Posted on 4 Comments

January Updates and #IWSGQOTM

#IWSG Angell's 4 Authors Do you have a word of the year?
Hello Lovelies,
December was a crazy busy month between re-releasing Elements of Broken Mind,  The DreamMaker2023Q1 challenge, the 12 Days of Indies 2022,  and expanding my Quick and Dirty Annual Marketing Guide. This month is almost jam-packed, as I am looking for beta reader feedback on  Quick and Dirty. (If you’d like to sign up, please fill out this google form and I will be in touch next week!) am working to wrap up the course materials for Maximize Your E-newsletter Masterclass, re-releasing Quick and Dirty and then working on An Angel’s Dance re-re-release. Also hoping to schedule my PMP exam,  figure out why my dryer is not working (it’s been a whole saga) and figure out what is making my husband sick (an even bigger saga). While also making time for my personal and professional goals.  It’s only a couple of days into 2023 and I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed. But that is not the word I want for 2023.

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

January 4 Question – Do you have a word of the year?

Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finish my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year was Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? 
I have really been searching and searching for the right word. I have a large list of goals(15, to be exact) and they are a wide range of goals that are all focused on growth but growth didn’t feel like the right word. I also considered balance as a good key word but that didn’t resonate with me either as I am always seeking balance. After a lot of soul searching for just the right word, I finally settled on the best word and when it came to me my soul did sing.
Transformational- (as defined by the Cambridge  Dictionary)

able to produce a big change or improvement in a situation:
Action to encourage home insulation by the EU represents a potentially transformational event for government-funded installation agencies.
transformational acquisition/deal/merger
a transformational strategy/reform/step The company’s chief executive described the transaction as a “transformational step” in implementing new corporate strategy.
transformative ideas/experiences
This goes beyond just growth, this is exponential growth. Several of my goals this year will lead to major changes in our lives and working together will align us in a whole new way. But transformational change is overwhelming and scary. I hope I am up to the challenge, am really excited to pursue this new path for us, and I am putting all the most powerful energy into making this transformational shift.
The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin! Be sure to check out their posts and the rest of the awesome members of the IWSG blog hop!
Until Next Time,
Keep Reading!
Posted on 4 Comments

December 2022 Update and IWSGQOTM

#IWSG QOTM Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

Hello Lovelies,

I know it’s been a minute. The surgery took more out of me than I expected and while the results have been absolutely worth it (I’ve already lost 90 lbs!) I am still struggling to recover. I have just gotten to the point where I can manage more than just my health and day job but only a little bit more. I get about an hour a day to work on all the other things. I am striving to prioritize projects because jumping from one thing to the next doesn’t work. But I miss doing the Insecure Writer’s Support Group so here I am! and we have a great question of the month for December.

 

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   

December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

Usually, December is a slowdown on my goals as I am typically doing the 12 Days of Indie, a weeklong goals masterclass, and working on my Annual marketing and business plan. However, this year I am just ramping back up after surgery. I am going to do 12 Days of Indie very differently this year as past years have just been so time-consuming. If you are an author who would like to participate in this free marketing event, be sure to join my FB group Authors Anon as I will be sharing info closer to in that group.
If you struggle with setting and achieving your goals, be sure to join my DreamMaker Challenge as I will teach you how to set SMARTER goals and how to plan for both personal and professional goals and keep them on track throughout the year.
The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!
Be sure to check out their posts in the IWSG, as well as all the other awesome authors who participate!
Stay tuned for some great reviews coming over the next few weeks as I catch up on my read and reviews.
Until next time,
Keep Reading!
Posted on 6 Comments

August 2022 Update and IWSGQOTM

do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
Hello Lovelies,
I am so sorry I missed last month’s check-in. Things have been a bit chaotic and last month was super stressful with a lot of things on hold. Fortunately, I am able to report that a lot of those things on hold have finally shifted and we are no longer stuck in a holding pattern!
My husband finally got and started a new job so the financial stress is slowly mediating itself. My son started his new job too so now we’re all working towards our goals!
I got my surgery approved the end of last month. It is scheduled for August 30th so this month is going to be very heavily focused on getting ready for that. I have to say, I’ve been very pleased with the last several months of progress. I’ve already lost 34 lbs so my liver should be nicely shrunk down and not impede surgery.
As a lot of my saved surgery money had to go to helping pay bills while my husband was unemployed, the next couple of checks will be focused on rebuilding that fund. Then we have to rebuild our general nest egg. But once that is done, back to focusing on re-releasing my books and courses. Still prepping everything so that once the money comes in I will be set to rapid re-release.
I expect the next couple of months to be very busy and very gratifying! Now, on to the IWSG question of the month!

