Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Building a Website

Once I had my first children's book published, I started getting suggestions about what to do next. One of those suggestions was that I needed my own website. Well, of course, that means money. With my pockets getting thinner by the minute, I didn't have much to spare.

As I began having more and more opportunities to read at schools, libraries, and YMCA's, I knew it was time to build a website. I was fortunate to find William T. Gordon, the owner of WG Designs in Salisbury, NC. His fees are reasonable, and when asked to make changes to my website, he's always been patient. I've only changed my mind a few times. You do believe me, don't you? I finally chose four tabs that give an overview of my books and activiites. They include the homepage, about me page, my books, and events. Now that my latest book, Tired of School, has been made available on amazon.com., I'll have another tab added.

My first children's book, Tired of My Bath, is showcased on the website in bright colors with a slideshow of past events, as well as highlights of coming ones. Will even added a fun graphic on the homepage of Louie, the dog in the story, sticking out his tongue. Check out my website for yourself. It's dicymcculloughbooks.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Journey Continues

My journey through the social media continues, with updates and new gadgets I never knew existed before just a couple of weeks ago. I am grateful to all my friends for their help and have listed some of them in previous blogs. My latest appreciation goes to a young lady who's in business for herself and doing quite well because of her savvy on the internet.

She's in the Avon business and has give aways quite frequently on her Avon page. This young lady's name is Rebecca Chobalt. Check her out on facebook, and you might even win some Avon products. She was kind enough to help me set up my giveaway for my first children's book,Tired of My Bath, suggesting the giveaway should last for two weeks. At the end of the contest the computer will choose the winner, with my responsibility being only to notify the person. The giveaway for my bookpage is a free children's book about a little boy who doesn't want to take a bath. Most families can relate to this story. Anyone recommending the bookpage, Tired of My Bath, wins if their friend wins.

Well, I thought surely I needed to add a gas card or something to this free giveaway. Rebecca in our wisdom, said, "No, the book is enough." She was right because I began having people go to the bookpage and liking it. I couldn't believe I was seeing people from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. I became like a kid in a candy store because I couldn't wait until the next day to see how many more likes I would get on that day.

I plan to have another give-away as soon as this one ends. Even though the social media is an exciting place to be, I have to remember balance and moderation are key. Facebook, twitter, and blogging only promote my books and writing. They don't write them for me. Maybe one day....

Monday, August 8, 2011

Starting Over: Part Three

This is the third blog on my journey through the social media maze. Along the way, I've had friends who've given me suggestions of things to do that would make this journey a little easier. I used the metaphor of riding a bicycle in part one of starting over, and how comforting it is to have training wheels. I have the same feeling with this ride, only now, my friends are the training wheels. They have kept me from falling off. There are friends like Donna Hogue, owner of On Second Thought Consignment, who helped me navigate facebook, and coachpeg who gave me advice on what to include in my script.

I'm starting to feel a little more self assured, but know I have a long way to go. My newest adventure has been twitter, and through twitter I've found blogs that have been helpful. One of those is Derek Haines' blog, which includes tips for writers.

It seems reasonable that most people have blogs because they want to market something. In the early days, that may not have been true, but today most are marketing something. One of Derek's suggestions was to make sure to write a professional bio. After reading that suggestion, I took another look at mine, and saw places I could improve.

Another suggestion was to be patient. That for me is probably the hardest. I guess I'm trying to learn, in just a few short weeks, what most writers have been learning over many years. I recently published a children's book, "Tired of My Bath," and know a part of the writing process has to be marketing. I feel like because the internet is so big, and I'm so little, I've been spinning my bicycle in the sand. Taking Derek's suggestion to heart, I thought of the story of the turtle and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. If I burn myself out before the race even starts, then I'm no good to anyone.

There have been some rewards along the way that have been pretty cool and unexpected. Just in the last week, I've made connections with a singer-songwriter of country-music, Billy Sidwell. He has just released a CD, and can be found on facebook and twitter. I also made connections with a novelist, Jay Squires. He's working on a novel, "Death in the Dimension of Solstice," which should be out by the end of the year.

Twitter, facebook, and blogging all require time and hard work. In order to get to where I want to be, though, I have to get on this bicycle and ride. Along the way, if I can stop and help anyone, as others have helped me, just let me know. Maybe I can include you in the next blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blogging: Starting Over Part Two

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of facebook, twitter, blogging and everything else in between. Since I'm beginning to understand some of the language, and how to link, and copy and paste, the whirlwind is starting to slow down. For those of you who grew up since your diaper days with the computer you don't have a clue as to how hard it is for people like me, who are not computer savvy. I must say, however, I've been fortunate to have friends who've been willing to help me with this process.

In my first blog, Starting Over, I said a big thank you to Hope Clark and the Farm at Weatherscreek. Hope Clark led a workshop that I attended there over a year ago. I learned organizational tools from her which has become instrumental in my growth as a writer. One such tool was to just sit down in the chair and write. Easy enough? Maybe. Maybe not.

Now that I'm a writer, and actually have published a children's book, "Tired of My Bath," I'm on to the next phase of discovery and growth, which is marketing. In order to market, you must, and I mean must, put yourself into the social media stream. I learned that from Jeff Elder's workshop. Guess where that workshop was held? You're right, the Farm at Weatherscreek. The website is www.weatherscreek.net.
Fortunately, I've had friends along the way to help me with swimming through the stream. One of those friends is Cyndi Allison. Cyndi is not only a blogspot blogger, but she also teaches a class on social media at a local college. Her students are fortunate to have her as a teacher, and I was fortunate that she helped me set up my blog page. From her, I learned it's important to add tags. Don't laugh. There are others who don't know about tags either. Now, if I could only remember how to...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blogging and Starting Over

This makes the fourth blog I've started. The first three, I guess, were practice blogs. I hope this one will be a keeper. I've learned a lot in the past two weeks about the social media and how important it is for marketing. Two weeks ago, I didn't even know what a tweet was or how to make one. Now I have followers and I'm following.

Recently a friend on facebook suggested I create a fan page on facebook. So, there is now a "Tired of My Bath" facebook fan page. However, this page was set up by my daughter, Kristin. Why is it that our children know more than we do about the social media maze?

As I navigate through the maze, I feel like I'm learning to ride my bicycle all over again, and it's important to keep the training wheels on for my protection. This ride is one that's a little scary, but hopefully, as I go along, I'll begin to feel more secure and even venture to take off the training wheels. With friends on facebook and twitter, I know someone will pick me up if I fall.

I so appreciate writers like Hope Clark, who systematically write blogs that give advice in detail on how to navigate the social media. There are others, as well, but I'm more familiar with her because I went to a workshop she presented at weatherscreek. Ever since that workshop I respect her writing and advice.

The farm at weatherscreek is a wonderful place in the middle of a pasture in Piedmont, North Carolina. Susan and Cindy Campbell, along with Ann Wicker, host published authors and writers once a month at the farm. These authors and writers present workshops on varied subjects that will help others improve on the craft of writing. I have grown as a writer because of attending these workshops. If interested in more information on either weatherscreek or Hope Clark, they can be found on facebook and twitter. Hope Clark also has a blog that can be found on blogspot.com.