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Total LIfe Makeover


Now that Christmas is in the Past. . .

At the computer, again

At the computer, again

I know that a lot of people are taking this week off to spend with family. I spent time with my daughter last week and she went home a couple days ago., so I am pretty much done with the Christmas celebrating and am already focusing on the upcoming year. Now that the holidays are winding down and the year is coming to a close, this week I am finishing three of my writing projects to give to my beta readers. Two are the booklets Help From Kelp and Better Living with Diatomaceous Earth. I have completed Better Living with with Diatomaceous Earth and intend to have Help from Kelp.ready before the first of the year. I hope I can get the novel-Sailing under the Black Flag done as well.

Filling in my Writing Calendar

In addition, I am also putting the final touches on the blog post calendar for the year. My goal is to clear my calendar of planning ongoing projects so that I can put more focus into building my career. I have a big job next month where I will be editing another author’s work. I cannot talk too much about that right now. In addition, I intend to put more time into actual online marketing of my books. My novel writing focus this next year will be final editing both of my books In the Shadow of the Mill Pond and The Anvil. In November I will then be starting a new novel for NaNoWriMo. It will be my eighth year. In addition, I intend to finish two nonfiction books about preventing writer’s block. One is about nonfiction writing and the other fiction.

Book Marketing

This is a big part of what I intend to do during the upcoming year. Now that I have a number of books written both fiction and nonfiction, I in tend to focus a lot of my time during the next year on this area of my work. This week my focus is researching different ways that I can improve my online presence. I will tell more about what I discover in upcoming posts.

Hosting Seminars

Recently it was suggested that my church host the OSLU seminar (Ozark Sustainable Living University) Seminar on Saturday January 23, 2016. (A second day would be held at a 7th Day Adventist Church on Sunday.). I have been thinking about planning an event or two over the course of the year as well. This may open a few other doors for me, my church and my community, and I am excited at this prospect.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church one and a half miles south of Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener. She is also coming out soon with two additional nonfiction healthy living booklets Help from Kelp and Better Living with Diatomaceous Earth

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Always Darkest Before the Dawn

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I have spent far too much time alone lately. The church has not had the attendance that I would have liked so there have been Sunday morning and Wednesday night services where I have been the only one there. Also, I had been trying to contact my daughter for several weeks and she was ignoring my calls. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was and even more so I was lonely. Even though I attended activities with friends and even had perfect strangers visit me between services, I will felt neglected. Last Thursday night I was at an all time low and I called a friend to cry on her shoulder. You may ask, what does all of this have to do with latching onto new opportunities, well, its what happened after I hung up with my friend that things started to change. Within twelve hours, I had a completely different perspective.

Facebook Family Messaging

My friend suggested that I contact my son in Hawaii and talk to him. I messaged him on Facebook and told him about the situation with his sister and went about my business. Then a little later, my daughter finally contacted me. I am not certain if he contacted her first or whether it was a coincidence, but next thing I knew he was on FB messenger and we talked a lot time about what they were doing and what their plans were. The two of them were conversing to one another and they were conversing separately with me too. We all talked for over two hours. In the conversation, my daughter agreed to come down to stay with me a few days as well. Definitely good results.

An Amazing Phone Call

This morning, I was thinking about the time with my adult children when the phone rang. I answered it and it was Mike H. Brown from Springfield, Missouri. He had ordered my gardening book which I had sent to him along with a letter with some ideas that I had to help him do something that he had planned. He told me that he now had a name for the company and I was the one who came up with the name. I thought how cool is that. He then told me about some work that he wanted to send my way. That will probably occur next month. Plus he offered me some advice and more. (I won’t go into the details. Eventually I will be able to be more specific, but he offered to help open some doors not just in my writing career, but also with the church. I could jump in with both feet at this time, but I think that I will have to wait until I have finished the writing projects that I intended to finish by the end of the year. I have less than two weeks and none of those projects are completed yet.

