Press: A.S. Chung on The Huffington Post

A.S. Chung’s blog post entitled: 10 Ways To Help Your New Partner Be The Best Stepparent is featured on The Huffington Post!

10 Ways to Help Your New Partner be the Best Stepdad

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Press: A.S. Chung on The Huffington Post

A.S. Chung’s blog post entitled: 50 Things I’m Grateful For Since My Divorce is featured on The Huffington Post today!

Huffington Post A.S. Chung

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Interview: Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson

Optimistic Divorcees by Shari Anderson & Cheryce ThompsonOPTIMISTIC DIVORCEES BY SHARI ANDERSON & CHERYCE THOMPSON

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
The Optimistic Divorcees was created as a way to share our experiences surrounding our marriages and divorces in an effort to encourage, support and relate to those who are experiencing separation or divorce. We realize that this transition is not easy and often times you may feel alone or believe no one understands. We do. It is our hope that this blog connects with those who need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, life goes on and there’s reason to remain optimistic.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
The Optimistic Divorcees blog is about encouraging, supporting and inspiring those who may have dealt or are currently dealing with or contemplating divorce through our stories and the stories of others who have experienced it. We aim to show that although divorce is painful, there IS life after divorce!

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Our ideal reader is anyone who has experienced divorce or may be contemplating a divorce. We hope that through the content of our blog, readers realize that they are not alone in their experiences and that leading a full, enjoyable, happy life is possible after divorce.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years time, it would be great to have a larger following of our blog as well as products based on our blogs – books, etc. The statistics for divorce haven’t decreased, so the topic will definitely continue to be a prevalent one.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
We typically find content for our blog just by conversations we have with one another or with friends, and of course pop culture. Relationship talk is always big among women. 🙂

5) How to do you remain committed to each other to keep the blog going?
There aren’t many successful blogs out there that are a collaboration! Admittedly, it’s hard to remain committed to keeping the blog going. It’s a much bigger task than we’d originally anticipated. We are actually just coming off of a three-month hiatus. However, we believe that our experiences and what we share in our content can be of help to those dealing with divorce. It’s also encouraging to hear from readers who tell us that were encouraged by something that read on the blog.

6) Tell us about your Hump Day Haiku and OD Adventures segments of your blog.
Our #HumpDayHaiku segment is a fun and creative way to poetically share our thoughts on topics related to relationships and divorce. We like to think of them as quick therapeutic exercises. Our OD Adventures segments seek to show us just living life and doing things we love – being tourists in our own city and other places we visit, dining out (we consider ourselves foodies), etc.

7) What would you say to a new divorcee on how to remain optimistic and positive?
Our advice would be to take the process one day at a time, surround yourself with those who will encourage and support you and keep moving forward. Don’t look at what was lost, but instead look for the lessons in how you can be even better in the new chapter of your life. What will help them get through the initial stages of loss? What will help them get through the initial stages of loss is actually allowing themselves to really acknowledge what their feeling and allow themselves to feel every emotion – anger, hurt, confusion, etc. Masking how they really feel during this time can only prolong the healing process.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
When you want to give up, DON’T! Recognize and remember that what you have to share, someone needs to read to be inspired or encouraged!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson and would like to follow their blog, here are all their pertinent details.

Blog: Optimistic Divorcees
Shari & Cheryce’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon social-twitter-box-blue-icon 

How To Combat Blogger’s Block!

Susan DayGuest Posting by Susan Day.
Susan Day is a children’s author of over 20 print and eBooks. She has been working her social media presence for over five years and feels her head is just bursting with tips and advice. To alleviate this condition she has decided to blog a non-fiction book one post at a time entitled How to Publish a Children’s Book at Little or No Cost.

HOW TO COMBAT BLOGGER’S BLOCK!
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Stop The Block

So, you’ve started a blog and you are going to rock the world with your insights, humour, wisdom and in-depth insights into your chosen field. Well, that’s the plan anyway. And sure, you plod along nicely posting relevant and important information to your league of avid followers. Things start to go a bit wonky and, one day, you find that you are bleeding your brain dry trying to find new ideas to blog about each day.

Well, this is certainly how I feel, that’s for sure.

A new blog starts every 4 minutes, or so I have been informed. Most blogs, however, don’t survive more than two years. Their creators simply can’t keep up with the constant demand to post new information. I can certainly sympathize with them. It’s darn hard work blogging each day.

I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years now. My first blog was about dog training – I am a canine behaviourist and was just starting a new dog training business at the time. That seems like a hundred years ago now. I have been writing children’s books for five years and my author blog has been going for just about the same time. Recently, I started blogging my first non-fiction book one post at a time. How do I keep motivated? How do I keep going?

