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.


My Writing Update

My blogs are always posted before 8AM. Today I’m unusually late for the best of reasons. I was too busy recovering from the Jot Writers Conference that I helped put on and presented at that I had to hold off until tonight.

Here is the list of my blogs this week. I hope you found some encouragement, inspiration, and a little of yourself in them.

Writing Update

Monday’s post was all about organization. As we move ahead with our blogs and websites we can forget who may be watching. This post is a response to one written by Chad Allen over at He’s an editorial director at Baker Publishing Group. If you ever want to be published some day, read THIS!

On Tuesday’s post, I wrote about how small, seemingly inconsequential details can create a huge impact both positive and negative. What details are you missing in your writing life?

We all get to the point where we feel cannot go on with a project. I’ve been there and back a hundred times. Check out Wednesday’s blog that asks the question, Are you a Chronic Starter or a Steady Finisher?

Thursday, I celebrated my blog’s belated birthday. Happy four years Part-Time Novel!

On Friday I wrote about suspending disbelief and writing regardless of what others may think or say. Please check it out. I’m a bit bashful to write this, but I consider it the best post I’ve written in some time.

Saturday, it was all about the Jot Writers Conference. Check out the post wrapping up the week.

Come back tomorrow.

I have some great content and stories to share about the Jot Writers Conference.

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.

Creating Boundaries For Our Blogs

I’m a novelist, but I’m attempting to reboot my blog. Because of this I occasionally skip my daily word count for my book to ensure I have a post. This has become my writing regiment – blog and then book.

But then I second guess myself. Should I build a platform for my book or write a book for my platform? This is the modern writers version of the cart before the horse.

It depends what you are trying to do. Are you trying to be a blogger or a novelist or both? If a writer, then make that the priority and create boundaries for your blog. If a blogger, focus on that and ditch the book.

Photo Credit: Arenamontanus via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Arenamontanus via Compfight cc

This question surfaced in my mind after I listened to a Simple Life Habits Podcast by Jonathan Milligan.

My desire is to be a published novelist. Mr. Milligan, in his simple brilliance, says to do the creative stuff first if this is the case. Work on your dream, book, piece of art, first. Then do the other things that surround it. Why? Because it builds momentum yes, but because this is why you are blogging in the first place. This is where joy comes from.

If you want to be a writer of books be wise with the limited time you have. Write what you desire to write, not what others say to write or what you feel obligated to write.

Work on the project you love, then sprinkle in the rest.

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?

Do You Blog For Stats Or Do You Blog With A Message?

I love stats. At work we use which has a billion stat tools. It’s a great measurement software, but it can also cause me to move to a place where my day to day does not matter, only getting to the top of the pile does and that’s not how I work best.

This can be true for our blogs too. We have a message, something we know people will benefit from hearing, and we instead get obsessed with the stats page and refresh button. Is this you too?

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

When I decided to relaunch my blog again, I had a lot of goals. Big out-there goals. But one drove them all. I wanted to grow my platform.

When I sit back and think about that I feel gross. Don’t you? My desire can shift away from an attempt to change lives, grow my writing career, or to be a part of something bigger than myself to a dirty place where I want a quick hit of traffic.

If you are a blogger my guess is that you’ve been side tracked by this too. You want your platform to grow because that is an important piece of the publication puzzle. No problem, I understand. But what about the content you provide? I wonder what the blogosphere would look like if writers put content out there that matter to them or served others rather than themselves?

I apologize if that’s been me. I don’t want to be the quick hit guy who lives on some strange dimly lit corner of the web looking for that bag of 100 followers. I want it to be more valuable to you. I came here to share the joy of words, the thrill of writing a new piece of fiction, and to encourage you to move forward in that direction.

From here on out you get this promise from me, in blood if I could do that on this post. Er, maybe too creepy? But here we go.

I pledge to provide helpful and encouraging content. Not be yet another inauthentic traffic grabbing blogger. I’ll do my best to share what I know for your benefit, not my own.

So here’s to great content that challenges ideas and changes small things, like the world.

Do you find yourself writing for traffic? Or do you provide content that helps?

How To Always Have Something To Write About

Do you have that writer friend that is an amazing blogger, short story writer, or novelist? Yeah, I’ve disowned that person too.

I am in awe of the constant do-er, the everdayer, the consummate professional who always seems to have something to write about.

I struggled with this for a while as I reviewed my plan for my blog re-launch. How will I be able to sustain a pace and not give up like the pros?

