Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Actions You Should Take Before You Write Your Manuscript As Per Michael Hyatt

I just spent an hour on a teleseminar with Michael Hyatt... (and 10,000 of my closest friends). He spoke about the world of publishing as it is now, how to build a platform (based on his bestseller PLATFORM), the pros and cons of self-publishing, etc.  One of the most valuable nuggets of wisdom he shared was:

5 Actions You Should Take Before You Write Your Manuscript

1. Set a specific written goal. What is it you want to do? (Your answer here would be: write your book.) When will it be done? (Yes, this is an ACTUAL DATE.) What is my end goal? (This is where you decide what you want to do with your manuscript when it's done. Such as traditional publishing or self-publishing.)

2. Accept responsibility for the outcome. The old adage of : "You get out of it what you put into it" applies here. No one can do it for you, so YOU do it for you. I appreciated that reminder.

3. Connect with your "Why". Why do you why MUST, you write this book? Write this out in bullet points. Michael told a story about how he grew discouraged at one point while writing Platform and actually considered giving the advance back to the publisher and ending the project. But instead, he went back to his written "Why" and it inspired him all over again to write his book.  That spoke volumes to me and encouraged me to persevere in my goal.

4. Develop a writing schedule. Map it out. Put it on the calendar. Be committed to it.

5. Write a killer proposal. "A proposal is what gets everyone on board." - Michael Hyatt  He said author should write the original proposal themselves first, so they have a clear direction for where their book is going. If you want to hire someone to re-write it for you before submitting it to agents/editors, that's fine.  But write it first yourself.

I really enjoyed this free teleseminar. I highly recommend taking advantage of Michael's extensive publishing knowledge by participating if he offers one again. The best ways to find out about these teleseminar opportunities would be to follow his blog at , follow him on twitter @michaelhyatt, or listen to his podcast.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Perfect Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

In the spirit of Black Friday, I'm going to save you the long lines and cranky shoppers at your local Barnes&Noble and list the top 5 must-have books for all the writers on your list.  Just click on the books, order from Amazon, and your shopping is done!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

1.  On Writing by Stephen King. Yes, the Stephen King. On Writing gives the reader a class in writing while telling the story of Stephen's writing journey. It's a must read! (Scribner, 2010)

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
2. Platform by Michael Hyatt. In today's WW (Writing World) an author needs to learn how to get her book noticed and Platform shows you how, step by step. Reading this book is like hiring your own Social Media/PR firm for the bargain price of  $13.63 on Amazon. (Thomas Nelson, 2012.)

2013 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition

3. 2013 Writer's Market by Robert Lee Brewer. It's the Cadillac of market guides for writers. All the cool kids have it. Enough said.

Story Engineering
4. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Larry Brooks looks at fiction as something that is built - layer upon layer. Here he offers 6 parts of telling a good story that when mastered, build the perfectly compelling story. It's a formula for success in fiction.

Webster's New World English Grammar Handbook

5. A good grammar book. I have shown the Webster's New World English Grammar Handbook here, but there are many, many good ones on the market. Absolutely essential for any writer serious about being taken seriously as a writer is a good grammar book. (Ok, I'm not sure about my  grammar there...I think I'll check my book.)

What did I tell you? Christmas shopping made easy. No long lines and no cranky sales people.  Just click and order. You're welcome. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

October Writing Contest Winner: Amie Heath


I used to think gold was a simple word. One that described the color of some kind of piece of jewelry that I would have wanted in high school. In looking at the definition it confirms those thoughts, but provides so much more insight:

gold /g?ld/


A yellow precious metal, the chemical element of atomic number 79, valued esp. for use in jewelry and decoration, and to guarantee the value of currencies

An alloy of this (ex. 9-carat gold)

A deep lustrous yellow or yellow-brown color

Coins or articles made of gold

Money in large sums; wealth

A thing that is precious, beautiful, or brilliant

I like this last definition of gold - a thing that is precious, beautiful or brilliant. It changes my perspective of the word. It challenges the value of the word in my head - makes me wonder what exactly is gold in my life?

It isn't just the necklace my parents gave me so many years ago for my 16th birthday, the color of the leaves in the fall as they shift from deep greens to reds and yellows, burning bright in the soft sunlight. There is something deeper to this.

Gold is a thing that is precious, beautiful or brilliant. The title of the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost seems to untrue. God calls me precious. His beauty surrounds me and the verse describing the very streets in heaven jumps to the front of my mind.

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. - Revelation 21:21

Have we reached a wrong conclusion?

Put things to a narrow definition.

There's a need to broaden our perspective,

change the angle in which we view.

Ask ourselves the question,

Is it possible that gold can stay?

Amie (aka 'bigredhead) has been married for almost 15 years to the Jolly German, who has patience to put up with starter problems on a day-to-day basis. They don't have any of their own children, but have impacted the lives of 100's as she ministers at the North Charleston Dream Center.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet Amie

Hello Voices, meet Amie the lovely winner of our October Writing Contest! We wanted to let you get to know her a little better and then share her winning work later this month. Here is the lovely Amie.