Blogger’s Block hits us all at some time or another.

So what can be done about it? Here are a few tips that keep me on track and inspired.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for relevant information you can use. Follow other authors and publishers’ newsletters. If you are going to share something make sure you source it back to the original creator.
  • Go back and look at what you have done in the past. Is there anything you can take from an old post that you can expand upon to create a new one
  • Is there an aspect of your field that you haven’t thought of yet? A different angle you could look at and write about?
  • Pictures, memes, info-graphs are the most popular things looked at online. Why not repost a relevant one each week? Everyone loves cute and funny pictures and they are willing to share them.
  • What can you give away and make your blog much more interesting?
  • Ask others to participate as guest bloggers or ask people to contribute one or two sentences about a particular subject – just like I did below.

It’s true. When I was considering writing an article about Blogger’s Block I knew there would be loads of people out there with much better ideas than I have. So, I popped a short post on a couple of Facebook groups and below are the responses.

I think you’ll agree that they are very clever and helpful.

Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky from Melissa Writes tells us that, “Some of the things I do to help me – have a theme day (e.g. Friday Five) and that can act as a prompt, another example is I try and put a post to do with the business of being a writer on a Monday. I also read other blogs and get involved in discussions in writers groups as they can give me some great ideas for blog posts. If I get really desperate, I look at some of my old posts and expand or update them. For example I did a post on ways you can use social media to help your writing, then did a follow up with 5 ways Pinterest can help your writing.”

June Perkins from Gumboots Pearlz has created 19 reflective and unique blog posts. She has even listed all the people who mentored and inspired her through her journey. This, in itself, is a great idea for a blog post.

Cate Brickell from Life Behind The Purple Door says, “My number one trick is to get outside with a notebook and free write, fresh air and sunshine always gets the juices flowing. Failing that, just sitting down and starting has always worked, just write anything and eventually the right words come out.”

Shellie Wilson from http://www.Craftgossip.com states, “I tend to sit down and think about what is bothering me about life, organization, food preparation, parenthood etc. I then come up with an article of interest. I know my issues are the same issues 100’s of people have. I work an angle from there.”

Kylie Archer from Kidgredients says, “Being a food blog, I just cook, without trying to make up a recipe for the blog. More often than not it works out well and there you go…a blog post!”

Anne Mazza from Domesblissity tell us, “I’m a food blogger as well and always have a recipe under my belt. If not, I do compilation posts like 10 things to do with cauliflower or other seasonal vegetable, for example. I also keep my ears and eyes open to find out what current food trends are and write about that. If not, I can always find something to write about my kids or parenting problems I have.”

Kelli Schultz from Nourishing Therapeutics states, “I find I write and write while I am in the mood and that leaves me enough posts for those times. I write about nutrition and health. We run fermenting workshops in Launceston, Tasmania.”

Lydia C Lee from Pandora and Max says, “I am struggling with this at the moment. I just write and write and currently have 8 unfinished posts sitting in draft, because I don’t like any of them. I did write one for tomorrow. It’s an honest admission, different to what I normally do. I think just keep writing and moving on to the next one if you don’t like it or can’t finish it.”

Robyna May from The Mummy and The Minx tells us, “I keep a notepad for ideas by my bed. Sometimes I just jot down a random idea and sometimes a whole outline for a post. When I’m stuck, that notepad provides inspiration.”

Blogging Glossary, A Helpful Guide for Beginners: Part 3 of 3

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

BLOGGING GLOSSARY, A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: PART 3 OF 3
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Blog Wooden TilesIn part 1, I talked through the step by step fundamentals for blogging to help you get started and show you that it’s not as daunting as it looks. In part 2, I dug a little deeper and identified slightly more difficult terminologies that I believe are essential for taking your blog from amateur to professional.

In part 3, I am going to introduce you to some seriously boring and dry terms. Not that I am trying to get you to opt out of reading this post altogether but a little fore warning didn’t hurt anyone! This glossary page introduces you to some blogging terms that will help you in the long run. For the seasoned blogger, perhaps this may help you understand blogging in greater depth or perhaps give you some ideas of how to further improve your blog’s functionality and features.

ATOM
Atom is a machine-readable xml-based web syndication format which allows users to subscribe to blogs and allow your readers to get up to date content as you post them.

AUTOCASTING
This is an automated form of podcasting which allows your followers to have access to audio versions of your text only posts.

BLAUDIENCE
The audience of a blog.