Next Year is Shaping Up to Be a Banner Year

Over the past year, my confidence has soared and I will be bringing that into the coming year. With those books finished, the New year is shaping up to be a banner year for me. I intend to launch two booklets, two fiction books and two nonfiction writing books. In addition, I will be helping with that startup company. Plus there’s the fact that I am going to be focusing more of my time on marketing and sales of my books than I ever have before.I have already started gathering ideas.  I cannot wait to see what unseen opportunities will come my way next.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


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Last blog post we talked about deciding on topics to write throughout the year. Now we are going to discuss formulas that we can use for approaching individual blog posts.

The First is to problem solve and application.

Here is how it is done.
State problem, Use vivid, impactful language to get the reader’s attention so that they will stay on your post for five minutes.
Solution and Application: give 3-5 practical ideas or tips to solve their problem. Offer an action step to get them started.

Another is: Why What, How, Tools

First you want to ask why. This is your emotional appeal. It focuses on your reader’s needs not yours, tells why if they don’t do it, what will happen. Provide an emotional support.
Next is the What. Tell your reader why this is important to them, show evidence, methodology, experiences that inform your perspective. This is for left-brained thinkers who are not easily swayed by emotional appeals.
Finally, tell How: Give 3-5 practical steps to help them solve their problem. Make these steps easy to implement

A Third is the Interview or Pop Culture Mashup

Spotlight a star or celebrity as this person relates to your topic. Introduce star, connect star to your topic. Focus on your inspiration based on this connection and make certain that the reader gets it as well.

Number four: Focus on the Villain

An alternative to the Pop Culture Mashup is Focus on a Villain-talk about trigger of this villain, how did this thing (not person) become a villain? Describe the villain, point finger at the concept, idea, or position. Contrast villain’s view with your own.

Finally: The List

Tried and true list of things that work. This is probably the easiest type of post to write. We writers are bored with them, but readers still love them!-state the problem, list the solutions, include title, brief commentary, and a link or downloadable view.
See how many of these types of blog posts that I use during this upcoming year.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


bookshelf

In my last blog post, I said that I intend to change the days of the week that I will be blogging this blog. Instead of blogging on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, I will be blogging on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday instead. I will be doing this because I recently read that people are less likely to read a blog on Monday because they are busy. They do not read on Friday because they are in a hurry to get away from computer work.

Determine Main Topics

Once I determined when I was going to write my blog posts, I needed to determine my main topics. I decided to do a different topic each day of the week. Each Tuesday, I will write a blog regarding what I know about what I know which is productive writing. Wednesdays I have determined to continue writing the Christian Blog posts that I have been doing for several months. Thursdays I will be writing about what I am learning about book marketing.

Determine Problems to Solve Through Blogging

How that I have determined my main topics, I will determine what problems others have concerning each of the topics that I have identified for my blog.
So what problems do others have concerning writing productively?

The next thing to determine are what type of problems are you trying to solve for your reader?

Here are some problems that I could fix:
First, writer’s block is a common ailment to writers (this should be easy, I am writing two books about this topic)
Finding Time to write is another.
Tips for getting a lot written in the shortest length of time is still another.
Finding writing Ideas/plots
Developing characters
Developing scenes

Next is important that writers understand five areas that readers need to understand each of these topics.

Five Key Areas that Readers Need to Understand about the topic

These are the five key areas that readers need to understand about the productive writing success

  • Writing is a process that has a specific order of completion.
  • Writing regularly
  • writer’s block-Symptoms, Causes and solutions.
  • Writing Writer’s prompts specific to specific genres
  • Creating Writing formulas

Now write five pieces of supporting information concerning each of the above topics:
Writing is a process that has a specific order of completion-1) writing has a specific order in the process. 2) Each step in the writing process has specific things to do and specific things that can cause problems if done at that time. 3) prewriting 4)first drafting 5) editing and proofreading.
Writing Regularly 1) Having a writing plan2) finding time to write daily 3)Knowing when you need a break 4)writing fast 5)tools for developing new ideas brainstorming/brainmapping/organizing 6)Using Different writing locations for inspiration.
Writer’s Block Symptoms/Causes/Solutions 1)causes of writer’s block, 2)symptoms of writer’s block-perfectionism, 3) symptom of writer’s block-procrastination4)Cause of writer’s block-having too little/too much to say 5)Fear 6)Life getting in the way.
Writing Prompts for Specific writing genres-1) romantic fiction 2) mystery 3) action adventure 4) how-to books 5)scenes
Creating Writing Formulas-1) romantic fiction 2) action adventure 3) mystery 4)How-to 5)different types of articles

