Why Blog?

Why Blog?

By Doris McCraw

Angela Raines FB photo
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?

For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)

1. Marketing:

If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.

For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.

I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.

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Photo (c) by author

2. Research:

This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.

For close to ten years I’ve been researching the story of a Colorado criminal. I haven’t written much about him, for he has been hiding the rest of his story. Since the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of this year, I’ve started telling his story via the written word. In fact, I recently submitted the paper based on the presentation for possible publication in the book the library will publish on the topic, Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes.

The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. If the book of their lives never gets written by me, at least I’ve shared enough that others have a place to start and find out more based on the blogs I’ve written, and will continue to write.

The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.

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3  Name Recognition:

Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.

At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?

In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who just have to know what I have to share.

And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be four years old. How time does fly.

Home_For_His_Heart_McCraw_cover
Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Member of National League of American Pen Women,

Women Writing the West,

Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners


Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

The Princess is here – what’s next?

It feels like it took forever to get The Princess Prophecy out into the world. From the idea to it finally being live was almost three years. And it’s not a long book. Procrastination isn’t my middle name for no reason. Of course it was the fear that made me do other things instead of the writing I should have been doing. Anything else was so much easier than getting words on the page and revising those words. No matter how many times I told myself the books can’t make money if they’re just sitting on my hard, I still put the writing off. Oh, I did some here and there. Wrote short stories for anthologies. Made notes on other stories. Plotted stories. Printed and reprinted manuscripts so I could go back and revise. But I still wasn’t doing the work I should have been doing to release works under my own name. Releasing under a pen name, that only a select four know, is so much easier.

But I did it! The Princess is finally out there on major retailers. The audio book is underway and hopefully will be up by April. I can’t wait to hear what my narrator does with the story. Luckily, she loves the story and her characterizations are great. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend. She’s very talented.

Now that I have one project off my plate, there are a whole lot more on there that need work. So next up is Almost Normal, book one in one of my urban fantasy series. That one has been done for ages too but it’s a lot messier than The Princess Prophecy was. This new one was written out order, before I started doing outlines. I don’t know what’s missing, what makes no sense, what scenes need to be added. But I’m slowly getting through it, making notes, revising sections, fixing the time line. It feels good to be doing actual work again and I know revising is work. However, I’m looking forward to writing new words, on a new book so that one can be finished too. Before that can happen I need to get Almost Normal off my plate.

Forgot what The Princess Prophecy was about? Here’s the blurb again and finally a buy link! It takes you to a page that lists everywhere the book is so you can pick your preferred store.

The Princess Prophecy

An ancient throne. An unknown prophecy. A reluctant princess controls the fate of the world…

Sophie thinks she’s a typical college freshman. She spends her days making friends and coping with classes, until her whole world changes forever. A group of strange men try to kidnap her, and the only thing that saves her is a long-lost friend who’s sworn to protect his princess…

Nathan tells Sophie that she’s not only half-alien, but she’s royalty on another planet. To make things more complicated, she’s forced to go to that planet to take the throne… or her entire kingdom will suffer.

As Nathan helps her train for her second life, she can’t help but fall for him. But when their ship comes under attack, she wonders if any of them will survive the journey.

Available at the major retailers: https://books2read.com/theprincessprophecy

Check out my website: http://www.cindycarroll.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CindyPCarroll
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll
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Countdown to a prophecy

My first step to starting the year right was to send my book to my editor. After a nail-biting week I received the file back and to my relief she liked it. There weren’t major changes and the story was pretty solid. I accepted the grammar changes and fleshed out scenes she thought needed a little bit more. The file is back with her and my wait started again.

In the meantime I created a Facebook cover photo featuring the book. Also updated Twitter with a cover photo. Once it goes live I’ll post everywhere I can think of. I will be so happy once it’s out in the world, finally. It’s been a long time coming.

