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Posts Tagged ‘Blogging tips’

… With a New Perspective on the Concept of Strength

Since I launched this blog on November 4, 2009, my routine (until recently) has been producing a new post approximately once a week. Sometimes the posts have only been separated by a few days–and I think the most time elapsed between any of the posts, in a worst-case scenario, was two or three weeks. Now, however, we’re sitting at almost two months since my last post, and I feel as if I owe an explanation to those of you who regularly follow my blog.

Of all the elements stitched together to create my own version of a social media process/network, this blog has been (and remains) my favorite–the little niche of the cyberworld that I somehow managed to create (unknowingly, at the start) to house the soul of my writing and the diagram of my dreams. And because the posts are published rather than held secret and close to the chest, I’ve tried from the beginning to strike a chord of familiarity, kinship, and the sharing of information with other writers on their own journey. Happily, that connection does, in fact, appear to have developed, as I’d hoped, although I’ve probably lost some of you lately. But I’d obviously like to increase the scope of readers reached (a goal shared in common, I’m sure, with just about every other blogger on the planet). Perhaps that will be easier once this post is finished and there’s an understanding between you and me of what’s been going on.

There’s a clearly defined mission here in this blog–not just for me but for anyone who simply stops by, or who follows me with a fervor, or who falls somewhere in between. My objective has been to create a place where everyone who’s on some sort of writing/publishing journey–no matter how fresh or seasoned the journey, no matter what level of complexity might be inherent in the writing projects–will find at least one item of immediate value (and hopefully a couple points of interest) embedded within each post.

In order to accomplish this plan, my blog posts needed to be published with a predictable, dependable regularity. And I believe that most bloggers would agree with me when I say that, of all the areas we might neglect from time to time, the regularity/dependability/predictability of blog posts is the last one we want to ignore. So, I’ve really been beating myself up over the distance between the ever-moving “today” and my last published post. There have been many posts drafted but not completed, and even more constructed fully in my head but never transferred to the computer during this long stretch of silence. Of course, none of you could possibly have known that.

One reason for this frustrating development is that I’ve been very careful about muddying up this blog’s clear mission through the inclusion of personal stuff. That pattern was broken a couple of times–once when the “hurricane without a name” hit our part of New Jersey in March 2010, sending me and my family (and thousands of others as well) out of our homes and into a hotel for several days. Pictures on those blog posts justify (for me, anyway) the momentary diversion from my publishing journey intricasies to a focus on basic shelter and food. Another brief detour from this blog’s mission involved intermittent references to my breast cancer (diagnosed on April 1, 2010) and the subsequent treatment. Prior to diving into the creation of my third novel, I’m in the process of writing a book inspired by the breast cancer experience. The book is intended for a target audience of women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer, along with their family members and friends. My hope has been to have that book available to help those women and the people close to them by the end of this month (August 2011).

But that date is slipping, which brings me to (a) the reason for my extended posting absence, to (b) the heart of this post, and ultimately to (c) my re-evaluation of what we, as writers, might view as “strength” from time to time. Here’s the situation: For some reason that the good folks at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhatta can’t yet figure out, I have now been diagnosed with three types of cancer in the last eighteen months. None of the three cancers is a byproduct of any of the others, and they’ve tested me for the potential immunodeficiency things that might be making me vulnerable to a situation like this. Those tests have all been negative. I’ve had six surgeries in fifteen months, the most recent two of those occurring since June 30. And there will be another major surgery required in September. The latest pathology isn’t back yet, but my surgeon suspects that this one is also being discovered very early, as the others have been. And, if his suspicions are correct, any subsequent treatment should be fairly easy to manage and work into my life. So, assuming the pathology (due early next week) ends up being what we anticipate, I’m actually very blessed. In the past many months, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who are in a lot worse shape than I am.

Needless to say, the whole story is sort of long (perhaps the understatement of the decade) and will be addressed as an addendum in the new book I’m writing rather than as a blog post. But there are a couple of relevant points I do want to make here as I wrap this up. The first point is on the subject of strength. Until recently, I’ve been feeling immensely “un-strong,” concerned beyond words about readers of this blog and the fact that I was letting them down–concerned about the beautiful fans of my two novels who will be waiting for some time yet for the next story from me that will hopefully transport them again into the worlds I create filled with mystery, messed up families, illicit love, suspense, survival, and surprise plot twists.

