Canva to the Rescue: Tips to Up Your Blog Traffic

I've a big fan of Canva because they make creating graphics a breeze, even for newbies like myself.

Another reason I love them is because they also provide the latest info on how to best reach your readers on digital platforms. And they've delivered yet again. The folks at Canva recently released this helpful infographic that sheds some light on how to capitalize on your social media platforms to share your work with readers all over the globe.

Take a gander at the handy infographic and then put your Canva design tools to work for you to help your writing get noticed.



Find more awesome design content at designschool.canva.com

How To Use Images To Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic: A Case Study Of 100 Million Articles [Infographic]

Writing May be a Creative Business Endeavor, but it's Still a Business

Writing may be a creative business endeavor, but it's still a business.

It's time to take your business to the next level.


It's time to concentrate your energy on your #1 goal and stay on target. 


It's time to get FOCUSED. 


Small presses and self-published authors are in one of the most competitive industries out there, which makes it all the more important that they stay FOCUSED on what’s most important. Local entrepreneurs, small and mid-size business owners and executives are gathering on October 2nd at the Crowne Plaza Oceanfront in Indialantic, Florida to get FOCUSED on their top business goals and HRSS Consulting Group wants you to join in on the fun.



FOCUS is a half-day professional development program where you will learn targeted strategies to help you reach your business goals. You will also have opportunities to participate in speed-networking and one-on-one business coaching sessions with HRSS's president, Karen Gregory. It's sure to be a productive and fun Friday afternoon.
As the new marketing and communications director for HRSS Consulting Group, I'll be emceeing this event and would love to have you in attendance if you are interested and available. Lunch will be provided and there will be a cocktail hour afterward. HRSS Consulting Group is also unveiling a brand new program that's sure to be a standout.

Get started on your path to a stronger performing publishing career by registering for FOCUS  today. Be sure to tell your friends and writer’s group members to mark their calendars for October 2nd so they don't feel left out. 

Put the FOCUS where it belongs--on you. 


See you in October!


You Can be a Professional Blogger (For Real) and Other Updates on My Writing Career


As it turns out, writers can become full-time bloggers, for real. During my first year as a part-time freelancer, I often dreamed of becoming a full-time writer, but never thought my blogging know-how would be my golden ticket.

It was in fact my golden ticket to actively work as a professional writer and I can honestly say I've never been happier. 

A few tips for aspiring professional bloggers:

  • Read feverishly about your craft
  • Stay ahead of social media trends 
  • Research and create quality content
  • Remember that blogging is about creating communities

Blogging for companies is a soft marketing tool. Be sure to approach it as such. Again, develop quality content that is valuable to readers, not SEO riddled content that reads like an advertisement. That isn't how one creates an online community that likes, shares and engages with you on your blog.

Blogging is my current focus, but there are a few other things going on lately that are definitely worth mentioning:

A chapter closed
In other news, I have left education. It was a wonderfully rewarding career, but there is no denying that writing is my true passion.

Journalistic endeavors
I'm still writing freelance articles for Florida Today, Space Coast Living and other publications. There's nothing quite as thrilling to me as publishing an article in a magazine or newspaper. I hope that feeling never fades.

On the fiction front
In addition to this, my novel is being considered by three small presses. It is being formally reviewed by an editorial team at one of the presses and I just couldn't be more excited about this development. I try not to lie awake imagining that they will pick up my novel. I try not to and I do not succeed. 

Find me on the web
Lastly, there are several places in addition to this blog where you can visit me on the web. I'm still publishing journalistic style pieces on Medium. If you would like to read my most recent professional blog posts, magazine and newspaper articles, you can visit my Clippings portfolio. I'm also building my network on my Facebook author page and encourage you to visit me there so that we can continue the conversation. 

I'm curious, how things are going in your world? What you are working on right now? Feel free to share with me in the comments below. 

Score a Free Copy of Romantic Ruckus Before It Goes Out of Print

Romantic Ruckus is going out of print. Click here to score a free copy before it is impossible to get your hands on. 

Here's a little info about my story in the anthology:

The Good Whiskey Made Me Do It is a humorous romantic story of love gone wrong.

