A Blog designed with you in mind. Whether you're a new writer seeking to learn the ropes, or a vet in search of ideas for a more lucrative career, you'll find needed resources here. Pen and Prosper is devoted to supporting and advancing you in your creative journey. You're in the "write" place.
Last December, after much consideration, I decided to do something nice for my doctor. I know, I know...it sounds kind of strange; especially when many are already overpaid and sometimes have questionable practices. But hear me out here.
While most folks dread going to the doctor due to all the prodding, probing, pain and impersonal treatment, my experience over the last few years has been different.
Besides being "easy on the eyes" my physician is funny, warm, patient and compassionate. Dr. "P" has a great bedside manner and a very calming effect. In many ways, he is his own form of medicine.
Because of this, I wanted to convey my respect and regard for him. But, allow me to digress a bit here. Last year, when my brother died it hit me like a ton of bricks. His unexpected and untimely death left an emptiness I can't explain. It also taught me to give folks their flowers while they are living.
I never really got the opportunity to tell my brother how much of an impact he had on me in my development as a woman and now I never will. But I CAN do better in sharing warm, wonderful thoughts and gestures with others (in the spirit of what his death taught me).
90 days after my initial doctor's visit, I needed to come in again for a routine screening. Busy, as usual, he was training two of his assistants and sharing some procedural info. Then all of a sudden he pulled out his cell phone. Which was strange for him. With a wide grin he said to them: "Guess what someone did for me for Christmas?"
Dr. "P" then went on to show images of the Xmas basket I have given him with his colleagues. He told me that he was so excited he took pictures and shared it with just about everybody! He let me know that in 10 years of being there, no one had ever given him a gift before. He was clearly touched. Go figure. Here's a man who earns a six-figure salary who was moved by my small gesture of kindness.
The moral of the story here? Small acts, kind words matter. In a day and age where we have so many horrific things happening (many of which we have no control) we can CHOOSE kindness.
Truth is, we just never know what issues, insecurities or burdens somebody is dealing with, that perhaps could be ameliorated simply by something positive we say or do. And it takes so little to mean so much.
As writers there's even more. We have the opportunity and platforms to promote good; inspire change; combat stereotypes; champion worthy causes; to widen the "lens" by which others see the world. We can and we must use our "powers" for good.
In fact, there's an organization and a movement dedicated to random acts of Kindness. Read more here:
As a writer, one of the things that I love the most is the sense of community and shared experiences of those who are similarly wired. I dig that though we're all different, hail from different geographic regions, have different ideologies, are of varying races, religions and backgrounds, there is a commonality in our goals, struggles and even the way in which we "process" the world.
Online or off, no matter where you are in your creative journey, or the obstacles you encounter, a fellow writer "gets it" like no one else. Which is why attending a writers' conference is a great way to stay motivated, receive support and achieve some of those new year's resolutions made in January. Remember? :-)
This weekend, Chicago Writers Association sponsored its first conference, for writers of all levels and genres. This exciting and informative forum was held at the beautiful Whitehall Hotel and featured some literary heavy-weights which included: David Fisher, Joe Meno, Fred Mitchell, Kathryn Craft and Ann Garvin (to name a few).
"What do you write?' was the ice breaker that served as the opening line for many "getting to know you" conversations throughout the weekend.
The great conversations added warmth to this chilly winter season, and represented just one benefit of attending this conference for me.
HERE ARE FIVE ADDITIONAL PERKS TO ATTENDING A WRITERS' CONFERENCE:
1. Information and InspirationWriters conferences offer an array of resources, tips and strategies to help you to "work smarter, not harder." Remember that knowledge is power.
2. Networking OpportunitiesSometimes these gatherings can present the right people and circumstances to fill in information gaps; introduce you to others for future collaborative projects; or provide leads to your "dream job."
3. Access to Industry ExpertsOne of my favorite sessions of the conference was the "Pick the brain" forum where writers were allowed to ask specific questions of the professional panel to address individual pain points and challenges. Things like marketing recommendations, how to craft a query letter, dialogue dos and don'ts, and how to successfully navigate relationships with editors.
4. Goodies and Freebies!
Who doesn't love "swag bags" filled with decorative pens, journals, bookmarks and other useful items? Winner winner chicken dinner!
5. Feedback and Guidance for your W.I. P. (Works in Progress)Depending upon what type of conference you attend and the format, you may be able to receive a critique session from an editor, have peers evaluate your ideas and approach, or simply benefit from Q & A sessions that broaden your knowledge base and help to move the needle on your career.
Though I'd love to have you join us for our next conference here in the "windy city," here's a listing of other conferences, if you can't.
Greetings Readers, In my ongoing efforts to advance and enhance your writing career, you'll find an array of diverse reads, leads and resources in today's post. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to let me know what resonated the most with you here, or to offer suggestions for future inclusion. Here's to your success!