BLOG CARNIVAL
A blog carnival is essentially a blog post that contains permalinks to other articles or blogs which cover a specific topic. It operates somewhat like a magazine which has an editor-in-chief, writers and readers. The editor-in-chief or owner of the carnival is responsible for soliciting submissions and inviting contributors.

BLOG HOPPING
Blog hopping is about following links from one blog to another. You may be invited by an organiser to participate. How it works is essentially all bloggers would post about an agreed topic or genre at one given time. The organiser would distribute all the permalinks to all bloggers so it is available on everyone’s post.

BLOGOSPHERE
This refers to the collective community of all blogs and bloggers.

BLOGROLL
This is a list of blogs a blogger either follows or recommends. It usually resides on the sidebar and is an excellent way to get to know the blogger and their affiliations. A blogroll may also be used as a means of advertising or cross promotion in support of the blogging community.

CAPTCHA
This stand for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers And Humans Apart. For security purposes, have you ever had to type in a verification based on numbers and letters? That is CAPTCHA. It helps to minimise spam.

CMS
CMS stands for Content Management System. It is a software program that allows you to add content to a website more easily.

CSS OR STYLESHEET
This is short for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is written in HTML and is used to style your blog or website. This is required should you decide your blog needs to move onto the next level as the basic template no longer meets your needs.

EVENT BLOG
A blog that contains content specific to an event.

FEED
Much like all social media platform, particularly Facebook, a feed provides readers with frequently updated posts. They may be updated either via email or through an RSS reader.

IMPRESSION
This refers to the number of times your post has been viewed.

JPG
Stands for Joint Photographic Expert’s Group and is the most common file format for images.

MEME
This is about an idea that has been passed from one blogger to another.

META DESCRIPTION
This is a short and succinct description of your page or post. The description should be about 150 characters in length with strategic usage of keywords for search engine optimisation.

PAGERANK
Used by Google to rank websites in their returned results.

PHOTOBLOG
A blog that is built predominantly on images rather than words.

PING
A ping is an alert in the trackback system that informs the blogger that another blogger has submitted an entry that is about the original post.

PODCASTING
Podcasting are digital audio or video files which are produced in a series.

RECIPROCAL LINK
When one blogger exchanges links on its blogroll with another blogger’s blogroll.

THREAD
A series of posts on a specific topic.

TRACKBACK
A trackback is the ability for a blogger to let another blogger know you are talking about them. It is like cc mail. It allows a blogger to link to a post on other blogs.

TRACKBACK PING
A ping that notifies a blog’s server that a post on that blog has been commented upon.

WEBINAR
This is an online seminar, presentation or workshop.

Well, that’s it for the 3 part series on blogging glossary. If you missed the first two parts, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

It would be an opportune time for me to note that majority of everything I have mentioned over the last 3 days, WordPress.com does it all automatically. I don’t build anything, download anything nor do I worry about RSS, Atom, PHP coding or CSS. In saying that however, I can’t customise my blog by purchasing different themes or plugins. But I work with what I have and live with no complications or hassles!

I hope this has helped you on your blogging journey!

Blogging Glossary, A Helpful Guide for Beginners: Part 2 of 3

A.S. ChungPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

BLOGGING GLOSSARY, A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: PART 2 OF 3
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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BloggingLast week we explored the basic step by step guide of how to start a blog and understanding some fundamental definitions. Today, we will delve into more technical terms which are necessary for you to advance to the next level of blogging. These are important and you should learn to use them if you intend to blog on a regular basis and is an essential tool for you to market your book. They may seem daunting at first and no doubt you will have a few laptop throwing moments, but I assure you that a little persistence will pay off. I won’t be going into how to actually do it but rather just introduce you to these concepts.

AVATAR
An avatar is a photo, graphic or image that represents you. Select a suitable image that you can use across all your social networking sites, blogs and websites. It’s not required but it will provide you with a unified look and streamlines your platforms. When commenting on other blogs, you avatar will also appear so it doesn’t hurt to have one. Make sure the image represents you as an author as well as your books.

URL
URL is short for uniform resource locator. This is the address of a piece of information that can be found on the web such as a page, image or document.

PERMALINK
This is the unique URL of a single blog post. This is used when a readers wishes to link specifically to a post instead of a page. Example, the permalink for this post is https://pigeonholebooks.com/2015/07/31/online-marketi…-jargon-part-2/

BIT.LY
This is your new best friend. Bit.ly is a website that allows you to shorten your URLs. Have you ever copied a URL and its 3-4 lines long? Not only is it unsightly and messy, it would never fit on your social networking platforms where there is a character limit. Bit.ly shortens the links to an acceptable length. Example, the shorten bit.ly URL for the URL for this post is http://bit.ly/1eMmb80. So much more user friendly!

