We've all been there one way or another. Observed or struggled with a wee one who reaches a breaking point and has a melt down in the grocery store or restaurant. Help is on the way.
I'm pleased to partner with iRead book tour and introduce you to author Madeleine Matthews, and her new picture book, Matt's Swirly World. Her book is a brilliant tool for helping parents show children how to manage feelings, control their impulses, and more.
Read on to ....
Meet the Author:Aspiring contemporary ballerina, commercial poet, grateful wife and mother. Certified Life Coach, BA Finance, MA Statistics ( don't judge, I was young ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), now IT Product Manager. When I was pregnant with my now 3 y/o boy, I was worried of how I can raise my child to cope in a world of bullying, peer pressure, substance abuse, screen time etc. My husband told me that if we want our son to thrive in this world, all we need to do is build his self-confidence & firm limits. So that's how I started reading parenting books, and read a lot. I read tons of books on the latest research discoveries in interpersonal biology and brain development. I love anything that Daniel J Siegel ever wrote. I am also a fan of "How to talk so kids would listen" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
For "Matt's swirly world," I worked with a psychologist who specialized in child development and attachment parenting. That's because, I am above all, convinced of the immense potential every child has and their absolute innocence. I know from experience that raising kids can often feel quite differently, and challenging. I am convinced that the way to turn that potential into peaceful family lives and well balanced kids - is both intuition and science (and patience). Being emotionally available as a parent, being present for them and for yourself, to keep your own emotional highs & lows in check. Because they are good at triggering us, aren't they? When I was 8, I had no money to buy my mother gifts; I really wanted to create joy in her heart, so I started dedicating poems to her. That's what got me started writing.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
ENTER MATT'S SWIRLY WORLD GIVEAWAY HERE
Giveaway ends 16 August
Celebrate Book Lovers’ Day and Bibliophiles Everywhere with My R*A*P - Really-Awful Poem to Bookishness
To celebrate International Book Lover's Day on 9 August, my writerly pals and I are having fun by sharing all the ways we adore reading with our #BookLuvHop. Please enjoy my first (and likely last!) R*A*P, Really Awful Poem, an Ode to Books. Apologies to Gertude Stein, the Bard, Dr. Seuss and true poets everywhere.
Also, be sure to visit my #Gr8Blog pals/bibliophiles linked at the end of this post to find more ways to share your bookish passions. And hey.... if you blog, add a note and share your family-friendly post link about book love in the comment section, and we'll spread blog love your way.
btw....Today's post is an updated R*A*P from the original penned in 2016. My poetry hasn't improved [wink].
Ode to Books
a R*A*P, Really-Awful Poem
by Cat Michaels
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
Hmmm: Cat least thrice:
A book, is a book, is a book.
Alas, I could not read them on a boat
....I get sea sick.
Nor on a goat
....I am a city girl. I only do goat cheese.
But I read books
... here and there.
Books in print are longtime pals
Ever since elementary school locales.
Dick and Jane started it all.
Then on to Dr. Seusss and Nancy Drew
as I grew tall.
Today, it's ....
And what an over-the-moon
to share prose
With that special little one who knows
A great kidlit story
And my deepest readerly secret?
No way I can rhyme it,
so I'll just say instead...
I love to read in bed!!!
Tis quite peculiar-ist -:D
When Penny explained she was his new author, the publisher said, “No tour for you. Nobody will come [because they don’t know you.]”
Cue the bursting bubble!
Discouraged but unwilling to quit, she and husband Michael headed to McDonald’s to discuss how they would tour every library and bookstore they could find on their own.
For the first three years, nobody came to her events. “It was all part of the long-range plan,” Penny quipped. “Who wants readers anyway!”
I'm remembering major distress at my first kid lit book event. No child showed until Tyler and his mom walked through the door. They stayed AND bought my books. Thank you, Tyler! Thank you, Mom!
The writing bug hit when 8-year-old Penny read Charlotte’s Web and fell in love with the spider, a creature that once terrified her. Her ah-ha moment came as she realized books had the power to change lives, and Louise Penny wanted to be a storyteller with that kind of power.
But new anxieties took hold as an adult. Afraid of failing as a novelist, her career took a side route in journalism and writing for the CBC. After burning out covering Quebec's bitter separatist debate, her husband suggested she quit work to write novels.
Her ah-ha moment came
as she realized that
"books had the power to change lives."
A cascade of unplanned events finally stopped this cycle.
First, Penny moved south of Montreal to a small Canadian village that morphed into the inspiration for Three Pines, the quirky village setting of her novels. “People visit there and know I have no imagination,” she laughed.
