Monday, December 18, 2017

The Real Reason We Read ... and Write

By Andrea Merrell

If each of you were asked the question, “Why do you read?” what would you say? Maybe your goal is to learn as much as you can by digging into how-to books. Perhaps you read for pure entertainment, to get lost in a dynamic plot, or to travel to exotic places.

Some of you may read simply because you have a number of favorite authors, and your goal is to devour every word from them that comes out in print. We follow these authors on Facebook, like their posts, retweet their tweets, and interact with them at conferences. So why are we so passionate about this?

I love what author and social media guru Edie Melson says:

I follow other authors because I want to know them. I love to get to know the person behind the book.

Let’s look at another question: “Why do you write?” Whether you’re creating blog posts, articles, memoirs, or novels, what is your motivation? Is it to be famous, sell books, make money, increase your subscriber list, or build a huge platform? Or is it to get to know your readers, build relationships, and share God’s love and truth with the world.

Here’s what author and speaker LoriRoeleveld says:
I now understand that part of my mission as a Christian writer is to locate the people God wants to receive the message I’m called to write. And not just to locate them, but to pray for, listen to, develop God’s heart for, and serve them with humility and zeal. It’s in marketing research that I’ve come to know and love my readers. God has used the cries of their hearts to spur me on to become a better writer, a better reacher, a better follow of Jesus. Not so I can sell more books, or enlist more subscribers, or increase my platform (although, that’s a by-product of this process), but so that I can be with them in this Jesus adventure.

This “Jesus adventure.” I love the way Lori defines our writing career. God gives us the gift of words so we can connect with others who need to hear what we have to say. Writing for the Lord is not a business, it’s a ministry ... and one that’s very fulfilling.

It’s not about numbers or dollars, it’s about relationships. Over the years, God has brought so many wonderful people across my path—both writers and readers.  I’ve gotten to know the person behind the book, and I’ve had the privilege of interacting with—and praying for—many of my readers.

If you’re a writer, remember that readers are more than just numbers. As Lori Roeleveld says, “Behind every number in the platform section of my book proposals is a name, a face, a heart, a soul—someone seeking courage to endure, someone waiting to be challenged to deeper faith, someone wanting confidence to speak up for Christ. God wants to reach them in many ways, but one way is through what I write. Part of my job as a writer is to locate and love them in Jesus’ name.

What about you. How do you connect with your readers?

(Photos courtesy of


Monday, December 11, 2017

Blogging Lessons from My Dogs

By Edie Melson

Most of you know I’m an animal lover. We have one cat, Emily Dickinson, and our sons dog, Cosmo. I don’t know what I’d do without my four-legged friends cheering me on as I work every day. 

But they’re more than just great companions; they’ve got a lot to teach me. So today I’d like to pass along some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my dogs.

9 Blogging Lessons from My Dogs

1. Go all in. When you play, play. When you work, work. And when you rest, rest. My dogs are 100 percent involved in whatever they’re doing. Beyond that, I’ve discovered there’s no such thing as a multi-tasking dog. The same should be true for bloggers. Focus on the task at hand by setting aside time to blog. Don’t think of it as work you do in the spaces. 

2. Chasing squirrels never ends well. It may be fun, but it rarely brings value to what you’re doing. When our boys were young, they had the great idea of tying our dogs leash to the handlebars of a scooter so he could pull them down the street. It went well until a squirrel darted in front of them. The dog took off in one direction, the son on the scooter went another way. There was definitely collateral damage, although none of it permanent. The same thing can happen with blogging. Leave the squirrel-chasing for play time, stay focused on where you’re going in your post, and avoid the collateral damage. 

3. Loyalty is everything. My dogs are friendly with almost everyone, but their loyalty is to me. As bloggers, we have to have that same kind of loyalty toward our readers.

4. 50 new smells a day. For a dog, going outside is more than exercise; it’s the ability to gather information about the world around them. As bloggers, we can’t become so immersed in our own corner of the world and especially only our point of view. 

5. Keep digging until you have what you need. All of our dogs have had favorite toys. But our poochs favorite pastime would appear to be getting his stuck under things. He’s learning though, to not just rely on us to get what he needs. He’s learning how to work and dig until he gets them back. As bloggers, we can’t just rely on the information others provide. We have to be willing to learn, grow, and dig out what we need to be the best we can be.

6. Wag more, bark less. When my dog comes up to me, he’s grinning and his tail is wagging. He doesn’t approach me barking and growling. We need to make sure we interact with people online by wagging, not barking. Think before you post and keep it positive. You’ll never regret being nice. 

7. Puppy treats make the worst job easier. Through the years, all our dogs have loved treats, but training our newest dog is giving us a new appreciation about how valuable they are. Treats are also a good way to get me to finish a job I’m dreading.

