Announcing: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers Blog Hop

In July I told you about the launch of a new e-book called 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers. I appreciated the opportunity to not only have my article, “Fit Writing Into a Busy Schedule” included, but to also help put the book together and see it through to publication. On Friday evening, September 25, 2015, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship will be launching the paperback edition of the book. You can still join in the celebration by purchasing a ticket for the banquet (http://inscribe.org/product/fall-conference-banquet/). Better yet, come join us for the whole conference! (http://inscribe.org/events/fall-conference/) You can also purchase your own copy of the book in either e-book or paperback format at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1.

I love the variety this book contains:

-Written by 28 Canadian authors

-Poetry, articles, devotionals, and short stories

-7 themes: time with God, healthy living, time management, honing writing skills, crafting a masterpiece, submitting your work, and marketing

Here’s a sample poem for your enjoyment:

Why Do I Love Shakespeare?

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

By Alvin Ens

 

Why do I love Shakespeare?

Let me count the ways.

I love his characters

To the fidelity of kindred souls.

I love his vocabulary

To the deepest well of coining.

I love his humour

To the soul of comic relief.

I love his poetics

To the great expanse of the iambic.

I love his wisdom

To the heart of a philosopher’s wit.

I love his plots

To the height of the double cross.

I love him to the far reaches

Of heroes like Hamlet, Olivia, and Romeo,

To the villainies of Shylock, Cassius, and Lady Macbeth,

To the purities of Cordelia and Brutus,

To the entertainment of Falstaff and Sir Toby.

And if God choose, I shall but love him better

When I meet him after death.

You are invited to follow along as many of the contributing authors of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers  participate in a blog hop. I encourage you to click on the links below to see what each author shares. Comments would be appreciated, and if you like what you read remember to share the post on your favourite social media sites 🙂

Ruth L. Snyder  http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com   Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/  Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/ Friday, September 24th
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th

Update and future direction for ruthlsnyder.com

Tragedy and goalsIn January I shared my writing goals for 2015. I haven’t finished anything on that list! But I am still focusing on non-fiction, specifically the Author Social Media Mastery Series. After I finished Kindle in 30 with Kristen Eckstein, I decided to take the Author Audience Academy course with Shelley Hitz. I can’t say enough about this excellent course. The first month we focused on Publishing:

  • Week 1 – Strategy
  • Week 2 – Writing
  • Week 3 – Publishing
  • Week 4 – The Launch

I followed Shelley’s hints and helpful tips and my book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps, is now available on Kindle!

This month we are focusing on Platform:

  • Week 1 – The Foundation
  • Week 2 – Author Website
  • Week 3 – E-mail Marketing
  • Week 4 – Social Media Marketing

Month Three will focus on products to accelerate our business.

While I’ve been taking this course I’ve also been:

In my non-writing life:

  • Parenting our five children ages 7-17
  • Teaching four Music for Young Children classes (and substitute teaching four classes for two weeks)
  • Teaching private piano lessons to four students
  • Hosting a piano recital for all my music students
  • Playing piano for the Glendon Community Church
  • Helping select a digital piano for the church (This was FUN! I had the opportunity to play pianos most of the day, including a $200,000 Steinway and a $240,000 Bosendorfer – concert grand pianos. Of course those instruments were WAY out of our budget.)
  • Writing a grant application and doing other paperwork related to a playground project for the Glendon Playground and Park Society

Hmmm. No wonder I’ve been busy…and haven’t written too many blog posts for my own website!

As I’ve been working through the Author Audience Academy, I’ve been thinking about what I should be focusing on here on my website. What do I need to keep doing? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing?

That’s where you come in. I need some feedback from you, my readers. Which topics are you most interested in (Devotionals, Family life, Parenting, Writing, Twitter, Marketing, Publishing, Other)? How often would you like me to post? (I want to post consistently!) Any and all feedback is welcome! Please leave a comment below. Thanks 🙂


Social Media Blog Hop Week 3: Scheduling Posts

Social Media 300x300

The two ways I schedule posts to social media are with a WordPress plugin called Social Time Master (to share blog posts) and with Hootsuite (to share basically everything except personal blog posts). You’ll want to check out Hootsuite’s resource area to learn how to use it most effectively.

Scheduling posts is something I resisted for a long time. I don’t like to see my Facebook or Twitter feed full of repetitive messages and neither does anyone else. However, life is busy and scheduling posts does save time. So how do we take advantage of the time saving tools, but also keep our posts interesting and helpful?