COMMENTS
Your readers have the opportunity to make comment on your blog post. Your blog may have the capability to moderate these comments prior to posting but it is suggested that disable this function to allow for immediate posting. Readers like seeing their comments appear immediately. If you encounter offensive comments, mark it as spam and trash them. Take negative comments on board and respond back positively in the hope of showcasing you as an author and your work.

FAVICON
This is the small graphic, typically your logo or other representation your website that appears in a browser’s address bar, favorites or bookmark lists. It certainly gives your blog a more professional look.

HEADER
The header appears on the top part of the blog. They generally include items such as logos, taglines, and navigation menus, which are meant to set the tone or theme of your blog.

HYPERLINK
A hyperlink is when we link specific content in your blog post to another website, blog, page or even something within the same page. The text (known as the anchor text) is usually underlined, appears in a different colour and/or is in italics. This allows the reader to know they can click on the text and be taken to another page with more information.

HTML
This is short for hypertext markup language, the language used to write web pages. Most html elements are written with a start tag  and an end tag, with content in between. This is important to understand as on occasion, your blog template or theme may not allow you to format your post in the manner you wish. You can then use html coding to give you what you want. I use Google to find the coding I need and it always works. It literally is a whole different language but unless you are writing a whole different piece of software, it’s not that difficult to use. Example, this is the HTML code to italicise the text <em> A Brand New Day</em>

PHP
PHP is hypertext preprocessor. It is also a computer language designed to create dynamic pages alongside HTML. This is difficult to create so I don’t try! My contact form is scripted in PHP but is already created by WordPress and I just place it where I need it with a click of a button!

POST SCHEDULING
You can schedule your blog posts anytime. Particularly useful if you know you are physically unable to do so at any given time, you’re blogging in a different time zone or if away on vacation.

PLUGIN
In WordPress.org, they offer plugin capabilities which essentially give your blog additional functionality. As you continue to blog over time and you become savvier, you may wish to add more features to your site. There are a plethora of plugins to select from that can give your blog that extra oomph!

RSS
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. This allows your readers to subscribe to your content so that when you update your blog, it will appear on their feed. As an example, if I followed 20 blogs, rather than going to 20 separate blogs one at a time, I have them on my reader feed so I can see posts from all 20 blogs on one screen. If you want your followers to have access to your posts, you must have this set up.

SITEMAP
A sitemap is a map of your blog. It enables readers to see your key pages and is in an outline format. This allows for easier navigation of your content. A sitemap is important because Google deems it important and it helps readers find you through search engines.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHARING
Social media sharing is an integral part of blogging. There is a high reliance on your readers to share your posts with the world! Ensure that you have all you icons under every post so that it can be shared on your readers’ Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr accounts and even via email.

SUBSCRIBE
For your blog posts to appear on your reader’s radar, you must give them the means to subscribe to your blog either via email or RSS.

SIDEBAR
This is usually one or more columns on the side of the blog that contains more static information that perhaps didn’t fit on the main menu bar. This could include sub-menus, images, categories etc. The side bar remains static so will appear on all pages.

TAG
A tag is used on every post to highlight the keywords of that post. It helps to identify the content and gives the reader a more succinct picture or summary of that post.

TAG CLOUD
This is a visual representation of the tags you have used on your posts. It acts as a form of content categorising and the more popular tags are represented by large texts to highlight frequency. You will notice my tag cloud on the right sidebar.

TAGLINE
A tagline can best be described as the slogan for your blog and would appear right under the name of your blog. Example, here is my tagline: Children’s picture books by award-winning author A.S. Chung about divorced, blended, multicultural and same-sex families.

These terminologies are essential and it would do you great justice if you learnt to master them one by one. Yes, I agree, it looks overwhelming but that’s because you are not familiar with them and what it can do for you.  Work through the list one by one and I assure you it will become second nature and you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was too difficult! If you missed part 1 of this series, click here.

Blogging Glossary, A Helpful Guide for Beginners: Part 1 of 3

A.S. ChungPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

BLOGGING GLOSSARY, A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: PART 1 OF 3
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Using Laptop

Blogging? by Anonymous

Are you thinking of starting a blog to complement your writing? Let me guess, you started to do some research and after encountering a great deal of mumbo jumbo tech speak jargon, you gave up the notion and closed the laptop. The idea continues to linger in your head so you give it a few more attempts at making this decision but it was all too overwhelming and you just didn’t know where to start.

Yes, they have great forums to help, comprehensive YouTube tutorials you can follow and FAQs as thick as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But where do you start? Not only that, once you started, could you really sustain it for fear of not being able to comprehend even the basics of blogging?