Next, Penny met monthly at the village bistro with Les Girls, a group of creative women who shared their processes and struggles.
The author discovered that writing was a process. It was not just sitting down and immediately getting “everything right and perfect the first time.”
She also saw that her friends' huge successes and failures that did not kill them. What happened, good or bad, did not define them.
The final push to overcome writer's block came as she noticed stacks of crime fiction on her bedside table. Voila! She had her niche.
Penny never expected to be published, so she wrote her first novel just for herself. Something she'd love to read and have flat out fun writing. She filled her tale with people and places she enjoyed. Modeled her Inspector Gamache protagonist after someone she’d want to marry.
It was just after the 911 terrorist attacks when Penny sketched a map of Three Pines, complete with its bookstore, bistro and bakery her readers adore. The world might feel vulnerable and unsafe after 911 “but in Three Pines, you are not alone,” Penny reminds us.
between planning and having ideas ...
but not over-planning,
There needs space for it to breathe."
Penny realized she was holding on too tight to her novel.
She needed to let go: “... there has to be that balance between planning it [the book] and having themes and ideas and a plot, but not over-planning….There needs space for it to breathe. Space for inspiration. Space for the grace notes to come in, and that’s where the surprises happen.”
The author sets a daily goal of completing 1,000 words for her first draft and accepts that it won't be great. Penny allows her first drafts to be “soft and smelly.” Re-writes and a great editorial team will polish it later.
A PING! goes off in my writer's brain at soft and smelly. I've been holding my breath and holding on too tight to my WIP, a women's fiction about the New South and Old South coming together (or not!) in a growing southern town. No wonder those grace notes and surprises are hiding!
Perhaps I'll pull a Penny and write a tale for myself.
Add characters and plot I'd enjoy reading.
Remove the pressures.
See what shakes out.
I listen as Penny answers questions for another 30 minutes, but I'm stuck on soft and smelly. It's finally a wrap, and the author is off to western North Carolina for another book talk.
as the auditorium empties
with excited chatter,
fans hugging their copies of
Penny's newest paperback release, Kingdom of the Blind,
purchased at the event.
I queue up in the parking lot
and wait my turn for my car to spill into traffic on Western Boulevard ...
with tons to think about
on the ride home.
Catch a delicious audio preview
of Penny's newest book,
A Better Man.
Read by Downton Abbey actor Robert Bathurst
via McMillan Audio on Sound Cloud
Available in print and audio
at your favorite bookseller
on 27 August 2019.
What's your experience attending book tours as a writer or reader? Do you find inspiration? Excitement meeting authors, mingling with other readers? What do you think of the 'soft and smelly' approach for the first time you try anything new? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
I just finished four such books all published within the 12 months or so. Coincidentally, each is written by a woman. More coincidence, all are penned in first person point-of-view and alternate chapters between main characters, like a he/she ping-pong match.
Something in the Water is dark and twisty,
The Flatshare is fun quirky.
One Day in December is a feel-good you won’t want to end.
Read on to find the publisher's summary of each
and my spoiler-free reasons
why this quartet tops
my summer reading stack.
352 pages, Berkley
Stella thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Caveat: I turned up the air conditioning, blushed, and was glad no one overheard the audio as I listened to this book in the car. I was okay with the content, but some might think Kiss Quotient is, well, too much kissing and not enough quotient. Beyond-bodice-ripping passages alert!
However, I adore Stella, the MC! She's portrayed brilliantly as a high-functioning Aspie through the lens of author Helen Hoang, who is also on the Spectrum. Stella’s perplexities over social situations ring true to the Aspies I supported as their college writing coach.
Minor characters shine in her orbit with smart dialogue. Some understand Stella. Others try. A few disrespect her. Best, the male protagonist, the extremely hot Michael Phan, learns from Stella’s goodness and honesty to grow in his own right.
There are a few #MeToo moments in Stella’s work place that crushed me, and I hoped the MC would’ve handled the situations differently. In retrospect, I believe the scenarios were true to the way an Aspie would react.
I give Kiss Quotient a Catly thumps up for its #inourownvoice character portrayal and the stamina the narrator had for performing so many blush-worthy scenes in the audiobook.
One Day in December, by Josie Silver
416 pages, Broadway Books
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.
Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
Why I like it
Don't be fooled by this winter-sounding title. Even at the beach in July, One Day in December is a perfect feel-good summertime tale....especially the audiobook that's alternately narrated by Poldark's Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) as Laurie and Charlie Anson performing as Jack. Yum! Their story spans several years, with detours and obstacles that keep them apart and make you want to scream.