Description
What really happens when the common man comes into money? Jeff inherits not only wealth, but also wisdom, and his wife doesn’t approve of the latter. His problems don’t end there, and he blames it all on the good whiskey.





How to Break Into the Greeting Card Writing Industry

Making extra income doesn't have to take away hours away from your leisure time. In fact, if you have a way with words, you can make as much as $75 in as little as a half-hour.



The greeting card industry is enormous and boasts billions of dollars in sales annually. Greeting card companies are always on the lookout for the next best idea and pay contributors very well. The pay scale ranges from $75 to $300 for a few heartwarming, romantic or funny lines. This makes greeting card writing one of the best-paid gigs for clever writers.

Anyone who has ever stood in a greeting card aisle and thought, "I could write a better card than that" is welcome to send submissions to the dozens of card lines looking for freelance writers. 

There’s a few basics that writers should know before pitching their ideas to card publishers:

Artists and writers are hired separately
A writer’s input on artwork may or not be solicited. Don’t send your artwork unless it’s expressly permitted in the publisher’s submission guidelines.

Shop markets akin to your writing
Blue Mountain Arts creates poetic cards. Smart Alex creates racy humor cards. Peruse the company’s current line so that you don’t accidentally submit a raunchy birthday card to a devoutly Christian publisher and get yourself blacklisted.

Track markets and submissions
Refrain from simultaneous submissions of card ideas. Feel free to submit rejected content to similar markets once it’s returned to you. Create a spreadsheet to help you keep track of when and where you sent each submission. Number your card ideas to make them easier to track.

Less is more
Writing cards isn’t rocket science, but it is a distinct style of writing. Use words sparingly and intentionally. Cards are written in a conversational tone, not glittering Elizabethan prose. You should write greeting cards as if you are talking to your best friend, spouse or grandma, but not at the same time. That may make for an awkward card.

Broad approach has greater reach
Not everyone has had a Persian cat named Pocahontas recently pass away. However, there are many people who have recently lost a pet. To those card buyers I send my condolences, because it’s awful to lose a pet. To card writers, I offer a piece of advice: keep your ideas broad enough that they appeal to a large market, but narrow enough that they feel genuine to readers.

Request writer’s guidelines or research them online
Each card publisher has distinct tastes and submission preferences. In that way, they are very similar to literary agents and publishers. Take the time to do your homework. Many card publishers post their submission guidelines on their sites. Some will send their guidelines and current needs if you request them. This is the preferred method, because it clues you in to what they are shopping for their next line.

Follow the publisher’s submission format
Greeting card publishers do not subscribe to a specified submission format. In this way they are akin to literary agents and publishers, but that’s where the similarities end. Greeting card submissions are much shorter and far easier to compose than queries. This doesn’t mean writers may fling grammatical caution to the wind. Be sure to follow the format so that your submission isn’t tossed. If the submission guidelines don’t specify a format, the one provided below is acceptable:

OCCASION: Birthday

OUTSIDE TEXT: Place outside text here
INSIDE TEXT: Place inside text here
OUTSIDE IMAGE SUGGESTION: Place any art ideas here
Marilyn Dunroe, mdunroe@gmail.com, 321-321-3321

Search for additional markets
Check the backs of the cards being sold in your local chain and specialty stores for publisher info. Most cards are imprints of American Greetings and other large publishers. They occasionally hold contests, but hire staff writers to create their content. Smaller publishers are more apt to accept unsolicited submissions.

Card writing is a great way to earn extra income from the comfort of your home for the small sum of your clever quips. Ready to get started? Good. Here’s a list of card publishers that accept submissions from freelance writers:

Oatmeal Studios: Style: lighthearted humor
Blue Mountain Arts: Style: poetic heartfelt verse
Calypso Cards: Style: modern, sassy (offers a line of divorce cards)

Smart Alex: Style: controversial and crude humor

Feel free to share this post if you found it helpful. To receive more writing advice, become a follower. Thanks so much.

Great Advice for Writers with a Cute Puppy Video to Boot

Writers have to be their own publicists even if they are working with the Big 5 and have publicists. It's often challenging and confusing. Here's some marketing advice with the added perk of an adorable puppy video, courtesy of Sarah Negovetich, literary agent and novelist:

Content Marketing Puppies to Sell Your Novel

You have to watch the video. It's so precious.