For the next few online marketing tips, I am going to focus on blogging glossary, over a 3 part series for easy digestion. As you can imagine, the list is endless so I am only going to concentrate on important pieces of information. I will attempt to make it easy to understand so that you can take that leap of faith!

Here is a simplified step by step guide and some comprehensive tips to get you from the beginning of the blogging process to your first post.

Step 1: Domain Name
A domain name is the website address and this must be purchased.

This is the very first thing you need to do. Prior to purchasing a domain name, it is important that the name is also available across all your social media platforms so there is unity for your brand. There is nothing more frustrating than buying a domain name, only for the Twitter handle or Facebook Page name to already exist!

Step 2: Web Hosting
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organisations to make their website accessible on the World Wide Web.

You need to find a hosting service that has a plan to suit you. Unfortunately there are a lot of providers so you will have to do your homework. You can purchase your domain name through most web hosting service providers. Better still, you can join a blogging service such as WordPress.com, who provides hosting for free!

Step 3: Theme
Assuming you have selected your blogging service such as WordPress or Blogger, you now need to select a theme or a template.

You can select from the free range or purchase custom designed themes. This is a much bigger process than you can give it credit for. The theme sets the tone for your blog in terms of colour palette and aesthetics. Different themes also provide different layouts and selecting one that best suits you is highly time-consuming. It is therefore important to draw out a plan of how you want the blog to look like before selecting a theme. Play around with the free templates and get a feel of what it may look like.

Step 4: Page
A page is static and contains information that you want people to see all the time.

Now you can start creating your pages. Example, your About Me page remains constant. It essentially is the top level menu for your readers to select from. Don’t create your content for the pages as yet. Complete your full layout to ensure the “shell” works for you in the first instance.

Step 5: Category
All your posts (see below for definition) can be categorised.

Categories make it easier for your followers to target their search or browse a specific topic that interests them. Categories are also useful as they can be utilised to create sub menus.

Step 6: Menu
A menu provides you with the main navigation for your blog.

Once you have created your pages and categories, you can now use them to create your menu. You can also determine where you want it physically placed. Your primary menu traditionally sits on the top with your static pages eg About Me, Book 1, Book 2, Contact Page etc. You can also create sub menus using your categories and can exist perhaps on the side bar that houses specific topics.

Step 7: Widgets
Areas of your website that are uniquely designed to stand out and commonly found in the side bars of your website (left or hand side of a page).

Essentially, widgets are additional features you can add to the base template of your theme. Some examples include adding an image, add a text box, a calendar, search box or your social media icons.

Step 8: Settings
The Settings menu of your blog is where you will configure everything about how the blog works and functions.

I suggest going to your Settings menu after you have done the above as you will have a better understanding of how you wish for your blog to look like. Here you can decide how many posts you wish for your readers to be able to see, uploading a logo, time format adjustment, do comments have to be approved, what social media icons you wish to have, etc. You will find you will re-visit your settings over and over again as your blog matures and grows.

Step 9: Post
A blog is made up of a collection of posts. This is when you create a piece of content and post it on your blog.

Posts will appear in order of publication. At this point, create one post to see how it will look like. Add links and images into the body of the post so that you can get use to the basic functions. Keep playing with your layout until you are happy with it. For a quick tip; I save my posts on a word document. Word documents however are filled with back end formatting that sometimes sends the post askew on the blog. To alleviate this issue, cut and paste the piece onto Notepad in Windows or TextEdit for Mac, format your spaces and paragraphs and then cut and paste it back to the blog. This will create a clean post and you won’t get frustrated with formatting like I did!

How To Build A Mailing List And Why It’s So Important

imageedit_2_4172062803Guest Posting by C.J. Anaya.
C.J. Anaya is the author of The Healer Series and Double Booked. She is also an avid book blogger, an obsessed fan of The Mindy Project, and an accomplished binge eater of any and all things chocolate.

HOW TO BUILD A MAILING LIST AND WHY ITS SO IMPORTANT
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Diary Planning

Business Planning by abductit

I want to thank A.S. Chung for letting me jump on her blog and post about a topic that will hopefully help other authors who are struggling with the ins and outs of marketing. Rather than talk about several marketing strategies at once, I think it best to learn one thing at a time.

Let’s talk about a mailing list, what it is, and how to get started.

Amazon offers a great venue for selling your products and getting noticed, but Amazon doesn’t offer you a way to keep in contact with all of the people who have purchased your products. How are you going to let those purchasers know about new releases or exciting news concerning your author journey?

You have them subscribe to your mailing list. Anytime you need to let your fans know about important information concerning your books you can use your mailing list to broadcast that info to all of your subscribers at once.