Photo Credit: kpkelly53 via Compfight cc

A few months ago, I started seeking out the top echelon of successful bloggers and platform builders. I found a lot of people I admire. You know what else I found out? They all knew each other.

Part of this should not have been a surprise. Once you reach a certain level of anything you want to be with people who have done the same thing. If you play a sport for two decades and want to grow, you can’t do so playing with a first timer. You have to compete with those at your level.

But this was not the main take away from this search. The real point was that they were all conversing about similar topics. And they talked amongst each other on one another’s blog or podcast or Vlog. They endorse each other’s books and attend each other’s book launch.

This gave me a huge nugget of insight. Conversation. This is what blogging, or any art, is about. Interaction, digging deeper into subjects, and then coming away with a response is all part of being an artist. Suddenly I found myself furiously writing down responses or ideas that sprung to mind when I interacted with them.

This is the key to blogging. You want to be a novelist? Read books about authors, by your favorite authors, and write about them. Your answer could be what you’ve learned, things you’d do differently, or ideas for books you may have. Stuff your head full of this material.

Art is not expression in a vacuum. It’s reciprocal.

So get in the conversation. Part of it is listening well. The other part is responding. If you do this, you’ll never run out of things to say.

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.



Don’t Hate Your Blog

There are times I love to post because it means I get to interact with other writers. I also get to contribute to the wide world of writing immediately. But that might be one of the reasons a blog and a novel don’t get along all that well. They fight for time and one is instant gratification. Which one wins?

I was hot and cold with my blog over the last year, like a teenage relationship.

Blog Bubble“You’re pretty cool, let’s be friends.”

Next day

“You’re gross, I hate you.”

Next day

“Want to get hang out?”

And so on.

Seriously, it was exhausting. I’d write on here for a week straight and celebrate the comments and the stats! Yeah! But then I’d come to the realization that I had not worked on my novel in a week and I’d immediately be crushed. I would stop blogging and shift gears and loose readership along the way.

So how can we end this cycle?

If you are a beginning blogger take this advice, find some rhythm. Find something that works with your novel and your schedule.  Post once a week or twice a week on the same days each week. If your writing time is limited and you are a fiction writer focus on your book during your writing time. You need something to share from that platform once created.

There are many advantages for creating a blog from which you can one day rule the world. It can foster relationships, lead to a book contract and, most importantly, help your mind work on small writing deadlines. But it can also be a distraction from your writing aspirations, so tread lightly!

Write 1000 words on your book this weekend! Seriously, don’t doubt. Do it!







Blogging 101: Maintaining Readership

Unlike writing, blogging can be a science. If you follow certain rules and maintain a certain rhythm of posting, the blogger can be successful. However, once you are established in the blogosphere, and your friends no longer check your FaceBook page to see if you have posted anything new, the beginning blogger might lose some steam. I know I did.

So, how do you maintain this platform? How do you maintain and acquire new readership? (Obviously this post is for novice bloggers. However, it is always good for the veteran to brush up on the basics). Here are three reason your readers might be running.

The Trithemis Aurora is a ...zzzzzz
The Trithemis Aurora is a …zzzzzz

1. You Don’t Keep to Your Theme– This is the simplest reason bloggers lose traffic. If you are a blogger, writing about say, hockey, be sure to include it in each post. You can share a little anecdotal back story of how you sharpened your skates on the pond behind your parents’ house when you were three. However, if you inked a heart-wrenching story about a certain species of dragonfly and how they were going extinct, it might sound a bit off like a stray note at a concert. Your hockey readers might flee for something a bit more on topic.

2. You Don’t Post Rhythmically– What does this mean? This means that no matter how often you blog, be sure to have fresh content at the same time. I see writers who update their blogs monthly, daily, or every second Tuesday of the month. However you do it, find a schedule — and stick to it. You can stray a bit from time to time, but 99% of the time, do what your readers expect so they know when to visit your blog for new content.

3. You Stop Interacting – The most successful blogs create little communities. The readers know what to expect (theme), they know when you are going to post (rhythm). They want to know about your topic, but they want to share their bit too. And it could be an invaluable bit. A new book, a unique way to sew a pair of trousers, whatever. You might learn something from them, and that is the point isn’t it? Learning, growing, making your blog a tight little band of misfits who all enjoy, or are all striving toward, the same thing.

These are three simple things. Do you know of other tips that would help a blogger gain or maintain readership? Please share below! If you have posted something similar on your blog, please feel free to include the link below in the comments section.