Tell us a little about your self.
I love out loud. That’s the best description of myself as I walk day-to-day, learning and asking for an extra portion of grace each day. I’m 39 years old, grew up in North Carolina and originally from Ohio. I married a German and have traveled around the world – literally. I don’t have any kids of my own, but God has given me an extra portion through the work I do at the North Charleston Dream Center and the e3 mentoring program.
When did you start writing.
My heart for writing started when I entered a beauty pageant in high school and needed a talent. I knew that singing or dancing wouldn’t be a very good option, so I chose poetry and spoken word. I guess back then it wasn’t called spoken word, but I did get first place in the talent portion – so I gave up on the life of beauty pageants and stuck with the writing. 
What is your favorite thing about writing.
I love the opportunity to share my thoughts, dreams and opinions and writing provides you with a way to do just that. I can dream all kinds of crazy things and use the creative portion of my brain that doesn’t always get used in my day-to-day life. I am a communicator and writing is a great way to communicate!
Where do you want to go in your writing.
I didn’t start writing again with any specific goal in mind. I just knew I wanted to go back and do what I love. I guess I always have the dreams of writing a book – I come up with titles, chapters, ideas and thoughts all the time.
What is your favorite source of inspiration?
I loved Edgar Allen Poe when I was a young – strange writing with so many turns and twists to a story. These days I like to see how much power is in one single word. To take that and express it on my blog – sharing the day-to-day of life, hoping to inspire and encourage someone else along in their journey.

Thanks Amie for sharing with us!
Want to be featured on Voices blog, enter our writing contest? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ebooks As Easy As 1,2,3

Many people have great ideas for writing an ebook, but have absolutely NO IDEA where to start. Here is your step by step guide to writing and publishing an ebook:

Step 1:  Write the book. 
I know this sounds like it would be obvious, but you would be surprised how many people never actually start writing their book because they aren't sure about the steps following the writing. If you are unsure how to start writing, read our post Just Start Writing. Once you have a written ebook to work with, publishing it is a lot easier!

Step 2:  Pick a Great Title
It may seems reversed to pick your title after writing the book, but during the organization and writing of your ebook, the content can take a different direction than originally anticipated. This happens all the time and is normal. Picking  a title at the end allows you to really get to nitty-gritty of the completed ebook. One thing to remember: because your book will be viewed on a tablet or e-reader, it's vitally important that your title grabs interest. The most successful ebooks have titles that tell the reader what the book can give them in the title. Such as "5 Ways to Make Money Blogging in 5 Days." (Not a real ebook of course, but I would buy it, wouldn't you?)

Step 3:  Design a Cover
I can't stress enough the importance of having your cover professionally designed. Once again, someone browsing books on an e-reader is going to decide whether or not to read the information about your book by the title and by the cover of the book before they ever read a word of what the book is about. Find a reputable ebook cover designer either online, or from a personal recommendation and then don't settle. If you have to spend a little more money in the beginning to get the cover you want, DO IT. You will be happier with your product and it will sell significantly better in the end for the extra care you put into it.

Step 4:  Have Your Ebook Digitized.
This is the step where you select a company to change your document into a usable digital format. Smashwords and CreateSpace are well known websites that can do this for you. Do your research here and make sure that the website you choose for this project fits into your overall publishing plan, not only for this book, but your future work.

Like I said...easy as 1,2,3. Let me be your cheerleader for a moment: YOU CAN DO IT! Really, you can. The hardest part is getting started, but remember, you have something to say and now, with ebooks, you have a forum for it.

Once this your book is ready to sell, it's time to think about marketing, promoting and selling your ebook...but, that's for a future post.  Stay tuned...

Do you have questions about ebooks? We'd love to answer them!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Writing Contest

It's fall in the low-country and you know what that means, 80 degrees out and people are wear scarfs. I'm joking. It means change. Change in seasons. The soon to be changing year, the sense of reflecting on what has been and what will be.  "Changes" is this months writing contest. 

photo credit: Christopher Pate

All entries must be in by third Tuesday (November 15th) with winners announced at our Third Thursday meeting! 

Winners will be highlighted the following month on the Voices blog, with an interview and the winning piece posted during the month! 

All blog entries must have an active blog.

All writers must be apart of Voices, 
either in a critic group or participating in the Third Thursday meet ups. 

All entries must be emailed to voicescharleston(at)gmail
  Sorry bloggers no link-ups.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How To: Track your blog/ Google Analytics

There are many ways to track your blog stats, the best one being Google Analytics. Blogger does have a tracing system with their blogs but they also count spam hits and actual hits, so Analytics is a more accurate count.

Google Analytics is simple to set up. You sign in with your Gmail/Blogger account, select your url type (most of you will be a single url) and add your url. Then you simply add the tracking html code on to your blog and it will start tracking. 

It will take a day for the numbers to show up, it refreshes every morning.

The next time you sign into Google Analytics you will see this crazy graph and chart.
The line graph shows you how many visitors you had each day, and the pic chart show you who was returning and who was new. 

On the side you will see this:

Visits: 560
 The total number of hits to your blog.
Unique Visitors: 338
Unique Visitor report counts visitors to your website (counting each visitor only once in the selected date range.
Pageviews: 977
A Pageview is the standard unit of Web traffic. Each time a webpage is viewed, it counts as one page view.
Pages / Visit: 1.74
 The Pages/Visit (Average Page Depth) metric displays the average number of pages viewed per visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted in this calculation. This metric is useful both as an aggregate total as well as when it is viewed with other dimensions, such as country, visitor type, or mobile operating system.
Avg. Visit Duration: 00:02:19
 Average link some one is on your blog.
Bounce Rate: 69.46%
 The Bounce Rate is the percentage of bounced visits to your site.
A bounce is calculated as a single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit.
The following situations qualify as bounces:
  • A user clicks on a link deep into your site sent by a friend, reads the information on the page, and closes the browser.
  • A user comes to your home page, looks around for a minute or two, and immediately leaves.
  • A user comes directly to a reference page on your site from a web search, leaves the page available in the browser while completing other tasks in other browser windows and the session times out.
% New Visits: 60.36%
The percent of your viewers that are new.
I hope this helps break down the numbers for you. Google Analytics gives you a lot of information for your blog. But the information is useless if you don't know what you are looking at. 
Please remember to use these numbers to make your writing better, not as a bar or standard for where you should be as a blogger.