If you haven’t built that list yet, get started immediately. It will be one of the most important things you ever do. More important than all of the time you spend on various social media sites combined.

Yeah. I said it.

More important than social media!

It is the best tool to implement in order to build a following and spread news fast.

So how do you get started?

You need to find a great marketing program that can oversee the distribution of your information to all of the subscribers on your list.

There are many programs to choose from. Research the one that’s best for you. The one I work with is called AWeber. I am not a graphic designer so AWeber is very user friendly. They give you templates where you can create opt-in forms and copy and paste the html codes for those forms onto your website. You can offer people incentives for subscribing, and then use AWeber to redirect them to their online incentive once they have confirmed their subscription.

Aweber Mailing List

Aweber Mailing List

For example, I offer a free chapter of The Healer for my subscribers. Then I send a follow-up email with a link to my free short story, My Fair Assassin, to thank them for subscribing. You do not have to be tech savvy to do this because AWeber walks you through it with tutorials and customer support. Another bonus to this is linking your blog feed to your emails. If you want your subscribers to receive your blog posts this is a very effective way to manage that option.

Let’s recap. An email list is good for authors. AWeber is just one of the many programs out there that can help you manage your list. Feel free to research other programs. Start building your list as soon as possible. As an author you simply cannot be without it.

For those of you who already have a list and an opt-in form, these tips will help you drive more traffic to your blog or website and facilitate more subscribers.

  • Put your opt-in form on the top of your side bar next to your blog page, on top of your other web pages, and on top of your “about” page. Seriously, do it
  • Offer subscription opportunities within your posts. In other words, put in a little opt-in form or a link to your subscribe page at the bottom of your posts
  • Create a subscribe page if you don’t have one. Here is an example of a great subscribe page. Okay, I’m super biased because it is my subscribe page. Ha!
  • Put a link to your subscribe page next to your opt-in form so that people can read all of the reasons why they should subscribe to your blog or webpage
  • Encourage followers to forward your posts to others who might be interested in the material you’ve posted.

I hope you found this information helpful. Good luck to all of you wonderful authors out there!

Blogger Interview: Lottie Lomas

THE SECRET DIVORCEE BY LOTTIE LOMAS The Secret Divorcee by Lottie Lomas

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
When I was 40, I realised I’d married the wrong man. I had two beautiful boys, but was sinking into a mire of depression. So after months and months of tears and discussion and loneliness, I made the decision to separate from my husband.

I am a single parent, but don’t want to be defined as such. I work, I’m a pilot, I’m a singer, I’m a photographer. And a parent. I write about all sorts of aspects of life, from my family to my ageing body. Occasionally I add in pictures I’ve drawn, but they are awful. I am terrible at art.

I’m still looking for the right man. God knows where he is. He’d better show himself soon because my knees have started to make a frightening creaking sound every evening as I go upstairs to bed.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I started to write very soon after I had separated from my husband. Although it was my choice to leave, it was a very stressful time and I found that there was a lot of – well…stuff – that I couldn’t say to anyone. So I just let it out in my blog. In one big dump.

It started as an electronic diary, a private log, but quite quickly it grew into a more public space. As I became happier in my personal life, I found that I was considering my audience much more, and I wanted to share the fact that divorce can actually be a positive experience.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My blog isn’t all about divorce now! In fact, as I separated three years ago, it’s much more about the ups and downs of life as a single parent. So I guess that the blog is aimed at single parents, because they will identify with my shenanigans – but actually the reality is that most of my readers tend to be in relationships.

I do get messages regularly though from unhappy women, who are thinking of leaving their husbands. Sometimes they want advice, and other times, they just need someone to speak to.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
As the blog is about my life then I’m hoping it will still be going in 5 years’ time. Let’s see: my boys will be 19 and 17 by then. The 19 year old will probably have swanned off to America (he was talking about this just yesterday) leaving me hanging on to my 17 year old   with all my might. He will no doubt hate me for this, and I shall become a wizened old bitter empty husk of a crone, with a severe case of premature empty nest syndrome.

And who won’t want to read about that?!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
It mainly comes from my children. How I feel about them, what I do with them, how they affect my relationships… They have a wonderful insight on the world that adults don’t seem to have. I’m also a keen amateur photographer so, if I don’t have written content, I will share some of my photos. I don’t sweat it, though. If nothing comes into my head, I won’t post anything.