I first conceived the story in July 2015. Yes, almost three years ago. Why did it take so long to actually write it and get to a point where I can release the story? Fear. I’m releasing it under my name. If the story is horrible, if people hate it, they’ll know I wrote it. For my other stories it didn’t matter because they’re under pen names. No one will know it’s me if they don’t like them. I have twenty of those out there. But I vowed to stop hiding behind those names and release stories under my name. Start advertising them, tell family and friends, and hopefully at some point be able to do this writing thing full time.

The cover I posted before is now the old cover. I’ll keep it for something else perhaps. Maybe something that is more romance than science fiction. Or maybe I’ll add a spaceship to the cover and use it for a different scifi romance. I have a new cover! It’s below with the blurb again!

The Princess Prophecy

An ancient throne. An unknown prophecy. A reluctant princess controls the fate of the world…

Sophie thinks she’s a typical college freshman. She spends her days making friends and coping with classes, until her whole world changes forever. A group of strange men try to kidnap her, and the only thing that saves her is a long-lost friend who’s sworn to protect his princess…

Nathan tells Sophie that she’s not only half-alien, but she’s royalty on another planet. To make things more complicated, she’s forced to go to that planet to take the throne… or her entire kingdom will suffer.

As Nathan helps her train for her second life, she can’t help but fall for him. But when their ship comes under attack, she wonders if any of them will survive the journey.

Check out my website: http://www.cindycarroll.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CindyPCarroll
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cindypcarroll

What’s Your Theme for 2018?

Cole Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Cole Smith

 

Do you have a yearly theme? 2017 was a fantastic yet terrifying year for me. Learning to drive stick-shift, finishing a novel and sending it to beta readers, starting a blog – there were a lot of overwhelming days when the couch and a book looked pretty darn appealing. To keep from succumbing to the siren song of quitting, I’d mutter my slogan for the year: “Do it scared!”

Notice, that slogan is neither original nor specific. But it was exactly what I needed to shift (sometimes literally from stalling at a traffic light) back to where I needed to be. Pick a personal motto for 2018 to set your intention for the year.

 

Do You Have a Yearly Theme?

 

It will start your year off on a positive note.

January is unspoiled and full of potential. Late December, on the other hand, often holds more stale failed resolutions than leftover fruitcake. Capture January’s energy and positivity by setting the mood for the months to come, and sticking with it.

 

It will keep you accountable.

One reason resolutions sputter and die by March is the lack of accountability. How do you check in with yourself? No one will know if you hit the snooze button instead of the gym. But you’ll have to face that slogan. You can crank up the pressure by giving a friend permission to say the magic words if you start slipping.

 

It will keep you going when you want to quit.

Feelings lie. It feels right to watch tv instead of knocking out 300 more words on your work-in-progress. It feels good to sleep in. And, at least in the short-term, eating that massive bowl of ice cream feels like heaven’s blessing.

Get a stack of sticky notes and wallpaper the house with your motto. Stick a reminder on the remote control, the freezer door, the alarm clock. Our feelings have a really short attention span. So remind them who’s boss by whispering your affirming slogan (or shouting it from your back porch). All that reinforcement will reprogram your brain and alter your habits.

Choose a Theme for Your Year

 

My focus for this year is to build on the momentum of 2017 (or, in the case of driving manual transmission, at least to coast on my momentum as long as possible… Please change, traffic light, hurry!). I’m still narrowing down themes for a motto that resonates with my goals, one that sings when I say it. I’ll know it when I find it.

May 2018 be a year that pushes you, but kindly. And, if you need to, you can whisper, “Do it scared!”

 

*****

 

Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.

 

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Mission accomplished – Sort of

The key to having a successful year in 2018 meant I had to start the year off right. I hung out with my husband and our cat. It was low key. Partiers we are not. We watched TV, had a drink, and totally missed that it was the New Year until six minutes after the hour. For me it was perfect.

