Month: September 2015

Blogging 201

In our first assignment, Krista asked the following question:

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like? Would you have a different design? How many followers would you have? How much traffic? What sort of community would participate?  How often would you post?

And if I can be honest – that question scared me…  It made me imagine the what if’s and what could be’s

Because in my wildest dreams, writing would be my full-time job and my blog would be a destination spot – not a little side show on a less traveled road.

If I want my writing/blog to be the best it can be – then – I have to commit.  I have to be better at time management and I have to take advantage of this class.

So, here’s my commitment:

Blogging 201

Caviar Living on Fish Stick Money – Book Tour

fish sticks

Non Fiction
Date Published: April 29, 2015

“Life must be a mixture of frugality and luxury.” — Marilyn Whelan

 Caviar Living is a hand guide of home-spun lessons from a life well lived. Marilyn Whelan shares her wisdom from how to connect with your community to how to play your mortgage like a game.

With short snappy chapters Whelan gives us tips and tidbits on:

Fun ways to teach your kids and grandkids about money

How to keep a clutter-free house – and why!

Creative ways to get a tax break

How to stretch a dollar on everything from real estate to creative vacations

 Part budget guide, part spiritual manual, and a whole lotta charm, Caviar Living is a lifetime of lessons wrapped up in this 98-pages of fun.

Meet the Author:

photo1Marilyn Whelan has worked as a reporter, a district supervisor in a first time youthful offenders program, and President of Shoppers Critique International.  Her want is to die with something remaining on her bucket list, because when something is crossed off, something else is added.

Marilyn currently lives in Clearwater, Florida, where she is Granny to seven, and Great Granny to three. She loves to travel and plays Mah Jongg twice a week.

Excerpt

“The world is a book,

and those who do not travel

read only a page.”

– Saint Augustine

Travel

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Travel is and always will be my passion. My

vacations are planned around volunteering,

family, adventure, learning and fun. As long as

I can be warm, I am willing to go anywhere at

any time. I have had the good luck to experience

many different types of getaways.

Volunteer Travel

Because my husband was retired military,

this allowed us to travel on military cargo

planes. We often would sign up for five destinations

and take the first one offered. Our main

objective was to cross the ocean. We traveled

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often to Spain, Italy, Germany and England and

branched out from there.

We served a tour of duty in the United States

Peace Corps. We served in the Philippines, and

I still keep up with good friends we made there.

Many people do not realize Peace Corps volunteers

are drawn mostly from two groups: people

fresh out of college and retirees.

There are many wonderful opportunities for

volunteer-oriented vacations. Perhaps you’d like

to try an archeological dig, or pulling weeds on

a mountain trail, or counting turtles on a distant

island.

One of my favorite adventures was a month

I spent volunteering for the National Park Service

at Andersonville, GA. Andersonville was

the site of the largest prisoner of war camp in

the South for Union soldiers during the Civil

War. It is now a national park that includes a

museum devoted to POWs from all of America’s

wars. I was a greeter in the museum, helping

visitors look up their ancestors, and I sometimes

helped in the gift shop. My two days off

per week were spent touring the area. While

I was there, I stayed in a small cottage in the

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cemetery. I was the only one on the grounds

at night. It gave me lots of time to reflect, and I

took several projects with me to work on. There

was no television reception in the area, nor did

I have Internet access.

My second-favorite volunteer location was

with Pueblo Ingles. This is a for-profit agency

that helps Spanish executives perfect their English.

For the Spaniards, it is a very expensive

program paid for by their employers. The program

does not accept participants who speak

only Spanish, because the goal is for them to

totally immerse themselves in English. Once

you are accepted into the program as a volunteer,

you work with program personnel to select

a date. If you’re coming with friends, they

work with you to offer a week to your party as

a group.

We paid only for airfare. We were met in

Madrid the evening before departure for the resort

and taken to a banquet and flamenco show

with our fellow Anglos. Anglos come from all

English-speaking countries, such as the U.S.,

England, Ireland, Wales and South Africa.

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The next day we were taken by bus about 2

1/2 hours from Madrid into the mountains near

the Portugal border. The resort was beautiful.

Each of us was assigned with a Spaniard to a

casita with a bedroom and bath for the Spaniard

upstairs and a bedroom and bath downstairs

for the volunteer. We shared a small living

room and kitchen area. A chef prepared three

meals a day, with wine accompanying lunch

and dinner. It truly was an unforgettable week

for a lifetime of memories. You can learn about

this program at http://www.diverbo.com/en/jobs.

Vacations are for fun, excitement and trying

something new. Consider participating on

a cattle drive. Dryhead Ranch in Montana is

a working cattle and guest ranch. One of the

most popular activities there is driving the cattle

50 miles on Bad Pass Trail. This is a three-hour

drive that gives you to chance to get acquainted

with the beautiful Montana country. For more

information, go to http://www.dryheadranch.com

Don’t Let Time Pass You By

As writers, we each face our own struggles.  I tend to think a lot of my issues could be alleviated if I had more time in the day. Seeing as how I don’t have access to a magical hourglass, I had to consider other options.  The one that screamed for my attention was time management.  My situation is not unique.  Like many of you, I work full time.  That leaves a few short hours a day to take care of my home/family, exercise, write and grow my audience.

Building my author platform

It’s hard.

Who knew there would be so much effort required?  I thought writing the novel was supposed to be the most difficult part. Imagine my surprise when I realized I needed a twitter account, a Facebook author page, a blog, etc.

It’s time consuming.

Each plank in the platform comes from the connections we make.  Those connections take time to cultivate.  That means we reach beyond ourselves.  We engage others.  We listen to their ideas. We share ours.  In short, being a good neighbor requires being social.

But – here’s the catch

Building my platform was taking too much of my writing time.  Seriously.  It was so easy to get caught up in reading the posts on certain Facebook pages.  And then there was Pinterest. My goodness – I was on my way to becoming a “Pinning” junkie.  I have boards dedicated to my blog, to interesting faces, beautiful places – things that may or may not inspire scenes in future stories.  There’s boards dedicated to my books.  I’m sure you get the picture.  😉

I needed to get a handle on my socializing…

I love my blog.  I love the blogging community.  I decided that my blog would become the hub of my social media/platform building efforts.

Blog Hub

This is still a work in progress.  But it has helped ease the stress of coming up with so many new ideas for posting to the different social media sites.  Take my Facebook Author page – I guess I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to this page.  I hate feeling as though I’m shouting Look At Me! and my Facebook author page makes me feel that way.  By sharing my blog, I have activity on my page without bashing people over the head with Buy My Book posts.

There’s still the Time Management thing…

This requires discipline and lots of it.  I’m not the most disciplined person.  I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants – which is probably why I’m a pantzer and not a plotter.  To help keep myself on task, I came up with a schedule. It’s helped by making me more mindful of my time.  I decided to limit my interactions to about 30 minutes an evening.  That means I have to choose which sites/communities I am going to visit.  Take Mondays, for example.  I’ll visit blogs that I follow as well as Twitter.  Tuesdays will be G+ communities and maybe a stop at my Facebook Author page.  It’s not a perfect plan but it is helping me stay focused and freeing up my time.

schedule

Not sure where the lines that separate Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went…

I’m always looking for new ideas… What are you doing to maximize your writing time?