices. Use yours.Sign up to join a panel or a session or to pitch an idea for this year’s KidLitCon. You can be a part of a game-changing conversation."

So how about it? Do you, in all your uniqueness, have something to contribute to this year's Kidlitosphere Conference? Session proposals will be accepted for one more week, through August 1st. Program Coordinator Charlotte Taylor from Charlotte's Library is standing by for your submissions. If you have an idea but wish to discuss it more informally, you can always email her

We also shared a post recently by this year's Author Coordinators, Melissa Fox from Book Nut and Reshama Deshmukh from Stacking Books, about ways that authors and publishers can get more involved with KidLitCon. Here is their enthusiastic conclusion:

"KidLitCon does have the best of everything: Good books, good conversation and amazing KidLit bloggers under one roof!! We hope you can join us and we look forward to seeing you there!"

Even if you aren't interested in making a presentation, or being actively involved as an author or publisher, you are still more than welcome and encouraged to come to KidLitCon and observe (or participate from the audience). We're expecting librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers. Registration Coordinator Maureen Kearney from Confessions of a BIbliovore is ready to accept your KidLitCon14 registration form at any time. Registration closes September 19th.


I've submitted my registration form, and can't wait for KidLitCon. October. Sacramento, CA. Kindred spirits talking about ways to get books into people's hands. Don't miss it!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.  

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21. Summer Time

The best part of summer is having time. Time for reading, time for vacation, time for kayaking, time for baking, time for redesigning the website. I’ve been doing all of these things. You’ll see the website redesign soon, but I have to say, my family is definitely more appreciative of the baked treats I’ve been […]

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22. 3 Ways to Save Your Backstory from the Cutting Room Floor


Backstory is crucial to the novel writing process. It gives your character substance and drive while adding depth, history and realism to your fiction.  It takes a great deal of hard work to develop your character’s backstory. Unfortunately for the sake of the novel, much of that hard work ends up on the cutting room floor.

That doesn’t mean all that hard work has gone to waste. There are many ways for you to repurpose those backstories into moneymaking and author platform building opportunities.

shannandoah diaz

Shennandoah Diaz is a writer and freelance Branding and Communications expert based out of Austin, Texas. Diaz works with independent publishers, small businesses, experts, and authors to build killer brands and engaging content. Passionate about education, Diaz teaches workshops for the Writer’s League of Texas and other professional organizations that empower writers to take charge of their brand and their writing career. Learn more by visiting shennandoahdiaz.com or follow her on Twitter (@shennandoahdiaz). 

1. Short Stories for Submission

Often our character backstory is centered on a core event that changes the character’s life in a big way. That dramatic event is a great point of focus for a short story. Short stories can range from flash fiction as short as six words to works as long as 5,00020,000 words. There are dozens of contests and outlets, both paying and non-paying, that publish short stories on a continual basis. Some outlets that post these opportunities include Duotrope, local writing groups, area universities, and of course there are several competitions throughout the year hosted by Writer’s Digest. Duotrope also allows you to create an account to track submissions so you know what you sent, where, and when.

Each published piece is more than just a feather in your cap. It helps you prove your characters’ appeal and story premise in a paying market, demonstrates that you are a writer who can deliver, and helps you start getting paid for the work you’re already doing.


2. Website Freebies

It is crucial for an author to invest in building his or her platform on an ongoing basis. Digital media requires regular content to attract attention and followers. Backstories packaged as short stories, blog posts and vignettes make great content for author websites and fans. You can wait until after you’ve tried publishing through a paying outlet, or go ahead and offer it as a free download on your website as a way to attract readers and thank your existing fans.

Just remember to edit carefully, and if possible, get a second pair of eyes on your work before you post it for the world to see. There are many freelance editors available who can provide a professional critique of your work for a nominal fee. The expense is worth it when it comes to your website and author platform development. You want to make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward, and don’t want to get caught posting a story that doesn’t flow or that contains improper grammar.

The nonfiction research you did for your story is also great to share. The nonfiction or “truth” side to every story is a major contributor to creating interest for your book. Did you research vintage balloons for your story? Write a blog post about it. Did you visit an old ghost town for the setting of your novel? Share the pictures you took.  Maps, historical information, how-tos, diagrams and other informative pieces bring life and context to your work. Most of all, they draw in readers. Share your research as blog posts, downloads, and images. You’ll be surprised how many people you reach that might not have connected with you otherwise.


3. Multimedia

Stories are told through many media, not just the written word. Video, music, photography, and other art forms are also great ways to convey and share your character’s backstory. Pair up with a local aspiring film director to turn your backstory into a screenplay for a short filmt, or take a cue from Scott Sigler and post the screenplay as a competition for your followers. You can even take it a step further and use your backstories for a series of podcasts to drum up interest in your work.

