Revamping Your Blog

Today I was looking for a link I knew I had shared on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ a while ago. It took me almost twenty minutes, but I finally found it – and then I faced an unwelcome surprise… the link was ‘blind’, which means, it went nowhere…

I realized, the blog post itself was about five years old. Part of ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ are promotional posts, connected to other authors, sharing posts that I re-blogged, or interesting articles that I found relevant for writing… there are many more reasons, why we connect our blogs to other bloggers and posts, and each one of them is important.

Longevity is important for every single blog, no matter what the basic subject is about. The longer you have your blog, the better. You develop a particular readership, and you would like to provide them with the reliable, long-lasting post content. Now, with our habit of re-blogging, sharing, and linking other blogger’s content to our blog, we’re at a risk to connect with blogs or posts other bloggers are deleting at one point. Maybe they’re re-vamping their blogs, or decide to delete the entire blog. Maybe something else happens, we don’t know. But it makes it clear that with the connection to other blog posts and blogs, we are not only facilitating traffic between blogs, we are also encouraging the risk of maintaining our own blog in a more regular and more careful way.

According to Eb Gargano, an avid and experienced blogger, with her blog ProductiveBlogging.com we bloggers should take good care of our blog, and ‘revamp’ it occasionally.

Eb says, we don’t have to delete our old blog posts, unless, they had become useless. (Like in my case, the one with the ‘blind’ link.) But we definitely should comb through our blog and update and re-write the one or other post, set up new pictures, add some creativity and design, and re-post them. This is not only a recommendation, it’s advice. Eb Gargano says,  “”If you have a lot of old, out of date, irrelevant, and/or poor-quality blog posts, this will have a negative effect on your SEO.” (For the ones who don’t know what SEO is: “Search Engine Optimization”, you will find a link to another one of Eb Gargano’s posts).

Reviving, re-writing, and re-vamping your older blog posts, and even re-posting them again, can boost your SEO – and your reader’s and visitor’s experience. Keep your blog as accurate, reliable, modern, and current as possible. Delete old and outdated posts and slim your blog down when necessary. You don’t need posts with old links that lead to an error page. Show your readership and followers, that you’re taking care of your blog, and that it’s important to you!

Fosterwebmarketing.com says, “Deleting irrelevant, unviewed content may be painstaking, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to boost your search engine rankings and improve user experience. Just like all white hat, ethical SEO techniques, there is no silver bullet to ridding your site of old content.”

That means, to us writers and author-bloggers: a blog is not a book – once written, preserved for eternity! It means a blog is constant work, permanent revision, renovation, updates, maintaining, and revamping. Having a blog means, spending time with it and on it, precious time that we don’t have, and that is taken from us from writing. I’m glad, to be honest, I only have one blog to take care of… I can barely imagine how the ones with two or more blogs are groaning now: “Oh, noooooooo!”

Of course, I’m not going to force anyone to do anything on their blog. This is a recommendation, or ‘good advice from good ol’e A.J. if you will.

But you will have to excuse me now, I have to work on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ updating. Hopefully, see you soon!

Part of the picture is courtesy of Google.com

As The French Say: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique.” – A Book Review By A Writer

Picture courtesy of Freerangestock.com

Many writers have a myriad of other writers and authors in their network. Since we all know how important book reviews are for us authors, most of us are willing to help out and write a review for our fellow authors. If not, we should.

At this moment I won’t repeat how and why book reviews are essential to our work, I published plenty of blog posts on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ about that subject, many of them written by other bloggers and writers and shared here.

Also, I won’t add any more tips and tricks on how to write a review, because, ditto…

But what, if we agreed to help and find ourselves in the horrible situation of having to review a book that’s not what we expected, neither in character development, character voice, description clarity, or plot arc? What if we just cannot find the thread that leads us through the story, and we have the feeling that this particular writer suffers from a lack of skill, ability, and talent to actually write a book?

And here, I admit, I feel torn apart… I want to be honest, I don’t want to discourage a fellow author, in particular a young, upcoming author who’s just starting out… But at the same time, there’s that nasty little thought that tries to talk me into protecting the world from a really bad book…

Picture courtesy of: https://stock.adobe.com/

So, what should we do in such a case? And here, each one of us might decide differently. There are, of course, different possibilities. I’ve seen them all.

