12-10 - Bonnie Paulson - "The Power of Newsletters"

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Power of Newsletters by Bonnie Paulson

First off – most important – is a huge thank you to Judith and Sarah for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to be here in their “home”. Let’s jump right in!

You want to talk to your readers but you’re not sure what to say? Or how often? Or. Or. Or.?

Newsletters are a lot of things, but the last thing we should think of them as are ads. They shouldn’t be used like a circular going out in the mail.

Instead they should be thought of as a link to your readers. You need that connection to stay on their radar.

But… I can hear you thinking, I need to make sales. What’s the point of a newsletter, if I’m not selling things? I get it. I really do. But you’re being welcomed into their inbox. The least you can do is not put your dirty shoes on their table.

In an email you should have three things to be memorable –

1.      Something personal – like a fun fact or something you’ve been doing in your life, this gives them the engagement they’re looking for and gets them more involved with you as an author and a friend.

2.      A snippet of what you’re working on (this shows them you’re producing more and gets them excited for your work).

3.      A plan – something that you want them to do – take a survey, click on a book, here’s a freebie, something. Even if you only invite them to your Facebook page or to reply with what the weather is like – engage with the reader.

Notice I didn’t say sell anything to them. That’s like showing up at your mother’s with your vacuum to sell – it isn’t great all the time.

Sure, it’s good to show them what you’re doing or what you have available, but you don’t want to run around their inbox screaming “buy this, buy this, buy this!”

Here’s a challenge for you! Draft your next newsletter and send it to yourself. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? Send it to your critique partner and ask the same thing. Heck, send it to me! I’ll tell you what works and what isn’t working for me as a recipient.

If you’re just not sure what to talk about, look to your brand. ALWAYS look to your brand. If your brand promises thrilling reads with death, please don’t put a book recommendation in your newsletter for a sweet romance. That will get you more unsubscribes than you’ll know what to do with.

Stick to your brand and you’ll do great.

Bonnie R. Paulson writes under multiple pen names and runs FindingYourIndie.com

She’s determined to help everyone empower the piece of them that needs to be set free on the indie world. 

Check out her multiple courses on Building a Ninja Newsletter, Media Kit, Brand Building, and More!!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Silent Night & a Cheese Ball

By Diana McCollum

Oh, how I love the Holidays! Starting off with Thanksgiving, and this year 21 people for dinner, and ending with the magical Christmas holiday.

For the past five years I’ve made the “Pinecone Cheese Ball” for an appetizer at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. The first year my 12 year old grandson wanted to know if it was a football cheese ball. The shape had not hardened up or kept its shape as planned.

It may not always look pretty, but it is always a big hit. The Pinecone Cheese Ball is the one thing that doesn’t last. Oh there might be a tiny bit left, and does it make it to the next day? Never!
I thought I’d share this wonderful recipe with all of you.

Pinecone Cheese Ball

2 pkgs (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg (3 ½ to 4 ounces) soft chevre (goat) cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Beat all ingredients in medium bowl with electric mixer on med/low speed until smooth. 
  2. Shape mixture into upright shape like a pine cone, pointed on top, fat on the bottom waxed paper or plastic wrap 
  3. Press sliced almonds into cheese ball, sticking the almonds up at top and angled on the rest just like a pine cone. 
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (2 hours but no longer than two days) 
  5. Garnish with sprigs of rosemary around plate and grind up rye crisp crackers to sprinkle on almonds. Serve with your choice of crackers. 
This is a great appetizer to make a day or two in advance.

Another thing I enjoy about the season besides all the company, food and cheer, is to sit quietly with a cup of hot chocolate and the fireplace going and the tree lights on, and just ENJOY!

A Silent night and Christmas meditation! It’s wonderful!

Do you have a special tradition for relaxing at the holidays?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What's New In Publishing, and What Isn't

There’s always something new in publishing. New digital presses are still forming, newer formats like audio and apps are trending, and the big publishers are always creating new imprints or touting this month’s hot genres. With the use of smartphones skyrocketing, more people are reading on their phones while waiting in lines, etc., so reading in quick bites is more popular. I am guessing short stories, novellas, and episodic novels will have bigger sales in the near future.  

While those are all interesting to follow, and sometimes fun to predict what will be the next big thing, I find it comforting to reflect on the constants.

No matter what form it takes, all readers really want is a good story. Whether your favorite genre is historical romance or sci-fi or paranormal mystery, you won’t read or listen to it for long unless the universal elements are there. 

We all crave: 

  • characters we can relate to or root for 
  • in extraordinary situations 
  • doing the things we might dream of or shudder to contemplate. 

If the character is boring or the plot is dull, no shiny, new delivery system or sub-genre will make a difference. If the writing is up to snuff, then we readers can sit back and enjoy the story knowing we are in good hands. 

