Monday, October 31, 2011

Making An Impact

Every now and then, someone comes along who is bigger than life. Sometimes we don't realize or appreciate the impact of that person until he/she is gone.

Earlier this month, our little town lost a special citizen--a man who adopted this community just over a decade ago. He saw possibilities where others saw problems. He was a visionary who believed in a small southern town that sometimes got lost in its own history.

Now, as I look down the main street, I see a roadway and sidewalks transformed and updated because of his dedication and efforts that helped propel the community into action. Because he was a beekeeper, I'll always think of him when I see a jar of honey. When I watch people play tennis on the town courts, I'll remember the joy he gained from early morning matches.

He was involved in so much. I interviewed him at least three times for profile stories in the Daily Press. He worked with Meals on Wheels, the Good Neighbor Center, the local schools, Kiwanis, and more.

When I look at the daylillies blooming along the town streets, I'll remember the cold day he went with my husband to dig up the donated plants from a nursery field in a neighboring county. I'll remember and be glad I knew this man and that he came to our community.

He made an impact. Are you making an impact?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Having My Computer Changes Things

Not having my computer with all my files and photos on it is really hard. Normally, I work on something every day, especially during the weekend and on Mondays after tennis. Now I don't have access to any of my files. The laptop is a convenience to take a look at e-mails, but I really miss my usual tools and my normal e-mail format in Outlook. Although my husband and daughters are working diligently on getting back my hard drive, I don't know what will happen. I will probably get a new computer since I understand that old ones wear out. I didn't realize I had owned this one long enough for it to wear out. Time has a way of slipping by.

I now have some resolutions to keep once my life is back up and running.

1. Use a flash fob to back up new files each day.
2. Have an auxiliary computer as a backup in the event of computer failure.
3. Store photos in My Documents, not on the "C" Drive.
4. Make copies of important photos and other work on CDs.
5. Learn more about Drop Box and make use of that free storage space.

I'm thankful so many people are willing to help. Eventually, I'll have another computer holding my life in its clutches. I hope I'll know better then and will not take my electronic life for granted!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do You Depend on Your Computer?

Today has been a dismal Friday. I knew I depended on my computer but didn't realize until this morning quite how much.

My major computer is down. It's the one with all my documents, photos, and addresses. It's my life in cyberspace all on one computer.

Tomorrow, I'm making a talk about writing for the Fredericksburg Writers Group in the morning. I also have a book signing scheduled tomorrow afternoon from 2 to 4 at the Griffin Bookshop on Caroline St. With my crowded weekly schedule, today was the day for me to get my talk ready, make new business cards, and create new flyers and other graphic materials. That didn't happen. I was going to send last-minute reminders and information about the book signing. That didn't happen either.

This evening, I also planned to attend a Homecoming Reception for alumni art students at the College of William and Mary. I'd looked forward to that event for quite some time. That also didn't happen because I lost so much time trying to fix the computer problem. Instead, I stayed home and found materials for Plan B tomorrow.

How much do you depend on your computer? Do you live your life in cyberspace?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Loving the Cardinals - It's Hard for the Fans

Tony LaRussa at Spring Training
It's been about eight months since my husband and I flew into Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and headed to Jupiter for Baseball Spring Training with the St. Louis Cardinals. The first day we were there, we learned that the co-ace of the pitching staff, Adam Wainwright, would be out for the season with Tommy John surgery. That was a terrible blow for the team and diminished their hopes for a post-season run. All the while, Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa, remained upbeat. Spring training is such a special time because every team has hope, some teams more than others. Despite everything, Tony and the Cardinals had that hope.

In late March, the Cardinals started this season with a flurry of losses, making their prospects seem even more dismal. With a multitude of injuries, they plodded along and eventually spent a while in first place before they eventually went on an eight-game losing streak.

During the baseball season, on every trip we took, I had to find a sports bar with satellite TV so we could see the Cardinals play. We discovered sports bars in Boone, NC, Lake Tahoe, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Hilton Head, SC, and up and down Lake Michigan and Lake Superior in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The last week of August, the Cardinals were far behind the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers and 10 1/2 games behind in the Wild Card race. How could they possibly make it to the postseason playoffs?

But they did.

David Freese at Spring Training
The team began a magical run and overtook the Atlanta Braves on the last day of the season to take the Wild Card. Then, in an unlikely scenario, they defeated three outstanding pitchers from the Philadelphia Phillies that had been hailed as the best team in baseball with the best pitching staff. Who would have dreamed it?