In the morning I got down to business. My first goal of the New Year was to get my science fiction romance, The Princess Prophecy, to my editor. Releasing it on target (January 18) hinges on me getting it to her on time. I still had revisions to key before sending it to her. I found some errors I missed during the first two passes. But, I finally got it sent! Now I wait nervously to get her edits back and hope she didn’t hate the story or find huge problems that will take me more than a week to fix.

I thought that would be the last thing I needed to do. After all, I had the cover done ages ago. Or did I? I love the cover I have for it but I think it screams romance and only whispers science fiction. I’ve been thinking about redoing the cover. Given the short description below and the current cover, what do you think? Go with this cover or get a new one? Keeping in mind future books in the series will still feature the same couple.

The Princess Prophecy

An ancient throne. An unknown prophecy. A reluctant princess controls the fate of the world…

Sophie thinks she’s a typical college freshman. She spends her days making friends and coping with classes, until her whole world changes forever. A group of strange men try to kidnap her, and the only thing that saves her is a long-lost friend who’s sworn to protect his princess…

Nathan tells Sophie that she’s not only half-alien, but she’s royalty on another planet. To make things more complicated, she’s forced to go to that planet to take the throne… or her entire kingdom will suffer.

As Nathan helps her train for her second life, she can’t help but fall for him. But when their ship comes under attack, she wonders if any of them will survive the journey.

Check out my website: http://www.cindycarroll.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CindyPCarroll
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cindypcarroll

 

Resolution/Revolution

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

We will soon be celebrating Christmas, a time of year of good will, food, fun, family and for some a time of deep connection to all that is. This is followed by New Years, and a time of new beginnings, resolutions and longer days.

The New Year comes at a time when the days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere, the sun rises higher in the sky, and we are ready to rid ourselves of the chill of winter. So also a time of resolution for what we wish to change, to accomplish, and be.

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A search for the definition of Resolution brings up this: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Searching for the definition of Revolution brings up the following: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

Now I’m not advocating overthrowing a government, or even our social order, but in the case of resolutions, I am advocating throwing over the old system of making resolutions that most of us can’t/don’t keep for a new system. So what you may ask do I wish to replace the old system with?

How about we give ourselves a break? It is silly to try to change a lifetime of habits, of learning, in one day, one week or even one month. Instead, let’s take the time to ponder where we really want to go,be and do. Let’s be realistic, let’s be pro-active and let’s be kind to ourselves and others as we make decisions.

  1. Ask yourself, what is realistic for me to achieve in said day, week, month and year
  2. Acknowledge we are human, and that life is full of interruptions
  3. Decide the one dream/hope/goal that is most important
  4. Break it down into steps/ideas that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

The system can be adjusted to each person’s needs. Through time, we know what works for us. Experience had taught us what our limits are, what our stumbling blocks are. This does not mean we don’t stretch, don’t try something new. It does mean, we don’t set ourselves up for failure.

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For three plus years I’ve written a haiku five days a week. I still love that poetic form, but 2017 will see me cutting back on that practice. I will replace it with writing short stories/novellas and one novel. These are realistic and achievable. Are they written in stone, NO! Life can change in a heartbeat, but having something that brings you joy, that you can share with the world, that is what my revolution against resolutions is about. Sure semantics play a part in this, but semantics, the use of words has power. Chose them wisely.

HERE IS TO A WONDERFUL, POWERFUL AND SUCCESSFUL 2017 TO EVERYONE.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Watch for the release of her novel “Josie’s Dream”, part of a series mid-January 2017. Doris also writes haiku that can be found at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

the-gift-of-forgiveness-a-raines-web-3http://a.co/geUpFs2

“Never Had a Chance”

“Lost Knight, Out of Time”

“One Hot Knight” Summer Medieval Anthology
http://amzn.to/29DaO5B

“Angel of Salvation Valley”
http://amzn.to/1P4JVV8

HOME FOR HIS HEART
http://amzn.to/1GJhpSu

Ranch Retreat

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

An earlier January blog post mentioned a self-imposed retreat I was planning, so I decided to do a follow-up about the experience. One word describes it: AWESOME! Although I could end my thought with that word, I’ll share a bit more.

