BLESSED LABORS & LABOR DAY

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 A federal holiday established in 1894, the holiday was founded by the labor movement during a very dark time in the history of working class.

 In 1882, more than 10,000 workers took unpaid time to march in New York City in protest of conditions across the nation; this is recognized as the first Labor Day parade.

At the height of the Industrial Revolution, American workers, including children, worked 12-hour days, seven days a week for minimal wages in mills, mines, and factories that were often unsafe and provided inhumane working conditions. Agriculture was replaced by manufacturing in mainstream American employment, and labor unions grew prominent and vocal. Through the pressures exerted by protests and strikes, unions and workers were able to compel major changes in conditions, hours and pay.

 Declaring Labor Day as a federal holiday was an attempt by Congress to repair ties with the American working class in the midst of the massive unrest that shook the nation.

There are approximately 28 million small businesses in the USA (2017) and of those, 22 million are solopreneurs, meaning those businesses have no hired employees. These include cottage “craft” businesses that make and sell handmade goods, homemade food items, and personal services. These statistics are calculated on the number of us who actually file for business licenses, so the true number of Americans who rely on small businesses for employment is a difficult one to pin down. Suffice it to say, there are many. Maybe some of your characters are even small businesses. Many of mine are, in both series.

While there are many very helpful programs under the federal Small Business Administration – paid for by our tax dollars folks, so USE them – they don’t actually protect us except through education. For small businesses, there are no unions to fight for us, holidays (paid or unpaid) are in short supply, and the largest benefit cited by most is our ability to flex our work schedules to include things that are important to us. Like the school field trip or play, caring for family and friends in need, or being on vacation more than the corporate 10.4 days per year. Freedom to live our lives on our terms, lucrative or not. We work longer hours per day and week, pay our taxes before ourselves, bring home less net pay sometimes, and struggle to provide health benefits that we did – or would – when working for corporate-owned businesses, but almost everyone I’ve ever spoken to about this says the same thing: “Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

What we do is band together in organizations where we can share information, advertising, and service opportunities. For writers – and if you are selling your books you are a business – do your research and then invest in your business by joining orgs that can help you learn, achieve, and maintain your business success. And yes, I know that the word “success” can mean different things to different folks, and it should, but for my purposes today, I mean not putting the family out on the street because you are an author.

As an author, I belong to associations like the Florida Writers Association, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Sister in Crime. My relationship as a member helps me to continue to learn my craft and trade, take advantage of cooperative advertising opportunities, be energized and encouraged by fellow authors, and turn a profit.

As the owner of On-Target Words, I belong to organizations like American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI), Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and most recently, Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA). And, for all of the same reasons I cited above. The point is, get the right support for your goals and understand it comes at a price. Make the time to take full advantage of the amazing perks of belonging.

I hope that your Labor Day is spent without labor and can be spent being energized, instead. May your burgers (beef or veggie) not be burned, your favorite beverages plentiful, and may the Lord keep you safe, humble, and happy, every day.

Keep writing, reading, and submitting! See you next week with an Author Interview. You’ll meet an amazing man: Colonel (Ret) Will Merrill, author of the Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes non-fiction series. See you then!

Nancy Q.

 

 

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Writing Business Tidbytes – August

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SORRY, I MISSPOKE!

We often write the things that we say ourselves and hear in everyday life. That’s the way to be authentic, right? Well, yes – if we’ve got the words right, that is! Neither my hearing nor my memory are what they once were, so I’m double checking my writing and my speaking!

Some often-misused words:

  • All the sudden – should be – All of a sudden
  • Calvary vs cavalry. If military on horseback are what you are looking for, you want to use the word cavalry. If you are writing or speaking about the location where people were executed on a cross, you want Calvary, also known as Golgotha.
  • Chomping at the bit – should be – Champing at the bit
  • For all intensive purposes – should be – For all intents and purposes

EMOTIONS & MARKETING

We know that when reader’s hearts are touched, we’ve done our job, right? This is true in fiction of course, but it is also true in non-fiction work including ad and web copy! The link below to Hubspot will take you to a great article that discusses which emotions evoke what response. Worth a few minutes to read!  HubSpot Article

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A LANDING PAGE?