I adore the sub-plot highlighting strong bonds between Laurie and her BFF, Sarah, who initially falls hard for Jack before Laurie can find him after glimpsing him afar from a bus. Every woman longs for a friendship like Laurie's and Sarah's that stands the tests of time ... and boyfriends!
Light. Breezy. Witty. Well-written. Makes the heart smile. Even though you won’t want the book to end, you’ll cross your fingers for Jack and Laurie until the very last page.
352 pages, Ballantine Books
A Reese’s Book Club, Hello Sunshine book pick
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans.
Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other.
Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .
Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?
The darkest of my summertime picks, Catherine Steadman's voice literally shines throughout this debut novel, a zinger of a psychological thriller.
Yep. Wary at first because Steadman also narrates this book, BUT what's not to love about an audiobook read and written by Lady Mable Lane Fox of Downtown Abbey, aka Catherine Steadman? Crackling good writer, actor, and narrator!
The book grabs you with its opening chapter. No spoiler here. Readers know up front that Erin, the female protagonist, is frantically burying her husband under cover of night. Yikes! Cue the chill bumps. Erin's anxiety jumps off the page as she tackles her gruesome task, and you'll feel it alongside her, too.
Here's the mystery: you don't know WHY or HOW Erin gets to this point. Erin doesn't tell you. Steadman subsequently drops clues like break crumbs with a backward telling of what leads up to this event.
From its claustrophobic ocean dive descending to 20 meters in the South Pacific to an explosive ending, the tale kept my earbuds buzzing. Is that final chapter a complete resolution? It's satisfying, but methinks Steadman is leading to a follow up novel. Or at least I hope so.
400 pages, Quercus
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash.
Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet...
...they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window.
FlatShare hits all my sweet spots. You root for Tiff and Leon because of their quirks and vulnerabilities. Minor characters in their circle sparkle, too, like the eccentric author of Crochet Your Way, who insists on having Tiff as her crochet model. You'll want Tiff’s awesome BFFs and Leon’s brother on your team, trust me!
Big fan here of plot devices that develop the MCs slow-moving relationship. Tiff and Leon scribble Post-it notes to each other! Super-cute messages become longer and more personal, eventually covering every surface in their shared space. You’re reading those Post-its as Tiff and Leon reveal themselves, and you’ll root for them on their bumpy road to self-awareness and growth.
Scripted like a screenplay written in present tense, Leon’s chapters intrigue me. They're like enhanced stage directions in a stream of consciousness without any “said” dialogue tags, as in this excerpt when Leo phones his mother as his night shift ends to deliver bad news:
Leon: No, no. I’m dealing with it.
Long miserable silence. We wallow in it.
Mam, with effort: Sorry, sweetheart, how are you?
Return home afterward to find pleasant surprise: home-baked oat bars on sideboard….I see the note beside the tray.
Hope you have a good day/night.
An excellent development. Will definitely endure high levels of clutter…and 350 pounds per month AND free food.
****Excerpt from The Flatshare, by Beth O'Leary
While Flatshare is a feel-good tale, it’s also laced with heavier themes. Leon’s nights with his hospice patients both uplift and sadden. No spoilers, but O’Leary sprinkles wrongful imprisonment and emotional abuse into the mix. She makes you think but never brings you down.
And that’s the essence of my perfect summer read.
Thanks learning about my beach read faves. Have you read any of my quartet? Any interest you (it's okay if not!)? What's on your TBR stack this summer? Please share in the comment section. Always looking for the next great book here.
btw....I'm on Goodreads. You? Would love to connect with you there and share more bookishness -:D.
Much of our celebrating involves hosting or finding a cookout. It doesn't feel like a uniquely American holiday to us without clumps of folk chatting down over dogs, burgers, and brew ... nutritional values and calories all pushed aside for this day.
My problem? Not a foodie here, even though I come from a long line of fab cooks and bakers. To get inspired, I sort through family recipes.
Grandma Ethel started collecting recipes in 1910 as part of a high-school project in Everett, Washington (Pacific Northwest, US). Grateful to my cousin, who made sure the grandchildren have copies of Grandma's hand-written notes.
The Dandelion Wine recipe surprises me. I don’t remember seeing it around when we spent summers on Grandma's farm as kids, but adults likely imbibed when we slept.
I realize wine needs time to ferment, but I am still gobsmacked at how my grand's Depression-era generation took *time* and care to prepare their food: Squeeze out blossoms and let toasted bread stand for 3 days and nights? Wow,
Guessing any dandelions we’d pick today would be swimming in chemicals. Passing on this recipe until I get a handle on organic dandelion blossoms and find a 10# pail for collecting them -:D
On the other hand, I remember snorfing down Mama's to-die-for Pineapple Upside Down Cake as a kid like it was yesterday. But I can’t find her recipe (boo hoo). She was such an excellent baker, who likely made up the recipe as she went along.