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

Honestly, none of my 1st drafts are focused on the reader. They are always focused on the story that needs to be told. When I am plotting, I will get the main points of the story I am inspired to share down. Then from those bones I will determine genre. If it isn’t one I have been reading a lot of lately, then I will do a quick bit of research on what are the most loved and hated tropes. (GoodReads forums are a great resource for this!) then determine which of them make sense for this story and figure out how to weave those in. Once I get the plotting done, I let my characters drive and direct them to the plot map when they start to veer off course.
It isn’t until the editing stage where my main focus becomes the readers. But even then, I am still staying true to the story I felt inspired to share. I am pulling quotes that I think will resonate with readers for advertising, tweaking sentences to make them more appealing to readers, and developing my reader personas for marketing purposes.
I believe there is an audience for every story. I don’t write my stories to that audience, I find the audience for the story.
I know this means a lot more work for me, but I don’t mind the extra work.
Thanks for stopping in.
Until next time,
Keep Writing!
Posted on 3 Comments

June 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

June 2022 Update and #IWSG Question
Hello Lovelies,
Whew, May was crazy busy, between promoting my challenges (which both kicked off today), wrapping up my PMP certification application, hitting the final stages of my surgery approval process, getting little man through to graduation, and helping both my men with their job hunt. Just reading all that made me tired! But as I am still the main provider in the household, no time to rest. June will be heavily focused on releasing my course Social Media 101, promoting my current offerings, re-releasing The Clear Angel Chronicles, and then finishing up with The Hunters Saga re-release. Plus I expect to get more information about sitting for the proctored PMP exam and prepping for surgery. I just started keto again for the surgery prep but there will be some additional steps a few weeks before surgery so…  a lot going on! Whew.

#IWSG June Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
The awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray!

Struggling with something to say?
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

This is actually something I’ve been struggling with a lot the last two years. Other than Las Immortales, which I wrote for the Halloween Frights, I’ve not written any new fiction in several years. I have figured out that part of the struggle is because I have all these other things I’m trying to re-release, and part of the struggle is just so much going on in my life and never having time to get back into my writing schedule. So that is why I have been systematically working on getting all that other stuff back out there then will tackle the writing of new projects. You know how you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time. Same way you eat a herd of elephants. And with 17 books and 5 courses, I am definitely working through a herd, lol. But I can feel myself getting closer every day. And once I get this all worked down, I saw the most success when I was part of the 5 am writer’s club. I would write for an hour every day starting at 5 am. then go for a walk before getting ready for work. I expect to get back into that routine but instead of writing, I will be focusing on re-creating. Then that routine will be all set so I can move on to writing once I get stuff caught up!
 How about you?
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Until Next Time,
Keep Writing! 
Posted on 9 Comments

May 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

May 2022 Update and #IWSG Question
Hello Lovelies,
Man, oh, man. Where do I even begin? The May theme for IWSG re highs and lows accurately reflects how my April is going. From the weather not being able to decide if it is winter or summer to crazy chaos at the day job, to my becoming the sole provider of the family- this month has been a roller coaster of emotions and contingency planning. Going into May, I am still reeling. My first gut instinct was that I needed to start applying for new jobs. My commission-based job even in the best months barely made half of what he makes. And to say that commission hasn’t been great for a bit now would be an understatement.
But I haven’t finished my PMP Certification which would go a long ways toward me getting paid what I am actually worth. Plus, I’m so so close to approval for the surgery (all I have left is the surgeon’s consult then final approval from insurance.) I cannot throw out all I’ve worked for in hopes of getting a better-paying job. Statistically, my husband is more likely to get a new job than I am.
So we did a quick evaluation of our financial situation and agreed to stay the course but up the speed with which I am working towards those things. I also decided to finish up some merchandise listing on my site and to run The 30 Day Marketing Challenge and the DreamMaker Challenge in June, while offering up to 50% on everything in my store.
We have a razor-thin budget that will only last us 3 months if I don’t bring in more $$ and I would be crushed if this crisis completely derailed everything we’ve been working so hard for. That was struck home even more when I found out my company laid off a ton of people last week. The manager thought she was making me feel better by telling me that “you are not affected”. Yeah, sure, not affected at all. I’ve worked at enough start-ups to know that sudden and unplanned layoffs going into your busy season is not “what’s best for the company”. There is so much more they aren’t telling us. So I have to push everything in place as fast as possible because if I get laid off too?
Needless to say- still spinning contingency planning. But I REALLY feel like this month has just been this:
But I’m not Legolas.