The thing I liked about this fun offer is that when you learn what makes up a good landing page, you have also learned what makes for ideal marketing points for your press releases, ads, emails, etc. They have a free book offer in exchange for signing onto their newsletter. Don’t want the newsletter? When you get the first one, just opt out – but I suggest you don’t. Lots of good information coming your way for free! Up to you, but if you want to check it out, take a look here. How to Design & Optimize Landing Pages

AUTHOR CHRISTIE STRATOS VIDEO ABOUT AUTHOR HYBRID MARKETING

In March of this year, I presented two workshops at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in New Jersey. One of those was a workshop entitles, HYBRID MARKETING for AUTHORS. Christie came in a bit late because of her appointment with a literary agent, but she was with us for most of the session and had some great questions and input. Here, she used her You Tube channel to share what she learned with her friends and followers. If you’ve got a half hour, she does a pretty good job of recapping the points I tried to drive home. Author Hybrid Marketing

Until next week, I wish you lots of quality writing time, a good book to read, and people who love you. Keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting!

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

 

 

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EXPOSED: Win a Prize Pack!

Diana Hunter and Peter Hopkinson have been temporarily assigned to Task Force Indigo, a counter-terrorism group.

Following the failed assassination attempt on a Canadian Senator, their mission is to interrogate a known associate of a new terrorist organization, ILIF.

What they uncover isn’t just a simple case of an angry young man, but a plot to claim the lives of thousands of people and change the political direction of two countries.

Can Diana and Peter intercept the terrorists to prevent the planned attack or will their pasts destroy their ability to trust each other and undermine their attempts?

Find out in the latest installment of this edge-of-your-seat series!

Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited!

Alison Golden was born and raised in Bedfordshire, England. She writes cozy mysteries and suspense novels, along with the occasional witty blog post, all of which are designed to entertain, amuse, and calm. Her approach is to combine creative ideas with excellent writing and edit, edit, edit.

Alison is the creator of the Reverend Annabelle Dixon cozy mysteries, a charming, fun series featuring a female vicar ministering in the beautiful county of Cornwall, England. She also produces a Jersey-based detective series featuring Inspector David Graham and the Diana Hunter series, set in Vancouver.

Her books’ themes range from the humorous and sweet to harder hitting suspense. They are recommended for readers who like to relax and unwind with their books, who enjoy getting to know the characters, and who prefer the tougher side of life implied.

Alison is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and twin sons. She splits her time traveling between London and San Francisco.

To receive three free books, updates about new releases, exclusive promotions, and other insider information, sign up for the Cozy Mysteries Insider mailing list at: http://www.cozymysteries.com.

Enter to win a A Diana Hunter Mystery Prize pack. Hunted, Snatched, and Stolen Paperbacks along with a $10 Amazon GC. Ends 8/26/18 @ 11:59PM EST

 

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Taking Stock

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our guest blogger for today ran into a scheduling conflict, so we’ll meet him at a later date. You see? Life happens to us all – ready or not.

While I’ve blogged before on the importance of balance in our lives as writers, parents, spouses, children, employees – I was recently reminded of another aspect of our lives that needs our attention and is often an afterthought at best. (I am including myself, here!)

There is little “instant” gratification in this business. To be at peace and to see a profitable career develop, remember you are in a marathon, not a sprint. Athletes invest great amounts of time, energy, and money in training and getting fit for their event(s). So do entrepreneurs. Many of us are authorpreneurs.

I’ve nudged you all before about sitting down and preparing a real-time, time/energy and financial budget for your book publishing and marketing. If we aren’t writing as a hobby, then our writing is a business and any business that is going to grow into a profitable operation, takes a time and financial investment. It also requires monitoring of the income and expenses on a regular basis, be it monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. While it isn’t a business where you can always point to an expense and see a direct result, it’s still important to track all the activity.

What part does our writing play in our financial planning? Are we including it at all? We have to be careful not to reinvest every dime back into the business. A powerful muscle to build for ourselves is to save some of everything we bring in. A recommended number is 10% – but if you hate that number, choose another one. The amount isn’t as important as the habit of putting aside some of your income, every time you bring in income. Use an envelope tucked in your sock drawer, a can or jar on the shelf, or open a savings account just to these funds.

For some of us, that savings might be our “emergency fund”, for others, it might the “vacation fund”, or the “Christmas fund” – it doesn’t matter what label it has as long as it’s important enough to you to do it! And when you get to where there’s a significant amount saved up, seek a good financial planner to help you invest wisely so you can earn while you sleep! Financial stability is a very good thing for us all. And it is what successful, happy business people do.