Instead, I discover a similar concoction in a compilation of favorite recipes by Grandma Ethel's friends and neighbors at the Josephine Sunset Home Auxiliary in Stanwood, Washington. Published around 1976 (the USA's bicentennial birthday year), it's clear these women knew their way around kitchens.
Don't you love the added homey poetry sprinkled about in the book’s white spaces! And it's still relevant today.
I could tackle this recipe but, geez, Fumble Fingers here, wondering how I'd manage to invert the cake without smooshing it all over. Mama had the touch! She also garnished the top with pineapple slices that we kids snatched and ate when we thought she wasn't looking. Looking back, I think she knew what we were up to.
I luck out recalling
one of Mama’s summertime picnic specials,
is more dessert
It's super easy to throw together, refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day.
Even better topped with fresh blueberries. (Caveat…it has nuts for those with allergies.)
Only problem at our house:
Watergate Salad gets gone really FAST!!!!
Here's an easy dish even I can manage.
Berries morph into patriotic red-white-and-blues
when featured with just the right serving pieces.
What do you think about
chocolate dipping sauce
on the side
for that extra yum?
I’m off to market to stock up on Fourth Food for the 'hood cookout. What family recipes do you cherish? What's your never-fail summertime fare? Please share in the comment section.
Have a safe and happy Fourth y'all! Sending virtual hot dogs slathered with all the trimmings to everyone. And maybe a virtual cup of Grandma's wine, if I can master the dandelions by then <wink>.
Please have a read to discover how I'm finding my summertime bliss. Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for more Jumping into Summer 2019 smiles.
Celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary
JM and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary over brunch at the cafe where we had our first date in 1991. Cannot believe it has been 25 years since we eloped to Dillon, South Carolina! Same smiles and love in our hearts; majorly different hair styles -:D
Best-selling Authors' Newest Tales
faithfully delivers enjoyable summer tales,
and her newest, Winter in Paradise, is no exception.
Unlike the author's usual setting based on her Nantucket home,
this first of her new series takes place
in St. John, US Virgin Islands.
Paradise is a bit of mystery, family and romance
with a juicy tropical vibe.
I even pre-ordered an autographed copy
of her 15th Inspector Gamache novel,
A Better Man.
You know what' I'll be reading this summer -:D
Bye-bye Big Bang, sniff-sniff
Hated seeing The Big Bang Theory series end after its 12-year run. What a sweet, totally satisfying wrap (unlike GoT’s, which imho, was underwhelming). I adore this circle of socially awkward nerds who forge lasting friendships with each other.
Co-writing with Rosie Russell
Writing is always better with friends, and I'm having a sweet ride co-writing a children's book with author Rosie Russell.
Our story for middle graders is set in rural America's heartland. Our main character, Olivia, is a socially awkward farm child. She's thrown into the choppy waters of tween social circles when a new girl moves to town from a nearby city. We're stirring in horses, baseball, crafting, mean girls, and perhaps a storm or two to twist Olivia around. Stay tuned!
MAKING ME HAPPY
Literary Classics Book Awards
I still cannot believe
Sweet T and the Turtle Team
scored gold - environment category – in the Literary Classics Book Awards for excellence in children’s literature.
JM and I had an amazing weekend in Rapid City, South Dakota, to mark the occasion with .....
author meet and greet
Catch my comprehensive photo journey to a red carpet weekend in the American West on Cat's Corner HERE
The American West
being west of the Mississippi.
Although I visited as a child,
I appreciated the journey more
as an adult.
Abundant wild life roaming up to your car ...
Snow-capped summertime peaks ...
Dazzling human-made and natural wonders ...
My Women’s Fiction WIP
To be honest, between travels, co-writing, and life in general, my first adult fiction has been percolating on the back burner. But I can't wait to toss my characters into the challenges of living together - or not! - as the Old South collides with the New South in the growing town of Corey, North Carolina.
How are you
CURRENTLY jumping into summer?
Making big plans?
Keeping it low?
Slimming down your to-read stack?
Please share in the comment section.
Join us on our C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Jump into Summer Blog Hop! Comment and add your family-friendly, summer-themed link below. We’ll visit your blog and give you some #Gr8blog love.
But before you go,
find more inspiration and smiles
from these #Gr8Blogs
as YOU jump into summer -:D
I’ve been to bookish events before but never to a writing awards ceremony…until Sweet T and the Turtle Team scored gold for best children’s book, environment category, from the Literary Classics Book Awards.
