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February 2, 2013

Bloggers Read This: My Blog Traffic Sucks!

My Blog Traffic Sucks! by Steve Scott was the last book I read in 2012. I read it in a day on New Year's Eve.  I picked it up for free, but it is worth the $2.99. While not fully applicable to book bloggers, it had great advice and provided food for thought. I've actually based a few other posts on this book.

The title of the book is a bit misleading. The "8 simple steps" often had a few substeps to them. Also, I'm not sure about the promise of "100,000 blog visitors". A time period was not specified for when/how quickly this milestone would be reached. Something that was also missing from the book, but was stated in the product description was that these 8 simple steps would take 15 hours a week.

What? 15 hours a week! This is part of the reason why I don't think the book is targeted at the majority of book bloggers. Even some authors I know would have a hard time committing 15 hours a week to their blogs. The book is meant for someone whose blog is directly supporting their full-time job.

Yes, there were a few problems with the book, but over all it is one of the best books I've read on blogging. I was quite pleased that it did not advocate underhanded (black hat) tricks like link farms. Much of the advice was stuff I had already heard, but the way it was presented made it easy to put the advice into practice. I've been able to make a few changes, even with my limited blogging time. The idea for the Comment Challenge came from this book. Just making the commitment to comment more has increased traffic to my blog.

I'm recommending My Blog Traffic Sucks to all the authors I work with. If you are looking at revamping your website or want to get more out of your blogging efforts, then get this book.

Buy the Book at Amazon 

Book Info:
My Blog Traffic Sucks by Steve Scott 
ebook, published October 2012
Source: Purchased
Read: December 2012

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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February 1, 2013

Friday Fun with M. B. Feeney

When I was writing Right Click, Love, I tried to draw off my own and old school friends dating stories and experiences to lend a semblance of realism to the story. Dating is one of those subjects that no matter what you say, someone else always has a story more fanciful and often cringeworthy.

I want to tell you one of my dating stories. It very nearly made it in as Jodie’s first official date with James, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to leave it in, no matter how much I amended it to fit.

Myself and a friend (let’s call her H) had arranged to meet a couple of guy friends (J & T) and hit up a club for Valentine’s day. T pulled out at the last minute, having got back together with his ex that very day, so H rang around to see if anyone else wanted to join us. No one was. While she was on the phone sorting that out, J called me and we decided to give the whole “double date” thing a miss and meet up just the two of us.

Panic ensued when I realised I had left my planned outfit at H’s place. I may or may not have cried knowing I would have looked pretty good, but I pulled myself together and managed to whip a decent outfit up. Another friend (M) came to do my hair for me while I applied the war paint and I was ready to go.
J and I arranged to meet at the local tube station before heading out to the pubs and clubs of West London. We were getting on really well; chatting about mutual friends, music tastes, and general nothingness that always occurs on a first date no matter how much time you have spent with that person as part of a large group.

We found our way into one of the busiest pubs in the area because they tended to be cheaper and played decent music. There was lots of laughing between us, but I was starting to worry there was no “spark” much as Jodie did with James, but I didn’t worry because a good night with a friend is sometimes better than the whole date thing... right?

At about 9pm, we decided to move from the pub into the club. I was pretty excited about this as I knew J was a pretty good dancer (and you know what they say about men who can dance...) and I wasn’t too bad myself. We decided to walk as a) it wasn’t that far and b) we would have more money for drinks.

We began to walk, chatting away when one minute I was around 5,7” tall and the next I was 2,0”! I had been so into our conversation that I hadn’t noticed that the council had been doing some work on the pavement, hadn’t covered a hole up properly and I had stepped right into it with my left foot.

Luckily, J didn’t laugh TOO much as he helped me out. I was mortified, but the missing sparks suddenly appeared as he held my hand the rest of the way.

Needless to say... the night was a success after that. (No, I’m not THAT type of girl)


Originally, when I considered adding this to RCL, Jodie and James were going to go on a double date with Louise and another man, but I worried that it would have been a bit too cliché so I cut it completely.

About the Author:


M. B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, 2 kids and a dog.  She's also a student teacher, a doodler and a chocoholic.  Writing has been her one true love since she could spell, and publishing is the culmination of her hard work and ambition.
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January 31, 2013

Tips on Thursday: Time Management (600th Post!)

After reading J. B. Lynn's post at Not Your Usual Suspects,  I decided I would share with you tools I use to help me get things done. You might know that I wear a bunch of hats and I've always been very good at taking advantage of every minute available. I do slack off from time to time - especially when I feel overwhelmed. But in this age of technology it is easier than ever to keep up with what needs to be done.

Here are some tools and how I use them to keep all the balls in the air.