I’ve got a good friend who was inspirational to me in the business of writing. She and her husband had recently moved into a new home where her husband could build his shop on the property and not have to commute anymore. She laughed when she told me that she’d saved her royalties over the years in her “someday” account – and that’s what they bought the house with. WOW! She treated those checks as paychecks and she and her husband had agreed early on that they’d live on one check and bank the others, so they lived on his and banked hers. A marvelous argument for not spending every penny we bring in. There are many times I’m reminded of that conversation and it still makes me smile. It didn’t happen overnight – it was probably close to eight years of saving.

So, keep writing, keep reading, keep saving! Be patient and be diligent. I wish you peace and prosperity, always.

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

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Faith Trumps Fear

Merciful Blessings Award

Once upon a time, twenty-five years ago, I could not conceive of putting anything I wrote into a contest. My gosh, I’d never survive knowing someone else read it and thought it was horrible stuff! That my “baby” was the ugliest they’d ever seen?

But, as we grow in our writing by learning and applying, by listening to others and reading a lot, we gain a bit of confidence – a little “faith” in ourselves as writers and as evolving human beings.

Back in 1997, I can remember being over the moon when I won (a door prize at a special meeting) a critique by a NY-published author that I knew and respected. This was the significant event in my life that taught me the power of words.

I quit writing for years after I read her notes. She felt that honesty was more important than tact. I still disagree with that theory, today. Thankfully, my own group of critique partners had faith that I’d be a better writer if I carried on. So, after a lot more learning and listening and reading, I went back to it. I gained lifelong friends and mentors like Anne Waldradt, for one – a woman who permanently shaped my writing for the good.

One of the lessons I learned was to never, ever, share my comments or opinions with anyone unless I was sure they’d be helpful and not hurtful. All suggestions can be offered so they don’t crush the life out of someone.  My writing partner, DK Ludas, or Daria in our circles, is wired the same way. One year she and I even chaired a large writing contest for pre-published authors. We spent hundreds of hours making sure the comments were constructive and not destructive before they went off to the authors. We wanted to encourage faith – not fear.

In time, contests became an opportunity to learn and grow for me, not something to be feared or dreaded. My “babies” can be unique-looking, but they are nurtured through editing, feedback, and rewriting from trusted partners in the business – and I’ve got faith that I can be proud of the results, even when those babies don’t win or even final. Judging a work, be it words, paint, or some other art form, is a subjective process.

I’ve often written in the newsletter about the value of entering contests. Sure, when you win, you feel GREAT!! And every time you glance over at that sticker, trophy, or award certificate, you feel great, again. Sometimes you can win money or a prestigious review, publishing opportunity, or something else that is important to you. And sometimes, we don’t.

But most importantly, we get to exercise and strengthen that faith muscle. And, the made-that-deadline muscles And muscles that are not exercised, do not get and stay strong.

Daria and I pray over just about everything. And even though sometimes we have to encourage each other to let it go and leave it with our Lord to do with as He sees fit, we know the result will benefit us. With our kids, our husbands, our communities and with our writing.

The results do not define us: our participation does. That’s how to let faith beat out fear, every single day. Go for it – and do it with a smile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dianne Neral Ell: Meet the Author

NQ: Welcome, Dianne Neral Ell! I appreciate you taking the time from writing your current novel to spend a little time with us here at Words Count!

Dianne: Thank you for making space and time for me to talk about my writing.

NQ: You’re welcome. You and I are both short story readers and writers as well as novelists. You had great short stories published in the Snowbird Christmas collections. What is it that you love about writing short stories? What do you dislike about writing them?

Dianne: I have many ideas for novels, but each one can take a year or even much longer than that to write. I can convert those ideas into a short story, and even with all its complexities, it will not take as long to complete. So time is an important factor. The other thing I like is the variety. One story can be a mystery. The next, sci-fi, fantasy, or have a historical setting. You can sell to whoever you want. With novels, you are pretty much held to the type of book your contract is based on.

For short stories, however, the biggest challenge is the word count. Know that in the beginning. Some publishers are very exact in their requirements.

NQ: They sure are. Following the instructions is a big part of submitting for publication. This year you started out with a home run, right? Your short story, “Incident at Puerto Angel” was just published in the 24th issue of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. I bought my magazine through Amazon and enjoyed your story very much. Loved the twist at the end. Can you share with readers a little about the process of getting from writing a story to publication with a major international magazine? How long did that whole process take?

