Top Blog Posts From 2015

I love getting the yearly report from WordPress.com about my website traffic, top posts, and yearly insights. The most interesting part to me is the top five blog posts. The reason? Its a thread informing me what people coming to this little corner on the web are interested in.

Here are the top five posts in order. Some of these may be familiar to you, one may not be. It’s from 2012 and is still one of my top posts year after year.

Firework

1. Why You Should Keep Writing Despite A Full House (2015) – This post was about the birth of my fourth child and why it’s important for kids to see their parents pursuing their passions. (Click HERE to read it)

2. Are You A Writer Or Interested In Writing? Come to Jot (2015)- Jot is the free writers conference my writing group The Weaklings hosts around West Michigan. If you live in Michigan or even northern Indiana, check out this post. (Click HERE to read it)

3. Worldbuilding 101- Let’s Build a World Together (2015) – This is part of my workshop on building nominal worlds. I’ve taught it at two separate writers conferences. It’s strange to type that but I love that I’ve had that opportunity. (Click HERE to read it)

4. Use Dialogue to Advance Your Plot (2012) – This post is from 2012 and is still one of my top blogs. I plan to clean it up a bit and make it stronger to add more value to those to keep coming back to it. As it is from 2012, it’s not a very strong post but I wanted to leave it unedited for now so you may see how this site has changed over the years. (Click HERE to read it)

5.  What Do Your Kids See When You Write? (2015) – I am glad this one made it because this was my favorite post from the year. I write that not because it was wonderfully crafted, but because I lived this post. Read it again. You’ll see why. (Click HERE to read it)

Thanks for making 2015 a great year for Part-Time Novel. Stop by Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for more posts.

Join my email list at the top right of this blog to stay connected.

Live well this year my friends.

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The Best Thing Any Writer Can Do Is Be Generous

For the past few days I’ve been home with my kids. It’s been delightful. I took a few days off to be with my newborn daughter. I’ve been paid by my employer to play with my kids, read to them, wrestle, go on hikes, fight dinosaurs, dress princesses and even pull my kids around in the brief dusting of snow we have.

Praire Snow

This break from work also provided me a chance to have lunch with Chad Allen, Editorial Director at Baker Books  and blogger. He has a great site, Check it out here. During our conversation I realized I have a lot to learn about the world of blogging but also something I didn’t expect. He told me to focus not on my content, or certain tools, but on serving.

Many of the writers I follow online either write fiction or have their own online business. The ones I am drawn to the most are those who live generously. They don’t flaunt it but some have built schools in Vietnam or Kenya with their audiences. One is currently promoting buying candles for women who were victims of human trafficking.

This resonates with me deeply. Creating a platform for me to stand on and boast about my books has always felt a little funny. I am proud of my work and I want to sell books someday, but I have no intention of building an empire of ME.

I have big plans in 2016. Plans to launch a new website and a podcast. I also have plans for releasing one to two e-books. You’ll also have an opportunity to join me to support a great cause. More on that in future posts.

Please subscribe to my blog via email (top right corner of site). It’s the best way to get content as not all of it makes it to my various channels of social media. I’ll never share or sell it.

-Bob

Top Five Podcasts For The Writer And Entrepreneur

As a writer, I’m drained daily and I’m always on the look out for a fresh angle and new content to inspire me. Lately, this inspiration has come from podcasts.

Writing time is precious and I find I either have time to read or time to write each day, never both. This means I have to expose myself to new ideas in the cracks of life.

I listen to podcasts as I mow the lawn, drive to work, and quickly eat my lunch at work. It’s a time to be presented with new ideas so I don’t stagnate and keep rising.

Here are the top five podcasts I enjoy. They are mostly nonfiction and focused on writing as a sustainable business but also on the creative process. This can be a strange balance as an artist.

One – The Accidental Creative Podcast. This is about creativity, innovation, and doing brilliant work per the description. It’s updated about once a week.

Two – This Is Your Life With Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt is the former president and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. If you are looking to become a professional blogger you need to follow this guy. Updated about once or twice a week.

Three – The Portfolio Life With Jeff Goins. This is similar to Michael Hyatt’s and is non-fiction. I live in fictional worlds (of my books) and hearing how Jeff went from blogger to professional is inspiriting. Updated about once a week.

Four – Simple Life Habits with Jonathan Milligan. Jonathan is the founder if Blogging Your Passion. I’ve interacted with him on Twitter and he’s a super nice guy. He’s in the Jeff Goins breed where he went from a day job to professional writer/speaker through blogging.

Five – 10x Talk With Joe Polish And Dan Sullivan. I listen to this because it is challenging. It’s business related and that “b” word can be dirty for writers.

But for me, if I ever launch an e-book  or traditionally publish I want to have ideas for getting my work into the marketplace. I think that is the biggest difficulty we writers face upon publication. This is a podcast about growing your business 10xs from savvy entrepreneurs. Updated once a weekish.

If you listen to them, share what you think. If you enjoy a podcast that is not on the list, please post it in the comments section below.