On January 15 , 16 and 17, I “retreated” to my friends’ ranch about 70 miles northeast of Casper. I’ve known this couple for nearly 12 years. They live on acreage owned by the husband’s family for more than 50 years; he inherited the ranch after his parents died. Although my friends don’t do as much ranching as he did growing up and until about 10 years ago, they still maintain livestock, including horses, cattle, and llamas. They rent out pasture to others who have more cows, horses, and even some sheep. My friends bought an additional 40-acre parcel adjacent to the original family ranch and built a new house on it a few years ago. They kept the original modular home on that 40-acres, which serves as a guest house. When their children and grandchildren visit, when other family and friends visit, they stay at the guest house. That’s where I stayed, where I slept, where I ate (although I shared a meal with my friends at their home), and where I wrote.

ranch retreat home
Kaycee, WY Ranch guest house — my writing retreat in January.

And, did I write! I composed several articles, including a new story to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul which was due the end of this month. I re-purposed some articles that had not been accepted into Chicken Soup when I submitted them a few years ago, added to, subtracted from, and edited through those and have since sent on to other publications, two of which have been accepted to Prairie Times in Colorado. A few other of those re-purposed stories will be sent to Prairie Rose Publishing, the company our friend Doris McCraw writes for and tells us about. I’ll be submitting for the company’s upcoming anthology “Pawprints on my Heart” with hopes one or two will be picked up for that publication.

turkeys and chip the llama
Some of my ranch retreat “guests”!

I learned about Prairie Times from the publisher of my book, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, who resides in Greeley, CO. She encouraged me to contact the editor because Prairie Times publishes animal stories. I did, the editor said to send a few samples, so I worked on those and submitted them — she accepted them! One is slated to be published in May and the other in June. It’s a paying market, and I plan to submit more with hopes she’ll publish them in the fall; October is National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month and November is National Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month. I certainly have stories appropriate for such recognitions.

Additionally while at the ranch, I started a new children’s book, about my rescue therapy dog, Mary. I have opportunity to have that story serialized later this year in “My Trib,” the children’s section of the Casper Journal. Two of my children’s stories have run since September, and when I spoke with the publisher earlier this month, he indicated an interest in running more of my children’s work. I’ve wanted to write a story about Mary, her adoption, and her therapy-dog nature, so that conversation, and my ranch writing retreat, prompted me to get that going. I also wrote more of my children’s story, Jasmine’s Journey: Story of a Rescue Dog, a story I started a few years ago but left shelved on my computer. It’s time; it’s time I write on my manuscripts once again, and that’s one of the main reasons for the retreat. When I’m home, I work on other people’s work: the Vietnam veterans stories for the Casper Star Tribune, the articles for WREN magazine, the compositions for Our Town Casper. Plus, the various interruptions at home: the phone, the internet, the pets, the husband; the laundry, the dishes, the television… at the ranch there was none of that. I purposely chose to ignore the Vietnam writings, even though I had done two interviews; my WREN and Our Town articles were completed for the month; and I left the dogs and husband at home. There was no TV and no internet, even though I did watch one DVD on Friday night – a fun movie that helped me laugh and relax, both of which I needed. I slept in on Saturday until 8 am, NOT normal for me, and usually NOT an option for me at home. That added rest probably contributed to my ability to sit and type, to let the muse flow, and to feel stronger and more creative. My spiritual side also benefited, as I brought along instrumental CDs of Christian hymns and also brought my Bible and two devotion books. I reviewed my goals and prayed over each project and each plan. This retreat is exactly what my emotional, spiritual, creative, and physical sides needed.

Kaycee house_woodstove
My friends’ ranch guest house is quite cozy! Interestingly, the futon used to belong to my husband and I — our friends bought it from us when we decided to obtain a regular couch and they were looking for more furnishings for their ranch guest house.

Wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and great horned owls were among my visitors. A few stray cats, whom my friends feed, and three llamas made up the guests near the guest house. The sun shone, the wind remained calm, and the snow didn’t fly (much anyway!). Although the temperature was cold, especially in the morning, a woodstove helped heat the house and provided an extra comfy atmosphere for writing.

I hope to do this again, even if just for one night and one day, at least once more this winter (maybe twice if my friends and my husband allow!) My goal is to finish both children’s books by early spring. To do so, I’m going to need to learn to block out time at home, to ignore the distractions (well, most of them anyway). Time management – it’s something else that’s on my goal list for this year. Perhaps I can find a way to block out at least four hours in one day, and another hour or two on another day to simply spend on my manuscripts and weave the other writing assignments and school speaking engagements around those blocks of time in addition to continuing my part-time “steady job.” I hope to figure all that out and start next month (which is just a day away now!) as I’ll again be working on magazine assignments.

I highly recommend self-imposed retreats. Perhaps a day at the beach, in the desert, or even at a library. A place to be by yourself and get quiet and simply spend with your heart, your mind, and your computer (or writing notebook). I am blessed with these great friends and I am blessed to have the mountain cabin (which for me is too difficult to get to during winter – and too many distractions, like feeding the woodstove constantly and being cold!)… so I look forward to being there in spring, summer, and fall.

I’m looking forward to what lies ahead this year in terms of my creative writing! How about you?

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstore

P.S. Just as I was about to post this, I learned that a magazine article I wrote last month for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News) won third place in the Single Feature magazine category at the Wyoming Press Association awards. One of my stories from the same publication took a third place at WPA the year prior. I love writing for WREN and I’m so honored to be part of that publication and to have been bestowed these awards! Now I can officially say I’m an award-winning writer! If I put more time and effort into learning and polishing the craft and seeking opportunities to publish, I can grow as a writer and continue making positive impacts on readers. Spending time in reflection and on retreat can help in all those arenas – retreat ranch, I’m quoting Mr. Arnold and saying, “I’ll be back!”

turkeys at ranch
Wild turkeys headed toward the river which flows through the ranch.

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults, including Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog; Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God, Sage’s Big Adventure, Sage Finds Friends, and Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest. She threads life lessons into her work, such as friendship, courage, and perseverance. Her blind dog, Sage, was the inspiration for many of her stories. Gayle has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Additionally, she’s contributed short stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. She speaks in schools, at libraries, and for various groups, weaving topics with lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Sage Finds Friends_front cover

Leaping into This Leap Year

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

This new year is also a leap year, which, according to Wikipedia, adds an extra day “to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.” One extra day this year – an extra day to write!

This weekend I’m taking myself on a writing retreat. My husband and I have friends who live on a ranch about 70 miles northeast of our town of Casper. The ranch plays host to a variety of wildlife, including turkeys, white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and many species of songbirds… as well as cattle, sheep, and llamas. The ranch also hosts a guest house. Greg and I have stayed there a few times, and I’ve stayed at the modular house, complete with fireplace and jacuzzi tub, on several occasions alone. It’s here that I completed “Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog.” Sage was with me. Little did I know that February weekend in 2012 that one month later my beloved blind dog would be diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and, within a week of that diagnosis, pass on.

llamas at ranch

So, here we are, about four years later, and I’ll be “retreating” to the ranch once again to write amid the quiet. The Powder River flows nearby. Bluffs and hillsides add to nature’s song. The guest house has no wi-fi, and cell phone service is a short drive down the country lane. My friends’ main house is a few stones’ throws from the guest house, so if some emergency does arise, I can get help (however, I’ll need to be able to walk or drive!). One of the lessons Sage taught me was to have a deeper faith, so just as I have faith all will be well at our cabin, which also doesn’t have cell or wi-fi service, I have faith all will be well at my friends’ ranch guesthouse while I’m there. Taking “a leap of faith,” so to speak.