In this holiday season, I wish you wonderful books in whatever format you enjoy the most. All the best in 2017, too! :-)

Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in the Alaska Gold Rush, a great time for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Makeover – Literary Style

By Robin Weaver

All of us watch those shows (even if we don’t always ‘fess up).  You know the ones I mean.  A frumpy stay-at-home mom and a Goth-looking college student walk onto the set. An overly bubbly announcer introduces some wonderful product and an amazing makeup artist. Then, voila.  A curling  iron and a bottle of hair gel later, Frumpy and Dumpy are now the hot momma who could play Mrs. Robinson and the fraternity girl most likely to get an STD.

I am, of course, talking about the infamous makeover. I can’t tamp down my skepticism enough to believe Frumpy and Dumpy really looked that bad prior to the makeover.  Surely the show’s producers intentionally frizzed their hair for those hideous “before” images.  Maybe they even put gray paste on the To-Be-Made-Overs’ faces.  And I’m certain some production assistant scours thrift stores in search of the worst clothing possible.  When the assistant finds her prize, she stomps on the shapeless dress or baggy jeans with combat boots prior to dressing the poor “volunteers.” When presented in cocktail dresses for the REVEAL, like any woman who goes from Goodwill to couture, the makeover models look one heck of a lot better.

Seriously, short of surgery or drastic liposuction, how much can you really do in a short period of time to improve your looks?

Fiction, fortunately is different. Forget hair products. You, the great and powerful Oz-thor, have magic at your disposal. With a few strokes of your literary pen, you can take a bad manuscript (assuming there’s a decent plot or you have a good voice) and make the tale into a fascinating story.
Have a heroine you don’t like?  Kill her off on page one and promote the amazing sidekick to leading lady status. Are you main characters boring? Just add equal parts of tension and quirkiness and Ozzie and Harriet morph into Morticia and Gomez Addams.

You can even reshape your basic plot into a totally different story. Believe it or not, you can do this with minimal rewrite.

I originally wrote Forbidden Magic, my first novel, about vampire-type characters living in a world without warm-blooded creatures.  My vamps existed on a mineral mimicking the properties of human blood. Naturally, the mineral was becoming depleted (aka external tension). Unfortunately, no one wanted yet another vamp story.

I instigated a makeover.  First, I made my characters Dökkálfar and álfar—ancient elves.  Since my hero and heroine were no longer vampire, they no longer needed blood. Thus I needed another rare substance necessary to my characters’ survival. To keep my external conflict from disintegrating, I decided the sun on my fictional world wouldn’t have the spectrum of Earth’s solar unit.  Naturally, I made this spectrum necessary to elfin survival.  So what could emulate sunlight? What else? Crystals. And all the quartz had been mined.

I kept the same plot. My characters’ goals, motivation, and conflict didn’t change. Yet my novel had a completely different look. And since the story didn't fit my normal writing style--romantic suspense and mystery, I gave my author name a makeover, too.  With an alias--Genia Avers.

If your novel isn’t getting the attention it deserves, if your manuscript is dated, or if you just need more oomph, you too can perform the literary makeover—no license required. Remember, a good story (regardless of genre) needs great characters, with great conflict, and a goal worth achieving. The rest is just…well, hair product and cocktail dresses.

How about you?  Performed any literary makeovers on your manuscripts?

The Gingerbread Skirmish (A Holiday in Merryvale Story) by [Weaver, Robin]

Available at Amazon.com.

Available at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Memories by Kristin Wallace

Christmas Eve Service
In the U.S. we just had Thanksgiving and we’re on to Christmas. Many already have Christmas trees and lights are up on the house. Are you one of those who string up lights and decorations on your house?

I recently found these in storage
Christmas always makes me think of being a kid and the excitement of the big morning. We always went to church on Christmas Eve for the candle lighting service, which is the most beautiful thing. Sometimes we’d open presents on Christmas Eve because we usually drove to see my aunt, uncle and cousins for Christmas. When I was a kid I wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Another year Cabbage Patch Dolls were the rage. I got one in the summer,
Christmas, age 5
which was a preemie in the summer and then I ended up getting two at Christmas. My parents had 
My parents had ordered them months before because the stores would sell out almost immediately. But I think my favorite present ever was a huge, stuffed bunny that I got when I was about five. I think it was over 5-ft. tall. I loved that thing! It was yellow and soft and I could sit on its lap. 

These days it’s harder to figure out what I want. What I really want is to be a world-famous author and make my total living off my writing, lol. I’m not sure anyone can give me that present, not even Santa Claus.

What are your favorite Christmas memories from growing up? Was there was special present you really wanted?

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two bestselling series, Covington Falls Chronicles and Shellwater Key Tales. Look for her latest releases FALLING FOR YOU AT CHRISTMAS, on sale now for on Amazon, B&N, iTunes & Kobo. For more info on her books, visit Kristin Wallace Author.

Want a FREE book? I’m on Instafreebie where you can download my previous holiday novella, FINDING YOU AT CHRISTMAS. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BOOK!