Friday, September 27, 2013

Facebook Tips for Authors by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#Facebook #SocialMedia

Social Media is like writing. You have to work at it through trial and error before you figure out your voice and discover what works best for you, your personality, your goals, and connections. Plus, keep in mind that goals change, so your social media will go through stages, just like your writing.

Here are some perceptions that we are going to have to accept and figure out how to work around:

1) People prefer to friend personal profiles over liking fan pages. The word "friend" sounds better than "fan" or "follow". I think this is why Facebook changed "fans" to "likes".
2) We can ask FB friends to like our author page, but we can't force them as you have probably discovered.
3) People can "unlike" a page just as fast as they can "like" it.
4) Readers do want a glimpse into our personal lives. They like praying for us, connecting with us, and knowing all the news. I consider them my online church family, but I don't share everything. 

I started out trying to keep my personal profile separate and luring everyone to my author page, but I gave up. I couldn't change other people's perception, so I had to change mine--the way I think about FB and my place/role there. I'm on FB to network and make connections to people. Being able to see and communicate with my family are an extra bonus. FB isn't private. They own every piece of content and photo we upload onto their site, regardless if it is on a profile page or a public page. If a hacker wants my info, he/she can get it. If we are careful and don't upload anything we wouldn't want people to see or know on our personal profile or author page, then it doesn't matter.

Here are some suggestions that have worked for me. These suggestions will not work for everyone, so please keep that in mind.

1) I recommend my author page to every person who friends me. Over half of them have not liked my page. I don't know why, but I do know that I don't want to lose my connection to them, so I've made the decision to sacrifice my profile page to accept others. Some people who have NOT liked my author page did buy my books. I don't understand it, but I stopped trying to analyze it a long time ago.

2) For those who have both friended me and liked my page, I make sure I post different things on each so it doesn't feel repetitive to them. I'm so used to it by now so it doesn't seem like extra work. It's merely part of my job.

3) The social culture of FB and Twitter are so different, that I don't link them. I tried this, and I started losing likes because FB people don't like as many posts as Twitter people. Therefore, I use Twitterfeed and I've set certain blog posts to go to FB and others to Twitter. That way some of it is automated and does free up time for me to post things I want to generate discussions on and to do other things.

4) If you want to generate discussions, ask a question. People love giving opinions and sharing ideas. Be careful not to get too political or controversial.  

5) I give a glimpse of my personal life, but I don't share anything I wouldn't want anyone on the Web to see or know. I post fewer family photos on my author page, but I do post some. I post more on my personal profile. I'm careful not to post images of my teenage daughter in her swimsuit or talk about vacation until we are back home. I monitor her FB page and I don't allow her to accept people she doesn't know. Other authors have sent her friend requests, but I don't let her accept them unless there is real viable connection. For instance, some of my author friends she has met, others had something in common with her, and I personally know them and trust them after having met them several years at writing conferences.

6) I screen each friend request and the profile of anyone I send a request to. If someone doesn't have anything about themselves on their About section, then they aren't being transparent enough for me to accept their friend request. I realize that some people are private, but FB is a "social" network, and if I don't know you, I need to know why I would want to know you. What do we have in common? If their timeline is available, I check to see what kind of posts they have. If it is nothing but games, I don't accept. If a man sends me a friend request and everyone of his friends are female, something is wrong and I don't accept. If someone sends me a friend request and their entire page is in a language I don't understand, I don't accept. I won't be able to communicate with them and I am not interested in having to click on translation options. 

7) When I reach my 5,000 friend limit, I'll have the perfect excuse to send people to my author page, and they will know it isn't because they didn't pass muster to be my friend. It puts the blame on FB's rules, not me. Plus, I won't have to screen people anymore.

8) I don't worry about keeping up with 3,800 friends. I create my friend lists and use them as needed and I don't worry about it. I have enough pressure. I don't need to add more to myself. If I happen to see a post on my newsfeed and I want to comment, I do it and I forget about it. I don’t worry about trying to comment on everyone’s post. Based on some of the comments I've seen from others, I'm concerned that many are putting too much pressure on themselves to try and keep up with everyone. Don't do that. Just relax and let go.

9) I've set all my social media on an email address that is NOT my main email and I've turned off notifications that I don't want. That way, I'm not annoyed by tons of alerts. I don't need to know that 20 people commented on a post after me. Also, if one of my social media accounts is compromised, they don’t have access to my main email. This has happened to me before and I had to start all over creating a whole new FB account, so I know what it's like to build it up from scratch, TWICE!

10) Be strategic about placing ads on Facebook. I place ads on FB every so often and they have worked--ok, but I did not get tons of new likes, but I did gain a few. I think FB ads works better than individual post promotions. You can set a daily cap and target people who are not already a friend or fan. What is your goal? Is it to sell books? Is it to build up "likes" on your author page? Knowing this goal will determine where you send people when they click on your ad. Also, I recommend setting up a separate credit card just for online purchases so that it isn't linked to anything if it were to be compromised or stolen.

I hope these Facebook Tips are helpful to you! What other tips do you have?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A nice regional conference by Terry Burns

If you live in the Oklahoma area a writing short course is being offered at Rose State College which is located in Midwest City (on the East side of Oklahoma City) this coming weekend. That would be September 27-29th.

Details on the conference and registration information is located at and it is not too late to get in on this as they are still encouraging late registrations. The theme of the conference is "Finding your voice in the changing world of words."

I'm going to be there taking pitches from authors and doing a program on "Surviving your way to publication" and one on "Sure ways to turn off an editor or agent." The guest of honor will be bestselling author David Morrell, author of "First Blood" and creator of "Rambo."

They have a great faculty lined up including authors who will be sharing writing secrets and techniques, agents talking about the business side of writing and having one on one appointments with attendees, and editors there to talk with attendees interested in writing for their publications.

Regional conferences are a great way to stretch those career growth dollars and are a great investment. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Realistic Expectations from a Small Publisher by Diana Flegal

As the publishing model has changed, in large part to eBook sales and digital publishing, many of the larger houses have scrambled to learn a new way of doing business. Debut authors have found it harder to break into print. A plethora of small presses have popped up and authors often request their agents to try them when the larger houses have responded with a rejection.

Some of these forays have been successful, with debut authors getting their books into print that otherwise would have sat in a desk drawer and the author giving up on their writing dreams. Other times, sales have been dismal despite hard work by the author and the efforts of a multitasking publisher attempting to do it all.

But we have all learned along the way. 

What exactly are realistic expectations when working with a start-up small press?

  • Your print books will more than likely never see the inside of a bookstore. Bookstores require a deep discount and an unrealistic return policy small presses cannot afford.But some authors have been successful in getting their local bookstores to order their books, highlighting them in the 'local author' spot.
  • Your book cover might not be of the highest quality. Especially if the company is a start-up. Some authors choose to design their own covers.The small presses I work with have vastly improved their covers since the time they started.
  • The editing of your book might be nothing more than a run through spell check. I suggest my clients pay an editor to edit their book before the submission of their manuscript. Even larger houses are requiring this. Most publishers want 'camera ready' material only. 
  • Some small presses are eBook only. Print copies most often are POD (print on demand) and cost a higher price to produce, resulting in "pricing themselves out of the market". Some small presses require a certain number of eBook sales before they will offer the book in print.
  • Not all small presses will offer "free eBook sales". Many traditional houses will not either. They feel that book sales  have dropped because readers wait until the book is FREE. In publishing- there are often opposing opinions.
  • Small presses often can not afford to provide print copies for Beta Readers. But most will provide you a limited number of PDF final copies for promotional purposes and garnering of Amazon Reviews. Amazon reviews are Gold for an author. If you have read and enjoyed a book, please take a moment and write a positive review of it.
  • The marketing budget of small presses is very small. Your book's sales will largely be dependent on you, the author. This is the same with traditional larger publishers as well. The small presses we work with are go getters in the social media world and think ahead. But there are attempts and failures. Social media is a constantly shifting game. What I recommended my authors do six months ago might not be what I need them to do today. SEO (search engine optimization) is now being spoken of as old and out of date. Facebook hides our posts and plays with our averages and all we can do is keep at it, keep reading everything we can and be willing to try something new.
Small presses can be a very nice option for many authors. It is good though to have a realistic expectation of what they can and cannot do for you. As with all publishing houses, one press can have a strength another does not have and vice versa.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get to the Point by Andy Scheer

I've all but given up on one Christian writing blog.

Week after week, post after post, the feature article typically takes paragraphs before it begins to approach any promised point of reader application.

Instead of getting to the point, its articles commit a felony that back in my magazine editing days we called “backing into the story.”

That's a far cry from constructing an inverted pyramid and giving the core of the who, what, where, when, why, and how in the first paragraph. Or from the feature approach of beginning with some hook like a dramatic quote, telling statistic, probing question, or shocking statement.

Perhaps somewhere there's a school of “cozy blogging” that advocates making the reader feel at home by first describing the grounds of the manor house, its multiple rooms, and all the guests invited for the gala weekend.

Unless I'm dedicated to a blog, I'll give the headline a glance to see if it's worth investigating. Then perhaps a scan of the opening paragraph to confirm my impression.

Multiple other blogs and emails are begging for my attention before I plunge into my morning's work. Unless I'm deep into procrastination mode, the lead needs to hook me, and the material that follows needs to keep me hooked.

So why begin a posting with an author bio, followed by a rambling anecdote designed to set up an analogy? Such throat-clearing might be necessary in a first draft. But never in a piece that aims to attract and keep readers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

She Asked for My Proposal! By Linda S. Glaz

Now what?

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

They want to see my proposal. No sense wasting time. Time to crank it out, get it to her, and wait for the contract…right?

Now is not the time to scrimp. Not the time to hurry. Now is the time to make it publish perfect. If you wowed an editor or agent at conference, then you certainly want to make them happy that he or she requested a look at your work. Convince the individual that he made the right decision.

First things first.

If she didn’t give you what she wanted to see, go to their site, study their process until you know exactly what you are to send.

Now you begin. Your query letter should include a reminder that the two of you spoke at conference. If you had a fun moment, or something that was particularly memorable: you spilled coffee over all of her personal papers. Well, you might not want to bring that one to mind. However, if another memorable moment occurred, then bring it to mind in the letter. Help him to remember who you are, why he wanted to see your work, and take a moment to sell yourself. Don’t assume the invitation meant you sold the project.

Send precisely what they want.

Be sure and thank the individual for taking time out of her schedule, following a conference, the folks are pretty inundated with queries. You want to be the one who stands out amongst the crowd.

This is no time to rush the work. Allow a trusted friend, perhaps a crit partner, to look over your proposal. Listen to criticism, and do it again, if necessary. Just get it right. Take your time to make it perfect.

Following these suggestions might get you nothing but a rejection, but you should always give it your best.

And BTW…best wishes for much success!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Realistic content by Terry Burns

I just read an article about a bunch of PETA activists who showed up at a motorcycle event throwing water balloons filled with red water to protest them wearing leather. Bikers are sensitive people and protective of their leather which they consider the only attire that can truly handle the wind and cold when riding. The title of the article was "When you mess with the bull - you get the horns." I don't know what they expected to happen but police found them wrapped in duct tape and thrown in dumpsters, and one hapless soul was duct taped to a tree and used for a urinal. I'm thinking that they just did not think this through before protesting this group and should have stuck to little old ladies wearing animal fur.

Why am I talking about this? Because it reminded me how often I see things in real life that simply would not be believable if written into a book. It happens all the time.

Getting the realism right without becoming unbelievable to readers can be a problem. Back in my early writing days I had a New York editor reject me because the western-themed book I was pitching that had some rodeo scenes in it was "just not how cowboys would talk in a rodeo." When I asked if she had ever been to a rodeo she said no. I've ridden in them, and even put one on for five years as the event manager. Which one of us would you guess would know more about appropriate dialogue?

I was, of course, but actually she was right. As I learned more about the craft I learned that we should never try to 'reproduce' dialogue but should hint at it. Large stretches of dialogue in a heavy brogue gets very tiresome to read very quickly. I would have gotten that explanation, but telling me I didn't know how they talk was not the right way to put it. But again, too much realism can put editors off and cause a project to be rejected.

I would love to see some feedback on this. What have you seen in real life that people simply would not believe if we made it up and wrote it into our books?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

(Drum Roll) The Envelope Please by Diana Flegal

In the world of Christian publishing there are several awards given out for excellence at various stages in the writing process for both fiction and nonfiction work.

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) offers two awards to the writers of Christian Fiction.

The Christy Awards are awarded each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview. Awards are given in several genres, including contemporary (stand-alone novels and series), historical, romance (contemporary and historical), suspense, and visionary. In addition, an award is given for first novel and young adult. (wiki dictionary)

The Christy Awards are named in honor of Catherine Marshall and her novel Christy. They were designed to nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview and bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available. (wiki dictionary)

Every year publishers are invited to submit novels in one of several genre categories and/or the first novel category. Each category of novels is then read and evaluated against a ten-point criteria by a panel of seven judges composed of librarians, reviewers, academicians, literary critics, and other qualified readers, none of whom have a direct affiliation with a publishing company.

The Carol Awards are ACFW's recognition for the best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.

ELIGIBILITY: Entry must be a work of original fictional narrative prose that is offered for sale to the general public through print or digital media. The author must not participate financially in the production or distribution of the work. The book must be written from a Christian worldview in any Christian fiction genre through a publisher on ACFW's Recognized Publishers list* and for which the author did not participate financially in the production or distribution (did not enter into a subsidy contract of any kind) and was/is paid royalties.

Since 1978 the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has recognized quality and encouraged excellence by presenting the ECPA Christian Book Award® program (formerly known as Gold Medallion) each year.  After a rigorous judging process, a minimum of five finalists are selected in each of seven categories: Bibles, Fiction, Children, Inspiration, Bible Reference, Non-Fiction and New Author

The ECPA Gold | Platinum | Diamond Sales Awards recognize outstanding sales achievement in the publication of quality Christian literature.

NEW: ECPA debuted the Top Shelf Book Cover Awards to celebrate the year's best book designs in Christian publishing.  (entries closed August 2013) Covers are judged by top designers in the industry for their merits in appropriateness for the market, level of conceptual thinking, and quality of execution. Judges will choose approximately 10 winners -- but will not be bound by 10 -- as they will have the freedom to truly choose the BEST designs of the year.

Hartline congratulates Jane Kirkpatrick who was awarded the Carol Award for her title, Where Lilacs Still Bloom published by WaterBrook Press. Jane is a multi-award winning author of 17 titles in both fiction and nonfiction and is the client of Joyce Hart.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nitty Gritty Details by Andy Scheer

My Saturday car shopping trip alerted me to a detail I'd forgotten in my novel.

My story won't include car-shopping -- at least not for anything like a 2004 Jetta wagon. But when my son-in-law inspected the spare tire compartment, I remembered a telling, tiny detail.

The Jetta's previous owner lived where all the roads aren't paved. While the detailers had cleaned and polished the rest, they'd neglected the spare tire bay. All around the tire, and inside some hidden storage compartments, we found a layer of fine, tan dust.

Suddenly I remembered my years of driving unpaved roads to work – the billowing clouds that followed me and the fine layers of silt that worked its way into every crevice.

It's something my protagonist, a jazz musician in 1925 Indiana, would regularly experience. That's where things get tricky. To my character, it's a normal detail of life. But it's also a subtle way to give readers a sense of that era.

Likewise the smell of coal smoke, the hiss of steam, and the fine black grit that blows into the open windows of coaches behind a locomotive. Start the trip with a white shirt and by the end of the day it's gray, with darker deposits around the cuffs and collar. Good thing those celluloid Arrow collars detach.

At my upcoming visits to antique car museums, I plan to pay special attention and take lots of photos of pre-1925 models. I know only a few of those details will make their way into the story. But at this point, I can't know which.

I want to include enough grit for my story to ring true.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'll meet you in Albuquerque by Terry Burns

I'll miss being at the ACFW Conference but I have a conflict, and the agency will be well represented with Joyce, Jim and Linda.

But it is less than a month until I am on the road again headed to the 2013 Class Christian Writing Conference in Albuquerque NM. This is the conference that I have attended the longest, starting as a fledging writer nearly 20 years ago when it was in Glorieta. When it moved to The Ghost Ranch in Abique NM I moved with it and Saundra and Mom started going with me.

It was at this conference that I actually came to terms with how I would use my faith in my writing ( detailed in my writing testimony at ). Mom has passed on, but Saundra will be with me as the conference undergoes another change and will be held at The First Baptist Church in Albuquerque October 17-19th. Linda Gilden and Gerry Wakefield do a terrific job with it and I always enjoy working with it very much.

A unique feature of this conference is the fact that they produce an anthology with the participants each year so if you are a beginning writer looking for an early publishing credit you can leave the conference not only having had a great educational and training experience, but with a publishing credit in hand.

You can find more information and a registration form at where you will also find the faculty, the schedule, and all of the information you need about the conference. They have a special deal going right now, and if you are registered for the conference and want to refer a friend as well, you can earn a $50 Amazon Gift card in the process.

It's a great conference, and I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Back Up Plan by Diana Flegal

As we commemorate the 9-11 terror attack 12 years ago, the thoughts and prayers of Hartline's agents and authors are with those that lost so much that horrific day. We lift up those in authority that are burdened with the responsibility of keeping us safe. Father, we ask that you would provide them with the wisdom they need to guard us. Fill our hearts with love toward all, help us to not foster hatred toward anyone and be peacemakers. Amen.   

I had an external hard drive once, but then my son confiscated it and poof, no more. I was backing up my files with a flash drive, but have been wanting to secure my files a better way. Dropbox was recommended to me.

Yesterday I posted on FB that I was reading up on Dropbox and a gazillion comments entered my comment box. Well okay- 60 plus comments came in. Hartline agent Terry Burns remarked: Dropbox allows me to use my files on my home or travel computer - it keeps them synchronized. A lot of comments mentioned loving the syncing option. It automatically syncs all files to all of your computers and even your smart phone.

All but three of the comments were positive re Dropbox. Enough to show me that many of you are doing what I am doing. Securing our files.

Dropbox protects your work, and lets your team get to their files from any computer, phone, or tablet. Forget email attachments, servers, and FTP — sharing the right files with the right people is fast and simple with Dropbox. Dropbox for Business includes unlimited version history, so you can track changes and recover your work. (Although one commenter said his files were not recovered by Dropbox). Several churches mentioned using it and sharing files easily.

Three other backup options were shared on this list as being helpful also:

Capture everything. Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see. Access everywhere. Evernote works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device out there. Find things fast. Search by keyword, tag or even printed and handwritten text inside images.

Crash Plan
CrashPlan+ cloud backup secures your irreplaceable photos, music and documents offsite, safe from the potential mishaps that can befall your computer. Unique multi-destination support means your most important files can be backed up to the CrashPlan Central cloud, an external drive, securely to a friend's computer, or all three for maximum protection.

Mozy offers a number of backup solutions to fit your individual needs. For non-commercial backup of your personal files, including music, photos, home videos, and personal tax records, check out the simplicity of MozyHome. If you have a business looking to back up business data, financials, and other important files for multiple users or servers, MozyPro is your best solution.

Maybe it is time you had a back up plan?

Hope this helped,


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Word Fitly Spoken by Andy Scheer

I often hear the phrase “divine appointment” bandied at writers conferences, taking the narrow view of direct meetings between people.

But the past few days I've received several reminders that divine appointments also apply to interactions with what others have written. And not simply with writing that's supposed to be “spiritual.”

Even with writing in a free community newspaper.

When my granddaughter was less than a year old, her parents spied an article about child safety in The Woodmen Edition. It advised parents to speak out to inform the other when expecting them to watch the child. Ever since, “you've got the tot,” has been their frequent phrase.

Last evening, my daughter asked me how long I thought Juliet, now nearly three, would be “the tot.”

Until she's a teen,” I said, “or at least a tween.”

This weekend I made for the several dozenth time a recipe for microwave scrambled eggs, prepared and cooked in a deep coffee mug. It's given my weekend mornings a far better start, and it's given my mother-in-law the satisfaction that she passed along a useful one-inch clipping from her community's give-away newspaper.

Perhaps someday the writer will produce cookbooks for a big New York House. Meanwhile I'm grateful she sent the recipe to a publisher in Arvada.

The amazing, divine aspect of putting something into print, whether online or to a more formal audience, is that you never know when or how those words will touch a life.

Today at lunch, I encountered in the pages of William Least Heat-Moon's travel book River Horse some amazing perspective for my upcoming cross-country trip with my father-in-law in his 1930 Ford.

But the words aren't his—except his decision to include them. They come from a page of advice to foreign motorists in Japan, creatively translated about the time my father-in-law's Model A was built:

When a passenger of the foot
hove in sight, tootle the horn trumpet
to him melodiously at first.
If he still obstacles your passage,
tootle him with vigour
and express by word of the mouth
the warning “Hi, Hi!”

Beware the wandering horse
that he shall not take fright
as you pass him.
Do not explode
the exhaust box at him.
So soothingly by
or stop by the road-side
till he pass away.

Give big space
to the festive dog
that makes sport
in the road-way.
Avoid entanglement of dog
with your wheel-spokes.

Go soothingly on the grease-mud,
as there lurk the skid demon.
Press the brake of the foot
as you roll round the corners
to save the collapse
and tie-up.

Driving an antique car with wheel spokes, I'll remember to avoid entanglement with festive dogs – and to go soothingly on the grease-mud.

If I'd encountered those words a year ago, I'd likely have passed over them. But today, they pointed to yet another divine appointment.

What words in print have unexpectedly touched your life?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Question Keeps Coming Up by Linda S. Glaz

As more conferences draw closer, I keep hearing the same question over and over. And I’ve done my best to address it as have many others, but still…here we go again.
Remember the small round 8 ball that answered your questions when you were about 10 years old? You could ask anything, and up came an answer. Fun toy, silly! But folks still have questions and no solid answers.

“What’s going on the industry? So and so shut down their fiction line. This and that editor have been let go. Have moved on. Have simply had enough. What on earth is happening?”

If I had a crystal ball and believed in that nonsense, I would tell you. But I don’t, and anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen is playing on emotions.

Fifteen or so years ago, I was at a conference with the head of one of the largest secular publishers in the world. She was smart, savvy, forward looking, but she said this, “No one will ever completely stop reading a paper book. This new trend with books on the computer (no Kindles…Nooks, yet) is just that, a trend. It won’t last, or if it does, it will NEVER take the place of print books. Not even close.”

Now, I paraphrased most of that, but I remember distinctly that she was pooh-poohing the idea of ebooks, and I think I got her words nearly spot on because it impressed me so much. Goodness. There wasn’t even the term ebook yet. Anyway, she was the head of this huge publisher, knew her business, knew the industry: its trends, its direction, and still, she had no idea what was about to explode on the scene. She was responsible for being on top of what was happening in the industry…and…she didn’t have a clue.

She is no longer with that publisher. In fact, it was just a couple years before she stepped down…or was removed. I never asked. I did talk with her shortly after that but never discussed what had happened. I have a niggling feeling. She didn’t see it coming and in her position, she should have. But like all of us, no one can say for sure where the industry is headed. No one has that crystal ball (thank goodness) and no one can predict.

So, don’t panic if you hear this or that from an industry “insider” who knows what will happen in the next year or two. It is all speculation, and if all speculation were fact, all financial investors would be billionaires.

Just sit back, relax, and ride the wave!

No one knows for sure!

Friday, September 6, 2013

See What's New! Traditional PowerPoint Vs Prezi by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#presentations #workshops #conferences

If you are still creating the traditional slide shows in PowerPoint, then allow me to introduce you to a new option, Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software and storytelling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas. 

Many of you give writing workshops, speak at conferences, and have businesses and other full-time jobs where you often need to provide presentations. Why not try something new?

Both PowerPoint and Prezi are tools to creating and presenting a message. We are in a transition of technology crossovers and both will have it's place among different audiences. For instance, PowerPoint is considered traditional presentation software and the format with which most people are familiar. Therefore, you might consider using it with a more traditional audience. However, Prezi is considered new and innovative by many cutting-edge, techie business owners, especially the younger generations and to them a traditional PowerPoint presentation is boring and outdated.

Differences Between PowerPoint and Prezi

1) Storage and Creation
PowerPoint files are saved and created on your own computer. Prezi files are web-based and created and stored on a cloud. You can access it from any computer with Internet access, but you can also download and save it offline.

2) Content Delivery
PowerPoint advances from slide to slide on a linear level, while Prezi is more like watching a movie. It used movement to zero in on key messages by zooming in and out, like panning a camera from one side of a large board to another side of a large board. Music and video seem to be more seamless in Prezi than PowerPoint.

3) Customization Options
PowerPoint delivers more background options, colors and fonts, while Prezi is still limited to a number of templates. I anticipate these templates and customization options to increase in quantity and styles as Prezi grows and becomes more established.

Now for Some Examples

Since you are all familiar with PowerPoint slides, I am only providing examples of Prezi presentations in this post. You will need to allow each prezi to load. There is a little circle in the bottom left corner that will stop spinning when it is ready. Click the arrow buttons at the bottom to advance or move forward. If there is a video embedded into the Prezi, just click on it like you would on a website and it will play. If you don't want to watch the whole video, you can click the arrow button and move on.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section after you view a few of these. Have you tried Prezi?

Point of View

Hot Off The Librarian's Desk

How Coca Cola became Digital Marketing Rock Stars

A video tutorial showing how easy creating a presentation in Prezi can be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writing resources by Terry Burns

I've had a huge library of writing links on my personal website at for many years. I have them separated by topic and a lot of my writing friends use it often. I originally put it there not only for that reason but so I could easily access it myself anytime and anywhere.

I'm afraid I don't have time to maintain it as I should but there are still a lot of good links there. These days the maintenance is being done by users who write me to say a link no longer works or to suggest a new link to be included. I get a lot of these from teachers who say their students are using the list. That makes me happy.

Many of the links are not an individual site but rather a list of links itself. I just had one suggested to me that is just that, a very good list of history site resources. The site is at and was suggested by Mary Hubbard who manages the content for the site. Their list of resources is much more exhaustive than the history links that I've placed there.

I did an estimate once that between the number of links I have collected there and the number of links that are on the various resource lists that are there that something over 10,000 writing related links can be accessed from that library. Small wonder that I don't have time to get in there and maintain the list and still have time to service my clients.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Marketing Can be Fun by Diana Flegal

One of the challenges I face as an agent is getting my clients to promote themselves.

We live in an age of social media. The day when a writer could write in obscurity and be a successful well read author is gone.

Reality TV takes us into the private intimate daily lives of previously unknown people. Paparazzi get paid a lot of money for exclusive photos of celebrities on vacation. Face Book, Twitter, and blogging connect fans with their idols and readers want to connect with their favorite authors. But most of all, publishers want to know you have a following or fan base of which a decent percentage are going to buy your book.

"I just want to write", you say.

But blogging, tweeting and posting on Face Book is writing. It's just tighter writing.

If you are a nonfiction author, you will share your expertise and offer general helpful advice. Be careful never to offer personal counsel. If asked, direct them to an outside resource.

You historical fiction authors might share things about your research process or real events that took place in various geographical locations you have woven into your stories. Or share what you felt emotionally when walking in your character's shoes.

Remember- social media is social. Get to know others with similar likes and friend them on FB and follow them on twitter. Read their blogs and comment if you liked what you have read.

Transparency will endear you to your readers and 'friends'. What interests you will interest others. My post about my grandmother's iron skillet reaped 75 comments and prompted a delightful discussion.

Be honest but keep it lighthearted. Express your opinion but don't put anyone else down to do it (it will end up making you look bad).. Unless your life's mission is to change another's political persuasion, stay away from posting anything related to politics. Don't restrict your readership!

BTW statistics tell us a few pictures raise the blog's likability for a more pleasurable read. Which in turn might lead to faithful blog followers.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cool Reading by Andy Scheer

The novel's title caught my attention, captured my imagination, and convinced me to take a look. Not bad for two words: Shivering World.

For several weeks I've been considering what books to take this month as I serve as my father-in-law's co-driver, piloting his 1930 Ford Model A from Colorado to a car show in Michigan.

This past week, when author Kathy Tyers mentioned
her 1991 science fiction novel, something clicked.

Model A's were built long before air-conditioning, and if the states on our route are running true to form, I could use a book that makes me want to put on a parka.

In her recent book, The Dance of Character and Plot, novelist DiAnn Mills encourages writers to incorporate their story's setting as an antagonistic character. Several novels set in a freezing climate came to mind.

In the end, I settled on re-reading Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith one of his series featuring a Soviet-era criminal investigator, this one set on a trawler in the middle of the Bering Sea. If I can tolerate the stink of fish that permeates the vessel, I'll appreciate how the book's sense of place leaves me chilled to the bone.

Still, I'll plan to check the week's forecast before we go. In case the meteorologists are predicting heavy rain, I'll be ready with a copy of Clive Cussler's Sahara.

Monday, September 2, 2013

He said, She Linda S. Glaz

     Okay, you're probably all sick of hearing it, but I'm tired of reading it. The overuse of dialogue tags really slows down the novel.
     Every time a character's POV is interrupted with dial tags, it pulls the reader out of the character's head. And you want your reader to stay firmly entrenched in your characters' heads, right?
     If we all know that, then why are so many submissions still bogged down with:  
     He said, he growled, he barked, snapped, interjected?
     She asked, she purred, she whispered, cooed, queried?
     Yes, there's a place for them, particularly when you have more than two people talking at the same time, or when you have two of the same gender. It can get confusing without them, but to simply add tags with every single line of dialogue, is asking a lot of the reader. It also tells the agent/editor that you are having trouble putting in appropriate action. Let's look at a couple examples, and I won't even touch the barking, growling and cooing which sends me over the top. Dogs, wolves, and pigeons bark, growl, and coo, not humans.
     Jacob said, "I'm really thirsty. Could I have a cup of that coffee?"
     Cara answered, "Of course, you can. I think I'll have a cup myself."
     He took the cup and murmured, "Thanks. I was about to doze off. How'd you guess I like cream and plenty of sugar?" Now, he was flirting, wasn't he?
     Jacob licked his lips. "I'm really thirty. Could I have a cup of that coffee?" His drooping eyes no doubt gave away the fact he hadn't slept well. The coffee would give him a boost.
      Cara smiled. "Of course, you can." She reached for two cups. "I think I'll have another cup myself." As she added cream and sugar, her gaze barely strayed from his lips. Was she flirting with him or simply a very friendly person?"
     His hand settled around the mug. "Thanks. I was about to doze off. How'd you guess I like cream and plenty of sugar?" Now, he was flirting, wasn't he?
     Okay, it won't win any prizes, but you get the idea...

     It's not hard to supplement your dialogue with good action which adds so much rather than tired old tags can offer. 
     Give it a try. Take a page of tired tags and give it a makeover!