#IWSG May Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

May 4 question – It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

This is so interesting as my Facebook buddy Devani Angeli shared a pretty cool thing that all creatives can really connect with, I think. And it really reflects the theme for this month.
What they don’t show you is that you go through this every. Single. Time. And sometimes you fall in the swamp and have to swim out, which also super sucks. And sometimes after you get out you are so coated in the muck that you can slip right before the finish and slide back in. Then have to clamber back out and fight through back to that peak “This is one I’m Proud of”.
I go through this process with every project- books, courses, creating challenges, building marketing plans, everything.
Creatives are not being melodramatic when we say that we put our blood, sweat, and tears (and money) into our projects. Authors calling books their book baby are not being hyperbolic. I’m a mom. I know.
But as brutal as most of the journey is, when it’s complete it is such a relief and so much pride. I would argue that the worse things go in the middle, the more rewarding the completion feels. That is such a rush.
I keep going back. I can’t help myself.
And I think part of the reason that I am struggling to re-do all my work is that it is not as much about the creative journey as it was. It is now just repackaging what I’ve already done.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out the awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!
don’t miss the other participants in this Blog Hop!
Until next time,
Keep Growing!
Posted on 1 Comment

April 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

#IWSG Angell's 4 Authors April 22 update

Hello Lovelies,

It’s amazing what a difference a month can make! March was busy, busy and I’ve made some great gains on my goals. The consult on the 15th went well and we’re just waiting for insurance to approve the bariatric surgery to determine next steps. In the meantime, that hope got me trying other solutions and I found this awesome THC balm that helps reduce the pain significantly by treating the sore muscles and tendons and decreasing inflammation on the nerves. That has allowed me to increase my physical activity. While walking causes greater irritation and inflammation, I’ve found that my under-desk elliptical isn’t as hard on my body and that combined with strength training has allowed me to systematically work up to 50 min of low-impact physical activity 4-5 days a week. This is the sweet spot required for the surgery to be successful. I’ve also started the diet amounts to get my mind and schedule adjusted. Several of the people I know who had surgery all say their lack of preparation there was what led to most of their complications.

This weekend I am going swimming and will see how that does for a low-impact workout.

My kiddo has finished all of his sports last weekend and is excited to start swimming with me so we look forward to working together on that. He has also enlisted my help with his gap your business plans so that will be fun quality time together.

As for the PMP certification, I am trucking along. I have all my required CEU courses selected and just have to systematically work through them. I still have about 24 hours to go and have set up a schedule to make that happen a bit faster. I spend a half-hour every weekday (while also doing my under-desk elliptical.) and am trying to get in 2 hours each weekend. Hopefully, that will be easier now that the kid’s sports are done. Though I can’t really call him a kid anymore as he turned 18 on Monday and is now legally an adult!  At this rate, it will take me about 5 more weeks to finish the CEUs and be able to apply for the PMP test.

A small and unexpected progress towards my rebuilding goals came when the person I’d reached out to The Hunters Saga covers last summer reached back out. Their life has settled and they are trucking along on the covers for the series. We have a great concept idea for the paperbacks and I am so excited!

Here is the final front cover for The Hunters.

The Hunters 3rd edition

Each cover will follow the same theme, with an element from the book being the prominent feature.

I’m so excited to get this moving along as time allows but my health and the PMP cert are my top two priorities for April. I will be doing more on the blog with my Sunday holistic journeys and hope you will join me with that. Now on to the main show:

#IWSG April Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

I actually am excited to complete the audiobooks for The Hunters finally. I spent years trying to figure out how to do this in a cost-effective manner. I have a small confession to make, I actually am not a fan of audiobooks. I often lose my place and get distracted when listening to them. But I loved the old radio show samplings with multiple characters and sound effects so I wanted mine to be something like that. But finding narrators proved difficult and expensive. So I decided to put my theatrical training to use and read the different characters myself, then learned to edit in the sound effects myself.
It has been a long journey that I hope to complete this year as I focus on re-releasing The Hunters Saga.
The few people who’ve listened to samples have found it delightful, but they’re not big audiobook people either so who knows?
My hope is to use the funds from The Hunters to be able to hire a male reader for the Clear Angel Chronicles and then I will read the female parts and he will do the male parts.
The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!
Be sure to check out the other stops on this fun blog hop!
Until next time,
Keep Reading! 
Posted on 4 Comments

March 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

March 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

Hello Lovelies,

Can you believe it is already March? Well, February did not go as planned. There were a bunch of shifts for me at the day job and that cut down on my hours of availability. Mounting stress around the world, still struggling to recover from Covid, and my bathroom remodel finally finishing up really ate into my availability and I just cannot work 60 hour weeks anymore.

I took a week off the grind to mentally recover and re-evaluate. I realized in my current physical state I am very limited in what I can do and trying to force myself to push through that is doing more damage than good. Trying to focus on too many things means that I am not getting enough done in any one area and I can’t keep circling like this. So I have decided to scale back and focus on the top three things that are impacting my life, make major progress on those to set me up to bring the other elements in as I get stabilized.

So for the next bit my primary focus is going to be on my health, my family, and getting my PMP certification. I’ve accepted that I need to explore more aggressive means of dealing with my DDD and SS and am exploring a surgery that my doctor hopes will help. I have a consult on the 15th of this month but I suspect that it will take time to address this element of my life. Should know more at my next update.

