Blog Archives

IWSG POST 19: Honest Marketing Platform Tips I Need Now

IMG_4156

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

****

This month’s IWSG Post is all about time and promoting. As a busy mom of two kiddos most days, and also managing them alone quite often, I fight time on a minute-by-minute basis. Especially lately where I’ve tried to jump back into the marketing world hardcore, only to find myself struggling to dog paddle above water.

So in a spin-off on the IWSG post question this month: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?” I choose to think about social media and time. I am insecure about it all, and how to make marketing easier. Is that possible, by the way? 🙂

Blogging every day is not a doable feat. What is doable is a quick post on tips I’m currently studying on writer platform. I haven’t started these tips yet, but by golly, I intend to.

So here goes ALL, MY QUICK AND HONEST writing tips for marketing from two sources: The Book, Create your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino, and a fantastic website I stumbled across The Write Life. WOW.

According to the book, Create your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino, every writer should start with a website, a blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I, however, am currently testing the waters of Instagram and Tumblr. Recently, I stumbled onto Quora for some reason. LOL. I have no idea how I signed up for that one, but I keep getting subscribers. 😉

  1. Sambuchino, says, start by defining who you are, your strengths and market to those strengths. Review your top trafficked blog posts for ideas to see how others connect with you.
  2. Sambuchino suggests writing short posts with pointed headlines of about 5 words. Consider catchy statements, and spinning your posts in a way to entice the reader like a cat and mouse game.
  3. Twitter and Facebook are two of his tops marketing vehicles along with Google+. Posts should gear to 10% promoting, and the rest should be filled with personality.
  4. Use links, hashtags, and always keep an interaction going by answering comments or starting conversations, and also share posts.
  5. One tip I liked from The Write Life mentioned scheduling tweets in addition to general social interaction. They suggest 3 scheduled posts a day via HootSuite, Buffer or MeetEdgar. I have yet to check these links out.
  6. Pick two platforms to focus your efforts. Post once a day and the suggestions were also Facebook and Twitter.
  7. Lastly, another tip from the website came from “Live Periscope broadcasts” of writing and brainstorming topics. I haven’t ventured into podcasts or live streaming, but maybe in the month of May, I’ll tempt something to promote Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, by visiting my dad’s farm country in the middle of Kansas. I haven’t decided if I can make the trip happen yet.

Question: What’s your favorite social media vehicle? How many posts do you make a day or week? Do you find success with scheduling posts?

Thank you.

 

What Makes a Hero? Mini Interviews with Author Tyrean Martinson and Restore the Light Director Dana

hero

   To inspire hope and courage, I dedicate Monday posts through the months of March and April to authors and professionals on the subject of heroes, historically defined, and also the transformation in today’s society. I like to think of this term as the Everyday Hero. Here today, I have fellow author, Tyrean Martinson, answering three questions on the hero topic. I’ll also end this post with my Everyday Hero of the week, Dana, Executive Director of Restore the Light, a Nonprofit Human Trafficking Awareness Organization.

***

Tyrean’s Story, “Of Words and Swords”

In a time of dragons and dragon-slayers, Maud has lost his taste for battle. He wants only to put his swords to rest and follow his life-long dream to become a bard.

Mini Interview with Tyrean Martinson

[Erika] What is your definition of ‘hero’ (historically or in today’s world)?

[Tyrean] I think a hero endures hardship and risks his/her life (physical, social, or career) to save or help others or to save the world/community. I think this is true in historical and modern contexts.

Harriet Tubman is an example from American history. An American slave who escaped slavery, she returned to the South to help many slaves escape. She dedicated her life to helping others.

In modern times, we have heroes like Reverend Marin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa, along with all the first responders on 9/11 and many others who give their lives and their time to others.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers

[Erika] How does your hero fit the definition and then finally, why did he or she fall?

[Tyrean] Maud gave up his dream of becoming a bard to become a dragon-slayer. After risking his life many times to save his kingdom from dragons, he’s given a large reward which enables him to pursue his old dream. He thinks that dragons will leave his kingdom alone – after all, he has killed dozens already and no one has seen one in a few years.

Maud falls because he’s tired of killing dragons and he is a bit selfish.

(I know that the current trend for dragons is that they are intelligent, talkative, and noble. Maud has never met a dragon like that.)

About Tyrean Martinson

Daydreamer, writer, teacher, believer – Tyrean Martinson lives near the Puget Sound with her husband and daughters. With her B.A. in Ed. and English, she teaches writing classes to home-school teens and she writes speculative, contemporary, poetry, experimental hint fiction, and writing books.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

 

***

My Everyday Hero This Week: Dana, Executive Director of Restore the Light, a Nonprofit Human Trafficking Awareness Organization

According the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Human trafficking is defined as:

“Modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States … Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.”

Fact: 100,000 kids are sold into sex trafficking every year.

Fact: Currently 1.5 million victims in the U.S.

