Write Start Blogging Tips at ORA

I love how progressive writers are!  They are always looking at new ways to reach readers, whether it is through print, public appearances, or social media.  It was my privilege to speak to the Ozarks Romance Authors in Springfield, Missouri about the topic of blogging, and how writers can incorporate this versatile tool in their writing practice and marketing efforts.

Here’s a few tips from my presentation…

Why Should Writers Blog?

  • Establishes a presence on the internet for readers, fans, publishers, and agents
  • Creates a ready-made market for self-published authors
  • Helps to build your platform
  • Networks with other social media
  • Can develop into a fully-functional web site (using WordPress) that you can later useto sell books directly from your page, host a fan club, stage online chat sessions, and more
  • Exercises writing skills
  • Fun

Do NOT Write About…

  • —Your every movement – this is not your diary, and you are not a celebrity (yet).
  • —Writing – “I just finished 12 pages today!  Chapter 3 is really coming along!”  (This is the equivalent of “I put my left arm in the sleeve and then I zipped my zipper all by myself!”  Writing is your job.  Readers care about the end product and getting lost in the world you created.  Don’t break the spell by revealing the man behind the curtain!)
  • —Yourself as if you are your character (What…you’re never writing another character?  Or have you crossed the line into therapy-time?  We all know a real person types the posts on your blog, so pretending to be a fictional character has the same effect as baby-talk.  It’s just weird.)
  • —Sections of your work in progress (Yup, posting on a blog IS publishing, so when you try to shop that piece it may deter publishers from picking it up if they feel the world has already seen a good portion.  Also, “in progress” is not polished and ready for public appearance.  Does the term “Emperor’s New Clothes” mean anything to you?  Hmmm?)

English: Ilustration of "The Emperor's Ne...

Ilustration of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DO Write About…

  • —Your area of expertise – writing an historical romance set in the 1860s?  Blog about the Civil War, Westward Expansion, Slavery, Clothing, the Gold Rush, burgeoning Industrialism – it is all related to your book, and readers will be thrilled to get further immersed in your world.  It also sets you up as an expert in this field, and gives you a secondary use for that mountain of research you thought was just backstory.
  • —Your activities in the book world – let readers know that you love to meet them by
    English: Laurence Brahm at a book signing in C...

    Laurence Brahm at a book signing in China for his book, “Searching for Shangri-la”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    demonstrating your presence at book fairs, signings, and conferences.

  • —Topics of interest that reveal your point of view as a writer – Current events are great, just as long as you write publicly about them as a writer, and not from your personal political or religious views.  Don’t risk alienating readers by suddenly stepping outside your persona as “writer”.

Don’t forget to invoke The 10 Commandments of Blogger Etiquette, available as a printable download HERE.

Attendees received a lot of bonus handouts to help them draft their blog posts and streamline their page’s appearance.  You can get them too, by requesting me as a speaker at your next writing event, or arranging a half- or full-day workshop!  (Details HERE.)

Many thanks to ORA for inviting me to visit with their fabulous members.  If you are in the Springfield area on the first Saturday of the month, be sure to drop by The Library Station, Frisco Room at 1pm to enjoy more of this vibrant writing community.  Of course, they are also online, on Facebook, and all over Twitter!

Ozarks Writers Conference 2012 – Hollister, Missouri

Last year’s Ozark’s Heritage Foundation Writers Conference was a huge hit – that must be why they’re doing it again!  AUGUST 16-18, 2012 writers from all around will gather to the historic town of Hollister, MO for a weekend of writing inspiration, mentoring, and fun.  There is still time to get the phenomenal registration rates and special historic English Inn room prices…just visit HERE for all you need to know about this upcoming event.

Author and Ye English Inn proprietor Janet Dailey welcomes writers to the 2011 Hollister, MO conference

This year’s menu features tips on manuscripts and editor communication, how to write the historical article, insight into how writing has changed, how to set up a blog and internet presence for the writer’s needs, and more.  Janet Dailey, Fred Pfister, Dusty Richards, and even Yours Truly will be serving up a mental meal fit for literary king!

Tempt your taste buds with this recollection from last year’s event, then get on over to the Writers Conference page and sign up!

More notes on last year’s speakers and the historic area of Hollister can also be found at the links below:

Can a man be shot for spitting on a window? Is it illegal to whistle on a public street?  You’d be surprised what was once law, and lawless, in the city of Hollister, Missouri!

Hollister City Manager, Rick Ziegenfuss, was kind enough to give our group at the Ozarks Writers Conference a brief tour of the historic district and a very informative slide show.  Here are a few photos of Ye Olde English Inn…and see if you can guess these town tidbits!

Ye Olde English Inn on historic Downing Street
Lobby & Grand Staircase
Balcony & Rock Work
Take it from the top…
Writers break for lunch at Little Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

Now, let’s see how you did…

Historic Downing Street was once named Front Street.  Otto Kohler was a strongman for the circus.  Birdcage Alley was once Broadway, where all the front doors of the buildings faced (away from the railroad).  That heavy-hitter was Babe Ruth, and only Popcorn Pete McAllister could be the demon barber of Downing Street!

Thanks for playing, and be sure to visit historic Hollister, Missouri!

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Educators Bring Great Literature Home


It’s no secret that education is dear to my heart.

After years of public school teaching and librarian work, moving to the home education field just made sense.  After all, where else could a gal that goes giddy over learning styles and curriculum guides satisfy her insatiable need for knowledge?

1895 HoughtonMifflin HolidayBooks Armstrong

For many years, I have attended homeschool conferences – from Kansas to Florida – but the annual trek to Springfield, Missouri remains a favorite.  Hosted by SHEM, an area organization dedicated to assisting home educating families, the event has steadily outgrown its locations until it now resides at the spacious Springfield Expo Center.

What does a homeschool convention look like?  First to note is the extraordinary friendliness and hospitality of the staff and volunteers.  There’s no shortage of easily-identified members to help with registration, scheduling, and finding your way around.  For exhibitors, entire squads of eager young people are on hand to help load boxes, set up booth areas, and even bring a cup of coffee or ice water throughout the long shopping days.

Authors, teachers, and field specialists are booked from all over the country to speak to attendees on topics ranging from this year’s Native Landscaping for Learning (Jay Barber, Conservation specialist) to Uh-Oh, The Fractions Are Moving In (Tom Clark, Indiana Department of Education, and Houghton-Mifflin).

I was privileged to speak on Friday about Literature-Based Learning, focusing on the unique benefits (and just plain fun) of teaching with good quality books and integrated theme units.  Visitors lined up at the booth afterwards to get the new titles available from GoldMinds – for a special show price, of course!


Click on the Microphone to listen to an excerpt from “Literature-Based Learning”, recorded at a recent educator’s conference…

A microphone

Although I have attended this particular show for many years – both as a homeschooling parent and as an exhibitor – I have to admit that this year’s event was the most streamlined and enjoyable.  Everywhere there was a buzz of excitement as parents and teachers discovered new ways to tap into their child’s learning potential, address the special needs of students, and embrace a whole-child approach to education.

The dates have already been set for next year’s conference (April 25-27, 2013), and my pre-registration form is ready to go!  See you there!