The PMP certification is the thing I expect will be resolved most quickly, but even that is quite time-consuming. I have about 30 more hours of education needed and have to put together proof of my project hours. So I expect it will take me more than a month, even with it being my primary focus.

As for focusing on the family, my youngest is a senior and that is quite time-consuming, especially with his sports and performances. Add onto that, the demands my condition place on them and the stress quotient is really high. As hard as it has been for me to adjust to my new limited level or normal, it’s been really tough on them. They’re the ones left to cover what I can’t do. We are striving to find a balance, but that’s tough too because from day to day what I can handle varies greatly. So we’re constantly trying to adjust and adapt, which is mentally and physically exhausting. It has eaten into their self-care time and increased their stress levels, which really sucks.

So we’re working on ways to parallel work so they can help with parts of a task that are difficult for me, but they aren’t stuck doing it all. It’s a work in progress, but one that needs my attention before we all hit burnout. I’m really hoping the first two goals achieved will help alleviate a lot of the struggles around the third goal. Time will tell.

I will continue doing the IWSG posts each month- to keep myself accountable and to keep in touch, and will continue working on re-releasing my books (Just got contacted by the cover artist for The Hunters Saga and will be moving forward with that as time allows) but will likely be less active on social media and re-releasing old posts. As every good project manager knows, a project’s timeline is impacted by time, money, and resources. I don’t have enough of any of those right now.

 

#IWSG March Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

March 2 question – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

Every single series. Actually, I debated for years whether to even write Hell School as it is very triggering for me, as it is based on my own experience with a stalker. When I run into these issues the first thing I ask myself is whether it is integral to the story. If yes, it gets written. If no, I ask is it integral to character development? Yes, write it. No, then I ask myself what is the purpose of this scene?
If it is just for shock or solely to elicit a response from the readers, I don’t write it. That’s not my voice.
The few scenes I was very nervous about writing, I got feedback from my betas on it. Most of them hated those scenes but also agreed that they added an important element to the story that would be lost without it. Ironically, those scenes are the ones that most often get mentioned in reviews too and most of them don’t say it should be taken out.
So my system seems to be working for me.  Want to see how others handle this?
The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

You can see the rest of the hop at IWSG Bloghop

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

Posted on 22 Comments

February 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

#IWSG Feb 2022 update and Question

Hello Lovelies,

Happy February. So glad to say that. January was a disaster! I got Covid the first of the month and was down in bed for almost 2 whole weeks. I am still struggling with a nasty cough and getting winded during random activities. It has also put me behind on my goals. But I keep trucking. I finally got my 2022 resolutions sorted after a lot of soul-searching. I created an aggressive schedule to get me back on track and while I have yet to maintain the schedule, I am definitely seeing a lot more progress towards goals. I began seriously tackling my PMP certification requirements, am on schedule to re-release Elements of a Broken Mind this month and hopefully will have Angel’s Dance ready end of Feb, early March for a big promotional push for the series in March. *fingers crossed*.

 

#IWSG February Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

February 2 question – Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

After walking away in 2019, I lost touch with a lot of my network. I was hardly online, and did nothing with the book world for over a year. When I came back in 2020, I was focused on doing the work, not rebuilding relationships. And even with that, I struggled a lot. It wasn’t until late 2020 early 2021 that I started reaching out to rebuild relationships. I was shocked to find so many reviewers and authors who also hit burnout and walked away in a similar time frame.

And as I work to republish my books, I find more and more to miss. One of my earliest connections was a book reviewer named Justin. He seems to have walked away from his book blog and his GoodReads librarian work. I’m sad.

Amanda Baily, who founded OWS, seems not to be doing much with her writing and that is a shame. She still is passionately sharing memes about reading and creating, but is too focused on a day job to pursue re-publishing her works. Which is a shame as she was a very gifted writer.

Joshua Robertson and his wife Diane both walked away from writing as well, again a huge shame as both are extremely talented fantasy writers. Though, I see teasings of both maybe exploring coming back or at least promoting their current publications and this makes me so happy!

While Rebekah Jonesy and Isa McLaren, who were on the board with my at OWS, have started their own publishing house and are releasing books like crazy, I haven’t been able to really reconnect with them and I miss the good times working together via video chat.

Angela Chrysler and Timothy Bateson, who were amazing connections I made through B2B CyCon also seem to have left the book world.

There are so many more who’ve gone on to other things and it makes me sad. But at the same time, I am grateful for the good times we had. Grateful for the ways that they inspired me to keep going on my journey, and hopefully I was able to inspire them too.

The reality is that whether you are reviewing or publishing, the book world is very transitory. We are all seeking a connection and often looking for monetary goals as well (as anyone in business should do, nothing wrong with that.) but when we don’t hit those goals, many move on to other things.

