Blog Conversion: Generate a Traffic Jam!

Jam on the Brakes: One Tip – One Result

Jeff Goins, leader of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge, invited readers to a free webinar with Derek Halpern, creator of Social Triggers marketing blog: How to Generate a Landslide of Blog Traffic that Converts.

Halpern shared a wealth of knowledge and an opportunity to learn much more with his online course targeting bloggers who have something worth teaching others.

One striking point I took away was to concentrate on generating one tip that will provide one result for the reader. Results for the reader provide the blogger with a subscriber.  A list of tips, too many to read, too many to try now results in a bookmark, generally left unread, and doomed to future deletion. So next time you think you have to share it all in one go – jam on the brakes!

Stay tuned for more ‘traffic updates’…

WIX: Three is a magic number

Yes, it is. It’s a magic number. Even the Germans think so: Aller guten Dinge sind drei. All good things come in threes.

The Schoolhouse Rock writer Bob Dorough knew it. Students know it, and if you think in green tones you know the three R’s, different but useful too.

Novelists and lyricists use the ‘rule of three’: Dickens had three spirits visit Scrooge, and some of you may recall Tony letting Dawn know how often to knock on the ceiling. Fairy tales are loaded with threes: the bears, their chairs, the pigs, their digs, the goats, their horns. Ha! Gotcha! But admit it, you were ready to go along with three because it feels right. Fairies, genies, and leprechauns offer as many wishes – if you catch them first.

Julie Hedlund, fearless leader of the 12x12in’12 Challenge, is now offering a three-pack of picture book manuscript critiques: better to woo an agent with.

If, like me, you find yourself revising a manuscript (more than three times!) remember three can be funnier, more satisfying, and heck, even advertisers know it’s more effective! So quit procrastinating, unplug the internet and get your rear in gear.

On the count of three…

Halfway-There Blog Party: Bring Dessert

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

There are numerous wise quotes about having nothing to be unhappy about. I like to keep the positive in mind as we* approach the halfway point in the 12 x 12 in ’12 Challenge. Because as much as I appreciate this opportunity to better my habits, append my skills, grow my potential, and fuel my motivation I admit, my dear friends, I am also half sad.

Shortly after beginning I felt I had found something special, worth nurturing through to the harvest. Now I profess it! So before I let negative thoughts rot the crop, I will grab this moment and celebrate fiercely! Today I toast my fellow participants with my glass half full, and vow to cherish sweet fruits, toss the pits and make good pie!

*Over 400 writers and writer/illustrators of picture books completing 12 drafts in 12 months in 2012.

WIX: Aporia

Aporia, a Greek adjective pronounced a-po-ree-a, is used to describe a feeling you get when you are at loss in a situation.

Again, I found this one in Christopher J. Moore’s fascinating book In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World. These days, I figure, the citizens are tired of it. I feel for them, I really do, and hope they do well to help boost morale. But who shall I root for on Friday when Greece heads into the quarter finals against none other than their EU-opposers – Germany. Yes, I am talking about Eurocup 2012, again! I tend to want the better team to win, but in this case I am unentschieden, (undecided – a tie in sports) which just might be what I could feel good about!

There is no equivalent for the word compromise, reaching an agreement with some give and take, in Arabic, but they do have  taarradhin [tah-rah-deen], used to imply a win-win situation where no one has has to lose face.

I would be happy with a state of harmony…a union!

Days Ten, Eleven, Twelve: Share, Declutter and Provoke

Day Ten Jeff Goins told us to share others’ work, and fellow 15 Habits of Great Writers participant Marcie Colleen invites us to do so with a blink: blog about a writer we admire, and to post the link on her’s. I have chosen to put a spotlight on the work of Jon Agee (pronounced ay-gee).

Listen to Jon Agee read from Terrific

He has been making picture books for 30 years now, but I only just ‘met’ him this past year. When I  felt like I had read most of the picture books on the NEW! shelf (and thought it was about time to give the other kids a better chance at the suggested reading section) I decided to attack the library’s collection more efficiently and rummage through shelves for titles I haven’t read, starting with Section A. One per author was a good way to tackle it, and that’s when I found The Retired Kid (Hyperion,2008). How could I go wrong with a title like that!

Since then I have read all the other Agee titles my library district owns, and some from other connected libraries.

Now I’ll tell you why: it’s simple – they are funny. Lough-out-loud funny. Seriously funny. And his art is wonderful: simple, straightforward and delightful. Agee is a master of pure-form cartoon and composition. I hope you enjoy discovering these books as much as I still do.

Day Eleven: Goins reminds us to declutter, first our workspace, then our writing. “Eliminate weak, lazy words like “that” and “things” and anything you don’t absolutely need. Then say what you have to say and be done with it.” But this holds no dread for me as I love to put things in order, straighten and tidy (some friends might whisper OCD). I pick up on a hung picture askew like a dog notes eau de fox. A-hunting I will go!

And provoke: here I will link you to an interview with Laura Smith on the which captures the essence of Goins’ advice on why we need art.

PPBF: The Giant Seed

This post is dedicated to all those affected by the High Park Fire: seeds of hope
Author/Illustrator: Arthur Geisert
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 2012 (originally published in France under La Grosse Graine by Editions Autrement, 2010)
Genre: wordless fiction;  note the interesting size: 10 1/4″ x 6″
Themes: pigs, seeds, volcanoes, islands, dandelions, displacement
Age Level: 4-8
Synopsis: In this new episode of Geisert’s pig stories (yes, that was the cue to read the others) a seed drifts into the community, is planted, nurtured and enjoyed by all. The threat of a  volcano eruption has them scrambling to safety, and I’ll let you guess how their escape is provided – or you can drift over to your local bookstore tomorrow to participate in Kelly Sonnack’s annual Save the Bookstore’s 2012 Event
Why I like this book: Geisert’s ability to imbue action and adventure in a wordless picture book with really cool photogravure illustrations is magical! (From Wikipedia: Photogravure is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a photograph.)
Resource/Activity:  Good explanation for wind dispersal of seeds; Craft ideas: Printmaking for Kids; home-made volcanoes
For more posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday
And now to Day Nine: Jeff Goins tells us another habit of great writers is to connect with other writers. Then I must be in a great group of great writers already! For more info visit Julie Hedlund’s site for more info on the 12x12in’12 Challlenge.

Day Eight: Advice Off the Butcher’s Block

Eight days in and Jeff Goins challenges us to finish something:Anything, really. Just pick a project — an essay, a blog post, maybe even a book — and finish it. Not tomorrow. Today.

I immediately thought of a manuscript, and Frances, the main character. But there is just no way anyone could complete the dummy sketches in one day!

It should never take longer than 30 minutes to finish anything. If it does, you’re not breaking the project up into enough chunks. Which will lead to stalling, your worst enemy.

Aha! Chunks! That’s my problem, I need to chop, maybe even dice!

Find something and move it across the finish line. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on.”

Okay Jeff. Knife in hand, cutting board ready. Watch out Julia, mine can take an edge! But when things don’t go as expected, there is always the blowtorch

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”- Julie Childs

Today’s Secret Tidbit: I am a professionally trained Fleischereifachverkaeuferin!

Day Seven: Beauty in the Beast

Where did Day Six go? It was stolen. Jeff Goins, aka Fagin, sent fellow 15HoGW challenge participants out to pick a pocket or two. Nothing new to me as a visual artist: learned by copying, at first unconsciously, then as my skills grew from the crayon stages I looked for great work to emulate. Finally in college a fellow student had copied my work, and it allowed me to believe I had arrived: I had skills and ideas worth emulating!

On to Day Seven: Goin’s advice is to make it ugly first because beauty comes from chaos. I get it. I had recently read the writing advice from Maureen Johnson: “Let me let you in on a little secret. When you are learning to write, you are going to suck. You are going to suck a lot. You’re just going to keep sucking for a while, and feel like you’re sucking, and actually that’s a sign that you’re completely on the right path. (…)” Read more (worth it).

Because of the raging local fire I witness beauty in the beast daily, and was inspired to create.