Monday, October 15, 2018

All Hallows Eve

Where do we get ideas for blogs? We can get them from our day to day life, from books that we read, from the Internet - the list is endless. They can be stories (I love authors that write about their pets - or in the voice of their pets), educational (such as sharing resource material), or even holiday themed. We have an incredible holiday coming up ... All Hallows Eve (Halloween). There are so many ways that we can write about this night, the night when the veil is the thinnest between the physical and spiritual worlds.

I have decided to take my readers on a small journey across the veil for this night. We can choose to talk to family or friends that have crossed over, to famous people, even to fictional characters.  This year I have decided to take the journey across the veil and talk to an archetype. No, I am not going to tell you which archetype until we take the journey! 

What made me decide to chat with an archetype? The fact that our world is in such chaos right now, and it doesn't look to be improving any time soon. It is through the archetypes that we live our lives, that we define who we are, and that we navigate each lifetime. Who better to chat with!

I hope that you join me on this journey!

(c) October 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Using The Seasons As Writing Themes

Seasonal themes can be used across all genres. All a writer needs to do is take the basics, and apply them to their genre and audience. Halloween/All Hallows Eve is a wonderful example of seasonal focus. We have the season of autumn/fall, with the focus on a specific event - Halloween/All Hallows Eve.

Things to be taken into consideration include:

Colors: black and orange, for Halloween itself, and shades of yellow, orange, and red, to represent the season of autumn/fall.

Physical Environment: graveyards, backyards, school parties, private parties, masked balls, seances, pumpkin patches, trick-or-treating, haunted houses

Symbols: leaves in fall colors, skeletons, ghosts, goblins, pumpkins, spiders, bats, black cats, witches, cauldrens, broomsticks, skulls, scarecrows, candy corn, cobwebs, mummies, caskets, camp fires

Food: cakes & cupcakes frosted with Halloween symbols, apple cider, carmel apples, popcorn balls, pumpkin bread, spice cookies

Themes: costumes, disembodied voices, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, seances (one of my favorites!), cemeteries ... the list is endless!  

Add a character or three ... and you have a story!

Here are a few stories that you might want to check out: 

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving), The Cask of Amontillado (Edgar Allen Poe), The Judges House (Bram Stoker), The Black Cat (Edgar Allen Poe), and A Ghost Story (Mark Twain). One must not forget the poem The  Raven (by Edgar Allen Poe)! 

(c) October 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

WordPress Plugins - Where Do We Start!

Plugins - what on earth are they, and why do we need them? When I first started working on my sites, these were overwhelming questions for me. I have to admit, I just added plugins a bit randomly, not knowing what I was doing, or why. I have progressed (a bit), and now make better decisions (I hope!). My sites are all WordPress - one paid for, the rest free. This happens to be a platform that works well for me. The plugins that I am going to look at here are some of the most important ones, IMHO, to consider for WordPress.

When setting up a site (especially if you are a novice, which is how I still see myself) we are faced with so many questions! (Some of which we are not even aware of until we are in the middle of getting things done.) We are looking at things like: 

  1. How can I get my site to load faster?
  2. How do I handle spam in my comments section? (This is a very serious concern for me.)
  3. How can I protect myself from hackers?
  4. What is malware, and how do I protect myself from it?
  5. And the ultimate question - How do I get my site in a decent position in the Google rankings?
Plugins are the apps that help us accomplish our goal of having a site that represents us well, holds the interest of site visitors, and meeting the intention of the site (which for me is to sell books). Akismet is one of the first plugins that I worked with. It performs the all important goal of keeping your comment section spam free. A great site will fail miserably if the quality of the comments section is not up to par with the quality of the site. Love this app!

Yost SEO is the next plugin that is going to be added to my site. I put my head in the sand if I even hear someone whisper "SEO", because while I know what SEO means (Search Engine Optimization), but I do not understand what I need to do about it. What this app will do is send visitors your way (from Google, Bing, and social media) and increase the engagement from your readers. The biggie here is that the little spidies (search engine spiders) have a site map created by this app that makes it easier for them to index your site. You can download a free version of Yost SEO, or purchase a premium version for a reasonable amount per year. A bonus, from my POV, is that this app also computes an on-site SEO score for you.

We all want our sites to load faster. Site visitors won't put up with a site that loads slowly. W3 Total Cache creates a cached version of your website on your visitor's browser. When they return to your site (which is what we want them to do!) the browser loads the local files from their previous visit, which helps your site load faster - very user friendly!