ActiveInbox

I have a love/hate relationship with email. Something you might not know about me - I hate using the telephone. My friends all thought it was hilarious when I took an administrative job that required a lot of telephone use. Seriously, in college I couldn't order pizza without a minor panic attack. So, yes, email is a Godsend. However, it is also the bane of my existence some days. 

I'm sure you all have experienced the exploding inbox. Mine is compounded by the fact as a public employee there are rules to record keeping (like how long you have to keep something). So I have real trouble deleting email. It's great when something comes up months down the road and I can just do a search of my email and pull up the conversation. 

However, between the amount of email I receive daily and the amount I keep. Emails get lost. Particularly emails I read on the go. Donna B of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave recommended ActiveInbox. I LOVE it. I just have the free version and it has helped tremendously. I did it a free trial of the paid version, but I didn't find I used all the bells and whistle all that much. 

Now when I'm reading email and I don't have time to respond or it's something (such as a guest post) that I will need later with a click of a button it is marked "Action". There's also a "waiting on" button for emails I'm waiting on and will need to follow up on if I don't get a response (I don't really use that one much). But the action button is great. When I sit down at my computer in the evenings I can quickly go through the list of emails I need to deal with.

Google Calendar Widget

I've been reluctant to use a electronic calendar - mostly because it wasn't always easily accessible. At the day job where I might have multiple windows open it is just easier to glance at my desk calendar. However, with the blog and GWR Publicity I needed something that was with me all the time. But it wasn't until I got my tablet that I really started using my Google Calender. There is a widget that you can put on your tablet's homepage that will give you a constant view of your calender. No more "out of mind, out of site" for me. 

I've even taken to color coding things so visually it is easier to see what is going on. Purple is the blog, Yellow is for bills, Red is my authors' appearances.

ToDo List Widget

Another must have for my tablet. My mind is constantly thinking of things I need to do, but as I get older it is harder to retain those ideas in my head. I have tried other apps on my phone for to do lists, but I didn't want an app I had to go to to see the list. I, again, wanted something on my home page of my tablet where I would see it every time I turned it on. The ToDo List Widget is great. I can add and check off items where ever I am. Again, it is a constant reminder. I try to keep it short - 5 or 6 items - and what needs to be done today or the next few days. Now I don't waste those precious minutes trying to remember "what did I tell myself I needed to do?" 

*if you are like me and don't keep up with all the techno lingo, apparently an app and a widget are different things. I found my calender widget as part of the calendar app, but the todo list widget does not have a corresponding app.
Those are three tools that I have found to really help me keep organize and be more productive. What tools or tips do you use?



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January 30, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Rangeley Wallace

Thanks, Donna, for inviting me to Writer’s Wednesday. Today, I want to discuss briefly some of the tools that have helped me in my journey to become a writer.

When I began to write fiction, I had been practicing law for years, and, as a lawyer, I wrote constantly: motions, briefs, memos and the like. And, I had been a big reader all my life. Thus I was surprised when my first attempts to write fiction were not very good (an understatement). I could write a witty line or two about something, make an interesting observation about something else, but for the life of me could not master the parts necessary to tell a story.

When I tried to write a scene, I discovered that I had no idea how to include description or dialogue. I was clueless about how to approach point of view. I didn’t know how to include a flashback or how to decide if one was needed. The list of things I didn’t know would fill this entire blog but suffice it to say there were many.

Despite my discouraging early efforts, I refused to give up. I was determined to learn more about how to write a novel. I didn’t know any other aspiring writers, so I turned to the local universities and the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md. First, I took two college level courses in creative writing where the other students and the professors read my work and made suggestions and I did the same with the other students’ work. You can learn a lot editing other folk’s work. The days my work was critiqued in class, while sometimes painful, weren’t as horrible as I thought they’d be because I knew I needed assistance. I also took courses at the Writer’s Center where you can take almost any type class you can imagine, from “getting started” to “ point of view” to “writing conflict,” all taught by experienced writers. After I had figured a few things out, I took several creative writing courses in the grad schools in the area.

As the years went by, I met other new writers and joined a writing group. At times there were five or six of us but after several years, I and one other writer were the only members left and recently the last member moved from novels to children’s books. Through the years we’d read and critiqued each other’s work, on-line and in monthly meetings, and I miss those sessions. When I read other writer’s acknowledgements and they mention their wonderful writing groups, I am always a little jealous.

In the place of my writing group, however, I found, after searching on-line and talking with other writers and editors, several free-lance editors who give me the feedback I need. The first few editors I worked with weren’t ideal for me, although I learned something from each of them. Finally, I found the right ones. They help me see things in my manuscripts that I don’t and help me create a vivid fictional world. They help me find the holes in the plot and the problems with a character’s development.