Want more of Part-Time Novel? Follow me on Twitter @parttimenovel 

Part-Time Novel Turns 4!

I missed it. My blogiversary raced passed with little notice. The good news is I’m still blogging.

Through the last four years I’ve experienced the highest internal highs followed by the lowest internal lows. I knew I was going to have a writing career and I knew I was just not cut out for this life.

Photo Credit: Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors via Compfight cc

I’ve also stopped blogging and started again. I’ve help create a writers conference attended by hundreds of people, had coffee with agents, been rejected, and then asked by that very agent to speak at another conference. If you choose to pursue writing, it can be a wild ride.

Reflection gives you perspective and if there is anything I’ve learned it’s two fold. One, that writing, no matter how solitary, requires community. You’ll go crazy and give up without it. So seek out other writers. The other? Patience. It can be a slow life filled with blitzes and surprise requests. That’s the fun part.

So if you are about to give up don’t. Seek council or a trusted friend. Do what you can do today – 50 words, 100 words, and know that the weight of what we do is not contained to one day’s successes or failures. It’s a larger narrative built over years of hard work, discipline, and good friendships.

Here is an excerpt of what my blog was supposed to be about. I’m glad that this still rings true today.

The intention of this blog is to share what I have learned with those who work full time, have children, are otherwise engaged, but still have the wild dream of publishing a novel someday

Write well today and a sincere thanks to you for your encouragement over the years.

It’s meant more than you know.

Why You Should Tidy Up Your Blog Occasionally

I recently read a post by Chad Allen that changed my perspective of blogging. He’s an editorial director at Baker Publishing Group and a two time presenter at Jot. He said the first thing he does when he gets a manuscript is he Googles the author’s name.

You are building your blog for your books, right? What if an editor pulls up your website and sees nothing updated in a month and a picture from six years ago? Or worse, finds nothing?

Creating content so you look engaged does sound a bit sleazy but as pointed out in the article (which I recommend you read straight away) a book is about the art but it’s also a business partnership and it’s the editors job to ensure a sound investment.

Your blog is an extension of you and your writing. It tells them if you have an engaged audience and that you are committed to the craft.

So when you blog, keep your virtual lawn clean. Post the strongest content you can as regularly as you can and know that if you send in a manuscript, someone important may be popping by, even if it’s only for thirty seconds. Leave the best impression possible.

Can’t Find The Time To Blog? Create A Blog Checklist

Time. There is never enough of it. As sobering as that is to consider, you and I still have the same amount as Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, Homer, etc., an elusive twenty-four hour block.

And if we want to publisher to consider our work, we need to have a platform AND still have time for our books.

Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc

I sacrificed my blog this summer to work on my book because I could not find the time. But after revamping my writing goals, I committed to my platform once again. To do this, I created a game plan and tried to write faster by using a blog checklist.

What is a blog checklist? It’s the essential ingredients to most of my blogs.

  1. Strong opening paragraph, just above the posts image. This may sound prideful but it’s the cornerstone for the rest of the post. This is the hook, the question, or the issue.
  2. Solid image. Not something cheesy or overused or confusing. Just a good photo (I use free images from compfight with proper accreditation) pertaining to this post.
  3. Write in 2-4 sentence paragraphs. Keeps it clean, tight, and readable.
  4. Include personal or relative story. I’m a story teller, so it’s only natural I tell something about myself, family, or closely related story.
  5. Include Interlinks, I try to include at least one, this will help readers connect your ideas and get more familiar with your content.
  6. Closing statement, challenge, or call to action.

I put together this post in about forty minutes. A year ago it would have taken about an hour. This comes with practice and making sure you have a system, however, no system fits all.

If you have tips or tricks to write faster content please share below. I hope you find this posts helpful and encouraging. That, I hope, is always my intent.

How do you win the blog versus book battle?

Should You Throw In The Towel Or Try Harder?

Earlier this year I decided my blog wasn’t working. I didn’t like the look of it. I didn’t like the plug ins, my photo, the header, or even the font. It was supposed to be an outlet to help and connect with other struggling writers.

But it was terrible. I was done.

I knew that I wasn’t a blogger.

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Then I had a realization that cut me deeply. It wasn’t that my blog wasn’t working but that I was giving it as much thought and attention as I give my hair each morning. This was not the time to throw in the towel, it was time to go to blogging school and get back to work, if I so desired.

Back in March I stopped blogging and wrote on my new novel. When I needed a break I’d read books about blogging. I watched videos of the bloggers I admired and examined their websites. I looked to the pros and tried to take what they did each week and each month into consideration.

After much deliberation I knew it was time to pick a date. I was tired of not investing in my platform and the bloggers I enjoy connecting with. I set a date of August, and started on a rebuild.

The important thing I learned from this is that a casual attempt at anything will get the result it deserves. And even if I never get to where I want to be with a project, I want to be satisfied with my effort before I close the book.