5) Do you have any words of wisdom for all the single parents out there that have tweens and teenagers in their household and how to deal with co-parenting effectively?
When I split from my husband, I had a fairytale vision that we would spend Christmases together, babysit for each other, support each other. But quite quickly our relationship exploded; he lied about me to our friends and cut off all communication. If this happens to you, my advice is to not rise to it. Head down, keep being polite, don’t lash out. Particularly don’t reveal your feelings to your kids. If you manage to bite your tongue, it will all level out in the end. It’s taken me three years, and we’re still not quite there, but we show each other more respect now than we have done for a long, long time.

6) Does your ex-husband read your blog? How does he feel about it?
No. I blog anonymously.  If he read some of my earlier posts, all our positive relationship-building would go down the toilet.

7) What opportunities has your blog provided you professionally?
Well, I spent six months drawing up an agreement with a large internet-based organisation, which sadly closed down before everything went live! So I’m back to the drawing board on that one. I would love to publish a collection of my posts, or write a book about divorce – but as all single parents know, time is hard to come by.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Don’t faff about too much, thinking about your aims, or the blog title, or the platform, or whatever. They’re just excuses. Just write. It doesn’t matter if your first posts are a pile of poo. Actually, what am I saying? It doesn’t matter if ALL your posts are a pile of poo. Just get on and write. You’ll find it’s an amazing outlet for you. And if you’re not already on Twitter, get on it. There are like-minded single parents out there who will, in time, give you support when you most need it. Good luck!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Lottie Lomas and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: The Secret Divorcee
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Blogger Interview: Kate Efomi

SUDDENLY MUM BY KATE EFOMI Suddenly Mum by Kate Efomi

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
After graduating from the University of Nottingham with a degree in English Studies, Kate went on to work as a trainee researcher at BBC Birmingham. In 2002 she moved to Glasgow to work with BAFTA and Emmy award-winning director, Norman Stone (Shadowlands, The Black Velvet Gown) at his company, 1A Productions. During her time there she learnt about every stage of TV and film production, working on many dramas and documentaries before producing her own documentary, Old MacDonald’s Farm, for BBC Scotland.

Meanwhile, Kate has always had a passion for writing. From the age of fifteen she secured a regular column in her local newspaper, The Northern Echo, and has been writing professionally ever since. She started writing her blog, Suddenly Mum, when she became a full-time step-mum soon after marrying her wonderful Congolese husband, Consol. In November 2013, whilst on maternity leave, Kate started her own copywriting, proofreading and web content business: kateefomi.com – The Wonderful World of Words. She is also working on various writing projects and is contemplating a children’s book based on her most popular blog post to date: Daddy Had a Pet Baboon.

She also opened notebooklove.com – an online store selling beautiful notebooks for those who prefer old-school paper – in early 2015 as a passion project.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog centres on my relatively new role as step-mum to two gorgeous girls who have hearts of gold and a very messy bedroom. Two months after marrying their dad, they unexpectedly came to join us, full-time and permanently. For the first few months, I was having fun and panic attacks all at the same time. I was Suddenly Mum, forever! No maternity leave or health visitor support, just straight into packed lunches, homework help and school gate shyness (me, not them). I love writing and my new life provides me with plenty of material. My blog laughs at my own fumbling maternal attempts, offers me a little therapy and solace and helps me order my thoughts about being a step-mum – a job that doesn’t come with the best of stigmas attached. Thanks, Cinderella.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My main reason for starting my blog was to create a bit of space for me. An online journal, if you like. But in those early days what I didn’t realise was that there was such a fantastic support-network of fellow step-mums and mums out there, both on blogs and Twitter. A blog isn’t just a book you scribble in before sticking it under your bed at night. It’s a living, breathing creation for all to see… and comment on. I don’t aim my blog at a particular audience, but new step-mums seem to find it mildly amusing and sometimes helpful.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
Just as I told myself over and over again during that first week, as I clenched the duvet around me: This is for life. I’ll never stop being their mum now. We’re family through-and-through and with that will always come stories. In 2013, our little girl was born and she has brought our new family even closer together. She’s a laugh-a-minute and brings her own unique stories and experiences.

Right now we have a teen, a tween and a toddler. In five years’ time our eldest will be 19 and emerging from the fog of her teens, my youngest step-daughter will be celebrating her 16th birthday and the toddler will be starting school. All manner of fun to be had there! Thankfully, 5 years is a little too soon for step-grandchildren. I hope!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
Life constantly provides colour, stories and anecdotes. Whether it’s the youngest asking if there was electricity when I was young or the oldest being scared about the impending birds and bees school talk… there’s always something to write about – tastefully and always with the girls’ hearts and dignity held in the highest regard. Mine, not so much.