The truth has been, though, that I haven’t really known what to write in the past few months, especially in this blog. I have lots of updates to share about the two novels I’m trying to market, along with a collection of writing tips I’ve been gathering as I craft my nonfiction project and my next novel. And yet none of those words would come together for me in a blog post, despite the many hours I spent thinking about them. Furthermore, because I’d been so adamant (to myself) about not bringing elements of my personal life into this blog, I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to explain why I haven’t been writing to you. Consequently, what you’ve been receiving from me is nothing–and that hasn’t been making me feel very strong at all. Quite the contrary!

Over the last couple of weeks, however, I’ve started to acquire a different perspective on the concept of strength. Now I’m beginning to believe that, as writers, we’re stronger sometimes if we don’t say anything. Instead of “don’t just stand there, do something,” turn that around to say, “don’t just do something, stand there.” Perhaps simply publishing a post with a bunch of words because we’re “supposed” to publish a post with regularity isn’t nearly as strong as waiting a considered amount of time until the words we’re going to write are the best we can make them, designed, above all, to be of help to someone else. Sometimes we’re stronger if we fight back a little against the the guilt of not adhering to the crazy schedules we often set for ourselves. Perhaps strength sometimes means pulling inward for a little while rather than spreading ourselves all over the blogosphere like shapeless, directionless amoebas. And I’m convinced, in retrospect, that any blog post I might have written during the last six or seven weeks would have, indeed, come across as shapeless, absent of any direction, and of absolutely no value to anyone else. My prayer is that the post I’m writing at the moment is turning out to be at least a cut above that bleak description. 🙂

The second and final point I want to make as I wrap this up is that I am going to be just fine! I’m in great hands, in a great place–and the good people at Sloan-Kettering are not only going to figure this out, but I believe we’re all going to learn things from my situation that will eventually benefit others down the road. And now that I’ve explained things to you, I’ll be more comfortable about updating you regarding my health progress as well as my publishing progress–because I now understand that, from here on out, at least, the two elements have become, and will remain, inexorably entwined. (They’ve undoubtedly been that way all along. But I must have been thinking subconsciously that keeping them segregated would enable them to operate independently. If one wasn’t working, the other one still would. That might, in fact, be possible, with plenty of practice. I’ll let you know.)

A couple of additional blog posts will follow in close succession to this one, so I can update you on my promotional activities/accomplishments/status and share a few of the tips and ideas I’ve been collecting for you as I’ve been working on my new projects. After that, we should be rolling again on some sort of posting schedule that will remain undefined but certainly frequent enough to be of value.

I’m very happy to be back with you again, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you, if you feel like responding.

Hope you’re all having a fabulous summer and that your own writing Journeys are perfectly on track!

All the best to each of you. –Cheri

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Since posting stats to track progress (or the lack thereof) has always been an important part of this blog, I thought I’d share this new report that just arrived from WordPress regarding the first full year of “the Journey.” Sort of interesting, to say the least … and not too bad, although there’s much I hope to improve upon in 2011!

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

We think you did great!

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 78 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 87 posts. There were 71 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 93mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 22nd with 97 views. The most popular post that day was About.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard, facebook.com, ewritersrus.com, en.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cheri laser, cheri laser blog, laser blog, a journey obscurity to somewhere else, and ‘cheri laser”.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About November 2009
31 comments

2

About Separation of Faith August 2010

3

Journey from Publishing Obscurity November 2009
38 comments

4

#65–Separation of Faith Officially Launched (for Real This Time)! September 2010
2 comments

5

78–Writer’s Digest Conference Open for Registration! October 2010
6 comments

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2010. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

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4th Serialized Issue of Cinnamon Available for Downloading

Monday is here again already, and so is the 4th issue of The Truth About Cinnamon‘s free serialization for your downloading and reading pleasure. 🙂 http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/25379887/

There are a number of other things I’d like to talk about today, but I’m trying to finish up the final edit of Separation of Faith so I can check off that part of the plan by submitting the manuscript to the publisher by tomorrow or Wednesday, at the latest. As soon as I complete the edit, I’ll be back here to add to this post and to do some tag surfing, which has become one of my new favorite things.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a holiday today, I hope you’re having fun with the extra time. Later …

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Hitch a Ride on the Experience of Others

One of the books I purchased at that goal-altering conference last September (see Blog Launch Post from November 4) is Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz (http://christinakatz.com/about/). Ms. Katz was also a speaker at the conference and, although I was thoroughly impressed and anxious to learn from her, I realized just the other day that I hadn’t even opened her book yet. Fortunately, all of my books are now unpacked and on the book shelf in my new office, so I went right to Get Known before the Book Deal and began reading.