And the very best tool for writing? Write. Write after dinner and on weekends or in the early morning, before the day begins. Write on the bus or subway or while you eat lunch. Make notes -- keep notebooks of ideas and observations, the way people talk and what they do and don’t do and say and don’t say, how they look and walk. Write about the weather, how the sky looks at certain times of the day and the year, the way your child’s hand moves towards her food, and how you feel when your teenager treats you the way you treated your parents. Make notes of everything. And when you have something, when you’ve finally put together a bunch of words and sentences and paragraphs and they make a story, work just as hard to find an agent and to get published.

Good luck!

About the Author:

Rangeley Wallace’s first novel No Defense, was a Wyatt Book for St. Martin’s in hardcover and paperback. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and is a graduate of Emory University, Washington College of Law, American University and Georgetown Law (LLM). She has practiced public interest and corporate law, has prosecuted anti-trust and criminal cases and has defended white-collar criminal defendants in federal court. When she is not writing fiction, the mother of four practices and teaches law in Washington D.C. Things are Going to Slide (Sept. 2012; ISBN 9780991679; e-book $4.95; Bev Editions) is Rangeley Wallace’s second novel.
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The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

 

January 29, 2013

Coming Soon! Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (giveaway)

Coming to a book seller near you this February....

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr.




But you can win a copy right here at Girl Who Reads! One lucky reader will receive a hardcover copy from Viking. Sorry it's only open to US residents.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


In this tour de force of imagination, Ron Currie asks why literal veracity means more to us than deeper truths, creating yet again a genre-bending novel that will at once dazzle, move, and provoke.

The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr.’s new novel has a problem­—or rather, several of them. He’s a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He’s mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he’s not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie’s own life. When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he’s ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price, and Currie learns that in a time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, reality TV, and celebrity Twitter feeds, the one thing the world will not forgive is having been told a deeply satisfying lie.

What kind of distinction could, or should, be drawn between Currie the author and Currie the character?  Or between the book you hold in your hands and the novel embedded in it? Whatever the answers, Currie, an inventive writer always eager to test the boundaries of storytelling in provocative ways, has essential things to impart along the way about heartbreak, reality, grief, deceit, human frailty, and blinding love.

Buy the Book!

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January 28, 2013

Meet the Author: Deanna Nowadnick

Donna, thank you for the chance to visit. What fun! I have to confess that I followed Rose Gordon’s lead, asking Facebook friends and followers for ideas. Their questions are the insightful ones. My questions are the silly ones.

Just for the record: I’m still getting used to the title, author. I never expected to write anything beyond an annual Christmas letter. When I started Fruit of My Spirit, I thought I was going to be sharing a single story with my sons about how I met their father. That one story became many stories about God’s love and faithfulness. And now that book has led to Book 2: Sign in Life. Watch for it later this year.

Coffee or Tea?

Tall mocha frappe first thing in the morning. I shower, brush my teeth, add a dab of mascara, and head out with wet hair to my local coffee shop.

Guilty Pleasure?

Dreyer’s Double Fudge Brownie Ice Cream. They now make mini sizes. They’re the perfect Downton Abbey treat.

Guilty Pleasure #2?

Downton Abbey. Beautiful people in beautiful clothes, upstairs/downstairs intrigue, English accents in the English countryside. What could be better?

Guilty Pleasure #3?

People Magazine. I was only slightly embarrassed when I won the prize at recent bridal shower. We were given a list of celebrities and asked to name their significant other. Where are my priorities?

Hidden Talents?

I knit. I play violin. The first should not remain hidden, the second one should.

Most Annoying Habit?

I insist on telling people what to do and how to do it, whether I know or just think I know. Most of the time, it’s the latter. My husband has the patience of Job (who really wasn’t that patient).

Most Endearing Habit?

I tend to over tip. I was a waitress for four months after college. I will be forever grateful for the service of others. Trust me, I was not an endearing part of the restaurant’s wait staff.

Favorite Books Growing Up?

Nancy Drew! Carolyn Keene gave me my first “can’t put it down” experience in reading.

Favorite Author?

Ann Lamott. Bird by Bird still inspires me to write and to keep writing. Her Help Thanks Wow is up next.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Write. Write. Write. And then write some more. Find someone you trust to offer advice and counsel. I’d like to think that a great story will just happen, but it takes work. It’s like exercise. Some days I’m stiff and tired. Some days I feel unstoppable. Every day I try to do a little more, a little better.

How have your reflections helped you to grow?

My two books are memoirs of short stories. Looking back I was able to see that a loving, merciful God was with me at all times in every way. The reflections have given me confidence. I just don’t fret about the stumbles that may come.

What Bible verses inspire you?

Different verses speak to me at different times. My inspiration for Book 2 is from Psalm 25: “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Amen.

Thank you, Deanna!  

If you have a question for Deanna, please leave it in the comment section.
 