Hootsuite Scheduling
Scheduling posts on Hootsuite

Here are some ideas I keep in mind when scheduling posts:

  1. The 80/20 Rule – We all know what it’s like to be around people who always talk about themselves … boring at best, annoying at worst. I use eighty percent of my posts to share helpful links (from others), quotes, retweet, and comment on other people’s posts. The other twenty percent of posts I use to share my own links, advertise my products, and share my work.
  2. Social Media is about building relationships, not making sales –  Social media should be about building relationships, about the other people we interact with, not about ourselves. When we build relationships, sales will follow because people will trust us.
  3. Repeating the same message over and over chases people away – How many of us enjoy being around a whiny child? Repeating the same message over and over is just as annoying – a great way to lose followers. It’s okay to share the same link repetitively, but the angle and information shared in the post should vary.
  4. Post when your audience is most likely to see the message – When we pay attention to our audience, we don’t waste time doing things that are ineffective. For general guidelines, check out the information shared by Social Media Today. One or two posts during high traffic times may be more effective than ten posts when our audience is offline or preoccupied. Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out when our personal audience is listening, but it will save time and effort in the long run.

I’m still working on my scheduling strategy. In my ideal world I would schedule posts once a week. In my real world my schedule is not predictable and I end up scheduling when I have something important to share.

Do you use an app or software to schedule posts? Share your strategy and tips with us!

Want to learn more about Twitter? My new book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps is available for pre-order on Amazon. (April 27th – Read a Story Day – is my official launch date.)

Beginnging Steps 1


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Social Media Blog Hop Week 2: Favourite Graphic Program/App

Social Media Blog Hop

No matter which social media platform you use, you need great graphics. Images draw more attention to your content and improve your chances of being seen and heard. Make sure when you use pictures, that you use royalty free images and are NOT infringing on copyright. There are sites which offer free graphics, but I prefer to either use my own pictures or pay a small fee to use pictures taken by others.

I recommend the following sources for graphics:

  • Dollarphotoclub.com (High resolution royalty free images AND vectors are available for $1.00 each and may be used for commercial purposes.)
  • Clickartonline.com (Clipart, photos, photo objects, fonts, sounds, web graphics, and animations are all available to use. The yearly fee is $39.99 for unlimited downloads and you are able to select the size of the image you want to download.)
  • Take your own pictures using your phone, iPad, or camera. (Take the time to edit your images and present the best visual appeal you can. You may want to use an online editor like PicMonkey)

Once you have a graphic to work with, you can add text and personality to them by using design apps or software.

Created on Canva
Created on Canva
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend:

Canva

(This program is available online at www.canva.com or as an app from iTunes. You can either sign up for a free account or sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account.)

Canva has predesigned “canvas” sizes for: Food & Drink Menu, Social Media, Presentation, Poster, Facebook Cover, Facebook Post, Instagram, Blog Graphic, A4 Document, Card, Email Header, Twitter Post, Invitation, Business Card, Album/Podcast Cover, Twitter Header, Pinterest, Real Estate Flyer, Google+ Cover, Kindle Cover, Photo Collage, Facebook Ad, and Facebook App. You are also able to select “Use custom dimensions” in the top right hand corner and create a canvas using either pixels or inches.

Canva provides many options for design with text in various fonts, background colours, layout options, and uploading your own pictures. Canva also provides access to 1,000,000 images, some of which are free, and others available for $1.00. Basically, if you can dream it, you can design it on Canva.

I like the many options Canva provides, but making an image can be time intensive. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the downloads (either png or pdf) are not as clear as I would like them to be. But for a free program, it’s a great tool.

Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay

WordSwag

Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app
Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app

As far as I know, WordSwag is only available as an app. (I use it on my iPad.) WordSwag is intuitive, easy to use and great when you want a quick blog graphic or want to share a quote on social media. It has several options available, including access to images on Pixabay (over 330,000 free photos, illustrations, and vector graphics in the public domain).

The graphics created on Wordswag are either rectangular or square. Wordswag is not very flexible, but still provides great graphics in very little time. (All of my graphics for this year’s blog hops were created on WordSwag.)

Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay

 

 

What is your favourite source for graphics to use on your social media sites? Enter a comment or link in to our blog hop below.

 

 

 

 

 


Feel free to share the blog hop button on your site. Here’s the code:

<a href=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/2015-social-media-blog-hop-week-1-favourite-social-media-site/#.VPcPGHZks1Y” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Social-Media-300×300-150×150.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

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2015 Writers’ Blog Hop Week 4 – Lifelong Learning

 

Today I’d like to share a couple of graphics programs that have made a huge difference for me.

WordSwag

Wordswag is a free app I downloaded onto my iPad. It’s very easy to use and is great if you want to create square graphics to use on your website or other social media. (All my blog hop graphics were made using Wordswag

Like:

  • Free app
  • Easy to use
  • Quick
  • Option to use your own photos or backgrounds included in the app
  • Includes free searchable pictures from Pixabay
  • Able to choose from many free font options; you can purchase other font options in the app
  • Built in share options to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Text, or E-mail.
  • Option to add a logo or watermark
  • Ability to use a graphic as a template

Don’t Like:

  • Not very flexible – can’t change the shape of the graphic (only options are rectangle or square) or select portions of font to change
  • Only available via iTunes

Canva

Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.” Canva is much more flexible than Wordswag, but it will take longer to get a graphic designed.