Dianne: This story took longer than usual because I didn’t have the ending to start with. In fact, I didn’t have much at all, just a premise. Someone steals twenty million dollars.  Who?  And why?  With nothing more than that, I’m not sure why I pursued it except that it intrigued me. I came up with several avenues to follow, none of which led to a conclusion but at least I had the bones of a story, (a Wall Street investment banker discovers twenty million has been taken from one of his accounts). Without an ending, I went with it anyway, playing the part of the investigator who follows the money in an attempt to understand why the theft took place. The story unfolded as I wrote it. And the conclusion surprised me when I got there – so it wasn’t just you that was surprised. It’s not something I would have thought of when creating the storyline, but it came as a logical conclusion in the series of events.

NQ: Your novel, The Exhibit, is a very interesting tale of intrigue and irony. I enjoyed it. Made me think of Hitchcock’s tales, actually. Where did the plot for that story come from and how did you develop it into the twists and turns that make that book such a good read?

Dianne: I’ve always enjoyed tales of ancient Egypt, its history, and the remarkable treasures created by the early craftsman. The Exhibit is about an exhibition of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts that comes to a New York museum and a collector’s need to steal one of the pieces. Our protagonist, who also works for the museum, comes up with a unique, foolproof plan to commit the theft, however, it takes the help of three people who are working with her to publicize the exhibit, to pull it off. Anytime you have more than one person committing a crime, there’s a chance that something will go wrong, and it does. Our protagonist doesn’t live up to her end of the pact, leaving the three ‘helpers’ to seek retribution. The story as it unfolds plays to the weaknesses of each of the characters, and the issues in their lives that lead to the unavoidable outcome.

NQ: Who are a couple of your favorite authors and why?

Dianne: My favorite is Daniel Silva. I love his plotting and most of all his writing. I’m also a fan of C.J. Box. And I follow his adventures as game warden with great interest. In his latest, I didn’t see where the conclusion was going to be anything other than ordinary, but he pulled it off so that it wasn’t. I’ve also followed Mary Higgins Clark over her many years as an author. I’m also a fan of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene.

Probably one of my favorite books is Thomas Cook’s Red Leaves. When I think back on what books linger, that’s one in which the story, the writing, the choice of words, resonate over time

NQ: What kind of research do you do and do you finish all your research before you write or research as you go along?

Dianne: I research up front to get everything in place and know what’s feasible and what isn’t. But there’s always research that goes in along the way. The plot changes. New characters and places appear that I hadn’t thought of originally.

NQ: I’m sure readers can get your books wherever books are sold, right? Can they find them in any of the local stores? If so, which ones? And where can readers find out more about you – maybe sign up for a newsletter or blog?

Dianne: I know The Exhibit is available in print online from all of the major bookstores, and it’s on Kindle, too. Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine is sold at Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and at their website. As well as mine.  And, you mentioned you bought it on Amazon. For more info on me and what I’ve written, go to dianneneralell.com.

NQ: Thanks so much again, for being here with us today. And best wishes on your next project! Looking forward to reading it whether it’s long or short!

Dianne: Nancy, thanks so much for giving me this time. I hope I’ve been able to give some insight into my work, and writing in general.  It’s been a pleasure to talk to you about writing which is near and dear to both of our hearts.

Readers – see you next week!

Nancy Q.

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Writing Business Tidbytes

TouringHope you’ve all had a terrific week. Been a busy one around here, for sure. I was part of some amazing meetings and community-support events that leave me in awe because of the caliber of people I get to work beside. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself – this is my life, really? LOL. It did wreak havoc with my writing and working schedule, however, so, this blog is going to be a bit brief, though beneficial, I hope! As always, take what fits for you and leave the rest behind. Found a few things of interest –

PUBLISHER LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Black Opal Books – until December 31. Check out the submission guidelines before submitting, as always, right? They have an online submission form. BLACK OPAL

POETRY COLLECTIONS SOUGHT: (TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE ON THIS ONE!)

TUPELO PRESS
Throughout the month of July, Tupelo Press will hold open submissions for book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (28-47 pages). The July Open Reading Period is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad, and regardless of prior publication history.

AGENTS LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Check out this awesome link – BOOKFOX! 

Keep writing, keep reading, keep submitting! See you next Sunday with a fun interview with EXHIBIT author, Dianne Neral Ell. Don’t miss it!

Nancy Q.

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