Powder River

Writing is also a leap of faith. When we create characters, compose stories, and call upon the muse, we trust we will develop something we’ll enjoy writing and that people will enjoy reading. We trust we’ll connect, market, and sell. Writing is art, but it’s also a business, especially if we want to earn a living doing it, whether full-or part-time.

I’m blessed to be very busy part-time writer. I not only write books, but also magazine articles, short stories, and newspaper pieces. During the past few years, my platform has expanded, and in this year another opportunity has come my way: a third magazine through the company that creates WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News) and Crossroads (an annual publication of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce). This new publication, called Advancement, is not something I’ve heard of, but the editors have asked me to take part in the project because they know me – they know my style, they know I’m thorough in my interviews, and they know I meet deadlines. I’ve written for WREN for three years and for Crossroads for two; the editors know I’m reliable and so when this new publication opportunity arose, they contacted me – and I said “YES!” We’ll see what I’m in for, but I am excited and I am grateful.

Sage Finds Friends circleAnother exciting happening for me is that the Casper Journal has serialized another of my children’s stories; it began running the week of Christmas (Merry Christmas to me … and Casper’s young readers!). “Sage Finds Friends” reminds youngsters of the value of friendship; the book is available on Amazon and I should have my first copies later this month. I’m excited! This book took nearly three years from conception to birth (it sat on my computer’s hard drive for quite a few seasons). Now that I’m “on a roll” book-wise, I’m planning to complete other WIPs that are sitting on my hard drive as well. I’m motivated, and I look forward to what this three-day, self-imposed writing retreat will produce … and to what this new year, this leap year, unfolds for me creatively.

Paralleling the writing is speaking. This month I have five school visits plus another scheduled for February 1. I plan to line up library visits and booksignings for the spring in conjunction with Children’s Book Week, which coincides with Be Kind to Animals Week (both in early May). I hope to have my children’s dog rescue book (one of my WIPs) published by then to share with audiences (young and older) – an objective I’ve set for this year. That’s a project I’ll focus on while at the ranch.

Denton Library_kids

My desire is to be a fulltime writer and speaker. My goal is to be at that point by the time 2017 rolls around. We will see if that comes to pass as that is also “a leap of faith.”

How about you? What do you hope to “leap into” this year? What leaps of faith are you contemplating? My best to you all always!

 

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker who lives in Wyoming. She is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults and has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Additionally, she’s contributed short stories to five Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. She speaks in schools and for civic and Christian women’s groups, weaving topics together with lessons people can learn from pets. She is currently working on three books, including a pet rescue story for children. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

 

The New Year Brings a New Chapter

CindyCarrollEIt’s a new year so you’re going to be bombarded by posts this month on goals and resolutions. And yep, that’s what I’m going to be talking about for this post too. It helps to get your goals down, put them out there in the universe. Speaking them aloud makes them more real somehow. You’re accountable to whoever might remember and ask later on – “Hey, did you do that thing you said you were going to do?”

Copyright Flynt - purchased from Bigstock
Copyright Flynt – purchased from Bigstock

Some of the posts on the blog this month haven’t talked about goals but a few have. Mike has two goals that are very doable. I liked Kathy’s post about having a word for the year. In the comments section of Kathy’s post I decided that my word for this year would be positivity. It’s easy to be negative when bad things are going on but being positive can help the bad to not seem so bad. I’ve cut negative people out of my life because they suck the soul out of you. I don’t want to be one of those negative people. The sucktastic year that was 2015 is gone. It’s time to move forward.

There will be setbacks. There always are. It’s how you deal with the setbacks that make the difference. I wallowed last year. I let the bad things get to me more than they usually do. I’ve had bad years before but for some reason last year just broke me. I need to remember that I have family and friends I can talk to that will help me get through the bad stuff. And others are going through worse stuff than I was.