Next I will create topics in these areas of inspiration Provide Supporting information for each topic

  • The emotional and logical benefits of learning and understanding this topic
  • Key principles, methodology, evidence, research
  • What are some simple exercises, steps, the reader can make to achieve simple and quick results
  • Resource and tools for the topic
  • Personal experience or case study that demonstrates your ability to connect with the reader
  • An interview, podcast, presentation that offers a different perspective on the topic.
    Now on a separate document, write down all of the separate problems with each of the areas of inspiration mentioned above.
    For instance: My first combination would be a combination of The emotional and logical benefits of learning and understanding this topic and writing has a specific order in the process.

Brainstorm at least two topics for each area using this supporting information for each topic
In this case we could easily come up with a topic. Here is the most logical: What are the emotional benefits of learning and understanding that writing has a specific order? Another would be what are the logical benefits of leaning and understanding that writing has a specific order?
I’ll keep going through my list and combining topics with these supporting information prompts as ways to determine topics. I can then go through, look at all of the combinations and create topic ideas. Some I will instantly realize don’t make any sense, but other ideas, I can develop further and include in my blog calendar. By the end of the afternoon, I will have more than enough topic ideas for writing all my blog posts

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


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Where did the saying Planning your Work and Working Your Plan Originate?

We have all heard this saying at one time or another. One of the earliest examples that we have for this saying is in an article written by Reverend Weber A. Hall, in N. W. Christian Advocate in 1887. I recently read the article http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/plan_your_work_and_work_your_plan/ and Reverend Weber attributes that saying to his friend Brother G. This past year I have learned that planning my work and working my plan has been highly effective in producing books.

I Discovered my Strengths and Weaknesses by Having a Plan and Working It

During this year, I have been planning my work and working my plan on a total life makeover. I developed myself as a person and in the process, I have developed a business plan that has helped me develop insight into what I know and what I still need to learn about my writing business. I have learned that I am a highly productive writer and that I can encourage others in being able to do the same.
I have also figured out that my strengths have a lot to do with the fact that I am a very productive writer. I am a highly productive writer because I follow this idea of planning my work and working my plan in producing my books. I follow very specific processes for writing fiction and nonfiction.
My weaknesses are in marketing my books. I found that I have been so focused this past year on production and getting the business basics done that I haven’t been spending the amount of time marketing my craft that I should be spending. This I intend to change this year.

Blogging my Plan

This coming year I intend to use my blog both to share my strengths and improve my marketing skills.
Recently I read that Mondays and Fridays are not good days to post blogs. Mondays are too busy, and on Fridays, most people try to cut out early. Therefore, I am changing my blogging days from Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Mondays I will share blogging posts related to my strengths. Wednesdays will continue to be my Christian blog post. And finally on Thursdays I will blog about what I have researched learned about book marketing.
At the end of August 2015, I started a writer’s group here and of the members who are part of this group, several of us are interested in better developing our book marketing skills Over the course of the next year, we will be sharing and developing these skills. I intend to share what I learn about book marketing on my blog. I also hope that I will be able to share some of my successes too.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


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My Last Planned Marketing Event

The last planned marketing event that I am participating in occurred last Saturday from 11am-2pm. I went to a local book store and did a book signing. Now that that is finished, I can determine how many books I have sold throughout the year. Granted, there will be number (I hope) that will sell online and at bookstores before the holiday., but as for me selling books in person, I am done for this year.

Writing Like a Mad Woman

I don’t know how I did it. I was trying so hard to keep my focus on single projects at a time, but during the past couple of months I went from working on one project to six book projects at a time. Plus I am finishing up this blog for the year. I have totally dropped Bubblews and Hubpages for now so that I can make progress and finish up some of the books I am creating.