Walking on air for months, here, dreaming about meeting other honorees and our weekend-long celebration in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Although I visited South Dakota as a child, hub JM had never been west of the Mississippi River. We decided to make the most of this literary opportunity AND experience the American West while celebrating our silver wedding anniversary.
Set your comfy chair in its upright and locked position, grab a brew, and join me for a photo walk of my journey to a red carpet weekend.
Nope. Cold, rain and sleet at Denver Airport.
Toss summer gear from the suitcase.
Squash winter coat and boots inside instead.
we are like excited kids
navigating back roads in a rented Jeep
to see more of the countryside.
Dodging sleet and rain during the 6-hour drive
across Nebraska and north to Rapid City ...
Easy to imagine wagon trains and cowboys once crossing here, too.
Getting to Know You
Rapid City is a bustling center in northwest South Dakota.
It's nestled between two magnificent natural wonders,
the Badlands and Black Hills.
Wow, Rapid City is decked out to greet us!
The Literary Classics Team makes us feel right at home, too.
How to break the ice
with a group of mostly introverted authors,
who don’t know each other beyond the CLC’s private group Facebook page?
Wine tasting downtown at Firehouse Wine Cellar!
Cool, fun questions:
How many books have you written?
Do you have an agent?
Is this your first time in Rapid City?
by the time we leave the winery -:D
Author Roundtable, Writers' Conference
I come away with tons of ideas for authoring and motivation for my writerly life.
After lunch, JM and I dash away
on a 30-minute jaunt
Mt. Rushmore National Monument.
Book Fair and Bison
Despite 37F/2.8C temps, our tables are ready to go by 9 a.m. for GABfest, the Great American Book Festival, in Rapid City’s outdoor Main Street Square
High wind warnings that morning are no joke. The 50-mph/81-kph gusts knock down displays and threaten tents covering us. Then cue the hail and rain! Not to mention me spilling hot coffee all over my books and the once-pristine white tablecloth under them <rolls eyes and smacks head here>.
A few readers brave the elements.
But it is soooo cold and sooooo windy!
Later in the day,
we discover that bison
in nearby Custer State Park
don't mind inclement weather one bit!
Choo-chooing away butterflies
I’ve never been on the red carpet before, and to be honest,
I fight butterflies in my stomach.
I’m way more comfortable behind the scenes instead of in front of them.
But we are free until the event that evening. No time to fret. So......
my sweet Trainiac Hub and I
motor a short distance
for grown-up play time in Hill City, SD.
than a happy hubby
enjoying bison burger for lunch (apologies to vegetarians)
in an historic, century-old log cabin
next to a train depot ....
... unless it's
chugging along on an old-timey steam train ride
through the South Dakota Black Hills.
Wow! I also have my first fan recognition!
As I wait at the depot,
an attendee from the author roundtable discussion
She walks up to say hello and ask about my books.
My grateful heart does the happy dance -:D.
SUNDAY - EVENING
Reception and Award Ceremony
The event begins
with a happy hour and photos on the Red Carpet.
Then comes the moment we've been waiting for:
I walk to the stage.
Face beaming, Pulse pounding.
I receive my medal for
Sweet T and the Turtle Team.
We clap and cheer the night away
for every awesome author
recognized for his or her brilliant achievement -:D!
And just like that,
We linger as long as we can.
Then we slip into the night.
Go our separate ways.
Back to earth
since my Literary Classics weekend.
Have I come down to earth?
I still feel the excitement.
Cherish connections made there
Best, I retain a huge dose of confidence
to brave the hard road
and keep writing.
Writing is hard.
It's just plain lonely.
And I’m beyond grateful to
for recognizing my work and reaffirming I am on the right track.
And as always,
I'm grateful to
for following my writing journey.
Here's to more happy tales ahead!
I see you scratching your head just as I did. You’re wondering how creatives can build professional relationships in cyberspace with someone you’d never bump into at the corner Starbuck’s.
You can do it! (Yes, even you introverts looking skeptical and scared.)
You start by being RARE as you demonstrate–
If you’re an author, blogger, or small business owner, read on to discover 9 tips to help you build your RARE social media presence.
Be clear about your social media goals.
Everybody wants to find followers and be discovered. Do you also want support from others in your field. Advice on specialized topics like launching books or running google ads? Connections to niche groups, like how to care for your pet iguana?
Explore and research.
Start with keyword searches to identify groups in your niche, such as most successful romance writers, best websites for writers, or most popular children's books. Most will have social media links you can dig into.