The whole experiment underlying this blog, of course, involves learning how to create a presence and establish a following out in the open, with the process fully exposed so everyone watching can learn along with me. Then we’ll learn how to use that presence and following to help leverage publishing success down the road, using me and my two books as a test tube.

Well, Ms. Katz has already traveled a similar road and stresses the importance of establishing and building a platform (there’s that word again) as the foundation for everything else on my particular list. But her book really clarifies the platform concept and offers simple, practical things for us to do to help move our dreams forward.

I haven’t finished the book yet and will report on relevant points in my next post. But one point rang especially clear: When we’re tracking things like hits on our websites and blogs, we need to be looking at numbers in the hundreds per day, in order to record real progress. And the numbers need to be in the thousands per day before our online presence signifies any sort of arrival.

Consequently, I do have a long way to go–but I still believe I’ll get there.

Plan Update

The new chapter I realized I needed to write in Separation of Faith (following the beta readers’ input) is now finished. That exercise was challenging, to say the least because, in addition to inserting a new chapter, I had to make sure that the linkage in the chapters immediately ahead of and behind the new one were smooth and accurate. As I complete the balance of the edit, I’ll probably do more tweaking, but I’m happy with what I see–and I absolutely cannot believe that I originally thought the book would work without that chapter! Thank heavens for those beta readers!

In another week, I hope to be ready to submit Separation of Faith to the publisher. Then, while they’re putting the manuscript through their own editing process (which will take several weeks), I’ll complete the edit of The Truth About Cinnamon. The move and being sick ended up costing me a full month, and I’m now trying to make some of that up. But in the long run, a few weeks one way or another won’t be very memorable twenty years from now … 🙂

Speaking of Cinnamon

Three of the planned seven issues are now available for free downloading (http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/). Please let me know if you’re giving this a try. I’d love to hear from you!

The existing version of The Truth About Cinnamon will become an official 1st Edition next month, as soon as the re-edited version goes into production. I’m offering huge discounts through the book store on my website (www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com), if you’re interested in giving the whole thing a try.

Stats

Although I have a long way to go to reach the “arrived” level or even the “making good progress” level, the deal behind this blog is that I will share everything along the way. So, here’s where things stand today:

  • Blog Hits: 847 (last post: 737) This is a nice jump, but I need to figure out how to make this happen every day rather than every week.
  • Website: 35,088 (last post: 34,967)
  • Amazon Ranking: 2,523,108 (2,250,851) I don’t really think this one is going to move until the new version of Cinnamon is released. But I’m going to keep trying. Perhaps the free downloading will help generate a little interest.

Have a great week! I’m looking forward to talking with a lot of you as I’m tag surfing until my next post!

All the best to you–Cheri

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Third Free Issue of Serialized The Truth About Cinnamon Now Available for Downloading

Hi! This will be very short, just to let you know that the third issue of Cinnamon is now ready, as promised for today, for those of you who have decided to give the story a try:  (http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/25083389/). Remember that this will become a 1st Edition when the newly edited version goes into production in February.

I will write a longer post in the morning, with updates on how The Plan is progressing with respect to Separation of Faith, the stats, etc.

Hope your 2010 is off to a terrific start! Later ….

Cheri

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The Move

Although I’ve been minimizing the impact of my impending move in previous posts, I’m here to report that this is being written at five-thirty in the morning because I’m surrounded by boxes and haven’t had time for anything except a few comments since last Fridayl (This is now Wednesday).

But my new office (where I’m sitting in the dark at the moment because all of my lamps are still packed) will be a lovely and inspirational place to proceed with the steps in my Journey from Publishing Obscurity. So I’m thankful for that blessing and for the knowledge that, in another week, all these boxes will be gone.

Plan Update

  1. The first seven chapters of the original version of Cinnamon are now ready for the free serialization. At first I thought I’d release eight chapters, but there seemed to be a better breaking point at the end of #7. Next, as soon as possible after Thanksgiving, I need to figure out the best way to upload the chapters (one per week) so that interested/curious readers can easily download them. My goal was to announce the serialization by December 1, and I think that target is still possible. Stay tuned for the announcement.
  2. All but one of my beta readers for Separation of Faith have finished the manuscript and have completed the questionnaire I gave them. Their incredibly valuable input has highlighted a few areas that either need tweaking or a little more development. This has been quite interesting for me, because several issues they pointed out clearly stem from my paranoia about writing another novel that’s too long.  In my last edit before giving the book to the betas, I actually cut out a bunch of stuff that now needs to be put back in. So, I guess the lesson to be learned here is that we need to tell our stories the way we instinctively feel they need to be told, and then wait for a publishing professional to tell us when/where something needs to be cut. With my beta readers’ input in my head, I will now perform one more edit on Separation of Faith, which I anticipate will take me about two weeks.
  3. Then I’ll submit the manuscript to iUniverse, where the book will immediately enter a professional editorial process that will take another two or three weeks. While that process is ongoing, I’ll go back to the re-edit of Cinnamon, which actually does need to be cut. My goal will be to have that job completed by the time the Editorial Evaluation on Separation of Faith is returned to me. There will most likely be the need for one additional edit on the new book when I receive that report.
  4. Consequently, my objective of having both books released by April 2010 is probably going to slip a little but should still be feasible within the second quarter. I’d rather take a little longer and make certain that the products I’m putting out there represent my absolute best effort.