About the Author:


Deanna Nowadnick is a Pacific Northwest native and debut author. Fruit of My Spirit began as a love story to her sons. She just wanted them to know how she met their father. One chapter quickly became many chapters. One day, she said to anyone who’d listen, “I think I wrote a book.”

When not writing, Deanna serves as Client Service Coordinator for The Planner’s Edge, a financial advisory firm. Deanna is active in her church, playing the violin and editing the monthly newsletter. She loves to knit, adores chocolate, and most importantly, enjoys a blessed marriage to Kurt. They are the proud parents of two adult sons, Kyle and Kevin.

Deanna is currently working on Book 2. At the Corner of Grace and Mercy: Meeting God at Life’s Crossroads tells of those times when God has come alongside and guided, directed and turned her. The book is another collection of short stories, this time recounting how God has met her at life’s crossroads, when she’s been “on point” with God, not because of anything she’s done, but because a loving, gracious, merciful God was there time after time, again and again.
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Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads.

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Read a Book!

News:

Yes, you read that right. I finally finished a book this week! I also got my high speed internet installed so hopefully I will get my work done quicker and read more. However, my parents also gave me a Roku and, well, it is a bit distracting.

Authors - I have 2 openings for guest posts in February. See the side bar.

Comment Challenge: Last Monday I admitted I fell behind on the comment challenge. Tried hard to get back to it this week. While it doesn't take long, some times I just can't find the few minutes. How are you doing?

I reviewed the last of my Christmas chick lit reads on Saturday. Check out my review of The Escape Diaries by Juliette Rosetti.


Giveaways:

Bird jewelry for The Forever Girl tour
$50 Amazon Gift Card from Terri Morgan

Blogger Opportunities:

I added a new tab on the navigation bar above - Bloggers Wanted. It will list opportunities for bloggers to get involved with tours and giveaways. Most of the tours and book blasts will be from GWR Publicity, which I run, but also any of the giveaways I sign up for. You can also sign up for the GWR Publicity newsletter: http://eepurl.com/udZeb

Book Blasts & Tours:

Pub Day Blast - Wildflowers by Schledia Benefield (Feb. 8). Join the celebration and offer your readers a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

Only a couple of spaces left on the Guardians Inc. Tour (Feb. 4 - 24). Interviews, reviews, excerpts, guest posts, and a $75 Amazon Gift Card Grand Prize Drawing! Learn more here.

Let your readers get a peek of Playing the Genetic Lottery by Terri Morgan during the Excerpt Tour (Feb. 18 - 22).  Sign up here.

Nate Rocks is at it again and Karen Pokras Toz is going on tour. Sign up for the Book Blast (March 4 - unlimited space) and/or Tour (March 5 - 24, limited space). *Prize for bloggers and readers!



Finished:


What would you do if you could see into the future?

As a child, he dreamed of being a superhero. Most people never get to realize their childhood dreams, but Corrigan Bain has come close. He is a fixer. His job is to prevent accidents—to see the future and “fix” things before people get hurt. But the ability to see into the future, however limited, isn’t always so simple. Sometimes not everyone can be saved.

“Don’t let them know you can see them.”

Graduate students from a local university are dying, and former lover and FBI agent Maggie Trent is the only person who believes their deaths aren’t as accidental as they appear. But the truth can only be found in something from Corrigan Bain’s past, and he’s not interested in sharing that past, not even with Maggie.

To stop the deaths, Corrigan will have to face up to some old horrors, confront the possibility that he may be going mad, and find a way to stop a killer no one can see.

Corrigan Bain is going insane . . . or is he?

Because there’s something in the future that doesn’t want to be seen. It isn’t human. It’s got a taste for mayhem. And it is very, very angry. From Goodreads.com
 
Fixer is not available until March 2013, but learn more about it at Goodreads.

Reading:


Gen Y has been picked apart by analysts, statistics, and trend reports, which often portray 20-somethings in negative, one-dimensional terms like "entitled" and "whiners". In this thought-provoking new book that aims to dispel these stereotypes, journalist Hannah Seligson chronicles the lives of seven individuals who embody this generation, exploring their challenges and ambitions in vivid detail and sketching a picture, through their eyes, of what life is actually like for young adults. Through these first-hand stories, readers will discover the transformational effect this enterprising, open-minded, innovative, and diverse generation is having on society. From Goodreads.com
Find Mission: Adulthood at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.

Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.

Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.
Find The Journey at Goodreads and Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.
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January 27, 2013

Now Playing: Life is More than Candy Hearts



Find Life is More than Candy Hearts (anthology) by Lisa Bilbrey, Laura Braley, and Michele Richard at Goodreads and Amazon.



Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links. Book Trailers are a free feature. All videos are provided by the author who has granted Girl Who Reads permission to feature them on this blog.

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