  1. I write and publish an honest review, clearly stating that the book is not good
  2. I don’t publish that review, but send it to the author personally and tell them, the book is crap
  3. I contact the author and let them know that I read the book and ask if they’re willing to ‘listen’ to some advice
  4. I want to help and recommend the author to remove the book from the market for a while and work on it before re-publishing
  5. Tell the writer that it might be a good idea to find another occupation, maybe as a gardener, at least they’d do something useful

I admit I wish I had never made that horrible experience or stood in front of that decision. But unfortunately, it happened. What did I do?

Very simple: I tried a mix of numbers three and four.

Now, we are talking about three different young authors and three different reactions.

Author A: “How DARE you judge my book like that. My Mum said it’s a great story, and my sister said the same thing. That’s why it’s published, and they both helped me with the editing and stuff.” (You must be a writer, man… I like the ‘and stuff’ part best). Basically, I dare to judge your book ‘like that’ because you asked me to. If you ask for an honest review, you will have to brace yourself for the possibility that you will get a very honest review, and it cannot always be good. If you only want a good review, ask your Mum and your sister. Being a writer, and a published author is not always a ride on a pink rainbow unicorn. It’s hard work, and you give many people the chance to libel your name. Get a very thick skin, that’s the only way to protect you from being harmed. Not everybody is as nice as to tell you in private that your work needs a bit of polishing.

Author B: “Thank you very much for telling me. I’d like to hear what you recommend, please! I really appreciate it. I don’t get much support from anyone, and I feel I can do with some help.” (Needless to say, I’m still in contact with that author, and the story has massively improved. I will promote the book here on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, once it’s ready.)

Author C: “I hate you! You hurt me so much! I will make sure that nobody will ever take you seriously as an author. You will pay. for what you said..” (In that case I would really have liked to recommend a good shrink)

Now, in each one of these cases, I’m not talking about a published book review on my side. I contacted each one of these authors and told them, that I’d like to talk about that book, carefully explaining, why I thought, at this moment a review wouldn’t be the best idea. Also, in each case, I started by mentioning the good things I found. (Even though there weren’t many, I tried my best). Only then I listed the things that should improve.

There’s always more than one way to say something. And right here the title of this blog post kicks in. As the French say: “It’s the tone that makes the music.”, or in French: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique.”

Let’s say, you’re at a party, and the host serves an adventurous combination of manchego cheese, pickles, pineapple, and maraschino cherries on the avocado salad. You can either say, you’re allergic to avocado (And hope, she doesn’t remember you ate her guacamole last time you were there) or, you can ask her, if she’s pregnant, because, nobody in their right mind would eat something like that without vomiting big time. I’m known to be quite straight out, but even I wouldn’t eat that salad, and faking an allergy at that moment sounds just perfect.

Or, you’re taking your two besties out for dinner to celebrate… and when you arrive at the second one’s house, she shows up in a white mini-dress that has seen better days, and she’s completely oblivious that she grew out of it, most likely, about twenty-five years ago, you have two choices. Tell her, that she forgot to get dressed in something age-and weight-appropriate, or ask her if she forgot to get dressed – period.

In our case, things are similar. I had two possibilities: publish a book review that tells everybody the plot is crap, the characters are lame, and the book is poorly written, by a completely talent-free individual… or, I did what I did and try to help these authors by telling them something good I found to avoid killing their buzz, and then carefully showing them different blog posts and articles that help them to improve their story plot, their character voices and -development.

It’s all in the way we say things… how we make and keep friends, how we make sure we don’t hurt people, and how we remember, that our strongest talent and skill are words. That saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is true. Words can injure and kill, as horribly as a blade can. In doubt, just remember one more thing: “Talk to others the way you want to be talked to.”

How would you handle a situation like that? And do you remember it’s the tone that makes the music? Let us read your comment, please.

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

The Sad Retirement Of A Tradition

When I was a kid, I watched my parents carefully marking their days and appointments on an agenda. Back then, you got these 2022 ‘agendas’ from your bank, the butcher’s shop, or some other company that used them for advertisement. I always wanted my own ‘agenda’, despite me being only 4 years old and going to Kindergarten.