Fact: Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry, and it’s growing in all 50 states.

Fact: According to Polaris Human Trafficking statics, states in the U.S. closest to water access, major highways and international airports, are number one trafficked locations.

Executive Director Dana, with the Nonprofit Organization, Restore the Light, had her eyes opened wide while sitting in church. Starting the organization from the ground up, Restore the Light aims to educate and be a proactive force for victims of human trafficking. Dana is not just an executive director and founder of this organization, but an assistant principal, a mother, and a wife, an active religious leader and above all things, a believer in standing up for what’s right when the world feels incredibly wrong. Dana is an everyday hero for her heart and her strength. She’s not afraid to say what many people think and are afraid to voice. Dana is a voice. Dana is a lighthouse in the dark.

[Erika] Tell me about the mission of Restore the Light.

[Dana] We aim to educate people about domestic human trafficking, sex trafficking and to increase awareness and allow for intervention of future victims of all ages and all backgrounds. Did you know the average age of entry is 11?

[Erika] No. I had no idea. I can’t even fathom that.

[Erika] Where did your inspiration come from to start this group?

[Dana] Honestly by nature, I have been a protector for the vulnerable. One day, sitting in church, I heard someone talking about people being trafficked from a truck stop 10 minutes from my location. I thought I work with young people. How did I not know that? How can I protect my students, if I don’t know these things? And then I wondered, who else doesn’t know this information? It started as a protection for my students, and now I push to spread the focus to all kids of that age.

[Erika] Where are you now in comparison to where you began?

[Dana] The organization began by word of mouth just talking to people about the definition of human trafficking. Now we have social media, a website and we go to organizations and colleges all over the state. We partner with local police departments to be a lead program. We educate in counselor development programs, coordinate and host defense classes. This year we plan to host a 5k and will continue to reach out to more universities and organizations.

[Erika] How many people do you touch?

[Dana] We touch nearly 250 in most conferences we present at. Recently we were asked to speak at a local chamber ground of 12 individuals. We mostly do presentations and self-defense classes to provide resources. We are about education, prevention, and intervention. The facts state, only 1 – 2 % who traffic actually get rescued. The best way to impact the community is to prevent it from ever happening. Human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry in the United States behind drugs.

[Erika] What’s your biggest moment of making a difference?

[Dana] Honestly, a child came to me and said, “Hey, I heard you know a lot about trafficking, and I am worried about my friend being groomed for sextortion.” She’d believed it was a friend of a friend, but the friend had actually never met that person. So none of the connections were legit. I am glad I talk about human trafficking, so kids know the details. My big push is to teach people how it happens here in Kansas City. It happens world-wide every 30 seconds.

[Erika] Do you have an everyday hero?

[Dana] My mom. She had me as a teen and was basically homeless once she got pregnant with me. We moved a lot. I had 12 homes before I was 10. Still, my mom went to college and worked to get her degree, but she made sure I was taken care of. Now she has her doctorate, teaching in an OT program. She overcame all her struggles and because of her struggle, making excuses has never been an option for me.

[Erika] What struggles does the organization face?

[Dana] Honestly, time. People don’t like to talk about what’s uncomfortable. To hear our message, they have to be okay getting out of their comfort zone and to take off the rose colored glasses to see the ugly. It’s always ugly with kids. The big thing is, you can’t fight what you don’t know exists.

[Erika] What resources can we share with the public? Is there a safe place?

[Dana] To intervene, call law enforcement immediately. Here in KC, we have Veronica’s Voice, Restoration House, and Exodus cry. They work on the restoration side of human trafficking.

Want to know more about Restore the Light?

*RESTORE THE LIGHT IS NOT AN EMERGENCY RESOURCE*
If you are in IMMEDIATE need of assistance or in danger call 911.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

United States: 1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish
Website: www.traffickingresourcecenter.org

Instagram: restorethelight | Facebook | Leadership@restorethelight.org

***

Thank you, Tyrean Martinson for being here with me today. I can’t wait to read your story. And Dana, you inspire me to be a better and bigger person.

IWSG POST 12: Dreaming and Achieving Cannot Be Ignored. #iwsg

IMG_4156

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

♥♥♥♥♥♥

“If you woke before dawn one morning with the formula for a vaccine, which would cure the most ghastly disease currently known to man, releasing millions from an agonising death, would you roll over and resume sleeping until daylight?”

Chris Murray, The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club

I think I’ve posted this quote before, but it’s only because nothing else has summarized passion and drive and doing the right thing better than it does. It’s the same sort of passion I feel when I wake up before I necessarily have to. I could hit snooze. I could set my alarm ahead and get an extra 90 minutes of sleep.

But then I see the clock, those glowing red digits. The blood starts pumping. Possibility starts to spin.

On the weekends,the clock never reads later than 7:30 a.m. During the week? Lately it’s been 5:00 a.m. but I’m changing that. I’m upping the alarm an extra half hour because one hour is not enough for me.