Last night, the Cardinals won over the Milwaukee Brewers and will now head to the World Series against the Texas Rangers. And, it was not Albert Pujols, but it was instead third baseman David Freese who was named most valuable player in the National League Championship series.

All the while, dedicated fans like us watched every game. For the last six weeks, each game we followed was a "must win" situation. It's been really hard on the fans because we have no control over what happens.

Still, this year, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals have been the team of destiny. And we've watched every pitch from beginning to end.

Will this team of destiny become baseball's World Champions? It's still an unlikely scenario, or so I've heard. But, I'm hoping...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

The Pay It Forward Blogfest from Matthew MacNish at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment and Alex J. Cavanaugh is designed to get participants to spread the word about three blogs that are special for them. Hopefully, you will visit the ones suggested by blogfest participants.

Here are my three:

Sunny Room Studio because it's magical to visit there. Daisy Hickman writes beautiful messages and posts gorgeous photographs she has taken. A visit to her studio makes you feel good about the world. Please take a look.

In Time because there's always a story posted. Michael Di Gesu writes amazing Y A stories that will capture your imagination.

Straight from Hel because of the informative articles. I always learn something interesting or important when I visit Helen Ginger's blog site.

I hope you'll visit these blogs as well as those of Matthew MacNish and Alex Cavenaugh. Also, as many others from the blog fest participants as you can. That's well over 200 at this point.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Do You Do to Advertise Your Books?

How should authors go about advertising? That's a question we all ponder on a daily basis. Should we set up a blog book tour? Should we hire someone with more knowledge and contacts than we have to set it up for us? We do interviews. We visit lots of blogs. We post on as many sites as possible. Yet sometimes we can't help but wonder if much of what we do is simply lost in cyberspace.

I hope not.

The people I've met by blogging in the last year and a half  have been wonderful and inspirational. I don't know that meeting these folks has resulted in any book sales, but my life is richer just from getting to know them.

I was interested to read an information request on one of my lists yesterday. A writer wanted to know if she had a well-edited book, could she expect to realize $1000 in sales each month from that book? She has received a variety of answers from that question, including one that said she should expect to put sales proceeds back into promotion, advertising, and building name-recognition for about the first five years.

How and when to advertise is a complicated issue. What's important to you about advertising? Do you have a magic formula to share?

Here's my next event in advertising. There'll be a lot of writers tailgating, so hope we find some new readers along the way.

Fall for a Writer Tailgate Party-Book Signing
October 15th, 2011, 10Am-2Pm
3714 Richmond Rd., Keswick, VA

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bringing People to Your Blog

You've spent a lot of time. You've researched your subject, and you've written a wonderful, informative post on your blog. But no one visits. No one comments. How can that be?

Several years ago, I started writing occasional blog posts, but no one ever saw them. No one came to visit. I had no followers.

That changed when I took the blog book tour class taught by Dani Greer. Her class was intense but productive. It turned my blogging life around. I just went to her Blog Book Tours site and found some of her excellent instruction there ready for review by anyone who visits. I hope you'll take a look.

During that class, I discovered a number of wonderful bloggers like Alex Cavanaugh who surely never sleeps because he comments faithfully on everyone's blogs, writes new blogs virtually every day, sees every movie known to man and reviews most of them, writes books, has blogfests, etc., etc. I would love to be like Alex, but my life appears to be too scattered.

Here are some tips I have learned that can help one become a better blogger:

1. Focus. Pick a topic and become known mostly for that topic. Alex is known for his movie reviews. And, no, scattered is not a good topic!

2. Visit the blogs of others. Follow the blogs you like.

3. Tweet about your blog and the blogs you follow.

4. Post regularly, even if it is only once or twice a week.

5. Write often about those things that will help others. Write sometimes about the things you love. Although I don't believe I have many artists among my followers, I sometimes cannot resist writing about art. Occasionally, I need to write about baseball as well. That's definitely breaking the rule on focus.

6. Join blogfests that interest you. You'll meet new people there and make friends. You'll expand your horizon.

7. Spend an hour a day, if you can, developing your blogging skills. If you can only spare 30 minutes, use that time to your advantage. It will be time well-spent.

8. Take a look at your blog statistics and see which posts attract the most visitors. I have never topped the number of visitors I got the day I posted my thoughts on the sudden ending to the Medium television series.

Good luck with blogging. It's an exciting way for a writer to touch readers.

If you have a chance, please visit the Night Writers blog where I am posting twice a month, 1st and 15th about travel.