Since I grew up in a so-called well-protected parental home (and I’m very grateful for that!), my life was generally controlled by my mother. That meant, all my appointments, play afternoons, or birthday parties were noted in her agenda. She had to be informed about everything we children did. I think, when I got my first personalized agenda for my birthday, she impounded it and I never saw it again.

Then, planners, and ‘Filofax’ cases became not only a fashion statement but also a necessity for every business person (and a few others too)… and I would have loved one of these. Instead, I had to settle for an agenda, a promotional article from my bank. (I could have my own now, I was almost an adult).

When I finally got my first combined planner/agenda/address book/notes case in size 9 x 13″ from COACH, the fashion statement was basically on its way into the archives, not to mention that I found out, that thing added about 6 pounds to my already heavy writer’s purse. To make things a little easier (and lighter on my back), I left that rock-heavy combined case at home and got myself a light, ring book paper agenda to take with me. I love paper, and I continued entering my appointments, plans, and tasks in both agendas, one for home and one for ‘the road’. By the time it got hard to get a replacement for my annual COACH agenda, I was so sick of my method, that I decided to set the state of my COACH stone to ‘out of service’ and further just kept using my light and practical paper agenda, which I, on an annual basis, bought at Walmart or Target.

Since I’m a writer, and was a job seeker at that time, and had other things to do I took notes of, and love post-its, my agenda always looked like a ‘work book’, with notes, corrections, and hooks, and post-its and tape, and I loved it.

And then came the time…

When my life took a big hit with the pandemic, and I decided to add another huge change and start traveling, I realized, that my paper agenda used up a lot of space and just didn’t serve its purpose anymore, no matter how much I loved it. I kept collecting paper in it, rather than using it for its original purpose, and took fewer and fewer notes, which I had started adding to my electronic agenda on my devices, (phone and tablet) instead. That way I knew I had them with me at all times. They didn’t use up additional space and were even lighter and less bulky that my beloved paper agenda.

Only a few days ago I finally found it, somewhere, on a dresser, forgotten and abandoned, ragged, shriveled, used… and still, somehow sad and neglected. And with a heavy heart, I had to recognize the sad truth: it is time to bury an old tradition… Another one of my beloved paper products will not be with me any longer. My poor, orphaned paper agenda will retire…

Does that mean, I’m completely computerizing myself? Hell, no! I will always enjoy taking notes by hand, on paper, with a beautiful pen. But there won’t be notes for books, or something else… they won’t be appointments, tasks, and meetings on paper anymore. That will be over. A. J. Alexander goes electronic!

Goodbye paper agenda. Thank you for your decades-long services! I will always remember you.

A Cheat Sheet on Body Language for Writers – Written By John W. Howell

Hi SEers. John with you today.

As a wrap-up to the subject of gestures (or beats) to convey non-verbal communication, I found a great cheat sheet for writers on body language. The cheat sheet is below the text and was developed by ArchetypeWriting.com.

The cheat sheet can be used in developing characterizations beyond having to explain just how your character is feeling. I hope you find this cheat sheet useful and perhaps dig deeper into the subject of body language.

Image

CONTINUE READING HERE

Why do good books fail to sell while poorly written books fly off the shelves? – by Thomas Umstattd Jr.

on Author Media:

I recently spoke at a conference for professional editors. My session was titled “How to Edit a Book to Sell.”

Editors and writers are often confounded when great books fail to sell while poorly written books fly off the shelves.

You’ve probably had a confounding experience at a bookstore when you pick up a book, read a few pages, and say, “This is awful!” When you put it back on the shelf, you notice the words “New York Times Bestseller” emblazoned on the front.

Why do great books often fail to sell while poorly written books fly off the shelves? 

Some books stay on bestseller lists even though they seemingly don’t deserve it. Other books are brilliantly written, and they never crack the top 100.

A book only finds life in the mind of the reader, which means you must convince readers to buy and read your book.

You don’t want your book to be a neglected masterpiece. So how do you write a book that will sell well?