If you have a pile of nonfiction research on a historic place, profession, or some other aspect of your story, you can turn those into interesting how-to videos and informative podcasts. Many fiction authors have become subject matter experts on things like espionage and dead presidents by employing practices such as these. There are several inexpensive tools available.

Camtasia is great for doing professional looking videos that capture images and presentations on your computer screen. The interface is very simple and easy to use, and there are dozens of tutorials available to get you started. Animoto is great for making mini-videos using photos and stock clips, and requires little to no technical expertise. Their existing storehouse of images and music make it easy to create and share book trailers and mini informative videos in a matter of minutes.

Podcasts have become increasingly popular due to iTunes and online media such as BlogTalk Radio. There are several Podcast tools that let you record right from your computer. You can offer podcasts directly on your website or use mass distributors like iTunes and BlogTalk Radio to reach a wider audience based on topics of interests.


Really there are no limits as to how you can repackage your stories and research. You already did the work. Now it’s time to make it work for you.

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23. Content Marketing – 5 Must Read Articles and Resources

 Every day, I read such informative articles on content marketing - articles that help me in my marketing, and articles that offer great resources for blogging, writing, email marketing, social media marketing, and more. ~~~~~ Today, I have 5 content marketing reads that are sure to help you move forward. 101 Writing Resources That Will Take You From Stuck to Unstoppable 14 Must-Have Free

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24. Blogging and Conversion – How to Get More Juice out of Your Efforts

I’m always reading marketing blogs and one of my favorites is HubSpot.com. In a recent post on ‘squeezing more conversions out of our blog,’ the author offered some interesting tips on doing this – four tips actually. 4 Blog Conversion Tips 1. Get a “subscriber banner” up on your website. I really like this idea because it’s immediately visible, front and center when someone lands on your

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25. Guest Post by MG Author Gita V. Reddy: Does Social Networking Help Sales?

“You have to,” my friend told me, when I explained that I found all the networking difficult. “You have to put yourself out there, and connect with your readers.”

“Won’t an advertisement about my book do?”

“No. People want to know about you, and what makes you tick.”

“Who are these people who want to know about me even before knowing about my existence? I am practically unknown.”

“That’s your fault.  The least you could have done was to have your own blog.”

“What will I blog about?”
“Anything. There are any number of things you can write about. You could start with your secret recipe of prawn curry.”

I knew this was my friend’s way of getting at the recipe which was guarded by my family like a state secret.

“I write for children, for middle graders. How will a food blog sell books?”

“Mommies are fond of food blogs and mommies decide what their children should read.”

What my friend said seemed logical but I was not keen on blogging, it would eat into my writing time, and I wanted to make up for the twenty-six years when I had not been able to write because of my day job.

“Join a book forum,” my friend suggested. “You love books, and you love discussing about them.”

“But I can’t discuss my own books!”

“They usually have a folder for self-promotion.”

Three months later I told my friend, “It isn’t working. I have posted in more than ten groups but haven’t made a sale.”

“Just posted? You should take part in the discussions, contribute, and network. No group likes people who only peep in to wave a poster.”

I grumbled, “No group wants authors. Just look at the names of the folders! Shameless Self- Promotion! Pimp your Stuff! They should welcome us because the relationship between a writer and a reader is symbiotic.”

“You are a struggling writer, not a writer. You are like a salesman with a new product so you should hawk your wares. You should be on facebook, twitter, Google+, etc.”

Convinced, I started posting and tweeting about my books, myself, and my cat. My friend had a huge following and he helped me build one too.  My posts spread like ripples.

A month later, when I was going through the latest tweets, my friend dropped in. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking to see which ones to retweet.”

“Are you reading them? You don’t have to. Just retweet and spread the word.”

“Don’t you read the tweets?”

“A few. I just retweet most of them. That is what everyone does.”

If what my friend said was true, most of the social networking I had done had ended up as statistics. The number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ were just numbers. But my sales had shown some improvement, I’d made some new friends and had had some good laughs.  And the pundits swear by it.

My book, Cinderella’s Escape, is free on all Amazon stores on 5th, 6th, and 7th September, 2014. Please share, re-tweet this post.

Author Pages:

Please connect with me through my website, facebook page, and twitter (@GITAVREDDY)

Gita V. Reddy is a writer of fiction for children and adults. She enjoys thinking up tales of different genres. She has written mysteries, adventure, science fiction and even an animal tale for childrens.
Ms Reddy was born in India, is a post graduate in Mathematics, is married to a physics professor, has a son doing research in neuro-electronics and loves literature!

Her other interests are painting and writing poetry.

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