Are you unsatisfied with the results you are getting with your blog, book, or career? If so, is it time to close the book and be satisfied with your efforts, or have you not really tried at all and it’s time to dig deeper?

Its Time To Tell Your Self Critique Voice To Shut It

I can be crazy. In fact, I’ll prove it.

On a trip to Florida a few years back, my wife and I stayed in a condo with my parents, grandmothers, and brother. We were surprising my other brother for his birthday and had flown down from Michigan.

When I sleep there cannot be any rhythmic noises or my mind will catch the beat and I’ll subsequently stay awake.

Thus when some crazy animal started mewing or barking (it sounded like both) at three in the morning it was annoying. By three fifteen I was growing angry and by three thirty I was marching across the parking lot, rock in hand to put an end to the creature. I tossed rocks into a forest until the bird/animal/little devil flew off to annoy someone else.

Yeah, that crazy. But I slept like a babe from four until seven.

As in the example above, we also carry these bird squawks or something similar in our minds. They are deadly to our creativity, living in the vary place our art comes from. And they offer a constant nagging of how unrealistic our dreams are.

Ever try to write or start to write a business plan and begin to get defeated right away? How many times even before we begin we start to think of why we shouldn’t attempt to try ___ in the first place – money, time, family obligations, work, and anything else march across our mind like a mariachi band.

There is something to learn from my manic story above. The next time your inner voice starts to sound the alarm, grab some rocks, snip the chord, pull out the batteries, and stuff proverbial cotton balls in your ears. Tell your inner critique to shut their mouth.

It might be impossible right now to be a New York Times Bestseller. But if we stop ourselves before we begin we may never know where the journey may take us.

10 Ways To Get Your Blog Back On Track

Blogging can be exciting in the beginning. Then, out of nowhere, we hit a plateau. It’s at this point we can make a decision to either give up or dig in.

Below I list ten ways to get your blog back on track. If you are struggling, try a few of these methods. They also work if you are just starting out.

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Photo Credit: Cappellmeister via Compfight cc

Know who you are. If you are a fantasy writer, don’t write about pollution. If you are not a professional don’t write posts about how to make it. You are constructing your own platform and if you are not true to who you are or what you write it’ll be hard to find someone that will listen.

Know your audience. Speak to your audience’s condition. If you are speaking to the sci-fi fantasy crowd or talking about the joys and perils of retirement, know what is relevant and helpful to that demographic.

Follow the leader. There’s bound to be a blogger who is further along than you. They may even have blazed the trail to exactly where you want to go. Watch them closely. Learn what they do best.

Be consistentpost time, topic, etc. If you are writing a literary blog, don’t talk about Fifty Shades of Grey. If you are writing about gardening, don’t weigh in on the latest about Kim Kardashian. Unless she is gardening and maybe not even then. Consistency is key. If you post consistently your audience will begin to anticipate when fresh content is available and they will be waiting.

Be mindful of details. Recently most fonts were opened on the theme I use. Don’t think that’s such a big deal? I recently read that some fonts are considered prudish and untrustworthy. Yes. Fonts. So, do your research and understand that even the mundane tweak can mean a lot.

Write ahead. If you have a busy life where time can be sucked into a black hole in a moment’s notice, this is key. Look for spots to fit writing in and if you are writing ahead you will be prepared for whatever life event may suddenly arise.

Commit to the relaunch mental battle. Commitment can require us to cast off what is natural. Sleep, time with friend, work, etc. If you are doing a re-launch be sure your mind is ready for the fight. Know that trials will happen and nothing worth doing is easy.

Set personal goals you can reach but are a bit of a stretch.  This will vary from person to person depending on the season of life. You may post once a week, every day, or twice a month.

Set launch a date. Set a hard deadline for the relaunch of your blog. Build it to look professional, write ahead, and then bam, go live. You can tweek the minor things later.

Connect social media widgets and let your friends know! This is key. Find people who can support you. No writer can keep going in a vacuum. We need people. Your friends and family are most likely going to champion your work.

Blogger, get a clear vision, look for ways to improve and then jump. Even if it feels uncomfortable.

The #1 Trick to Keep up with Your Blog

There is a poster than hangs in the bathroom at my in-laws house. It’s a comic of a man on the toilet. He looks dejected and stares longingly at the toilet paper dispenser. There is nothing left but a piece of circular cardboard. Written above him is the simple phrase – Plan Ahead.

Poor soul.

Though I struggle to keep the balance between my writing projects and my blog, I know that the surest way for me to keep blogging is to plan write ahead. The posts for this week were written nearly two weeks ago. I have the pressure to write to keep pace, but not the panic of a last minute cobbled-together post.

Need another reason to write ahead? Because life happens. You want to be consistent for your audience and at some point you will have a family crisis, a work crisis, or computer meltdown.

Until recently, I kept thinking – okay, my words for my book are in, now to a blog post for tomorrow. Many times this thought came at midnight after a long day which made me dread my blog and thus, no blog the next day.

Keep blogging (ahead) and connecting. It’s what keeps us writer’s sane.

Cheers,

Bob