This is why it is so important to support creatives- whether it be book reviewers, authors, or other creatives. Buy from those you can, but even just a comment on a video, or a blog post, lets us know you care. The internet gives us a great opportunity to reach so many but it also is a massive sea that we can easily feel adrift upon. For many, we are working full-time jobs and pursuing our passion, that life imbalance is a recipe for burnout!

So please, let us know you care with a like, a comment, a purchase. Help us keep providing for you by letting us know you appreciate us.

And don’t forget to check out the awesome co-hosts for the February 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler,Jacqui Murray,Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

You can see the rest of the hop at IWSG Bloghop

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

Posted on 4 Comments

January Update and #IWSG Question

What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

Hello Lovelies,

Happy New Year! 2021 was brutal for me, especially at the end and I missed for the first year in many, many years, doing my New Year’s resolution planning. (Imagine my surprise when looking at my analytics to see my Dreammaker Challenge coming up at the top of my analytics this last week!) My husband and I had all last week off and spent a lot of it reflecting and kind of discussing goals but nothing like my normal planning. So I will be working on that this month. (Better late than never.) As part of that process, I have been really reflecting on what I want in life and where I’m going.

Heidi Angell January Update

I think part of my struggle is that I have sort of been in an existential crisis of sorts since 2019. My career goals are hard to set because since 2019 I have been torn on where I’m going. As for personal goals, my health has been a top priority but despite joining several health and wellness programs, that continues to decline. As a couple, my husband and I have already achieved a lot of our “dreams” and are trying to figure out our next 5, 10, 15 year vision. It is really hard to set goals when you don’t know what you want that big picture to look like.

And that is a perfect segue into this month’s IWSG prompt.

January #IWSG Prompt

For those not familiar with the Insecure Writers Support group, here’s a quick recap:
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
This month’s optional question:

What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I think most of you know my greatest regret is wrapped up in OWS Ink, but I really reflected on this hard last week as part of my trying to figure out what I am doing with life in general. My regret was definitely not in joining OWS because I really needed to be part of a collective at that time. I think I would’ve hit burnout and walked away from the writing world far earlier if I had continued plugging along on my own. There were other things in my personal life causing chaos and without people who needed me to show up, I probably would’ve walked away a lot sooner. My frustration definitely is around how it all collapsed and where that left me. I still have not recovered and part of that recovery is tied to that existential crisis I mentioned above.

Last week I watched in 20 books to 50K as author after author posted their 2021 wins and goals for 2022. There is a part of me that resented so many posting over 100K incomes with only 3-5 years experience and another part of me that wanted to slap myself for those negative feelings. Even in my hay day, I never broke through the 6 figure barrier, and now I cannot even manage to re-release all my books and courses, let alone do the kind of rapid release that some of these people are doing.

And with those negative feelings in place, I struggle to commit to re-releasing my courses. Especially as more and more authors are also offering courses.

As I continue to try to land a good job in marketing, I find myself questioning my marketing skills. I am currently working in sales and know this is not a career path for me, but I feel stuck and don’t know where else to turn.

Hence the existential crisis.

So I guess the short answer to the “have you recovered from it” is…. not yet.

But I will keep soul searching and keep working towards goals. I am taking my time with plotting my future because I cannot keep in this stuck holding pattern. This overachiever is feeling very broken from not being able to achieve anything this last year and of course, that is a vicious cycle that I do not want to repeat for 2022.

Thank you for letting me be very vulnerable with you and share this deep struggle.

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Be sure to check out the other awesome posts on the Blog Hop
And until next time,
Keep Reading!
Posted on 1 Comment

Top 10 Blogging Tips to Teach Entrepreneurs to Drive Business

Top 10 Blogging Tips to Teach Entrepreneurs to Drive Business

Hello Lovelies, 

Let’s talk about blogging tips. One of the most commonly recommended tips when you are looking at branding/ grassroots marketing/ creating an inbound lead list or really any digital marketing. While many are moving away from blogs to focus on e-mail marketing (nothing wrong with that.) it is still the top of most inbound sales funnels and is certainly a great way to create content that establishes you as an expert, allows you to build trust with potential customers (leading them to welcome you into their email inbox), and allows search engines to feed your content to potential customers based on their searches and needs. In my humble opinion, while you may not need to create content every day or even every week, you still want some killer blog posts that can constantly be re-shared and used to drive traffic, engagement, awareness of your brand, and guide people into your sales funnel. Here are 10 tips on how to blog,  if you have a blog that isn’t really driving traffic or if you are considering adding it to your arsenal. 

 

 

1. Know Your Purpose/ Know Your Audience’s Purpose

 

This goes beyond “everyone says I need to blog.” That may be why you are picking up blogging, but blogging for the sake of blogging is a futile effort in madness. You need to take some time and really think about why you want to blog. The next obvious answer is to make sales. 