Continue reading HERE

How to Upload Your Book to KDP, Easily and Correctly [Text Instruction + Screenshots] – by The Book Designer Team

I recently published my 21st book to the KDP platform, having been self-publishing for the last 7 years. And as I was going through the self-publishing steps again, it occurred to me how the platform has evolved over the past decade. This text-based, step-by-step tutorial is your most current and up-to-date process to upload your book to KDP.

Publishing a book can be overwhelming – especially if you want to make sure you’re doing it right and to prevent any confusion throughout the process on how to publish a book. Let’s take a look at the process and what is required to become a bestselling self-published author.

If you are a first-time author—or seasoned veteran at self-publishing—you will find this brief post on publishing to KDP very beneficial.

  • What is KDP?
  • Uploading Your Book to Amazon KDP: a step-by-step process (11 Steps)
  • Bonus Step: 3 Marketing Tools to Consider When Publishing on KDP
  • Next Steps

But first…

Continue reading HERE

Using Analogies is like Giving Yourself an Ink Blot Test – Written By Charles Yallowitz

Did the title work?  Maybe not, which is one of the challenges with analogies.  They’re like jokes in that they depend on the audience and don’t always hit their mark.  You can share an analogy that has one person nodding in agreement and another scratching their head in confusion.  Why is that?

Well, the big thing is that analogies require pre-existing knowledge.  I remember one from the animated X-Men that was ‘Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs’, which I’ve been told is a Southern expression.  Pretty simple to understand as long as you know what a cat and a rocking chair are.  You also need to know how painful that experience would be.  If you’re missing any of those elements, you’re going to have to explain what you meant.  Again, this is like a joke where it loses its impact if you have to explain it.

I’ve noticed that I use analogies a lot.  People may have picked up on that in comments over the years.  By analyzing myself, I tend to use an analogy for one of two reasons:

CONTINUE READING HERE

Writer’s Support – By Derek Haines

Derek Haines published two very interesting articles and I decided to re-blog both of them here on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, since I think, they’re both important and interesting to read. Thank you, Derek!


Sticky Sentences And Glue Words Can Dilute Your Writing

on Just Publishing Advice:

What are sticky sentences and glue words in writing?

A sentence is sticky when it uses too many (glue) words to stick words and clauses together.

You always need to use words such as and, but, so, or with. These words help you join your ideas and actions.

But when a sentence consists of more than is necessary, it can weaken or dilute your writing.

In This Article

Defining sticky sentences and glue words

How to measure stickiness

Common glue words

How to fix sticky sentences

Where did the term originate?

Remove the excess glue

Continue reading HERE


When You Publish Your Writing Online You Can Never Delete It

on Just Publishing Advice:

When you publish your writing online, there is very little chance that you will ever be able to delete it entirely.

You might write articles, blog posts, or submit your short stories or poetry to posting sites.

Whatever form of writing you publish online, you need to know how permanent it can be.

Even if you edit a blog post to make some corrections, the original version with the errors may still be online.

Continue reading HERE

The Ins and Outs of Blurb Requests – By Liz Alterman

on Writers Helping Writers:

After tons of hard work, your book is almost ready to be published. But before the celebration begins, you have one more hurdle to overcome…securing author blurbs.

What are author blurbs? They’re those ringing endorsements that grace the front or back (or both) covers of a book that can often sway readers from a “maybe” to a definitive “yes” when browsing bookstores or libraries. We can all picture those coveted quotes from Stephen King in which he professes he couldn’t put a book down or Ann Patchett extolls a novel as “brilliantly faceted and extremely funny.”

A blurb from a masterful storyteller lends credibility to your work and encourages readers who might otherwise be on the fence to give your book a longer look.

Continue reading HERE

3 Ways to Ramp Up Your Fiction Pacing and Tension – by C.S. Lakin

on Live Write Thrive:

Strong pacing and tension are critical in a fictional story, but they’re some of the hardest elements to understand and master. That’s because there isn’t one “right” way to pace a story, nor is there one definable factor that creates tension.

One thing readers will attest to, though: if a story’s pacing drags for too long, they’ll stop reading. And if they don’t feel tension, they’ll likely start falling asleep.

What is pacing? It’s the pulse rate of your story. At times you’ll want a slow, thoughtful pace. Other times a racing one. And those elements that create tension impact the pacing of a story. No tension means a sluggish pace.

Continue reading at:

The Culprits