Getting started on a Monday after the Maple Leaf Festival here in Baldwin City, Kansas can be a challenge. You are weary and weary sometimes leads to worry especially when you are looking for your new vocation, waiting for God to give you a wink or a nod so you know which way to go with you new life. I think I’ve seen that wink, gotten that nod, but it does sometimes seem too good to be true. Does God really love me personally enough to help me live my life in a way that will be so fullfilling, or does he just love the human race in general and me as part of the stew? I don’t know yet. I am content to trust him on that one.
However I feel about my place in God’s affections, I am on the look out for those mentors and examples he sends my way. I’ve another couple of websites to admire and add to my list of 10. These sites are frankly selling their writing wares. This is why they attract me. That, and because they hook into my desire to produce only wholesome entertainment and to do so consistently and for money.
The Third: Who Do I Want to be When I Grow Up….John R. Erickson
When reading, I often find trails that lead from one good thing to another. In this case, I was reading Nancy Pearcey’s book “Love Thy Body” and came across the brief story about what happened when a film group produced an animated Hank the Cowdog movie. After being written by John and his son, Pearcey says, the story was altered in editing to reflect the accepted gender culture and family format of today rather than the actual traditional family situation found in the screenplay. However, that is a side trail and not my point, here. Because of the reference in Love Thy Body, to Erickson and Hank, I became intrigued by this man who had been a cowboy, almost received a masters degree in theology from Harvard Divinity School and found success writing a series about the humorous adventures of the lovable, but far from perfect, Hank the CowDog. So, I went to his site.
I have returned again and again, beguiled. I learned there that Erickson succeeded as a writer of books by setting up a self-publishing operation in his garage in Perryton, TX in 1983 with his wife. The publishing company was Maverick Books. I was looking at his list of published books and noticed that he published two or three every year. He has kept his standards high and remained consistent. His stories are approved for the Accelerated Reader Program and he is trusted by parents, librarians, teachers, and home schoolers to provide wholesome family entertainment.
Not only have I ordered the first three Hank The CowDogs stories to study as a writer and give as a gift to my young neighbors, but I have ordered his book, “Story Craft: Reflections On Faith, Culture, and Writing.” I want a reputation for writing wholesome family entertainment and humor. So the best way to learn is to study a good example.
The want-to-be website marketer in me is studying his website as well as his books. What does he have there?
- All his books are presented and easy to find.
- Books packaged and available in all sorts of combinations, paperback, kindle, audio, and video.
- One of the unique things that caught my eye is his customized “follow” buttons. They are large and instead of just “follow me,” they say, “Visit Hank’s Facebook page,” “Follow Hank on Twitter,” “Send Hank and E-mail.”
- The social media icons are colorful and cute, suited to Hank and his ranch buddies.
- There are 4 main categories on the site, Books, the Collection; Fan Zone, Fun & Games; Author, Meet the Creator; and Store, Books & More.
- Then under each page are tabs for the various book series: Hank the CowDog, Riley McDaniels Series, Non-FIction Books.
- There is a “Featured Book” area and a “Get The Latest” area where you can sign up to follow Hank’s adventures and get promotions.
- In the Fan Zone, there is a kid-attracting “Security Force” exclusive membership only club that you can click on and join, and I am going to have to try the game “Whack a Coyote” before I exit the site.
Okay, these books are supposed to be for my neighbors, Anthony, Hazel, and Vince, none of whom are over the age of 8, but maybe I’ll have to read them first to find out how Hank handles Rip and Snort, two coyote brothers who roam the ranch and that raccoon Eddy the Rac. I have coyotes and raccoons of my own to deal with and chickens to protect. I hope to find some security recommendations that I can apply to a hobby farm in Kansas by following the real thing in the Hank the Cowdog series from Texas; and of course, I am going to study the books and website of Erickson to learn how to be a successful writer, self marketer, and publisher.
The Fourth: SeeJaneWrite: Beware Because the Business Strategy can Kill your Love of Blogging
I just discovered this site today, a website for women writers called SeeJaneWrite by Javacia Harris Bowers. The website is about writing, blogging, business, and community.
When I first opened the site, I thought, ‘These are the things I love too.’ You can add reading to the list of what I love to do as well. Right off the bat I start reading the founder’s blog. It starts “I have a confession to make. I don’t enjoy Blogging any more.” “What?” I think. “Say this isn’t so.” I immediately go to a different tab and don’t read this blog until later because I’m afraid I’ll find out she retired right when I’m getting interested. I spent at least an hour reading every tab on Javacia’s site and finding that I felt at home there even if the women there are a lot younger than I am. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to blogging and the internet and business today, all experts are younger than I am. Also Javacia is a writer who is a lot of fun to read.
See Jane Write is on The WriteLife.com list of “The 100 Best Websites for Writers 2018.” It is a website and a collective, or community of women writers, that got started as a writing group in 2011 when a dozen women and Javacia Bowser (Foundress) met at a local Mexican Restaurant to discuss writing. This was the first meeting of See Jane Write.
I was really intrigued by her #bloglikecrazy event in the month of November to inspire writers (and herself) to write and search for ideas everyday. Javacia challenges fellow bloggers to publish a new blog post everyday in the month of November to
- develop their creativity,
- build community, and
- build consistency.
She quotes James Altucher who says that one of the best ways to boost your creativity is to write down 10 ideas a day. By brainstorming ideas daily, you exercise your creativity muscles.
Javacia has a blog called “How to Blog Consistently Even when Life Sucks.” I have to add my angle to that one, Blog even when your feet hurt. Blog before, during, and after The Maple Leaf festival when your eyes are red from the smoke and grease from the grill, and as mentioned before, your feet hurt. And it is Monday.
I recommend this website to all of you who love to write and on the side want to make money at it. When Javacia said in the blog I quoted earlier that she did not enjoy blogging any more it was because she discovered the strain of writing with a strategy always in mind when writing is your business, and when every blog becomes a marketing tool, it can take the joy out of writing. So she says, don’t always blog with a strategy and use the #bloglikecrazy in November to blog for the joy of it.
I have filled out the application to join the community, mainly to see what they can teach me, but the application does ask what I can offer to them. There is the 20-years of editing scholarly journals. We will see what happens. I am a woman, but not necessarily into feminism. It is the “ism” that gets me. I like all people. Men are good too.
From studying the physical website, I noted a couple of website marketing strategies I’d like to keep in mind:
- The disclosure statement: This is important to know about and at to your blog so your readers know you might not be totally objective in all areas. The SeeJaneWrite disclosure statement is simple and direct. It says, “SeeJaneWrite.net is a for profit blog that contains occasional relevant affiliate links. All affiliate links will be identified as such. See Jane Write is open to sponsorship by companies that support the mission of this organization and blog.”
- Like others, Javacia uses the site to market her own writing, consulting, and speaking.
- The portfolio is impressive and would be a good example for any writer to follow. Each section starts with the logo of the publication her writing appeared in and a link to the article. She is a good writer too. I read a couple of articles from her archive.
- The contact section markets as well, starting with a casual, “Let’s Chat!” and her pitch: “If you need a freelance writer for your publication, a speaker for your next event, help with your blog or writing career, or just someone to talk to about feminism, shoot me an email at email@example.com.”
I will take the #bloglikecrazy challenge. My daily blogs in November will help me through the doldrums of November to December when my new office will be ready should that dream actually come through.