So for this year I’m being positive. I have attainable goals if I work hard to accomplish them. I can be the writer I’ve always wanted to be if I put my mind to it. Last year I was muddled, all over the place. I wanted to write stories that spoke to me but I wanted to make money too. I wrote short sexy stories that sold well (before I jumped on the bandwagon) thinking I would be all set. But even though the writing was good, the rules changed when Amazon brought out Kindle Unlimited 1.0 and then Kindle Unlimited 2.0. I was just starting to get traction on the stories with KU 1.0 when they decided to pay writers per page read for their work in Select. Something had to change.

That’s when I decided to start ghostwriting. I needed the money faster than Amazon would pay me, and it would be more in a month than I had ever earned for any of my writing. But I still want to tell my own stories. I decided to follow the advice of a wise man on one of the boards I read who said to focus on one pen name. Face palm. It seemed so simple. Last year I wrote under five pen names, none of them my real name. I split my focus so they all suffered. By trying to get works out under all my pen names there was too much time in between releases.

This year I’m focusing on me. My brand, my name, my stories. I’ll still allocate some words a month to ghostwriting but the rest will be for me. I will finally finish my trilogy. I will get the first book in my urban fantasy series finished and write book two (maybe even book three). I will focus on building my mailing list, connecting with my readers. To that end I am blogging again on my personal blog. Once a week to start to see how I manage that. Then I’ll do more if I can fit it in. I have lots of ideas to attract readers but I need the books done and available to implement them. And to do that I need to focus. I’ve been known to flit from one thing to another but this year to accomplish my goals I will focus on releasing books I’m proud of.

What will your focus be this year?

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1avH00L
Buy on Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/19Ti2ux
Buy on Kobo: http://bit.ly/13CBz9M
Buy on Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/15oFc4a

Making an Impact – Part 1: Writing and Speaking

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Many writers make a big splash, and a big impact. Big fish like JK Rowling, Beverly Lewis, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Mark Twain, even Shakespeare live in much bigger ponds than me. I feel like a small fry compared even to fellow Wyoming writers like Craig Johnson, CJ Box, and Nina McConigley (who won a prestigious PEN Award last year and a High Plains Book Award this year). My circle of influence may not impress many publishers, but yet I believe I can, and do, make an impact, and I’d like to think it a positive one.

Each of the above names has affected generations, audiences, and genres. In some ways, so have, and do, I.

My first book, Sage’s Big Adventure, was published in 2007. During the past eight years, I’ve visited several schools, speaking to kindergarten through seniors in high school. I’ve presented programs at libraries in- and out-of state, in senior centers in my community and beyond, and also to Christian women’s organizations. Public speaking, whether in a classroom, at a library, or for a civic or church group provides ample opportunity to influence and impact. My audiences aren’t huge, but I love the intimacy and connection one garners in a small group setting. On Saturday, I conducted a presentation at a library in a small Wyoming community about 30 miles from Casper. My audience was less than 15, but WOW! what a group! Engaged, discerning, and compassionate – I met a teenager who wants to help dog rescues and to adopt from a shelter or rescue very soon, and a woman asked me how to get her dog certified as a therapy dog, like Mary; both of these ladies can, and probably will, also have a positive impact on others. I love connecting with audiences!

Kids writingAbout 10 days ago I visited an elementary school and spoke to 2nd – 4th graders. We spent some time outdoors and they wrote in nature journals. The program, including the outdoor observations, was connected to my latest children’s book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest. My hope with this book, and with current speaking opportunities in the schools, is to connect and engage kids with nature. The students at this rural school about 15 miles from Casper, their teachers, and I all enjoyed our time together, and thanks to the school district, each child received a copy of Cody’s Cabin… I hope the kids will spend more time outdoors now that they have the book – we live in a beautiful area and our community’s children should be more engaged with nature.

Speaking can also include media interviews. During the past week, I was blessed to be on a local morning news TV show and a blog talk radio program. I only had two minutes on TV, but I was given 50 minutes on the radio program (if you’d like to listen to all or part of interview, here’s the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stepintothelight/2015/10/20/step-into-the-light-with-patti-shene. You’ll also find some photos as part of a slide show that I’d sent the host). Whether it’s 2, 10, or 50 minutes of air time, writers can use these opportunities to reach listeners which ultimately can become additional readers of our work.