This month’s IWSG post asks, “How do you find the time to write in your busy day?”

I just do it. The morning is my only time so I rise and I write.

Every day.

Or I get antsy.

Or I forget why and who I am, like something is missing and I don’t quite feel right.

I am a mom. I do have a full time profession aside from writing, and I have plenty of hobbies like gardening and exercising which also make me smile. My kids keep my hopping. Just last night I worked until 4:30 p.m., picked up the kids, fixed chicken quesadillas and shuffled them out of the door with a backpack of books for the little one, and the baseball bag for the oldest one’s 90 minute baseball practice. Overwhelmed? Yes. Definitely with the start of school, which is why I need to structure to myself, my day and my family, so we all get done what we need to get done.

Here’s what I do in a nutshell.

4:30 a.m. Wake up. COFFEE. Writing and researching in my bed near the soft light of my bedroom lamp on my I-pad.

5:50 a.m. I make lunches for the kids.

6:15 a.m. I wake the kids. My son is a morning bird and my daughter, well, it isn’t all that easy to rouse her. She’s my night owl.

7:15 ish…We scurry out the garage door, pile in the car and pray we have everything we need for the day. Usually I forget what I need, but the kids are always good.

7:30 ish…work!

12:30 Lunch break sometimes. I try to write, or I have lunch with my kids since I don’t work that far away. Sometimes I even water the garden to catch my breath from the morning.

4:00 p.m. I leave work when I’m lucky.

4:15 p.m. The gym. A good hour of cardio helps me think clearer.

5:30 p.m. I pick up the kids and head home.

6:00 p.m. I fix dinner, while my son practices piano and my daughter plays school or colors something pretty.

After dinner? Something is always going on. Baseball practice, dance, homework, even cleaning up our messes. When I don’t have the kids, a telephone call to my writing friend, or a date night with my honey.

8:30. The kids hit their beds and I finish cleaning and posting blogs when necessary. It’s my time to catch up.

10:00 p.m. HGTV is my program of choice while I wind down.

That’s the end. I try to keep my life straight in a planner or the notes in my phone. I just don’t give myself a choice. I can’t.

My questions to you: Are you an early bird or a night owl? What helps you chase your dreams and spare the minutes you need to act?

Oh! Here’s my lovely garden. I started the backside of it in the spring, and finished the front side just this past weekend with my honey. I love flowers 🙂

img_6151

Lastly, Thank you to this month’s hosts:

And to all, have a great rest of your week. 🙂

Suspense or the End, What’s Harder to Write?

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Writing suspense is an art to be learned: The promise of danger, a rise in tension to keep the goal from the main character, and then embedding these pieces with just the right mix of action to generate empathy and concern for the main character. The task is more difficult to show than I’d imagined, but enjoyable all the same.

Then of course, there always has to be an end, a switch from tension to resolution. The reader wants to be surprised. The writer wants them to have an emotional investment by the end. The main character must fight harder than ever to go for the goal and step up to be the hero all by herself. Lots and lots of promises have been made to the reader by this point through the suspense. In the past, I’d forgotten to tie up a few really great promises. I remember a previous draft where I’d added a great piece of tension of a missing captain on a ship and created a fear about the ocean in the main character, but then I forgot to go back and solve the captain’s disappearance. I thought, I’ll get to it in the next book, but my beta reading friends didn’t seem to like that answer one bit.

Now that I face the ending once again, I’m biting my own nails and wondering if I’ve accomplished all the pieces I’ve meant to accomplish. I’ve been reviewing tips and articles across the web to help me. Now I’m struggling to stop with the suspense and I can’t seem to end it.  🙂

Ever been there? You’ve thought through the book? You’ve faced the beginning of the end? And in facing the end you’re almost scared to tie it all up?

I have a tip I’ve been pondering.

When facing the resolution and wrapping up all the promises, does the goal escalate and complicate for the main character so the reader feels something so strong, they can’t put the book down?

It’s sort of haunting me. Yes, my character has grown. She’s stepped up to the plate with a solid bat in her hands. With loaded bases, two strikes on the board, will she swing for that home run? Will she try to walk? No matter the choice on that base, I realize she has to try to save the day, and she is the only one who can do that task, free the team to take the plate and score, too. It has to be shocking for my genre, and I know I must stay a step ahead of the reader because I really don’t want the story to be predictable.

In any case, I’ve been struggling to tie up one last promise. It’s jostled one action sequence in the resolution. I’m so close. I know I have the right ending. Now I just have to finish it.

My question: Do you find the Suspense or the End harder to write?

I’d love to here your struggle.

IMG_3832And, I decided to leave you with a picture of my cat Maverick. It relates. He’s taught me so much about the art of suspense. I’m hoping to pull a post together all about the way to hook his interest.

Thank you for stopping in today.

Erika