Like:

  • Available as an app from iTunes, or directly on the web at http://www.canva.com
  • Choose from presized canvases for social media, poster, presentation, Facebook cover, Facebook post, etc.
  • Make your own custom canvas size (in pixels, mm, or inches)
  • Free backgrounds, fonts, and layouts are available, as well as text holders, borders and other items
  • If you have your own picture, you can upload it to Canva and use it in your design
  • Other pictures, fonts, etc. are available at the cost of $1.00 each/design
  • Basically if you can imagine it, you can make it on Canva
  • When you’re done you can download the graphic as an image or as a PDF file
  • You can share the graphic right from Canva

Don’t Like:

  • It takes a lot of time to make a great design
  • Sometimes when you change something in your design, you can’t go back if you change your mind

What have you learned in the past year that has helped you in your writing?


 

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Although this is the last week of the general writers’ blog hop, there will still be a blog hop in two weeks:

Social Media Blog Hop
#1 Favourite Social Media Site – Tell us where (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) you spend most of your time/energy and why (Week of Mar 2)
#2 Graphics for social media – Share your favourite source/app (Week of Mar 16)
#3 Scheduling posts – How often? Do you use a program like Hootsuite? Other tips? (Week of Mar 30)
#4 Content of posts – What do you share? Where do you find content? Ratio of promotional/other? (Week of April 13)

Note: If you’re interested in participating in the social media blog hop and want an e-mail reminder, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.


2015 Writers’ Blog Hop Week 3 – My favourite character

Grade 7
Picture from Young Pilot September 1980

Thirty four years later I can still picture him: my grade 7 teacher, Mr. Arthur Freeman. (The picture above was taken while I sat in his classroom.) He taught junior high for decades at Prairie Bible Institute. When I met him, his silver-grey hair masked his quick whit, keen mind, and ready sense of humour. His piercing blue eyes often clouded with tears as he implored us to learn from his mistakes. He believed in discipline and structure, but the virtue of love pervaded everything he did.

He often told stories to break down walls and build relationship. Stories of his early years; stories of raising his family; stories of how he and his wife prayed, believing God would turn the hearts of rebellious sons; stories of students coming back years later to make things right. Along with lessons of history and grammar, we learned the lessons of life. Mr. Freeman not only challenged us to memorize 100 verses and recite them with no mistakes, but he also did it himself. While we were allowed to recite individually with him, he recited in front of the class, allowing us to correct him.

Mr. Freeman not only taught us; he mentored us. This mentorship did not end when we walked out the door of his classroom. For at least ten years afterward he was my teacher, I received a bookmark and personal note from him on my birthday. I’ve heard from others that he did the same thing for them, and am assuming he sent those birthday greetings to every student he had in his class. If you do the math, that action alone speaks volumes.

I’m grateful for the amazing legacy he left for those of us who had the privilege of learning with him.

Did you have a teacher or someone else who mentored you? I’d love to hear about that person.

 


2015 Writers' Blog Hop

 

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Writers’ Blog Hop – My Writing Goals for 2015

Writers Blog Hop

Welcome to my 2015 Writers’ Blog Hop! This week’s topic is writing goals for 2015

When I reviewed my writing goals from 2014, I noted that I had a few unfinished projects:

I thought these would top my goals for 2015. However, a week or so later, I joined the Kindle in 30 Challenge with Kristen Eckstein. One of our first assignments was a brain dump where I set the timer for 10 minutes and jotted down anything and everything I could write about. Next I put the topics together into groups (e.g. marketing, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads). I wasn’t overly impressed with what I had come up with, but I wasn’t able to continue the process until the next morning. When I woke up, I was amazed at what happened. By writing down all the topics, I had cleared my brain and made room for my creativity to kick into high gear. I realized I could create a series of non-fiction books combining several of my interests and passions.

31 Days LogoThis year, I will be focusing on writing, publishing, and marketing a series of books (31 Days of . . . ) on Kindle. Each book will cover a specific topic. My first book will be Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life. In these books I will combine devotional thoughts, Scripture verses, quotes, and photographs I’ve taken. With my Brain Dump topics (Praise, Encouragement, Thankfulness, Prayer, Joy, Love, Peace, Comfort, Healthy Eating, Family Fun, Leadership, Time Management, Parenting) I have enough titles to publish a book a month and still have some topics left over. We’ll see how far I get!

Once I get the books published on Kindle, I’ll see about getting paperbacks printed as well. I need to decide whether I’m going to publish these as individual books or in groups.

If I find myself with time left over (which looks highly doubtful at this point!) I may return to some of the projects I was going to work on in 2014.

What are your writing goals? Please share them in the comment section or join the blog hop and link in below. On your mark, get set, GO!

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Note: You’re welcome to put the Writer’s Blog Hop button on your website. The code is

<a href=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/writers-blog-hop-my-writing-goals-for-2015/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Writers-Blog-Hop-300×3001.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a> [inlinkz_linkup id=481901 mode=1]