Wild Rider Magazine – Crush Procrastination, Boost Your Blog and Writing

Life Hacks * Tips * Blogging * SEO * Movies * Links * Inspiration

This is the second issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

In school or out for good, here are a few tips and life hacks to help you beat procrastination and links to improve your next blog post or writing project. We all want to do that, but a lot of things can get in the way. Procrastination or lack of focus (Wait. What was that sparkly thing over there?), fear of missing out on social media, and the lack of new information can throw our latest WIP (work in progress), into a death spiral. We can only get so much from the internet.

I’ve put together Ten Ways to Help You Reach Your Goals.

Magazine issue explores procrastination, boosting your blog and writing

Fight Procrastination:

We’ve all faced procrastination. It can lurk in the shadowy background of any project. It comes out of hiding as soon as we don’t want to work hard, we lose interest, or can’t solve a problem.

Most of us find it hard to disconnect from the Internet. We plan to get our work done, but with temptation only one click away, it can be super tough. I looked into a few apps and then realized we could do most of this on our own.

Here are some tips on combatting this enemy:

Reset your notifications. Popups used to drive me nuts while writing. I tried shutting down a few of them, but ended up turning all of them off. If there’s a fire somewhere, I’ll get a phone call.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. I’ve done this several times to make myself settle down and start on a writing project. Once the 25 minutes are up, I either quit, reset the timer, or continue writing.

I also have use this method for writing blog posts, limiting myself to 25 minutes. Sometimes I spend hours and days on posts only to get the same amount of views. Nope. I didn’t use a timer on this one.

There’s a timer on your phone or you can use this site to countdown.

Make a list of goals. If I don’t write them down, I space out half of them. I bought a daytimer in January and make a list and check off at least a couple items every day. I have long term goals in the back of it along with contest entry deadlines. I know many people make lists on their phones and that’s great, but there is something about physically crossing them off that gives me an extra special sense of gratification. I’m all about gratification and rewards. Promise me a gold star and I’ll work for it.

#UNPLUG4HOURS.  Announce to your social media friends that you will “peace out” for a few hours. You’re on the honor system and could lurk, but if you comment or Like something, you’ll be busted. I use #unplug4hours on Twitter. It helps me stay on track when I’m having a hard time focusing. For more on unplugging check out my post called Unplug 4 Hours. It works!

Twitter. Find a posse of writers trying to finish a project and meet up on Twitter or Facebook. Do a writing sprint and meet up again to give your buds virtual high fives.

Check Out These Links for Writers and Bloggers:

Read on to find a list of links to great websites, podcasts and classes. But lets start with a movie. Didn’t you love watching movies in school?

What the movie Blair Witch Project can teach you:

The first Blair Witch movie proved you didn’t need a stellar cast or elaborate sets to make an intense movie. With one view from a movie camera lens it created and executed tension so taught, it was exhausting to watch. Have you been told you need to create tension in a scene? You need to make your reader care what happens to your protagonist? This is the movie for you. The sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, comes out September 16th although this one seems bent in the horror direction.

Links for Writer’s Conferences and Podcasts.

It’s not too late to find a writing conference. Check out the Association of Writers and Writing Programs at AWP.org. I will attend The Colorado Gold Conference in Denver September 9-11. See you there!

The Writer’s Life will link you up with 15 writer podcasts. There are many tips and interviews to explore.

Use iTunes? Then check out The Open University for all kinds of free classes. Don’t have a Mac? Check out The Open University website and search for a variety topics.

Follow this Website. You’ll be glad you did:

I found Donald Maass’s blog, Writer Unboxed, and check it frequently for insightful writing and business tips. I also use their search bar if I’m looking for something in particular. Donald posts once a month and always blows my mind. A new article is posted every day by knowledgeable Writer Unboxed authors.

See How Your Site Ranks.

Ever heard of Alexa? Well there are probably quite a few in the world, but only one ranks your website. With Google constantly changing their logarithms, mine has been on a roller coaster ride for months. I still check once in a while for kicks and giggles.

Content is key, so the aforementioned links could help you.

SEO information from the experts. 

Now that you’ve returned from summer distractions, posting more regularly may also help your rank. Who knows? For SEO information, read MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday. Let me know if something works for you.

So now you should be ready to rock your new projects and learn something new. You can kick procrastination, and take your blog and writing project to another level. You might want to start by making a list.

Click here for last month’s issue of Wild Rider Magazine.

Click for more of the Wild Ride.

Any comments or questions? Maybe you can think of something to add that may help another Wild Rider.

Wild Rider Magazine – The Premier Issue

Apps * Movies * Twitter * Blogging * Life Hack * Recipe * Inspiration

Wild Rider Magazine Discoveries from the web and my wild lifeHappy TGIF, Wild Riders!

Welcome to the premier issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

I had been toying with a Friday bi-monthly magazine to share highlights of the newsworthy, including tips, hacks and a sweet recipe, so here it is.

App News: Pokemon Go! Why you should give it a go.

Heard of Pokemon? I remember my son, Kelly, being too old for it while his sister, Courtney, beat all the boys at school. The playing cards are still in a binder in her room. If you’ve been wondering what everyone is doing while walking around looking down at their phones, they are probably engaged with the new app, Pokemon Go!

Before you groan and tune out, let me tell you why this is brilliant. Kelly just moved to the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend, Leksy, downloaded the app and walked all over LA until 4:00 AM. last Saturday night. They ran into several people while trying to find “gyms” (places where you are challenged to win points). Soon they traveled in a posse meeting many others along the way. Seems like a great way to make new friends, get some fresh air and exercise.

Having a problem getting out of the house? Download the app. I did. You can find me on the app at Soosiemon walking with my eyes glued to my phone somewhere on Pearl Street, Boulder.

Movie News:

Have you ever noticed how many books and movies feature writers? I guess some authors hang on to the idea, “Write what you know.”

Top literary agent, Donald Maass, tweeted this news:

Two major surprises. I had no idea Thomas Wolfe was such a dick and who knew Jude Law could pull off a southern accent? Looks like a great movie.

Twitter contests for authors of unpublished books:

For everyone who has a book to pitch, this is for you.

There are several Twitter pitch contests for writers who have finished their novels and are ready to publish. #Pit2Pub and #PitMad are popular hashtags among many others that give us a chance to pitch our books to literary agents and direct to publishers.

Tweet a 140 character hook:

Who is your main character? What’s the inciting incident?  What are the stakes?

If an agent or editor “favorites” or gives your tweet a heart, then you’ve won! Check out their tweets to find out how to send your manuscript. But only send it after you’ve happy-danced around your kitchen at least once.

The next #PitMad is September 8th. The next #Pit2Pub is January 18th, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to write a book to pitch.

Check your website’s loading time:

Do you think your site loads pretty fast or does it take for freakin’ ever? You don’t want potential readers to give up while the tiny wheely thingamajig spins.

Click to Pingdom.com and find out how many seconds it takes. It will compare your site to the loading time of others and give you a percentile and grade rating.

When I posted large photographs, mine became slothlike. After reducing their size, it cut the loading time in half. Widgets can also add seconds.

See how fast your blog loads.

Life hack of the week:

I have a million of these. My dad was the original MacGyver, so it’s probably genetic.

Being a writer, I stare at my computer screen for hours on end. The knots in my neck become gargantuan. It makes me really sleepy since the blood doesn’t flow properly.

Tennis balls to the rescue. Lay down on the floor. Place one of them under your neck and roll it around until you find the painful spot. Push down on it in a circular motion. I stacked two of them with one hand to really hit the spot. After two minutes of massage, I rested on the floor then slowly rose to my feet. I could feel the difference. No afternoon nap today. Yay!

A recipe for sweet readers:

I found my daughter’s recipe for brownies and made them last week. They were super easy and delicious, so I had to share.

Courtney’s Chocolate Brownies

Prep time: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. 16 Brownies.

2/3 cup butter or margarine

5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces.

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts – optional.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with shortening.

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Or heat in microwave 30 seconds at at time. Stir at intervals. Cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.

Chocolate sweetness, viola!

Inspiration for the weekend:

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things in life can hold you back? Calling an old friend, making an appointment, going to the gym. There are so many things that eat at us. It takes so little effort and yet the payoffs can be huge.

 

I hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Click for more of my Wild Adventures.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing Blew Up Facebook

For me traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No wayMy Facebook page blew up with comments after I shared an article written for The Guardian by Ros Barber entitled, “For me traditional publishing means poverty, but self-publishing? No way.”

Whoa!

She believes that making a living as a writer is almost impossible when being traditionally published since authors receive such a low percentage on the sale of each book. But self-publishing is much worse given the author is stuck with marketing. She went on to slam anyone who spams up his Twitter feed with book sales.

If you want all the deets, please read this article.

My only comment on Facebook was, “Interesting!” I thought a neutral response would encourage others to sound off. Believe me, I heard them loud and clear.

Barber calls self-publishing “a terrible idea” and enters the danger zone. There are many ways to become published these days. Agents are no longer gatekeepers. There are many publishers who will accept un-agented queries. Self-publishing may be appropriate too.

Despite what Barber says there is no right or wrong way. It’s your choice.

There are a lot of hybrid authors, like Chuck Wendig, who have self-published and have been traditionally published. He seems pretty successful to me.

Now I will use myself as an example:

I am an unpublished author.

Plan A.

Currently, I am querying agents for representation and hope to have my book traditionally published sometime before the next millennium.

If I exhaust my list of agents, I will turn to:

Plan B.

I will query publishers directly. There is a wide range of them from boutique to Big Five. I would only query those with a marketing plan in place.

If I exhaust that list, I will be bummed, but will definitely turn to:

Plan C.

Self-publish.

Vanity presses contact me all the time. They are willing to package formatting, cover art, marketing, etc., for a price. The other option is to pay individual professionals or I can do it all myself. *gulp*

I rarely go down this road of thinking since I believe I can get my book published, traditionally.

Here’s the delio – WE NEED TO RESPECT EVERYONE’S CHOICES!

I do agree with Barber on one point. The only way to improve our craft is by writing a ton. Eventually, we will improve. Writing a book is nothing like writing a blog post or an article for The Guardian. There is so much to learn. No one knows it all. Sorry, Mr. Patterson.

Kidding! I would love to collaborate with you someday.

No matter what kind of publishing you choose, you will be successful at selling your book if you write a good one.

Now excuse me. I have to polish mine.

What’s your opinion? Traditional, self-pub, or hybrid?

Go ahead. Blow up my comment section.

Click for more of my Wild Ride.

What Dreams Teach Writers

“Sweet dreams,” our mothers said while tucking us into bed.

Pshh! When was the last time you had a sweet dream? Do your dreams come true in your dreams? Are you accepting a Hugo or Edgar award for exceptional writing? If you do, I would love to live in your subconscious.

My dreams are nothing like that.

I look forward to going to sleep. It can be such a relief after a hectic day, but my dreams seldom are a place where I rest. I never, ever get what I want.

DreamscapeDream #1.

I am lost and hungry as I thrash my way through the jungle at night. Dirt clings to my body, slick with sweat. I’m tired and want to sit down to rest, but am desperate to find civilization. A warm light flickers through the dense understory. It’s a campfire. Relieved, I run toward the clearing.

A haggard man turns a spit. Other dirty campers lift their gaze as I approach them.

“What kind of meat is that?” I ask.

He looks up at me and says, “Human.”

Dream #2.

Tuesday night, I dreamed of a lyrical stone village seen through a dark arched walkway. The contrast of cool and warm colors resembled a Maxfield Parrish painting. I pulled out my camera to capture this amazing sight. Then a huge sweaty man with camera bags dangling from his shoulders and a backpack full of supplies appeared. He stepped right in front of me. After he pulled out a tripod, he set up MY SHOT.

Dream #3.

I’m in a big city and am shopping in a boutique when I realize I’ve been separated from my family. We’re on vacation and have no way of communicating. I hear a bus roar from the curb and see them through the back window.

Wait. That actually happened to me in Ireland fifteen years ago.

Do you see a pattern?

I want something, but can’t have it. BOOM! That’s conflict. It’s the basis for basic storytelling.

I’ve read so many books where terrible things ALMOST happen. WHY??? A fictional character is a figment of the writer’s imagination. She is NOT real. These terrible things are NOT happening in real life. They are NOT your younger siblings or your children.

If you let your subconscious take over, it will do a better job of creating conflict and writing a book.

I understand the need to keep a main character alive until the end, but let her make mistakes, get into trouble, get hurt, and humiliate herself. The idea is to think of the worst-case scenario. Too obvious? Then let your subconscious go wild. Consider all the directions and see where another path takes you. Is it uncomfortable? Good. You’re on the right track.

Nobody wants to read about a fun day at Disneyland. We have Facebook for that.

But imagine a babysitter is trying to reel in five kids at Disneyland. She’s not getting paid enough. The children have been fighting all morning. One gets sick on a ride, then another gets hurt on Space Mountain. A child-trafficker is on the loose and has been stalking them. While the kid is getting bandaged, the babysitter counts heads. One is missing.

Now you have a story.

Make your characters suffer. If you make their journey easy, it becomes a travelogue or yawnfest.

You say you aren’t built that way? Yes, you are. Your sub-conscious makes you suffer every night. Working out conflict in your dreams is your brain’s way of making sense of the world.

When reading, we slip into another world seen through the character’s eyes. Their world should change after overcoming conflict. In turn, the best books should also change our perspective of the world.

I woke up after the camper responded, “Human.” But, what if I hadn’t?

First thing to come to mind? “Pass the barbecue sauce.”

Blame it on my Wild sub-conscious.

 

Are your dreams full of conflict? Have you read a book that didn’t go far enough? Do you have your Hugo or Edgar Award acceptance speech prepared?

Related posts:

What every writer knows about finishing

Think BIG!

Blogging Tips from a Wild Rider: How to Hook Readers

 

What every writer knows about finishing

February storm on the pond

When I finish a writing project, I am swept away to a place where I can breathe deeply. Fresh air fills my lungs. I stretch my body and expand my mind to let new ideas flow.

Am I ever really done?

The thought of taking time off to celebrate doesn’t enter my mind. I am under the same spell as most writers. We don’t write by choice. We have to tell our stories. It’s a compulsion so ingrained, a pleasure so exquisite, it transfixes us. We gaze at the horizon and envision other worlds.

Unlike other professions, being a writer is a vocation, a passion, an honor. It’s a freedom to write what I think. The only limit is my imagination.

A clean sheet of paper is a pristine blanket of snow. Full of Earth’s sweetness and possibility, it beckons me to keep writing. I open my mind and let the words pour onto the page.

I start anew.

Why do you write? What does finishing feel like? Are you currently working on any writing projects? 

This is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – State of Mind

THINK BIG!

Think Big 1

Monday morning, I drank my first cup of coffee of the day and alternated between checking blog stats and answering comments. Then a very loud voice shouted in my head.

“THINK BIG!”

I stopped what I was doing. Did you say Think big?

“YOU’RE THINKING TOO SMALL,” the voice bellowed again.

I sat up and pondered this scream from my sub-conscious self.

It usually criticized and said cruel things like, “Are you ever going to stop surfing the Internet and get something done today?” Or “You are such a gimp. You wouldn’t have broken your wrist if you had gotten into shape after knee surgery last year.” Or, “You have no life. Make a plan.”

I immediately thought of how my voice was right. I was thinking too small. As part of my resolutions, I had committed to blogging more frequently and have been working to get into a daily routine to finish old and new projects.

IDEAL SCHEDULE:

  1. Catch up on blogging and social media.
  2. Write new blog post.
  3. Hit the exercise bike.
  4. Write a few chapters in my new book
  5. Work on querying first book series.

Like I said, I had been working on it, but hadn’t quite mastered the routine.

MONDAY’S ACTUAL SCHEDULE:

  1. Checked on blog and social media.
  2. Wrote new blog post.
  3. Checked on blog and Twitter.
  4. Postponed hitting exercise bike until afternoon.
  5. Checked on blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
  6. Wrote one new chapter.
  7. Checked on blog stats and social media.
  8. Thought about hitting the exercise bike.
  9. Rewrote the blog post.
  10. Checked blog stats and comments.
  11. Finally rode a few miles while reading a book.
  12. Watched The Bachelor while checking my blog stats, answering comments, live tweeting, and rewriting my blog post and then checked stats again.

Do you see a vicious cycle occurring?

Tuesday morning, I had a conversation in my head. Yes. I’ve embraced talking to myself:

ME: So how can I think bigger?

THOUGHTS: How about hiking Everest?

ME: Too big and I think you were talking about something more career related, right?

THOUGHTS: Sure. How about contests?

ME: Cool. I won one for a screenplay this year, I could enter a few more.

THOUGHTS: You don’t have to brag to me. I’m you.

ME: What else you got?

THOUGHTS: Write an article for a major magazine.

ME: Huh. That’s good. Keep thinking.

THOUGHTS: Before querying that debut novel series again, make it BIGGER.

ME: How? I’ve already rewritten it 876 times.

THOUGHTS: You already know, Grasshopper, you just need to do the work.

ME: I am not going to talk to myself if I’m referred to as “Grasshopper.”

THOUGHTS: Deal, now put on your thinking cap.

ME: Okay. I will.

ME: What else you got?

ME: …….Thoughts! Wake up!

THOUGHTS: Finished already?

ME: No, but I thought I’d hit you up while you’re thinking.

THOUGHTS: *sigh* How about submitting your blog posts to bigger sites or to the newspaper again?

ME: I could do that.

THOUGHTS: Or start your own BIG site.

ME: Pshhh. There’s no way. Nope. Not going to happen.

THOUGHTS: *yawns* How about stand-up or inspirational speaking? *yawns again*

ME: That could happen. I impersonated Michael Jackson without knowing the words to the song. Impersonating an inspirational speaker would be cake in comparison. I do a form of stand-up all the time with strangers. As you know, I have no shame.

THOUGHTS: ………….

ME: Those are great ideas, thank you. But next time, shout something really enlightening, like the winning lottery numbers, or who will be my agent, so I can query that person next and skip the rest. Deal?

THOUGHTS: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………….

ME: Thoughts?

ME: Hey! WAKE UP!

ME: ………Dang. I guess, I could check out what’s trending on Twitter.

 

This actually happened to me. Do you ever have AHA moments like this? What does your inner voice say?

Click for more of my Wild Adventures or blog and writing tips.

Blogging Tips from a Wild Rider: How to Hook Readers

Blogging tips

I’ve been to spam prison and the school of ‘We’ll Knock Your Ass Down and See How Fast You Get Up, Sucker,’ but through it all I’ve been that long-lasting sponge that soaks up information without the nasty smell. So I will begin 2016 with a new series. One that will help you transform into “Super Blogger” without the unwieldy cape and tights. Okay. You can wear what you want.

Credentials:

Although I haven’t made a dime from this blog, not even a penny, I’ve learned a ton over nearly five years and writing 460 posts. Yep. If you disregard my lack of income, you could say I was something of a professional.

Where did I learn these valuable lessons I am willing to impart? Why through zillions of blog posts read online as well as the aforementioned ‘School Of Hard Knocks’ or SOHK. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have probably been there too. It’s located in a war zone where IEDs explode all around you. You hide inside a windowless, bombed-out shelter in the middle of a sandy desert wilderness exposed in all directions. Afraid to step, you fear blowing your beloved blog to smithereens. You remain inside, trapped, naked and afraid, and with no way out until you solve the problem. I’ve been there many times.

I have a designated parking spot with my name on it.

Lesson #1 a.

You may be unaware of this simple trick to bring readers to your blog. No. Not by using the word, ‘sex, boobs, or I’m cheating on my husband’ in the title. I’ll get to that another day. This trick is solved by simply pushing a button. NOT THE RED BUTTON! Continue reading