Making sales is a great reason to blog. The approach you take to blogging will depend on the type of sales you are looking for. If you are new in your industry, then you may want to focus on posts that let consumers know what sets you apart from your competitors, why your products are the best for your target audience, how your product solves their problems, and of course, any PR content that is relevant (such as when you get in with a new distributor, if you host events, any volunteer work you’re doing, etc.) 

If you’ve been in business for a bit and are getting into blogging now, while any of the content that applies to a new business will also apply to you, you also want to look at how you are currently drawing your leads and content that you could use for your top of the sales funnels to help close the gap. 

For example, I provide editing services. I wrote a post about the different levels of editing. I also wrote a post about the hottest tool in the book market for self-editing, ProwritingAid. As you can see, any time I do a post around editing, I include a call to action inviting them to contact me to get a free quote. 

I know my audience. Their first pain point is how to better self-edit so that they can save on the cost of an editor. Books are expensive to produce and if you just one and done your drafts to an editor it can get very expensive very fast. Especially for a quality final pass. I also refer to a great tool for those who aren’t completely broke but still get sticker shock at the thought of a 75K word document running $1,500.  Then I offer a free 5-page quote. Those who’ve made it that far are either aware enough of how extensive the process is that $1,500 is not a big deal or have already done several passes and the quality of the work won’t warrant such a high editing cost. 

When I send that quote, I will also invite them to sign up for my newsletter for other awesome free tips on writing. Once they are in my newsletter, that gives me tons of cross-promotional opportunities. 

What if you are wanting to start a blog, but you don’t currently sell anything?  Consider your target audience and your interest in your blog. Are you wanting to become an influencer? Target a specific niche. If you want to do a book and makeup blog, target book genres that tend to have a heavy female readership. That was one of the big mistakes I made early on was reviewing all the books and genres I read, instead of keeping my audience tight. I knew I planned to write across multiple genres so I figured building multi-genre readers was a good call. Learned quickly that there are not a ton of readers like me who straddle so many different genres. Be intentional about building your audience now, and it will make it easier to leverage them later and to build out a clear sales funnel like my example above. 

 

2. Create a Detailed List of Topic Ideas 

There is nothing worse than a looming blog deadline and no topics to write about. Trust me, you can go back and look at my earlier content and go “Yeah, she was just going off script!” Some of that was testing what would target the right audiences (like when I added film and TV reviews to my lineup.) and others, I was just writing about a random item because I had not kept up with my content ideas list and Newsjacking wasn’t the easy content source it is now.  If you are struggling with topic ideas, try using Google Trends. It is such a handy tool. (it’s also great for tweaking headlines, and planning SEO, which we will get into more detail within the next sections). You can also crowdsource your existing audience. I also love putting up polls on social media to get feedback on topics. Always have 1 option be “Other- please list in comments”. This is a goldmine for content ideas. 

Consider creating content clusters to help not only with your content ideas but also with linking internally. Looking back at the earlier example of my articles on editing, not only do I link to my services, but I also link to other articles I’ve written on tangential topics (The ProWritingAid article, for example.) I do this a lot to keep a nice balance of long and short-form content and to prevent reader fatigue. I store topic ideas in my editorial calendar and then plan out my topics as needed, sometimes bumping up topics that fit trends or that I see coming up in forums often. 

Forums are another great content idea resource. If there are places where you can eavesdrop on your customers, listen to what they are saying they need/ want/ are interested in. Your topics don’t have to be exclusively tied to what you sell, as long as they appeal to your audience. (Hence why I experimented with doing film and TV reviews. Alas, I found that while a lot of readers love talking about TV, it didn’t do anything to boost my subscriber rate, build my audience, and was the lowest viewed and engaged with content I had. It was not worth my time to try to get enough tv in to add that to my reviews and I would rather spend that time reading instead!) 

You can never run out of good ideas, especially if you always make sure to do content idea planning once a month, or before you get too low on your list. 

 

3. Have Killer Headlines

Headlines are the first thing that most people will see as you share across social media. If that headline doesn’t grab the reader then they will not click and read. Headlines should be tight, tell what your topic is using power words, and identify your audience.  One of my favorite tools for creating headlines is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

Your goal should be to achieve the highest score possible while also having the title make sense for your topic. I require a score of 70 or higher for myself to achieve the best rankings possible. 

This article started out titled Top 10 Blogging Tips for Entrepreneurs. That only had a score of 68.  I spent about 5 minutes playing with power words and came up with Top 10 Blogging Tips to Teach Entrepreneurs to Drive Business which has a score of 85. Much better. 

Usually, I won’t figure out my killer headline until I am writing up the article. It takes so little time. But if you are coordinating for a team of writers, it may be worth your time to spend a couple of hours a month managing this so that you don’t end up with too many articles sounding the same because they used the same power words or a million top 5 lists. People love them, but they get old real quick. 