How to Get Fired Over $10

I've posted a new piece on Medium that explains in a step-by-step plan how to get fired over $10. 

The experience that led to this story was unbelievable IRL and had me SMH. I can confidently say that it will have readers feeling the same way. 

Some people are unreal, but karma is very real and ever-present. 


If you like the piece please be sure to share it and to follow this blog and/or my Medium blog. Thanks so much!

Jaimie M. Engle Teaches Summer Writing Workshops at Eastern Florida State College

If you've ever read a greeting card and thought, "I could write a better card than that in my sleep" than you definitely need to stop by the Eastern Florida State College Summer Writing Workshop. Jaimie M. Engle and I will be sharing tips on breaking into the greeting card market, starting a successful blog and crafting a book proposal that meets industry standards. 

Looking forward to seeing you there.



Jaimie M. Engle Offers Summer Boot Camp at Eastern Florida State College

There are few things I enjoy as much as meeting up with fellow writers to talk about our beloved craft. I especially love conferences and seminars where we gather together to trade tips and secrets. 

Here's a great free opportunity to learn more about our profession over the summer. Jaimie M. Engle, author and owner of A Writer For Life, is holding summer writing workshops that are open to the community. 

The workshops will be held at the Eastern Florida State College Melbourne campus. I hope to see you there!



I Got the Gig!

Today I found out that I've been accepted as the newest contributor to Loner Magazine. I am so excited about this opportunity to chime in on social, political and environmental topics affecting our nation and our neighbors across the globe. 

My first pieces debuts next week and dares to broach a cultural topic that I've not seen covered anywhere else. Interested yet? I'll throw in another teaser--I coined a phrase in the piece that I'm sure will go viral. And by viral I mean that I will relentlessly use it on my social media platforms until my friends stop talking to me. 

I'll post a link to the piece once it's released just in case anyone wants to take a peek. 

My Condolences to the Sandberg Family

I'm sending my thoughts and prayers to Sheryl Sandberg and her family at this time. The author and COO of Facebook lost her husband suddenly this weekend. Her dedicated efforts and phenomenal book, Lean In, have not only drawn attention to the ever present gender gap, but also highlighted how awesome her relationship with her husband was. 

It's unfortunate for a couple that really had a good thing going to have their time together cut short, but they left a behind a beautiful blueprint for the rest of the couples in the world to follow. Through her outreach, and their example, others can learn how to share the bread winner and homemaker statuses in their relationships.

Christine Edwards' Online Portfolio is Now Available on Clippings.me

My brand new journalism portfolio is now available for perusing on Clippings.me. Yours can be too if you have a couple of hours to spare and some clips to upload.

Clippings.me is an insanely user friendly electronic portfolio site for writers that offers multiple prices points. The free version allows users to post 16 clips, customize their background and link their social media networks to their portfolios. I dig it.

If you get a chance to view my portfolio, be sure to provide critiques in the comments section below. If you have questions about using the service, post those in the comments as well and I'll do my best to field them. Clippings.me experts feel free to chime in as well.

Writing Hazards

I write this while in excruciating pain. I know, I'm so dedicated. 

On a serious note, my hope is that readers will take the following suggestions to heart so that they don't have to experience what I'm currently going through.

Writing may seem like a sedentary behavior, but even sitting on your chops can have ill effects on your health. This is especially true if you write for hours on end.

I thought I was doing the right thing by sitting in different areas throughout the day and getting up and moving around every half hour or so. Apparently, I thought wrong. The huge knots on both sides of my back are pretty good indicators that I need to be more health conscious while I'm working.

My doctor made some simple suggestions to help me avoid crippling neck and back pain in the future:


  • Keep the top of your computer screen at eye level
  • Use ergonomic furniture
  • Buy a computer chair with a high back and armrests
  • Make sure office furniture sits at the appropriate level


The appropriate level for a chair allows you to comfortably rest your arms on the armrests and your feet on the floor. It's important that your desk is the right height to ensure that your computer is at eye level, so that you aren't straining your neck to view the screen.