These are just a few plugins that can make life a whole lot easier! (And they are easy to use.)

(c) October 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cozy Mystery Writers

I thoroughly enjoy both reading and writing cozy mysteries. For those who are not sure what a cozy mystery is, they can be defined as gentle mysteries, with no blood and guts, no violence, no cursing, no graphic sex, where the action in general takes place in small communities, and those doing the detecting are amateurs. The following are cozy mystery authors that I follow:

Susan Wittig Albert - The series that I follow here is the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries. It is a small town setting, with interesting characters and a lot of useful information on herbs,

M.C. Beaton - The series that I follow here are the Agatha Raisin series and the Hamish McBeath series. Both take place in small communities, are laced with humor, and push credulity.

Lilian Jackson Braun - The series that I follow here is the Cat Who series. The background is a small town community, where the protagonist writes a column for the local newspaper, as well as being the wealthiest person in the area. There is a strong cat theme here, as the protagonist is "owned" by two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum.

Rita Mae Brown - The series that I follow here are the Mrs. Murphy series (all the animals talk, with Mrs. Murphy as the leading animal character), and the Sister Jane series, which is all about fox hunting (no, the fox is chased, but not hurt). 

Hope Callaghan - The series that I follow here are the Cruise Ship Christian Cozy mysteries, and the Garden Girls Christian Cozy mysteries. Both series have wonderful characters, great story lines, and they leave the reader smiling.

Laura Childs - The series that I follow here is the Tea Shop Mysteries.  Great reads, with recipies included!

Agatha Christie - Yes, these are older books, but I love re-reading them! I follow both the Miss Marple series (small community spinster sleuth) and the  Hercule Poirot series (dashing, celebrated Belgian detective). I love following the clues in both of these series!  

Cleo Coyle - The series that I follow here is A Coffeehouse Mystery. I do love coffee - and strong female protagonists! We get loads of info on coffee, and recipies!

Krista Davis - The series that I follow here is the Paws & Claws mysteries.

Vicki Delaney - The series that I follow here is the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. I am a tremendous Sherlock Holmes fan, and this series carries on a great tradition. With the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop right next door to Mrs Hudson's Tea Room, what can go wrong!

Joanne Fluke - The series that I follow here is the Hannah Swensen series. Set in Lake Eden, MN (my home state), we have a protagonist that owns a bakery, and a book filled with local culture and ... recipies! 

Dorothy Gilman - The series that I follow here is the Mrs. Polifax series. Retired garden club lady becomes first class spy ... and it is believable! 

Carolyn Hart - The series that I follow here is the Death On Demand series. The setting is the small seaside community of Broward's Rock. The protagonist is the owner of a local bookstore that focuses on mysteries.

I hope that you find one or two authors here that you would like to get to know. There is nothing better than a good mystery!

(c) September 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, September 17, 2018

How Not To Promote Your New Book

I have both brick and mortar books out there, as well as independently books. What do they have in common? That I flailed around in promoting them all! There definitely is a way to promote books, and a way to not promote them. One way leads to sales, the other does not. 

What we are going to talk about here applies to new authors, as well as authors with a few books under their belts. Until we take a good look at how we promote our work, we are not going to see good results. Probably the worst mistake that we can make is starting to work on our promotions too late. I have made this mistake more than once. What I am looking at for the future is to start putting together a plan for promoting my books when I am about half-way through writing them. 

I am going to develop a marketing plan at this time that includes starting to talk about my WIP on my author blog (this blog), on my social media sites (including a dedicated author age on Facebook), and in my newsletter (you can sign up for that here). I am going to contact people that I would like to review my book, and line up where I will be sending copies (written and digital).

Something that is still in the thinking stages with me is pursuing awards. I would like to do that, and I think that it would increase sales, but  I have yet to research how this would be done.

You need a website. I have a website now that includes all of my work (Tarot and writing). Before my next book comes out, I will be bringing up a site dedicated to my non-Tarot books. I developed my first website on my own (and it shows!). My new website will be developed by Blue Host (I have found them very easy to work with). The one thing that I am absolutely against is having a single page that just streams down. I want dedicated pages for a bio, a listing of all of my non-Tarot books, and a page dedicated to each individual book.