With each speaking endeavor, I seek to make an impact upon people, to hopefully make life better not only for them through encouragement and inspiration from my writing, but also to positively influence the lives of shelter and rescue pets (as well as encourage better care of the pets people already have). Every year more than 5 million dogs and cats go into shelters in America, and each year nearly half don’t come out – our country still kills more than two million companion animals, many of them adoptable but not adopted. Additionally, animal cruelty is a still alive and flourishing in the forms of dog fighting and plain, pure evil deeds done by humans against animals. My prayer for my life is to help change these sad statistics and situations by influencing children and adults in how they view and treat pets.

Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_CoverWith books available on Amazon, my little pond ripples outward and draws in new readers because my books, and the short stories created and published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul editions, are available to a worldwide audience. My friend Nina McConigley messaged me one day while she was in India with a photo of last year’s The Dog Did What? on a bookstore shelf. Her message said, “Even people in India are reading about Sage!” As writers, especially with Amazon and compilation books, we can influence people we will never even meet in this lifetime. What an incredible thought!

I may be a small author-fish in a vast ocean of writers, but I can make an impact, and, along the way, inspire others to look beyond themselves … or to see themselves better than they do. Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog relates my journey with Sage, my blind springer spaniel. Sage was deemed “less valuable” than other dogs by many humans, including the owners who originally gave her to an animal shelter. People often think themselves as not valuable. That book reminds readers that, though we all have flaws, just like Sage, we are valuable and we can grow and become even better human beings. Some saw Sage as “less than” because she was blind – here we are, what would have been her 15th birthday last month, and she continues to make an impact on people and pets through her life story and through the influence she had on me. Less than? Not valued? I think not! Though I’m not a household name in the literature arena, I can, and do, make an impact. So do you.

Sage_River_MissouriStateWhen I was preparing to speak at the library in Glenrock on Saturday, a message came to the library’s Facebook page. It said, “So bummed I’m going to miss Ms. Irwin! I enjoy her writing and it would have been wonderful to have met her in person.” That short message touched my heart and positively affected my day! As I said, I love connecting with my audience, whether in a speaking setting or through someone reading my stories.

We writers certainly have opportunity to make an impact. We may never have our books become movies or TV shows like JK Rowling or Craig Johnson or win major awards like my friend Nina, but we can make a positive difference in the lives of our readers – and beyond.

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Hero Dog Award signSee others who are making an impact – watch the Hero Dog Awards on Hallmark Channel Friday night, Oct. 30th. As most of you know, pets are my passion and many pets are heroes for the work they do and the amazing things they’ve done. Learn more about the incredible dogs up for these great awards, and the humans who recognize the value of their companion and the organizations benefiting from these awards by visiting this website: http://www.herodogawards.org/vote.

Be a hero yourself this month – October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Adopt, volunteer, donate, and though not everyone can do everything, everyone can do a “something” to help save the lives of companion animals in your area … or beyond. An article at CNN offers seven ideas on how we can help save pets: http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/us/iyw-help-animals-get-adopted/. Or visit Petfinder to learn about adoption and others ways you can be a hero in the lives of pets: www.petfinder.com.

Part 2: Making an Impact with Your Passions should go live on November 6th. Bet you can’t guess what passion I’ll be talking about?! (smiley face)

Mary_GlenrockGayle M. Irwin is an author, writer, and speaker with a passion for pets. She writes inspirational dog stories for children and adults and her short stories have appeared in five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her latest work is Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, a children’s story and activity book that encourages kids to explore and appreciate nature. She volunteers with various animal rescue organizations and enjoys sharing about the pet-human bond and the human connection with nature. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Walking_FrontCover_small   SageBigAdventureFront-small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage