Shadows and Sunshine cover

What does a wedding planner do?

Shadows and Sunshine cover

Last week my story, Shadows and Sunshine (Volume 6 of the San Francisco Wedding Planner series 1) launched. It is currently available for Kindle on and Later this month the whole series will be available as a single Kindle or paperback book.

Have you ever wondered what wedding planners actually do? Here’s an overview:

Initial Consultation

  • Discussion about what type of event the client wants (wedding only, rehearsal dinner and wedding, wedding and gift opening, etc.)
  • Clarification of expectations (Defining what the client is doing and what the wedding planner is expected to provide)
  • Presentation of available packages and pricing (e.g. Full Service Planning vs. Day of Coordination)
  • Walking client through signing the contract and paying a deposit

Full Service Planning

Before the wedding:

  • Set a budget for the wedding
  • Research and obtain venue(s)
  • Share information about current trends for weddings and events
  • Create and review photographer/videographer contract(s)
  • Create and review florist contract
  • Create and review catering contract
  • Review and select menu(s)
  • Prepare  and/or deliver wedding invitations
  • Give advice on attire, flowers, cake and other details
  • Design table, lighting, and other visual details
  • Coordinate vendor arrivals and deliveries
  • Prepare a detailed timeline of the wedding day for all those involved
  • Remind bride, groom, and other participants of obligations, appointments, etc.

On the wedding day:

  • Act as liaison between the bride and groom and everyone else involved
  • Distribute flowers
  • Make sure everyone is where they need to be at the right time
  • Arrange for efficient seating of guests
  • Deal with any emergencies which arise (including wedding crashers)
  • Ensure music is cued
  • Facilitate a smooth transition from the wedding venue to the reception venue
  • Oversee reception details
  • Ensure the bride and groom’s personal property is taken care of after the reception
  • Oversee the return of rentals and borrowed items
  • Arrange for wedding gifts to be delivered to the appropriate location
  • Ensure venues are left clean so that clients receive deposits back
  • Other details as required

Note: If a client chooses to hire a wedding planner only for wedding day coordination, your job will be to ensure the “before the wedding” details are in place and then provide the services listed under “on the wedding day.”

Interested in becoming a wedding planner?  Check out the following resources:

Wedding Planner’s Handbook: A step-by-step guide to becoming a wedding planner.

Certified Wedding Specialist Course

Certified Wedding Planner Course

Wedding and Event Planning

Note: This post was added to the StoryDam Blog Hop. If you’d like to participate, add your post using the link in the far right column.

5 Ways to Effectively Market your Book

Book Marketing Blog Hop

For the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about book marketing from many different authors. Dvorah Lansky put together The Book Marketing Challenge with a diverse cast of authors who took turns sharing marketing ideas which have worked for them. Some of the strategies I knew about, but having access to specific “how-to” posts was very helpful. My only regret is that I haven’t had time to try them all out. Here are five of my favorites:

  1. Host a blog hop – this is a great way to share information and increase your audience. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several blog hops over the past few months. If you want some tips, check out my previous posts on hosting a blog hop and creating a button for your blog hop. You can also use a blog hop to run contests or have people enter for a free copy of your book.
  2. Create something of value to give away – This sounds counterproductive; why would you spend time creating something of value and then just give it away? If you want people to BUY products from you, they need to trust that you have something that will be valuable to them. Most people are willing to give you their contact information (name and e-mail address) in exchange for something free. I’m currently in the process of updating my blog/website. When I launch my new site, I’m planning to give away Twitter Tips and Tricks for Writers as a way of building my contact list.
  3. Create graphics to share on social media sites – Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, you can find quotes or snippets to share. Go through your manuscript and highlight what you want to share. Then, create graphics using software like The Logo Creator or Logo Design Studio Pro. This can be as simple as using a plain background and placing the quote on it or pairing the quotes with pictures you’ve taken. Make sure you include the title of your book and the link to your website so that it’s easy for people to find more information. Once you have a graphic, you can share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  4. Interact with your audience on your Facebook Author Page – This is a strategy I’m just starting to experiment with. (You can connect with me at If you haven’t set up an author page yet, check out this tip page offered through the book marketing challenge. Facebook Pages give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience, “boost” posts you want more people to see, and receive stats that will help you determine how to use the page most effectively. If you want more information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing on Copyblogger.
  5. Use press releases – I’ve found this to be a very effective way of letting people in my local area know about my books. When my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, was released I put together a press release and sent it out to four local papers. Three of the four responded. One paper printed an interview, another paper printed the information in the press release almost word for word, and the third paper highlighted the release of my book. For more ideas, check out Connie Dunn’s post on Marketing Your Book with Press Releases and 4 Tips for Creating the Essential Press Release by Sandra Beckwith.

What have you found effective in marketing your books? Please share 🙂

7 Keys to Hosting a Successful Twitter Chat

#ReaderWriterChat on Twitter Mondays from 12-1:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time

Twitter chats are online, public conversations that take place on Twitter at designated times around a unique hashtag like #ReaderWriterChat. The #ReaderWriterChat will be starting, Monday, April 7th and taking place every Monday at 12 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Twitter chats are a great way to learn, engage with your followers, grow your community, and network.

How do you host a successful Twitter Chat?

1. Choose a unique hashtag. There are many Twitter chats already taking place. You can check out Twitter Chats for Writers, 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers or any other topic you’re interested in. If you want to host a new chat, use the search function on Twitter to make sure there are no other chats using the hashtag you are thinking of using.

2. Invite people to participate. The whole idea of a Twitter chat is to have many people participating in the conversation. Make sure you let people know about the event by posting the hashtag, day and time of the chat on the social media sites you’re on, especially Twitter. Creating a graphic like the one at the top of this post may help people pay more attention to your invitation.

3. Use TweetChat to host your chat. (You can also use it to listen in to any chat you want.) All you have to do is go to the TweetChat site, choose the hashtag you want to follow, and press “Go”. TweetChat will filter out all the other tweets and allow you to monitor the specific chat you’re hosting. While you’re using TweetChat, each tweet you add will automatically have your chat hashtag added and the page will update periodically unless you manually pause it.

4. Sign in to the twitter chat at least 15 minutes before the start time. This gives you time to work through any technical difficulties you may encounter and enables you to start the chat on time.

5. Ask questions focused on the needs of your audience. Besides having a general topic, each week’s chat usually has a specific focus. Your questions should engage your community and get them sharing information and responding to each other. Figure out how often you’re going to post questions (e.g. every 5 minutes) and then make sure you have enough questions to take you through at least 50 minutes of the chat. You’ll probably fill some time at the beginning with introductions and end the chat by providing information about the specific focus of the next chat.

6. Favorite tweets during the chat. After you post a question, look for answers that are interesting and engaging. Go ahead and respond to them or retweet them, but make sure you also favorite the ones you want to capture. That way you can easily search, capture, and share them on your blog or another platform later. Then after the chat is over, use a platform like Storify to pull the tweets into a transcript you can share. There is a WordPress plugin for Storify that allows you to embed it into a blog post.

7. Use Hashtracking, which allows you to determine the effectiveness of your chat hashtag. Hashtracking allows you to track the reach, how many impressions were made, the number of people contributing, the number of tweets, and other hashtags that were used during your chat. You can use this information when you plan your next Twitter chat, making better use of what was effective and changing what didn’t work.

I hope you’ll join us for the #ReaderWriterChat on Mondays. If you have other tips for making a chat effective, or questions you’d like me to pose during the chats, let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a Twitter manual for writers. If you’d like to know when it’s available for purchase, please fill out the contact form below.

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My Current Works in Progress

Blog Hop for Writers

This is the sixth and final week in the blog hop I’m hosting for writers. Our topic this week is current work(s) in progress. If you’d like to share your current WIP with us, write a post and then come back and link in by clicking on the graphic above. If you’re a reader, click on the graphic and check out what authors are working on. We hope you’ll follow our blogs so that when our books are published, you’ll be among the first to know 🙂

My last post was about the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series I’m working on along with five other authors. You can find more information here: San Francisco Wedding Planner.

In this blog hop, I’ve written about Anna, (Olga’s mother) one of my favorite characters from Olga’s Discovery, which is a full-length historical fiction novel I’m in the middle of writing.  Here’s the synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old Olga Tymchuk, a newly graduated teacher, eagerly anticipates marrying her fiancee, Viktor, in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Glendale, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

Olga is enjoying a challenging first year of teaching when Viktor is injured in a chemical accident. He seems to be recovering well, but then Olga receives a telegram that will change her life forever. Olga is drawn into a search for the truth, which forces her to deal with uncooperative hospital officials, death threats, and a sudden disappearance.

I’m also putting together a Twitter manual for writers. There are many different ways to share information now and I’m researching several options to share this information and make it practical.

Cover for Cecile's Christmas MiracleMy other project will be a fiction series about Cecile and Colin, characters from my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle. Cecile has decided spending Christmas in the desert doesn’t have to be depressing and Colin is on his way to join Cecile. However, they haven’t seen each other for over a year. Will the attraction between them endure? There is also the threat of the clinic being closed, and the village being resettled. What part should expatriates play in solving political issues?

If you have questions about any of my works in progress, please ask me in the comments below. Thanks 🙂

Advice to Beginning Writers

NOTE: This is week 4 of our Writers’ Blog Hop. The theme this week is advice I’d give to a newbie writer. Click on the link below to check out what other writers have to say about the topic.

Button for blog hopDear Beginning Writer,

It wasn’t too long ago that I stood in your shoes. Although I’ve been an avid reader who enjoyed writing for most of my life, I never considered myself a writer until after I attended my first writers’ conference. The best way for me to share advice with you is to tell you a bit about my personal journey as a writer.

I entered The Word Guild’s God Uses Ink contest (Now called Fresh Ink Novice Writing Contest) in 2009 and won first prize in my age category. The prize was free registration for the Write!Canada Conference. I stepped out in faith, booked my flight and attended a conference where I knew no one.

At the conference I learned many things:

  • Writing your book is the “easy” part
  • There are several avenues to having your work published
  • It’s important to start building a platform before you publish anything
  • It’s helpful to belong to organizations where you can interact with other writers and learn from their mistakes
  • If God has called you to write, be obedient and walk through the doors He opens for you

I still remember feeling like I was walking in a fog on a dark night. I knew I was supposed to be at the conference, but I had no clue what to do next. People at the conference were friendly enough, but most of them were from Ontario. I wondered what I would do for support after the conference.

After I arrived back home I decided to do what I could. I sought out support from groups I could access online. The groups I linked up with are:

I didn’t think I had time for a blog, so I joined Twitter and began using it as a mini-blog. I also started a personal Facebook account and enjoyed the opportunities to interact with my friends and family. A few months later, I decided to start a blog as a way to share information from my work as a school board trustee with Northern Lights School Division No. 69.

Testimony January 2010One of the most helpful books I read was Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz. One piece of advice she gives is to research markets, write, submit, and start over. In other words, you don’t sit around waiting to see if one piece is accepted before you start on another piece. And if your piece is rejected by one market, you do some more research and send it out again. I started my journey to publication with the winning entry I wrote for the Word Guild contest. It took several months (and many rejections), but my memoir piece entitled Gifts from a Loving God was accepted by Testimony magazine in November 2009 and published in January 2010. It was subsequently reprinted by two Sunday School papers.

Something else I found helpful was Brian Henry’s Canadian Writer’s Contest Calendar. I purchased my first copy in 2010 and began entering contests as a way to learn how to follow writing guidelines and also to receive honest feedback on my writing. The contest I enjoyed the most was Fiction in Five, where I won several prizes and had a few of my short stories published. One of those short stories became the basis for my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miraclewhich was just published in December 2013.

Cecile's Christmas Miracle Book Cover Although I live in a fairly remote rural area, I’ve been able to take advantage of several writing courses which have helped me hone my skills. The Christian PEN offers courses throughout each year, where lessons are sent by e-mail. Class members are added to a Yahoo listserv and able to send in homework assignments, ask questions, and interact with each other. Long Ridge Writers’ Group and the Institute of Children’s Literature offer writing courses where you receive materials in the mail and may either submit by mail or e-mail. In these courses you are matched with a published author who acts as your instructor and gives you detailed feedback and suggestions.

My writing journey continues with many ups and downs. My prayer is that I’ll be faithful to God’s calling on my life. The rest is up to Him.

If you have questions or suggestions you’ve found helpful, please leave me a comment. Thanks 🙂

5 Steps to Creating a Button for your Blog Hop

Two weeks ago I posted 10 Steps to Successfully Hosting a Blog Hop. In that post I said I would share how you can create a button for your blog hop.

  1. Create a graphic: I used The Logo Creator software to create mine, but you can use any software which allows you to specify the size of your graphic using pixels. After experimenting a bit, I figured out 150 x 125 pixels is a good size for most sidebars. Remember that your button is going to be fairly small in the scheme of the whole website layout, so you need to keep text to a minimum. Here’s what my graphic looks like: Button for blog hopNOTE: I also created a larger version of the same graphic (500 x 250 pixels) to use as a picture in my blog posts.
  2. Upload your graphic: In order for others to use your button, you’ll need to upload your graphic to a location where it’s accessible. I uploaded mine into my media file on my website.
  3. Create your button code: I figured the code out by reverse engineering (looking at the code for other buttons I posted on my blog). Here’s the code for my button: <a href=”″ target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ /></a>. In order to create your code, you will need the link to the blog hop (or whatever else you are wanting people to go to) and the location of your graphic. (I discussed using InLinkz on my previous post.) Here’s the code for a different button: <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ alt=”P31 OBS Blog Hop” /></a> You will note the link comes first, included in quotation marks; in the middle there’s a command to create a blank space to insert the graphic; and then the image location is also included inside quotation marks.
  4. Add your button to your sidebar. The way you do this may differ, depending on which software you’re using for your blog or website. Here are the steps I follow on WordPress: A. Copy the code so you can paste it. B. Open the dashboard. C. Click on “Appearance”. D. Selected “Widgets” E. Find the “Text” widget and drag it up to the right side where your other widgets are located. F. Click in the “title” box and add a title for your widget. (I called mine Writers’ Blog Hop). G. Click in the next box down and paste your button code. H. Click “Save” I. Go to your site and make sure the button is visible, and also placed where you want it. (You can change the order of the widgets by clicking on a box and dragging it to where you want it back in your appearance menu.) J. Once your button is where you want it, go to your site and make sure it takes you where you want to go when you click on it.
  5. Share your button with participants. Once you’re sure your button is working properly, share it with people who are participating in your blog hop. You can do this via e-mail, Facebook, or any other way you’ve set up to communicate with your participants.

There you have it. Happy button creating 🙂

10 Writing Tools I Use

NOTE: This is the second topic in a blog hop I’m hosting for writers. To check out what other writers have to say on this topic, click on the button below:

Blog Hop for Writers sm

Although there are many writers who insist that writing longhand helps them with the creative process, I’m not one of them. I prefer to “write” at a keyboard. Here are some of the tools I use in my writing:

1. My iPad – My iMac has too many bells and whistles that distract me while I write. Lately, I’ve enjoyed using the Pages app on my iPad. The only downfall I’ve found is that the document doesn’t always look the same when I share it as a Word document.

2. – When I need to check the meaning of a word, look for a more interesting word to use, or find a synonym or antonym, I use If I’m interested in a detailed etymology of a word, I’ll use my husband’s Complete Oxford English Dictionary instead.

3. – This is a wonderful resource I stumbled upon about a year ago. This site allows you to search for any Scripture reference or phrase you want in 39 different English translations. It also features translations in over 50 other languages including Greek and Hebrew.

4. – This site has quotes listed alphabetically by the last name of authors as well as by topic.

5. – If I don’t have an image or photograph for the project I’m working on, probably will. Although there is a charge to use most of the images on this site, I’m happy to pay, knowing that I won’t be breaking any copyright rules.

6. – This is a handy site to find videos on about any topic you can imagine. I find it especially useful when I want to know how to do something or see how other people explain things.

7. – I’ve found Twitter a handy resource for following trends, gathering people’s opinions, and finding information. Although I don’t use it as often as some of the other tools, I appreciate having access to it when I need it. Twitter is also a wonderful way to meet people from all over the world who have similar interests.

8. My writing notebook – In case you’re wondering, not all my tools are online. I keep a notebook with me almost all the time and I jot down interesting things I see or hear, composites of people I meet, quotes that catch my attention, etc. When I write, I often pull out my notebook and dig for some new treasures to add to my writing.

9. Strong’s Concordance – Although this is similar to the resources available on, Strong’s also gives the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic root of the English word used in the King James Version of the Bible. Often the same English word is used for many different words with varying meanings. I find this especially helpful when I’m digging for the meaning of verses.

10. Style Manuals – I have different style manuals I use depending on what I’m writing. Those I currently have in my library include:

  • The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn
  • Editing Canadian English
  • Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage by Margery Fee & Janice McAlpine

What tools do you find useful in your writing?

10 Steps to successfully hosting a blog hop

If you’ve thought about hosting a blog hop, but don’t know how, this post is for you. Blog hops are a great way to network and increase the traffic to your blog.

1. Pick your audience – Think about the audience you want to invite to your own blog. What do you write about? Who do you want to reach? What type of content would they be interested in? I’ve participated in blog hops for stay-at-home moms, Bible study participants, and writers. Although there is some overlap, each of the audiences has different goals and interests.

2. Draft some topics – After you’ve selected your audience, think again about the type of content they would be interested in and brainstorm some topics. The topic could be very general – anything to do with raising children; or it could be specific – discipline techniques that work with preschoolers.

3. Pick dates for the blog hop – You could set your blog hop to happen every Wednesday for a month, or every other Monday for twelve weeks, or every Sunday indefinitely.

4. Set up the blog hop “infrastructure” – I’m using InLinkz for my blog hops. It’s easy to set up an account, and you can create as many link-ins as you want for less than $2/month.

Setting up a blog hop on InlinkzTo set up your blog hop, you’ll need to enter a name for your blog hop, a description (so people know what it’s about and how to participate), the dates, and how the links will be displayed (usually with thumbnails). There are many other options you can select, such as receiving an e-mail every time someone links in so that you can make sure the links are working.

5. Invite people to participate – I send invitations through Facebook, Twitter, and organizations of which I’m a member. Think about where your target audience hangs out and place your invitation there. I found it helpful to keep a list of participants so that I could follow up with them if there were issues.

6. Send detailed instructions to participants – Here’s a sample:

Thanks for indicating you’re interested in participating in (Name of blog hop). The blog hop will start on (Date), but I would encourage you to write your post ahead of time and schedule it to post then. In your post, please mention you are part of the blog hop and include a link back to my blog (include link), so that others who are interested may also participate. This also encourages your readers to check out other posts on the blog hop.

I have developed a blog hop button for you to share on your site. Here is the code: (provide code; here is the code for my Writers’ Blog Hop button <a href=”″ target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ /></a>) NOTE: I will post on Monday, February 3rd about the process I followed to create my own button.

On (start date), make sure your post is live and then copy the link. Go to (provide link for blog hop e.g. and enter your name, e-mail address, and link to the post. You will also be able to pick a thumbnail which will appear on the blog hop site.

If you have any issues, feel free to contact me at: (provide e-mail address).

7. Write and schedule your own post – In order for others to participate, you have to have your own post up. Make sure you include the button on your own site and give clear instruction on how both bloggers and readers can participate.

Blog Hop PostInlinkz allows you to add your post before the link goes live. That way participants won’t be waiting impatiently for you on the day the blog hop launches.

8. Check links as they are added – As I mentioned, Inlinkz will send you an e-mail notification every time someone adds a link (as long as this option is selected when you create the link). Set aside time to check out each link. Sometimes people will insert a link to their website or blog in general rather than a specific link to the post for the blog hop. Inlinkz allows you to change the link so that readers will not be frustrated by having to search for the post they’re interested in reading.

9. Advertize the blog hop – Inlinkz gives you a built-in Twitter option which will post a tweet with the click of a button. You can copy and paste to share the link on all your other social media sites. If you want, you could also send e-mail invitations which include the link. The more you and your participants advertize, the more likely it is that you will all get increased traffic on your site.

10. Follow up with participants – During the blog hop, leave encouraging comments on participants’ blogs and share their links on your social media sites. Encourage them to do the same. After the blog hop concludes, follow up with the participants and find out what they liked and whether they have suggestions for improvement.

I’m currently hosting a blog hop for writers. If you’d like to participate, check it out at

Have you participated in a blog hop? What did you enjoy about it? If you’re hosting a blog hop, feel free to share the link in the comments below.