5) Describe your parenting style and how did it forge the relationship you have with your two step daughters?
I had a very happy childhood with strict but loving and fun parents who showed an active and supportive interest in me as I grew up. Thanks to Billy Graham turning up in Leeds in the early 80s, my childhood home soon became a Christian one where I was introduced to a loving and kind God. If you’ve had a happy childhood I think you want to replicate it for your own children. I certainly want to do that for our girls.

I’ve been surprised and truly blessed by the way we’ve all clicked together. We’ve been in a privileged position in that everyone in the new family wants to make it work. The kids accepted me very quickly, I didn’t feel like I needed to win their love at all, in fact they were desperate for hugs and kisses, time to chat and have a laugh together. It’s been so rewarding to see two young lives blossom and hear almost every week, “This is the best day EVER!” in response to just the simple things in life, like a hotdog in Ikea,

I can be pretty shouty though and I’ve been working on that. I’m a bit of a clean-freak and I grew up with a clean-freak mother. Before I was born, Mum was an officer in the Royal Air Force and one of her jobs was to inspect levels of cleanliness by running her hand, in a white glove, along skirting boards and tops of cupboards. She carried that standard into our family home when I was growing up and still insisted on the skirting board inspection after I’d cleaned my bedroom. Thankfully the gloves were long gone by then, though. As a result, I feel more at peace in a clean and orderly house, but I’ve had to let my standards drop a little for the sake of sanity these days. The girls have got better and summer holidays with my parents (whom they love dearly) have been a bit of an air force bootcamp for them. No complaints from me and I think they now appreciate the fact that they can see their bedroom carpet.

6) What advice would you impart onto first time step mothers so they are well equipped to start this journey?
Don’t try too hard, pray hard and just as you’ve committed to your husband in marriage for better or for worse, resolve to do that for the kids too. Roll with the challenges and be honest with the kids when you need a bit of space. I tried to be Super Step Mum for the first few months, but ended up blowing a gasket and turned into Step Monster instead. Major back-fire! Work together as a new family, after all you’re not the only one who’s new to this. Encourage the kids to talk openly about how they’re feeling, what they’re finding tough about being in the new family and listen, listen, listen, love, love, love. Oh and no matter how tempting it might be, never speak ill of their mother, even if it means just being silent – it’s really not worth it and can be so damaging to the kids and the family life you’re trying to build. Every now and again we go out for a family meal and review the highlights of the last few months together. We also each go round the table and pick out positive things to say about each person in the new family. It builds everyone up and creates a great atmosphere in every-day life, which could otherwise be tough. This life is so rewarding and I wouldn’t now swap it for the world.

7) Apart from a blended family, you also have a multiracial family. Does that add colour to your family life and how did the Scottish in you and the African in him embrace that?
Although I’ve been living in Scotland for the past thirteen years I actually grew up in beautiful North Yorkshire, south of the border. Meanwhile, my husband, Consol, is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but his dad’s job took his family around the world. Before he was a teen, Consol had already lived in China, Germany, Sweden, Burundi and Zambia. He also went to boarding school in Belgium so Consol has quite a western outlook on life.

Having said that, there are definitely differences and when we first started dating we had very little in common. From how to carve a chicken (carve it? What about the bones? Give me the bones!) to the pets we had as kids (hamster and cockatiel vs baboon and monkeys), things definitely differed. But the most important thing in my life and the most important thing in his is exactly the same: our faith. That holds us together. Any other cultural heritage or tradition takes a back seat really.

Our wedding was great, though. Lots of African men in kilts and a tongue-in-cheek dowry of a live chicken for my mum!

The girls are very Scottish as the oldest came here when she was three while the second step-daughter was born here. They say they don’t fancy going to Africa as they, ‘don’t want to encounter any snakes or creepy crawlies’. Consol rolls his eyes and knows we need a family trip there some time soon to give them a taste of their roots.

Occasionally we have Congolese food, which I know Consol misses. Yorkshire puddings don’t quite cut it for him so he sometimes buys banana plantain and chikwanga at the local African shop. I must get his mum to teach me to cook Congolese dishes next time she visits. Last time she was here she cooked so hard she split our wooden spoon clean down the middle, length-ways! The food was awesome though and well worth the minor damage.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Give it a go. Set up your blog and don’t think too hard about what you’re going to write. Build it bit-by-bit. It doesn’t have to be perfect all at once. Just use it as a diary and you’ll find that the stories start to flow. I am forever tweaking and changing my blog. The important thing is just to start, then the fun begins and you’ll be hooked. Join Twitter as well – there’s a massive community of mums and step-mums out there and Twitter helps you find their blogs. They’re all so lovely, come and join us!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kate Emofi and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Suddenly Mum
Kate’s social media connections:

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