Spread out how you promote. I will be doing blogs, writing articles for LinkedIn, and placing commentary on Google +, Twitter, and Facebook. I will be doing at least one video for You Tube, and I may also be doing Facebook ads, although I have never worked with them before.

Which brings up the subject of money. Once you look at where you are considering promoting your book, set a budget for yourself. You can always expand your budget if need be, but set an initial budget so that you can some financial guidelines to work with.  

There is a need to brand yourself. We do this through the name(s) we write under (I choose to write under my own name), the genres that we write in, and how we present ourselves. I am looking at using the same background/banner for my website, my Facebook page, and my newsletter. 

We need to continue our branding through how we write - the focus on our author bio, the short blurb for our book (often referred to as an elevator speech), and a more detailed version referencing our book. We need to make our talking points reflect who we are as writers, as well as making our work interesting enough to draw in potential readers/fans. 

Final words: recognize that you are responsible for doing your own promotion. Hiring someone to do it for you may not be cost effective, and you may not be promoted in the manner that you wish to be. Promote wisely!

(c) September 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Questions Writers Ask Themselves

What kind of questions do writers ask themselves? One that I have been debating for a while now is whether I want to have a separate site for my published books. For a long time now I have felt that I could combine it with my Tarot work and other writing into one site.

Up until now, that has worked for me. However, things change. I am at the point where I want to make a living from my writing. I have a blog (this one!), and a newsletter. Good start, I think. What do I want my author site to do for me? To attract readers, to keep them interested in my work, and to get them to buy my books. That site needs to be very specific, so yes, I need a separate site.

I immediately thought about the cost. Two sites doubles the cost. A no brainer, if I can get my author site to bring in book sales. My Tarot books will remain on my original site, but all other writing can easily be transferred to my new site. Then there is the issue of a theme - am I going to be willing to pay for a theme? In a word, yes. My site theme, and my newsletter, are ways of branding myself. 

I have also been looking at writing software. That is a must do, and Scrivner is my choice. Before I buy it, I need a new laptop. And a new printer. Okay, I can buy Scrivner and use my current printer, but I still need a new printer.

I am also looking at ways to promote my site and my books. Not looking forward to that. I also need to grow my newsletter, to support getting my writing out there. Lots of questions on how to do this. Very few answers, yet.   

(c) September 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day 2018

Labor Day is much more than an excuse for a three day weekend, or an excuse to shop the sales. Those are window dressing - the true sentiment behind Labor Day is to honor those who have labored, to honor the working man and woman. For me, Labor Day 2018 is a very solemn day. As a country, we are at a point where we stand to lose everything that we have gained. It is just that simple. We need to stand up, and we need to fight for rights that we thought we had aleady won. We need to honor the men and women that fought for those rights by reclaiming them.

The history of Labor Day is all about work environment, compensation, rights, and the formation of labor unions. It is a violent history. It is all about the unions against companies, but also unions against local and federal governments. We are talking about unions on all levels here - not just the blue collar workers. We are also talking about unions for federal workers. The current administration is trying to limit the power of unions for federal employees, an example of which would be the union for the Social Scurity Administration. This is serious! Social Security Administration 

The current administration is also looking at a pay freeze for federal workers. (The administration has already stated that it will not be giving pay increases to civilian federal employees in 2019. Pay Freeze

Aside from money, the current administration is set on a course to make is easier for federal employees to be fired. Changes mandated by this administration include the time period for showing improved performance, and reducing the amount of time federal employees can spend on union business. Then there is the little issue of renegotiating union contracts with an eye to saving money.

As citizens of this country, we are losing control of how we can be treated. As individuals, we need to stand up and make our voices known. We need to use our vote wisely. We need to use the tools of calling our elected officials, texting our elected officials,  e-mailing our elected officials, and snail mailing our elected officials. We need to get back out there and protest in any way that we can. We need to use the court system wisely - to not be afraid to bring charges against those that are trying to take the power of the working man and woman away from them.

To me it is incredibly symbolic that Senator John McCain's funeral was on Labor Day weekend. Senator McCain believed in honesty, integrity, and hard work. He understood checks and balances, he understood working together with people that we do not necessarily agree with for the common good. 

Labor Day 2018 is a turning point for this country. We all need to do everything that we can to protect the rights of the common man, to protect the rights of all workers. And we are all workers.

(c) September 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.  

All Hallows Eve

Where do we get ideas for blogs? We can get them from our day to day life, from books that we read, from the Internet - the list is end...