 

4. Plan your SEO 

SEO is the lifeblood of the internet, to the point where people pay sometimes thousands of dollars to professionals each month to manage their SEO strategy for their site. If you could afford that, I’m not sure you’d be here reading my articles. 

I have some fantastic resources that I use when prepping for my own articles. I will warn you, SEO is not for the faint of heart. I often spend more time on the SEO and headline for an article than I do on writing the article itself. The first step is I scan through my article and pick out keywords around the content. The first tool I use is Google Keyword planner to select keywords that are similar to the ones I pulled from my content (If you don’t use google AdWords, then you can just plug your keywords into a google search and scroll to the section that has other recommended search terms, but this is very time-consuming). Then I will use Yoast SEO premium, plugin each of those keywords and see if any new suggestions pop up. From there, I will hit up The Hoth and use the same process. 

After adding those into my Yoast, I will put them aside for helping me find the best hashtags for social media sharing. 

 

5. Write for Your Audience

The more specific and niche you can be, the better your results. I had originally planned on writing this post specifically targeting authors and using examples that directly impact an author’s needs. But I also work with a lot of SMBs (small and medium businesses) and this content is relevant to all small business owners. While it is considerably more difficult trying to target examples for all SMBs, authors included, I felt that the value you would all get from the content was worth it. But my tips would be a bit different for a larger business that had the budget to hire an SEO company or a niche business that solved a problem people don’t even know they’re having. 

via GIPHY

6. Break the Content into Easy-to-Read Segments. 

People love top 5 and top 10 lists. I’ve even seen some top 100 lists (but those are typically reserved for cornerstone content or are built by companies who are just all about link building/ affiliate marketing.) Lists are a handy tool to help break content up into easy-to-read segments. What are some other options? Well, for my book reviews, I always break the review up into sections using heading one for Genre, Synopsis, and My Take. 

It is clean, consistent for my readers, and makes it easy for them to scan and decide if they are interested in learning more about the book. 

There are lots of other options: 

  • Using different heading sizes.
  • Creating bullet points- great for list resources, especially. 
  • Inserting infographics- a great way to distill the key elements.
  • Adding images – especially if that picture can capture your thousand words. 
  • Adding video- video content is king on every platform right now. 
  • Add pull-quotes- especially if they are in bold or a different colored font. 

Anything you can do to make it easy for someone to scan the article and see if you are providing the solution they need is essential. Following the tips in Elements of Style is also very beneficial. 

 

7. Include Links to Reputable Sources

This is commonly referred to as an outbound link campaign. You will notice that in all of my content I typically have at least 3 links. My goal is to have 1 internal link to other content that you might enjoy. The other 2 (minimum, often in my long content, like this piece, there are far more than 2) are aimed at top sites for that topic. For book reviews, that would be a link to Goodreads, Amazon, D2D or Smashwords for purchasing the book, but would also include a link to the author’s website, or one of their social media pages. 

How do you determine the quality of the source? Well, that can be tricky. It’s tempting to just include those who showed up on the first page of Google, right? That doesn’t necessarily mean they are quality sites.  There are still a lot of sites practicing black hat SEO who can show up at the top of the search this week, but could get flagged next week. And anyone linking to them also gets flagged. 

A good bet is to target content by industry leaders, but sometimes those individuals are your direct competition. You don’t want to be driving business to their sites, right? 

There are some handy tools that you can use to calculate. 10 Little-Known Ways to See How Much Traffic a Website Gets
By Nicholas Tart shares some of my favorites. This also comes in handy for your bonus tip below. 

8. Create a Mix of Long and Shortform Content

You want a mix of content on your site, ideally, that builds into one another. As mentioned earlier, content clusters are a great way to do this. One of the main focuses I’ve been working on is developing more cornerstone content that utilizes my short-form content better. For example, I am working on creating “best XYZ Books” and pulling all my reviews for that genre that scored 4 stars or higher. I’m also creating some long-form lists with links to content for the other topics on my blog, including the editing examples I provided above, developing a Martech (marketing tech tools) recommendation list linking all the reviews of my favorite Martech, and how to use it for an SMB. 

You will find that creating this mix of content that feeds into one another will lead to longer times people are spending on your site. 

9. Have a Strong Call To Action

A CTA (call to action) should be included on every piece of copy you write, whether it is a blog post, a social media post, an event sign, or a video. It tells the audience what they should do. Some generic examples: 

  • Buy now
  • Leave a comment
  • Learn more
  • Join us at …
  • Don’t miss ….
  • Add to your calendar….
  • Have you read…?
  • Share your thoughts
  • Share with a friend
  • RT (retweet)
  • Like, comment, share

Of course, whenever possible you want to make your CTA as personal as possible and take advantage of the power words in the headliner list. They are fantastic for creating feelings and feelings are what sell products. Even those of us *hi* who pride ourselves on being very analytical buyers, those data points make us feel more confident in our purchase. 