Tag Surfing

One way I’ve been meeting a lot of you is by surfing around to find writers blogging on topics that line up in some form with what I’m trying to do here. But the surfing process takes a lot of time, and the move to my new place has consumed that slot of late. By the beginning of next week, I should be able to start actively surfing again, and I’m looking forward to getting back to that part of this plan, which has introduced me to so many wonderful writers out there, who are struggling along the same path.

Stats

  1. 568 hits on this blog as of a minute ago. Last posting was 409. So, I guess that’s not too bad, considering the fact that I haven’t been doing anything to drive the number up since the end of last week. One thing is certain about the social media element of this Journey from Publishing Obscurity: No one is going to come looking for us. We have to be out there every single day, finding and talking to people. And on those days when we don’t give anything, we’re probably not going to get anything either.
  2. The numbers for both my website and Cinnamon on Amazon have been fairly static since the last posting, although Amazon got a little worse … 😦 … But again, I haven’t been doing anything that would compel readers to go there. Hopefully, the release of Cinnamon’s free serialization will produce a positive change in both of these stats.

Happy Thanksgiving!

With all my heart, I wish a happy, peaceful, and safe Thanksgiving holiday to everyone reached by my words. And I pray that blessings will begin to flow on those less fortunate among us, including those whose idea of a move is from one shelter to another on a good day, or from one bridge or underpass on a day that’s not so good. Lots of families with children are falling prey to this plague in our present economic crisis, and we need to keep them in our hearts, prayers, and volunteer commitments as we celebrate with gratitude all the gifts we’ve been given in our own lives.

And when I complain about the boxes stacked like highrises throughout my house, I need to remind myself that there are people out there who actually live in these things. That visual sort of puts a whole new perspective on Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? 

Peace and love.

Cheri

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Headline Update

After nine days of blogging, searching, and commenting, I’ve decided to re-insert a number reference into the post headings. Even though the posts are sequenced by date, I’m finding that some sort of numeric reference in the heading makes commenting and responding to specific issues in my blog a little more efficient.

Writer’s Digest Community

For writers who haven’t heard about this new site yet, I strongly recommend checking things out at www.writersdigest.ning.com. Notification about the site came to me through a valued comment, and I’m now signed up as part of that community.

Any writer, regardless of what stage you’re in (a beginner just starting to develop your first piece, or an experienced author) will find a comfortable home in the Writer’s Digest Community. Plus, WD is the organization that sponsored and ran the conference in New York last September, the one that inspired and lit a fuse under me. So you can be sure you’ll find leading-edge information on all aspects of writing on their new site.

Let me know what you think after you’ve visited the community.

Stats Update One Week Later

  • 409: Hits on this blog as of a minute ago. Previously posted at 100. Not bad.
  • 34,355: Hits on my website (www.eWritersRUs.com) Previously posted at 34,195. Not great, but at least up.
  • 2,785,171: Hits for The Truth About Cinnamon on Amazon. Previously posted at 2,621,585. Slipped (because this is the number we want to go down instead of up). Until I’m ready to begin releasing the free serialization of Cinnamon’s first third, I’m not expecting this number to improve very much. But I’m anticipating that some people will want to secure a !st edition when we’re ready to stop production of the original version. That will happen when the new 2nd edition goes into production. The free serialization might prove useful in creating 1st edition interest.

Guess we’ll see about that. After all, that’s the sort of thing this blog is designed to help me/us learn.

Blog Posting Frequency

A comment came in suggesting that blog postings 2-4 times a week tend to work better for readers who don’t want to be overloaded. That frequency will also work better for me too, giving me more time to actually work on the things that I want to share in the blog.

If something dramatic happens, I’ll pop one in more frequently. Otherwise, I’ll be back about every three days with a new post. In between, I’ll be finding you out there and discovering what you’re all doing as well.

Have a great weekend!

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