Discover where your readers spend their time on social media by googling stats and demographics for different social media platforms. For instance:
- Pinterest: half of all US millennials use Pinterest at least once monthly - the platform's most popular category in the US is art/art supplies/hobbies, followed by food and decorating (Sprout Social). If your niche crafting and hobbies, or a novel featuring a 30-something female chef, Pinterest should be on your radar.
- Goodreads: a brilliant site to boost a writer's book discoverability - Goodreads hosts 80 million avid readers. You’ll want to set up an author account and join the conversation about books. Plus, I just love being on there as a citizen reader.
- Twitter: a micro-blog with breezy messages of 280 characters or less - Tweets are sent at a rate of about 350,000 per minute. You’ll meet tweeps who blog about books, are wild about book giveaways, and more. I find Twitter can be troll-heavy and divisive, but it’s the favorite platform of many writerly colleagues.
- Instagram: a millennial hangout, where visual content uploaded on mobile devices with multiple hashtags reign. Search for popular hashtags by niche, like #bookworm for readers or #writersofinstagram for authors to find communities to follow.
- Facebook: the tyrannosaurus rex of social media
* users by gender: 53% female and 47% male
72% of the 62% of online seniors are between ages of 50 and 64
* 88% of online users aged 18-29 are on Facebook Source
* 85% of Facebook's daily active users come from outside North America
* (source: omnicoreagency.com -2018 September)
My author page on Facebook is my go-to platform because it’s where purchasers of my children’s books spend time.
Facebook has hundreds of genre and sub-genre interest communities. Some are open groups, and others are closed, so commenting stays safe within the group. You must ask to join closed groups, but it shouldn’t be an issue if your interests match theirs. Start by being friendly and commenting. Nuke the self-promotions.
Is your head exploding? Mine was when I started! tbh, there are still days when it feels crazy.
To keep from being overwhelmed,
begin with a ...
Start with friendly convo and comments of interest to the group.
Leave the marketing behind.
Let people get to know you as a 'person' first.
- Yep. Delineate your personal and professional life.
- Once you decide on that single platform your readers love, it’s time to set up a separate account to share information about your business (yes, writing IS a business!) to differentiate from family life. Aunt Sue will appreciate her vacation pictures staying private, and you can still boast about your silly pet tricks to Cousin Ed without confusing your authorly personae.
3. Honor Ground Rules
- Once you identify groups to observe, look for guidelines in the 'about' section that summarize the group’s purpose and rules. Some sites are devoted to sharing interests and don’t take kindly to authors promoting books. Other communities encourage marketing discussions.
- Spend time on places that resonate with you and observe how people interact. Is it a good fit for you?
- Begin to follow people and pages that offer dynamic interaction and frequently post fresh content in your interest/book niche with a positive spirit.
Clapping for you here! You researched and zeroed in on people and places. Time to engage.
- With your newly opened professional account, test the waters by liking, sharing or favoring posts.
- Ask a thoughtful question or comment on a topic you’re comfortable with. I was so nervous writing my first posts! Spent 10 minutes just drafting them. Promise: it gets easier. Now I whip ‘em out using native or free tools (like Buffer and Hootsuite) to schedule posts in advance.
- You're building brand YOU, so your actions should reflect a genuine interest that shows who you are as a person and a professional. I confine engagements as a children’s book author to family-friendly content.
5. Thou Shalt Not Spam
- Who are you as an author/illustrator, a mommy blogger, a dog groomer and citizen of this planet? Readers want to know! I love sharing my interests but make them relatable to my readers and my writerly life as plain ole me.
- When Stephen King (who has more than 4M Facebook followers!) posts a cute photo of his pooch, Molly, aka the Thing of Evil, and posits she can unleash a battalion of zombie Irish Wolfhounds on Vermont, he gets 54K likes. So, he shares an amusing tidbit about his personal life and ties it to his genre. Pure genius!
- Rule of Thirds: Carla King, Author of Self-Publishing Books: A Guide for Authors, proposes a social media Rule of Thirds that’s good for any business practice. King suggests dividing posts equally among promoting/selling, supporting like-minded authors or businesses, and revealing yourself as a person and author:
Okay, I promote more when I launch books or have special events. But otherwise, I contain my marketing.
Actively seek out and support others. It’s pure delight to see their reaction! (More about supporting others coming next on #6 )
Who are you as an author, entrepreneur, business owner and citizen of this planet? People want to know!
Don’t shake your head wondering, What can I offer? Yes, there are a gazillion people in cyberspace, but no one is YOU.