 

10. Share it Everywhere

The more you can customize your content shares to fit the platform, the better it will be recieved on that platform. Keep in mind that leading with video content is a big push as more platforms embrace video content. It is worth taking a small clip from your longer video and making it work for IG stories or to follow TikTok trends and use a call to action to drive traffic back to your post. Take time to size images for each platform appropriately. I love PromoRepublic and Canva because they both make it so easy to create the right content to easily share while remaining consistent. 

As I mentioned above, you want to make sure that you are using the best tools for searching hashtags. I pull the SEO words and plug them in and see if any other suggestions pop up on Instagram. Sproutsocial shares some great tips on Twitter Hashtag Research

You also do not have to limit yourself to sharing content only once. I typically share a new post across all my platforms a few times in the first month. If it is evergreen content, I will continue to share it every 90 days to 6 months, giving it an update as needed to make sure that the content is still relevant, the keywords are still strong, etc. 

I also love using social listening to share content. When I see a Twitter search asking about formatting a book, I love to direct the person asking for help to my blog post 5 Manuscript Formatting Secrets to Win a Reader’s Love

When I find a Reddit that is appropriate, I will share my posts. Keep in mind that this strategy only works if you are active in those communities and if you are careful to curate appropriately. If all you do is scan for social listening opportunities to drop your links that is spamming. Better spamming than just randomly dropping your links at the end of someone’s blog posts, but only barely. 

Do better. 

Bonus Tip- You Don’t Have to Blog Just on Your Own Site

Guest posting is a strong tool. Combining a strong inbound linking strategy (guest posting, which drives links to your site.) with a strong outbound linking strategy will help you show the search engines that your site is a key site for your type of content. How do you do this? Pick your top keywords that you are aiming to be seen as an expert on and then go find the sites that your audience is already using and pitch articles to them.  Provide a great informational article that fits that site’s needs and audience. Be sure to include at least one link in the body that goes back to your content on your own site, and then include a link to your home page in your bio.

For example, an author would find a book blogger in their genre that welcomes guest posts. If that blog also talks a lot about music, and you have a playlist that you used to write your book then you could pitch an article around that. A fantasy book blogger who also has music posts might find “Top 5 Songs on your Quest playlist” as an appealing guest post topic. Then you can list your top 5 songs with a brief explanation of the feels it gives, then say “To find more great fantasy songs, check out my playlist recs” and link to your own blog post on your site explaining why certain songs are key to your writing playlist for your series. 

You don’t have to limit your inbound linking strategy to blog posts. I love participating on podcasts and panels. Almost all of them will provide a “here’s how to find our guest” section in their content feed. Those are also great ways to build your inbound links. 

 

Heidi Angell Business Consult

On my site, author interviews and character spotlights are quite popular. I am always down to accept those. It’s surprising how many authors never include a link to their site or to their book even when they do these types of interviews. I used to spend hours hunting down appropriate content but now I refer them to this post and hope they follow best practices. If they don’t, I don’t plug it in. I just don’t have time to coddle others for a free service. 

I always recommend looking at the blog to get a sense of the format and try to copy their style while allowing your unique voice to flow through. This is common practice with native advertising. When in doubt, check their requirements page. Most have a requirements page and many even have a list of preferred topics. 

Want to pitch a guest post on my site? The rules are easy. 

Please email me  with the subject line “Guest post for An Angell’s Life” 

An Angell‘s Life has really branched out on our topic matters the last few years and we’re accepting guest posts on books, writing tips, marketing tips, recipes, keto, health and wellness, martech (Marketing tech tools), entertainment, video games, travel, DIY, business tips, tech, 3-D printing, affiliate marketing, job hunting, education, personal development and more.  As we are very varied in our interests, it is likely that we will accept a guest post, but we recommend sending us your topic idea anan outline before, just to be sure. 
 
Some topics we would not accept guest posts on would be political posts (we have our own opinions and we may choose to educate others on our opinions from time to time, but this is not a political platform.) gambling, violence, promoting hatred, questionable business practices,  Ponzi schemes or poorly cited/ referenced “education” pieces. 
 
What we request for your guest post is at least 500 words with 1 cited link from our site if possible, 2 quality outside sources if it is not an opinion piece, and no more than 2 of your own links. We need a bio for you and a picture of you for the header piece. We ask that if you provide your own images that you cite their source. 
 
Please keep in mind that we have the right to reject a guest post at any time. However, if your post is accepted it will be shared with our audience of over 22,000 across all our social media platforms multiple times. If the content is evergreen (meaning not having a special deal or deadline.) then it will be shared up to nine times in the first year and may continue to be added into the mix for years to come, depending on how well it performs. 
 
E-mail us today. 
 
Until next time, 
Keep Writing!