8. Be ready for an adventure and travel light. My dogs are always ready to go for an adventure. Don’t be too tied to home base. As bloggers (and writers) we can pick up and go at the drop of a hat. 

9. Always on guard. My dogs are always aware of what’s going on around them. They may appear to be sleeping soundly or playing hard, but if someone comes to the door, they are the first to alert. Because blogging is an online activity, we also need to always be alert. We shouldn’t be fearful, but we do need to be smart and stay aware. 

These are some of the lessons I’ve learned, what has your pet taught you about blogging, writing, or even life? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(Photos courtesy of  author,, and Stuart Miles.)


Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s writing for fiction readers, parents, military families, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. 

She’s a leading professional within the publishing industry and travels to numerous conferences as a popular keynote, writing instructor, and mentor. Her blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and is a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers. She’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Mountainside Marketing Conference, as well as Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine. In addition, she's a regular columnist for and Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, December 8, 2017

12 Months of Writing Plans & Prompts

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

As the year draws to an end, we celebrate all that is good and wonderful in life. We give thanks. We look back and realize how far we've come in the past year. We honor those who've served. We give gifts. We spend quality time with our family. And we look forward to what's to come.

12 Prompts to Ease Your Writing Schedule in the New Year via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

What do we have to look forward to in our writing career? Here are twelve ways to plan for success in the New Year:

On the first month writing, my muse brought to me a venti cup of Starbucks coffee!
Use the five senses to write about Starbucks - or any other coffee - or any other drink you may drink while writing.

On the second month of writing, my muse brought to me two writing conferences!
Write down two conferences you'd like to attend next year. It's good for writers to attend at least two conferences a year. Networking is a big key in our business.

On the third month of writing, my muse brought to me three critique partners!
Write a thank you note to each of your critique partners, explaining what their feedback and fellowship has meant to you over the past year.

On the fourth month of writing, my muse brought to me four book contracts!
We all dream of these, don't we? What do you have to celebrate this year? Write about that. Maybe it can become an article or blog post in 2018.

On the fifth month of writing, my muse brought to me five more book ideas!
Write down five book ideas you have sitting in the back of your brain. Better yet, write them in a journal specifically for fleshing out your book ideas. Keep it close to you so when inspiration hits, you've got a place to put it.

On the sixth month of writing, my muse brought to me six platform building opportunities!
Consider your brand and then your network. Choose six people within your network who you'd like to connect with on another level. Write down six ways you can do that (i.e. comment on their blog or social media posts, invite them to guest blog, let them know how their writing or product has blessed you, etc.). Action.

On the seventh month of writing, my muse brought to me seven days of vacation!
Most creatives know and understand they cannot create forever without taking time off to recharge those creative juices. We may love our careers, but just like any other occupation, we must make it a point to take a vacation. Write down and research seven places you'd love to visit or take your family.

On the eight month of writing, my muse brought to me eight freelance gigs!
Want a way to make income while you're working on those books? Freelance! Write down seven topics you could be considered an expert at. Remember, an expert is someone who is a couple of steps ahead of someone else in an area. We're all experts at something!

On the ninth month of writing, my muse brought to me nine books to read!
Writers need to read. Write down nine books you'd like to read next year: 3 fiction, 3 nonfiction on topics outside of writing, and 3 writing books. Don't forget to leave a book review for the author when you're finished.

On the tenth month of writing, my muse brought to me ten ballpoint pens!
Write out your first page for the day on paper using a pen instead of typing it into your computer.

On the eleventh month of writing, my muse brought to me eleven blog posts!
Write down eleven blog post ideas using the following prompts:
1 guest you'd like to have post on your blog - invite him or her to do so
1 book you've read that changed your life and the concept that spoke to you and made you want to change
1 movie that taught you something about writing and what that something was
1 writing tip that changed your career
1 thing you're an expert at and the steps you took to become one
1 thing you wish you knew and ten blogs you know teach that (you'll write a post that basically provides one link to one article at each blog that you can learn from)
1 non-writing thing you love to do and why it helps you relax
1 list of ten of your favorite things (getting to know you post)
1 unique, creative way you use social media
1 recipe you use to save time when you're on deadline
1 list of ways you reward your family for their patience with your tight schedule

On the twelfth month of writing, my muse brought to me twelve social media ideas!
Most of us dread social media. Make it easy for yourself in the New Year. Outline 12 months in a notebook or planner, and lay out the following: 5 types of posts you'd like to make on a regular basis (i.e. quotes, sharing a particular blog's posts, daily questions for your followers, etc.); a theme for each month (this will focus your posts); a posting schedule (30 minutes each morning blocked off for you to post to social media).

Congratulations! You now have a foundational plan for your writing in 2018! We'd love to know one thing you've come up with as a result of our list! Feel free to share in the comments below. And here's to writing successes in the New Year!