- What’s your unique expertise and interest? Whether it’s grammar, baking, photography or sports, use those talents to demonstrate how you'll add to the conversation.
- Share ideas from wise people in your field and be sure to attribute those ideas. That’s easy to do on Facebook and Twitter: adding @ in front of someone’s name automatically tags them. I discovered early on that the more I share, the more others engage and friendships start. How cool is that!
- When people interact with you in positive ways, they’re reaching out, trying to make a connection. Show interest by responding as soon as possible. Personalize your reply by using the individual's name.
- As you gain followers (and you will!) routinely thank them. People are always happy to hear they are appreciated!
7. Get Visual
Studies show that posts with visual images receive the most engagement.
- Create original content that supports your brand and interests readers by uploading free public domain photos through sources like Pixabay or Unsplash.
- Take advantage of free online editing and design tools, like Canva and PicMonkey. They turn plain posts into dazzling visuals with text overlays with the click of a mouse. For authors, I discovered a new app, Book Brush, that turns you book covers into stunning 3-D images.
- Videos also boost engagement. Many of my author friends have great on-camera presence and do live feeds. I’m not there yet. However, a no-frills 30-second video of ice pelting my garden or ducks on my nature walk captured with my Iphone get 2-3 times my usual organic reach. You can also get fancy with video sites like Animoto and wave.video both of which have free basic plans.
8. EWWWWW…..Get Out of My Direct Messages
"I will never
DM or pester my followers with a
or follow-me-on-Insert-*Social*Media *url"
Direct messaging with marketing slams is the cyber-equivalent of being badgered by a plaid-suited snake oil salesperson. Just last week, a newbie author posted to my personal facebook page a 3-paragraph pitch for buying his new book, complete with link to his sell site. When I get messages like this, I delete them in a heartbeat. In this case, I also followed up privately with a firm message to STOP!
Ditto when new friends ask me to like a page or link that is totally out of my niche (can't do R-rated anything to stay true to my children's book community). These actions show they really don't know a jot about me.
9. Slow Progress IS Progress!
- Building your online presence is like building a wall. The foundation must be solid, and the rest assembled from there with care and precision. Cutting corners could bring the whole structure crashing down.
- When I started my online community, it felt like eons passed before I got traction, no matter how hard I tried. True confession: some days, I still want to tear my hair out because building and maintaining online connections takes patience, sweat, and T*I*M*E.
All the best for your journey building or strengthening your online new community! Let me know how you’re doing and what’s working for you. Hey, if we’re not connected in cyberspace, let’s make it happen and be RARE together -:D!
Which of these 9 tips work for you? What other strategies can you add? Please share in the comment section.
Book Review: HIIT Your Limit by Dr. Len Kravitz Helps You Stay in Shape Inch by Inch with High-Intensity Interval Training
That’s why I’m pumped to introduce you to a new fitness book by Dr. Len Kravitz to help you reach those goals, HITT Your Limit, High-Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss, Cardio, and Full Body Health. Read on to preview the book, meet Dr. Len, read my review, and enter for your chance to win one of five copies of his book (US only…open until 3 May 2019). Good luck!
Book Title: HIIT Your Limit: High-Intensity Interval Training For Fat Loss, Cardio, and Full Body Health by Dr. Len Kravitz
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 208 pages
Genre: Fitness and Wellness
Publisher: Apollo Publisher
Release date: October 19, 2018
Tour dates: April 15 to 26, 2019
Content Rating: G (The book is a workout manual. It contains no graphic language or images.)
Get lean, build muscle, and stay healthy in only ten minutes a day! A Fitness Hall of Fame inductee and world-famous exercise scientist explains the #1 new fitness trend and how to get and keep the body you’ve always wanted.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an extraordinarily effective form of training that mixes high- and low-impact activities during periods ranging from seconds to eight minutes. In HIIT Your Limit, Dr. Len Kravitz, who has been inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame and been an internationally-renowned exercise scientist for the past thirty-six years, and sold nearly 100,0000 copies of his last fitness book, explains what HIIT is, how it effects your entire body (externally and internally), gives 50 workouts and a guaranteed plan to whip you into shape fast, and presents a wealth of nutritional and other advice to further its impact.
HIIT was recently rated the #1 new fitness trend by the American College of Sports Medicine and is the key to staying fit for celebrities like David Beckham, Britney Spears, Hugh Jackman, and Scarlett Johansson. In addition to fat loss, it’s been proven to have major health benefits on blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. Through this groundbreaking volume you’ll learn why, and see how to get fit quick, and have a fun and a truly sustainable exercise program, no expensive personal trainer required.
