It’s October – time for challenges and streaks. Spooky!

cliparti1_free-halloween-clip-art_03I love October. It contains both my birthday and Halloween. It’s also a beautiful time of year when fall arrives, but you can still enjoy being outside and seeing nature’s splendor (unless you are dealing with tropical storms.) And did I mention it has by favorite holiday in it? (No, I don’t mean my birthday.) I love Halloween. It is a spooky holiday that anyone can celebrate because it can be as scary as you want it to be. I like my spooky on the light side, but filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and flying witches. Plus it has a fun history (but that’s another post.)

Since it is my birthday month I always feel the need to improve myself, so I have started a few challenges.

  1. I am do a mini running streak. In 2012, I did a year-long running streak, meaning I ran everyday for 366 days. I like the idea of streaking, but I find I run more when the streak is shorter. I was afraid of hurting myself during my year-long streak so I only did a mile most days. I decided to earn the Run the Edge 50 mile buckle, so I am running at least 2 miles every day in October. I am eager to run each day because I know that I can stop on November 1. If Runner’s World does their winter streak challenge again from Thanksgiving to New Year’s I’ll probably do that, too. For now my challenge is at least two miles every day in October.
  2. I like doing online challenges and Robert Lee Brewer, who writes for Writer’s Digest, is organizing a month-long Platform Challenge that I have joined. I have learned a lot and it is only day four. Day three’s challenge was to create a blog. I already have a blog, but I have not added any posts recently so this is my post for day three of the challenge. I did a Robert’s social media challenge several years ago and found it helped a lot, so I look forward to completing this challenge.
  3. I have started a fun story project. I don’t want to say to much about it here since I am not releasing it into the world until December, but I am writing a lot and bringing it to one of my critique groups.  However, I want to keep track of how much I write and when I write. I’d like to write every day but I don’t seem to do that, so I want to have a weekly goal. My goal would be five thousand words a week. So far I am on track.
  4. My last challenge is a Halloween challenge. I made a list of thirty-one fun Halloween and autumn things to do. Some of them are short,  like read a Halloween poem. Others are longer, like create a new costume. I tried to do something like this before because I like Halloween, but I forgot about my list. This time I added it to the charts I created to keep track of my challenges so I won’t forget.

So there are my challenges for October. As I said above, I have created a spreadsheet to record my daily progress. I think these challenges will make my favorite month that much more memorable. November is Nanowrimo, so I need to get all the fun I can get in October before I sink into a new writing project.

May Jack-o-lanterns burning bright
Of soft and golden hue
Pierce through the future’s veil and show
What fate now holds for you.
~Author Unknown

Advice for Self-Published Authors by a Self-Published Author

self printedI read a lot of author blogs but very few of them give advice I can truly use. Even if I love the author I usually unsubscribe after a while and move on to reading other blogs. Catherine, Caffeinated is one blog that I love seeing in my email line-up. First, she is from Ireland and I love reading about people who live in foreign lands. Her home sounds enchanting (or maybe that is just my opinion of Ireland.) Second, she is a successful self-published author and is willing and eager to help others who want to be successful self-published authors.  Third, she has a wonderful writing style that makes you feel like you are reading a letter from a friend, complete with rants about TV shows (I do that too!), and other candid opinions.
She has a book called Self-Printed. She has released it twice to keep the information up-to-date (which is so important in the ever-changing self-publishing world). She is releasing it again but this time the book is more than just re-edited. Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing (3rd Edition) is a completely new book, keeping the timeless information from the first two editions, but adding and removing topics that work and don’t work in today’s industry.
If you are interested in self publishing a book and wondering how successful authors do it then Self-Printed 3.0 is the book for you. If Catherine writes about something that works it means she has successfully tried it herself. Reading this book is like getting advice from a trustworthy friend.
In the vein of being helpful and successful, Catherine invited bloggers to write her a question. She answered everyone’s questions with the request that they post them on their blog. Below is my question and her wonderful kick-in-the-pants answer. I am more than happy to add her to my blog. Her advice has helped me in my writing journey and I hope it helps you.
Q:  What advice do you have for an introvert who has a short story series (six books so far)on KDP and is ready (and scared to death) to do some marketing and get more interest in these stories?
A: First of all, you are asking an introvert this question. Most writers are introverted (which, I always make sure to say, does not necessarily mean we’re shy, but it does mean we have limited battery power to deal with other people and need quiet, alone recharging time at regular intervals!) and so we face a constant struggle between I have to get out there and promote my book and oh, but it’s so nice here in my room in my PJs. But I’m going to Dr. Phil you right now Jennifer and tell you: suck it up. No one else is going to promote your book for you, so you need to get your skates on and get to it. But here’s the thing: this whole digital self-publishing and social media world? It couldn’t get any better than this for the introverted author. Once upon a time, you had to leave your house to promote your book! (Perish the thought.) Now you can talk to people whenever you like from a distance (Twitter), join groups of the enthusiastic (Facebook) and share your innermost thought somewhat anonymously with the world (blogging). So get out there! You’ve no excuse. 😀
In terms of practical advice, I would say approach book bloggers, offering them a complimentary copy of the first of your books and maybe another physical copy (if you have one or can make one with CreateSpace) as a prize to give away to their readers, and/or offer to do guest posts for them. If you find this difficult, take a step back and get involved on Twitter first, where you can chat to people first and THEN, down the line, approach them re: reviews and book tours. But there’s also plenty you can do that doesn’t involve putting yourself out there at all, like running a series of Goodreads giveaways which I blogged about recently, or if your books are in KDP Select, have a series of free day promotions. Another thing you can do is research how other authors sell/promote their books. Follow them on Twitter. Read their blogs. Ask yourself if there’s anything they’re up to that you could maybe use in a slightly different way to promote your books. But so SOMETHING. Even if you’re not ready to boldly e-mail a book blogger, there’s still lots you can do. Good luck! 

Let’s Know Things

Graham Island and the HMS Melville
Graham Island and the HMS Melville

I love to subscribe to blogs. I may not stay subscribed for long but I am willing to give anyone’s blog a chance. Most of the blogs I read are about writing, fitness, or Disney. Lately I have been enjoying a blog by a writer who is also a full-time traveler. He lives a life that I would like to live if I had thought of it twenty years ago. He recently started a new blog that I would like to introduce to you to because it is my new favorite blog and I think it could be yours, too.

The blogger is Colin Wright. His blog is called Exile Lifestyle. He write a lot of books, travels a lot, and starts businesses with his friends. His newest website is Let’s Know Things. It is exactly what it says. In each email he provides links to four or five completely random topics. What is so cool is that every topic is fascinating.

Have you ever heard of a spite house? Neither had I until Let’s Know Things. Or how about a song about Van Gogh? Or Graham Island, an island in the Mediterranean that keeps disappearing? I have learned about these and dozens of other topics. If you like learning about anything and everything then I would suggest subscribing to Let’s Know Things. If nothing else you’ll be better at playing Jeopardy! Or you might find your next hobby or career. Anything is possible with knowledge.