First, There’s the novel that I plan to send to my first beta reader by the end of the year (read that the end of this month!) This book is called Sailing Under the Black Flag. This book will be book four of the Locket Saga. .I have been working on that every day and have been making progress. I should have it ready to send to her by New Year’s Day.  Then there is the novel that I started in NaNoWriMo. I have that almost up to 60K This book is called The Anvil. . In addition, I have two books about overcoming writer’s block called Breaking Writer’s Block for Fiction Writers and Breaking Writer’s Block for Nonfiction Writers. I started these two books in October and have made a lot of progress there as well.

The last two books are my latest projects, but I need to have these two books done by the end of the year. These are not actually books but booklets. One is about the usefulness of kelp and the other the usefulness of diatomaceous earth. Some of the information I already had, but some I still need to research. To save time, I am going to be sending these two books to my second beta reader at the end of the month for her to be reading while my first beta reader is reading the novel. This second reader asked me to send her the booklets via the internet.

The reason I need these two booklets right away is because the church that I pastor is hosting the first day of the Ozark Sustainable Living University on January 23. (The second day, January 24, will be at Next Step in West Plains). The Oregon County Writer’s Group, to which I am the President is going to be selling books that are related to sustainable living. I will have my gardening book available, but I really want these two booklets done too. I know that there will definitely be a market for them.

Things I Didn’t Do This Year

One of the things that I was going to do these last couple months but haven’t is that I was going to get to know other writer’s better. I don’t see me doing this much this month, but perhaps later in the month I will actually be able to make this more of a priority. If I get Sailing Under the Black Flag and the two booklets done though, I’ll have freed up a lot of time. I can see where my biggest weaknesses are this year and that is in the aspect of social media and online book marketing. Fortunately, my writer’s group plans on focusing on that next year and that’s also my own personal focus for 2016.

 

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


bookshelf

What I do now determines what happens 90 days from now. This means that what I do now will show fruit at the beginning of March. Most businesses like mine are sitting back and enjoying the upcoming holiday. Any books that have been sold to retail outlets have already been sold. Any e-books that I sell during the next few weeks will be sold because of work that I have already done, much of it work that I did 90 days ago.
So what do I do now to prepare for the next 90 days? Getting out and trying to market books now is probably not the best use of time. As I said, stores and individuals are not buying books.

Closing Out This Year

Part of what I can do is work on doing what I can to wrap up this year’s work. I can work on catching up on financial reports so that I will be ready for the tax season. I can evaluate what I have done during the past year. I can determine what worked, what didn’t and what I can do differently during the next year. I can review my business plan and in the process further define who my target audience is, discover more about my peers in the business, I can evaluate early information that is coming out about how the industry did this past year.
In addition, I can look over the inventories and have a list of what I need to buy at the beginning of the year in regards to supplies I will need and books that I intend to sell.

Planning for Next Year

Part of getting ready for the next ninety days is developing goals for the next year.
Once I have gone as far as I possibly can in closing out this year, I can fill in more of what I intend to do during the next year. If I haven’t done it already, I should have develop a production schedule that tells what I will write during the next year. I will determine when I will finish first drafts, second drafts, get books to beta readers, and complete final edits.
I will also plan my marketing schedule for the upcoming year. I may or may not have details, but I can block out time when I should be doing certain things. Some of them will be based on what I did during the past year, some will be based on what I have learned from peer reviews and industry reports ,and still others will be based on ideas that I what to try that may be different from anything that anyone else is doing.
I need to determine a financial budget for the upcoming year based on income projections based on marketing strategies.
Finally, I will schedule quarterly reviews of all of the above to determine what I need to change or improve or tweak based on those reviews.
Once all of the basics in a scheduled format, I will divide the goals into quarterly goals with scheduled and dated deadlines and post them as a poster on the wall.

Determining More Detailed Goals for the First Quarter

Once the overall goals are determined for the year, it’s time to get more specific for the next three months (it’s a little more than 90 days but since it includes the next ninety days, bear with me. However, once I understand what I intend to accomplish during the next 90 days, I will be that much closer to success than I would have been had I not created this plan.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri.  As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

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