Dr. Len Kravitz has thirty-six years of experience as a researcher, writer, and speaker on fitness, and is the coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Anybody’s Guide to Total Fitness (now in its eleventh edition with nearly 100,000 copies sold), and Essentials of Eccentric Training; has published more than 300 articles in dozens of health and fitness publications; and regularly travels the country as a speaker on fitness and health. Among other awards, he was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. Dr. Kravitz lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This book’s subtitle, High-Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss, Cardio, and Full Body Health, perfectly describes what HIIT Your Limit wants you to achieve. Divided into 3 sections, readers can dive in from start to finish or focus on a particular segment.
Need convincing to begin exercising? Part 1 is geared to skeptics and anyone reluctant to start. I provides rich background and motivation for achieving a healthier life style.
Want to eat healthier and drop pounds? Section two zeros on healthy eating and weight loss strategies. I especially liked its 50 common questions and their answers: “Are sweet potato fries healthier than regular French fries?” (Nope. Bummed out but good to know) or “Are nuts really that healthy?” (Yep. Hooray!). Researched-backed, on-point responses give you plenty to digest (pun intended) about changing your eating habits.
Personally, I couldn’t wait to dive into the third section on exercise strategies! Coming from a family of athletes and being a lifelong exercise enthusiast myself, I have been convinced about the need to be active and eat right. The final segment of this book covers pre-exercise fundamentals for newbies, like proper clothing and physician clearance. Then it moves on to the meat of the book for me: how to incorporate HIIT in my exercise routine.
I love how Dr. Len offers specific templates to incorporate interval training incrementally and at increasingly challenging levels. I always wondered HOW to do this, and now I’m confident I can add HIIT to my workout. The author also provides examples for warm ups and cool downs, something I rarely do but need to start.
Finally, extras at the back include a workout schedule and another of my favorite parts, 100 winning ways to cut calories eating out and at home. (Yippy! Good to know I can continue guilt-free eating 2 TBs of peanut butter at lunch because it’s chockfull of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.)
I highly recommend High-Intensity Interval (HIIT) for adults wanting to start an exercise regimen, notch up their workout, or eat healthier. The author convinces and encourages you with fun facts and a do-able process to make any reader come out a winner.
Disclosure: I was given an advance review copy of this book and wish to share an honest, unbiased opinion of my reading experience. - Cat Michaels, M.S., Ed.
Really??? THIRD grade!!!
How to help B? Stop her harassers? Crush this ugly cycle of hurting others that has become an epidemic?
I felt powerless and sick at heart, especially living 500 miles away from B. Turning to experts and friends who'd seen this happen before, I discovered 5 ways to stop bullying now.
I never forgot it. Later on in middle school,
another pair of bullies made my life miserable until we moved….”
~ H, friend who was bullied
Unlike H, I was lucky growing up. I had only minor brushes with bullying.
I might have been an upstander in elementary school, having leverage as a top broad jumper and runner who helped my class win school-wide sporting competitions. When a group of kids threatened to stop liking me if I kept my friendship with Susanne Rickles (a kid I now recognize as being on the high-functioning end of the Asperger’s spectrum), I ignored them without consequence.
B’s parents and teacher were on top of the situation right away, but I wanted to do something, too. But what could I do living so far away?
I discovered five strategies from my social network and online experts to help stop bullying.
"[Powerlessness] is one of the most damaging messages that children receive when they are experiencing bullying ... the feeling that they cannot help themselves and no one will help them. Shoring up her own self-confidence will be the greatest form of support she can receive right now."
- Marlene Dillon,
Proud2BNaturalMe and dynamo behind Facebook's #IMOVERBULLYING movement
”Keep asking questions to the school, to the parents …. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks.”
~ T, former teacher
"It takes the students, school, counselors, teachers, and parents to nip it [bullying] in the bud as fast as they can. The longer it goes on, the worse it will be for all of them."
~ R, former substitute teacher
Experts confirmed my friends’ wise counsel. The website stopbullying.gov, an excellent online resource for kids, parents, teachers, and communities, pointed to fast, unfailing adult response:
"When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time."
I struggled to come up with a way I could turn this advice into action. As a writer, I decided to pen a letter of encouragement to this sweet child. It wasn't much, but I didn't want to just stand by and do nothing.
Because she opened up to her parents, they worked with her teacher to take immediate action. The mean girls apologized to B and, hopefully, stopped harassing her. But damage has been done. While B tolerates school, she remains anxious. Her parents and teacher remain vigilant, too. My fingers are crossed, but I fret about what school challenges B may face in her future
What’s your experience with bullying? What resources or tips can you offer to stop it? Please share in the comment section.
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