I'll be swiftly incorporating this advice myself. Rest assured that I don't ever want to feel like this again. My heart goes out to those in chronic pain. They are truly the strongest people in the world.

Please share any other suggestions you have to help writers avoid neck and back pain while working.

Be sure to share this post if you found it helpful and to follow me on Twitter as well. 

There's No Point in Writing if You Aren't 'All In'

If you are just starting out as writer, there is something you need to know. I have to tell you right now, before you write even one more word down.

Writers don't do it for the money. 


If you are aspiring to write the next "Great American Novel" because it's sure to make you tons of money, don't do it. 


Trust me, as much as writers would love to have fame and fortune along with writing credits and books on Barnes and Noble's shelves, they aren't doing it for that reason alone.

They are doing it because they love to write. They need to write. Writing is what they think about when they are supposed to be thinking about other things. 


Don't believe me, here's a quote attributed to Timothy Egan that puts things in perspective:


"Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush's dog getting a book deal."


There's no point in writing if you aren't all in. You've got to be more than willing to write when you should be sleeping. You have to want to write when you should be snoring the hours away. It's more like, "I know I should go to bed, but I've got to get this idea down on paper".

Writing is not a want; it's a need. When you go days without writing it should feel miserable, because it's your favorite thing to do. That's what all in feels like, but what does it look like?


All in looks different than it feels. The feelings associated with all in are what make some writers feel like impostors. If you set your sights on writing all weekend, and then wake up Monday morning and realize that all of your weekend was not spent writing, do you feel bad about it? Are you less than all in?


The answer to that is an admant, no! All in is not composed of weekends or even entire weeks. Spring break writers, that one applies to you with your notions that you are going to revise your entire first draft in seven days. I've been there too. We set massive goals and then feel terrible when we don't succeed. 


All in is a compilation of the time you devoted over years, not weeks. That's right, years. If you don't feel like you can keep writing for years with no return on your investment, other than your own personal satisfaction with the end product, than you should rethink your writing career. Countless authors have toiled over manuscripts for years and never received publishing contracts. 


Writers that are all in may not even enjoy writing on most days. If they are anything like me they despise editing with a fiery passion, but they cannot stop typing or scribbling on the back of bar napkins and receipts. Their hearts want to write and their bodies follow blindly. 


So if you missed your goal of writing for every waking minute over the weekend, and then only spent three days of Spring Break revising your first draft, does that mean you aren't all in


Only time will tell. If after a year you look back and most of your "writing time" was spent on writing, then I would boldly assert that you are all in


But what counts as writing? Some days are going to be a bust. That's inevitable. You are going to try and write all morning, but other matters will come up. You really tried, but your dog also really tried to eat a bag of Hershey's Kisses and had to be rushed to the vet. I get that. 


That afternoon, after all the commotion subsided and Rover is sleeping soundly far, far away from all forms of chocolate, you will set out to write again. But the whirlwind day has zapped your energy. Putting pen to paper just isn't going to happen. 


What do writers do when they aren't writing? They read. So you decide to do some "research related" reading in your genre. Except, that your genre is mystery and you're reading a book about the plight of honey bees. Colony Collapse Disorder is a mystery to biologists so same thing, right?


No, not really, but I say it counts. It counts because you are studying someone else's writing style. You are learning and subconsciously absorbing details that can add flavor to your writing later on. At least you aren't watching reality television. You get huge kudos for that.


All in takes many shapes and forms. Writers have got to be all in, but at the same time, they must balance their lives and accept that every waking moment can't be totally devoted to their craft. Don't feel bad about slipping up on occasion, we all do it. 


Provided that you have accepted the terms of being all in and you understand that your dedicated efforts may not result in the NYT or WSJ raving about your novel, being all in is not a sentence of any kind. It's a thrilling venture that never ceases to teach new things or provide milestones to celebrate. Writing isn't a hobby; it's a life choice. And it's one of the best one's out there, if you're all in


If you're looking for some motivation, or feel worthy of a short break from writing, check out my writing Pinterest board. Be sure to share this post if you found it helpful and to follow me on Twitter as well. 



A Writer For Life's, 'How to Get a Literary Agent' Presentation Rocked

A Writer For Life's, "How to Get a Literary Agent" presentation at the Orlando Public Library went really, really well. I love seeing the A Writer For Life community grow and reach more and more writers. 

The information writers seek is out there and with every presentation, workshop, and conference held, it becomes more accessible to aspiring authors. Armed with the most up to date publishing info, writers inch closer and closer to their publishing dreams. Eventually, those dreams morph into achievable goals and ultimately, actualized events. What's not to love about being a teeny-tiny part in helping a writer reach such awesome milestones?

If you would like to learn more about this week's presentation, click here to read an article and see some photos. Follow this blog or A Writer For Life to learn more about our coaching services and future events. 

Writing is more than a hobby and it's more fulfilling than any "job" out there. Community events band writers together and engineer opportunities for us to share our tips on how to keep it that way.

A Writer For Life Presents "How to Find a Literary Agent" Workshop at Orlando Public Library

A Writer For Life is holding a workshop titled, "How to Find a Literary Agent" at the Orlando Public Library in downtown Orlando on March 11, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. 

Speakers, Jaimie M. Engle and Christine Edwards, will show attendees why a writer needs an agent, the odds of publication, how to write a query letter & synopsis, where to find an agent, agent do's and dont's, and more, to include a live search demonstration. 

This is a FREE event so please come out and tell a friend. Those who RSVP will be entered into a drawing for a FREE book or 1 hour of query coaching. Winners select their prize, but must be present to collect. 

We'll see you there.

What do Harper Lee, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dr. Seuss have in common?


Why, they all have new stories to release. Recently, several forgotten manuscripts have been found hidden in attics and other forgotten places, and the literary world is the better for it. 

Perhaps the most anticipated of the three stories that history returned to us is Harper Lee's followup to the classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. I do believe 55 years is a long enough wait to drum up some excitement surrounding the sequel's debut.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's latest story was found in a pamphlet in an attic, but will find a new home in a Scottish museum. The lost short story was included in the pamphlet to raise money to build a bridge. Little did they know then that two bridges were built, and one engineered a trip back in time for Sherlock Holmes' fans to sneak a peek at yet another one of his adventures.

Dr. Seuss' new book may be a surprise to readers, but his widow and secretary weren't shocked at all when they found the lost manuscript. They knew he worked on multiple projects simultaneously. The release of, What Pet Should I Get? follows the release of two other Dr. Seuss books in the last three years. 

Rare literary gems like these are treats for readers whose beloved authors have passed away. So whether you're a big fan of the Lee's iconic characters, Sherlock Holmes' investigative style, or the siblings from, One Fish, Two Fish, you've got some great summer reading waiting for you. The only caveat is that Holmes fans may have to travel to Scotland and read through a glass case. However, that's not the worst reason I've heard to take a trip across the pond.

If you like this article, please share it with other bibliophiles. You'll find similarly awesome articles by Christine on Medium. Catch moment by moment updates on Christine's stories by following her on Twitter at: cedwards001.

Rejections Are Really Just Mile Markers

If someone had told me before I became a writer that the industry was very much like sales, I may not have pursued this career track. 

I was never a big fan of sales, but that was probably because I was rarely in a position to sell products I believed in. In addition to that, my younger self didn't like the discomfort of being told, "No, thanks."

I've never been happier than I am with my current career choice, and that is largely because writing has taught me how to handle constant rejection. My job is teaching me how to be a stronger person. What's not to love about that?

Perspective plays a big part in this, as does endurance. Those who perservere through the first five, ten, even fifteen rejections will find the editor or agent that is just right for their piece. Or they may find another piece that's an even better fit for the current market and more exciting to work on. That's why I've come to see rejections as merely mile markers. 

The first few rejections for a piece help me to adjust my pitch to make it more marketable when I send it out again. The next few rejections let me know I'm getting closer to a potential acceptance. If I still get rejections, and don't make a sale, I know that either my timing is off or my attention needs to be redirected to a more worthwhile piece. Not everything I think is interesting will captivate readers. And that's okay.

Sometimes, the issue isn't even in my control. Another author may have beat me to the assignment. That's never what I want to hear, but it doesn't decrease my passion for writing or mean that I'm not talented enough to belong in my chosen profession. 

The door isn't always closed either. A good pitch that fails sometimes leads to a completely different assignment from an editor. Those assignments are just as rewarding as the ones that originate with me. 

Rejections are just mile markers that let you know where you are in the pitch process. Don't let them sting. They aren't personal. Even the writers you admire the most have received their fair share of rejection letters. The reason you know their names and work today lies within them. Their endurance and passion helped them look past the rejections toward the acceptances. 

If you like this article, please share it with other writers. You'll find similarly awesome articles by Christine on Medium. Catch moment by moment updates on Christine's stories by following her on Twitter at: cedwards001.

Some Querying Advice

Here's a little advice to help my fellow writers with the querying process, which can be rather tedious.

Six Websites the Streamline the Querying Process

Thanks so much to The Writing Cafe for allowing me to guest post.

Be sure to share any other helpful websites or resources in the comments section below.

If you like this article, please share it with other writers. You'll find similarly awesome articles by Christine on Medium. Catch moment by moment updates on Christine's stories by following her on Twitter at: cedwards001.

Pitch Properly: Four Techniques for Finding Hidden Editor and Agent Contact Info

Pitching editors and querying agents are equally labor intensive processes. Sometimes, editors and agents decide they want to be "ninja quiet" on the web, which can complicate the process.

Some magazines bury their mastheads instead of proudly featuring them on their websites. This makes the pitching process more akin to guesswork than letter writing. It's times likes these that I'm thankful that I like puzzles.

Some literary agents eagerly share their contact info, and others have less online presence than my dog's pet rock. (Yes, my dog has a pet rock. I don't choose his friends for him.) 

These roadblocks make it challenging for writers who want to form proper queries and pitches. We all know you can't start your query with "Dear Agent," but sometimes important information is elusive. 

What should a writer do when an agent has a gender neutral name and no picture on their profile to help one determine if "Pat" is male or female?





The following techniques help me locate proper titles, addresses, and other essential info for my queries, without logging extra hours on my Mac:


1. Read the Publication. Be sure to check the print publication's most recent masthead. You waste time if you query editors that no longer work for the publication. 

Between the print masthead and what you find online, you will often have enough info to complete your letter. 

Reading the mag also helps you pick up on editorial changes. My two favorite mags, Women's Health and Cosmo, recently had new editors take over, and there's been some notable changes. Paying attention pays off. 


2. Search for Social Media Profiles. If you have an agent or editor's name, but need more information (like proper title or the name of the publication they currently work for) search their name with and without the publication. At a minimum, this search usually pulls up their employer, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles. 

Using this technique, I've also found editor and agent interviews. These tend to be research goldmines.

Peruse the search results and you will likely find the missing info. If you're lucky, the person's profile pic won't be a nature shot, and you'll be able to figure out if you're writing to a Sir or a Ma'am.

If this doesn't work, let me know and I'll ask my dog's pet rock if he has the person's contact info.


3. Google the Publication's Name + Masthead. This search often brings up buried mastheads and related contact info. If that doesn't work, search the publication's name + the name of the editor and see if that yields better results. 

Another way to find current information is to check related webpages, such as the publication's press kit, employment, contact, and subscription information.


4. Search Databases. Newspapers are very forthcoming with their contact info, but if you are having trouble finding writer's guidelines or someone's e-mail address, try the Communications Constortium Media Center database. This list is for Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor, but it will get your search for other pertinent info going. 

For agent and publisher contact info, check the QueryTracker database. The site offers more info for agents than for publishers, but the free search tools have come through for me more than once.

Other lists have been compiled by writers, but use them with caution as they may not be updated regularly.

You are one step closer to creating a compelling query letter or pitch. Don't slow down now.

Type feverishly.  


How do you research for your queries?

If you have tips for helping fellow writers craft their queries and pitches, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

If you like this article, please share it with other writers. You'll find similarly awesome articles by Christine on Medium. Catch moment by moment updates on Christine's stories by following her on Twitter at: cedwards001.

QOD: Queries are Like Dessert

Quote of the day:

A query letter has the allure of dessert. Make it so enticing an agent wants to order more. Otherwise, it's all too easy to say pass. #MSWL