I'm always trying out new recipes to entertain and "wow" family and friends.
Which is why I was so excited to score this clever and creative guide (from my local Dollar Tree Store) with appetizers and desserts essentially presented on a stick. It's a fun read filled with beautiful images and an innovative approach to both new and old recipes.
I'll be trying these treasures out soon. I'll keep you posted...
Everybody’s got an opinion. But, unfortunately not everyone will have the opportunity to be “heard.” Particularly in the virtual world; where there is so much noise, clamor and folks seeking 15 minutes of fame.
Here’s a crucial statistic to consider: according to Statista.com, the number of bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020. Which means that competition for the time, engagement and attention of today’s busy readers is becoming increasingly fierce.
All the more reason you’ll need to STAND OUT and stay relevant, to “stay in the black.” One way to do so is to become a thought leader or influencer in your respective niche. Before we cover how to accomplish this, I’ll address what an influencer or thought leader is, and why it benefits bloggers to become one.
WHAT IS A THOUGHT LEADER? Simply put, a thought leader or influencer is a blogger/writer who has earned the reputation of being someone who is informed, interesting, credible, respected and popular among peers. Another way to think of it is the slogan: “When E.F. Hutton speaks everybody listens.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING BRANDED A THOUGHT LEADER?
Thought leaders and influencers typically garner:
Greater traffic levels to their sites and a higher level of engagement and comments
Greater credibility; which translates into more sales of information products and creative services
More opps to partner with major brands and publishers as a brand ambassador and spokesperson
More avenues to make money through affiliate programs and ad revenue
Get the idea here? Don’t get it twisted. Your blog does not have to have a cult like following to qualify. Though it indeed helps. Now that you know what a thought leader is, you’ll need to know how to become one.
Accordingly, here are the 3 key traits that determine who typically becomes an influencer in the blog community and publishing industry. I like to call it the 3Rs:
REPUTATION Reputation refers to your brand, your online image, your overall public perception. It takes into account these major contributing factors: your website design, your social media activities, your writer’s voice, your logo, your slogan, writing awards, and even your guest posts. A solid reputation helps increase your visibility and your social media impact. It also helps to potentially cut down on your marketing efforts considerably. For example, in being recognized as an influencer via my “Top Blog for Writers” designation (for the past few years), I’ve garnered numerous requests to review merchants’ products; invitations to participate in collaborative projects; job offers; and some affiliate offers from major brands. And you can too. Simply put, a good writing reputation better positions you to be a “go-to-guru,” stand out from the crowd, build your fan base and your bottom line.
TAKE-AWAY TIP: Quality trumps quantity. Always put forth your best work. Though ideally, you want to publish on a very regular and consistent basis, it’s better to wait until you have something of substance to share, as opposed to publishing mediocre posts that merely help you meet your weekly quota. If generating ideas is a problem, check out this post to motivate your muse: http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/2013/02/find-inspiration-for-your-next-blog.html
REACH Reach simply refers to your collective following. It encompasses your Twitter peeps; your blog subscriber numbers; your Facebook fans; and other social media supporters. Advertisers, publishers, agents and investors crunch the numbers to determine whether there’s a likelihood that partnering with you will be profitable, based upon the size of your social circle. It’s also referred to as your “platform.”
TAKE-AWAY TIP: In the absence of massively large numbers, it helps if your blog contributes real value to the blogging community. Bonus points if it’s very unique and/or funny as well. Strive to be recognized as a resource; as someone who helps and supports other writers and bloggers; who is professional and “plays nicely” with others.
‘RITING Your work does not have to be Pulitzer Prize level to be popular and well-received. Perish the thought. It just needs to be quality oriented. Write from the heart. "Speak" from an informed position. Have your own style. Take the time to proof your writing for typos and careless errors.
TAKE-AWAY TIP: To become the best writer possible, read as much as possible. Read the blogs of respected authors; read outside of your niche; read books in different genres. Reading helps you to build your vocabulary, understand the needs of your audience, and hone your craft.
Becoming a thought leader is within your reach. Consider today's tips as "food for thought" for a more successful blogging career in 2018.
We all get stuck sometimes. Writer’s block, burnout, demands from bosses or clients, family commitments…there are so many factors that conspire to drain our time and energy, preventing us from putting words on the page. There’s nothing worse than waking up full of ambition and going to bed having accomplished what feels like nothing. Where did the time even go?!
If you find your days slipping away more often than not, you might want to try developing a regular writing routine. Truth is, unless you carve out sacred time specifically devoted to writing, you’ll often find that other responsibilities take priority. Meanwhile, your blog, book, or story languishes.
Reclaim your day by deciding on a basic schedule to follow. Even if you deviate from it sometimes, a solid schedule will keep you on track. Plus, you’ll be in good company. As the infographic below from Global English Editing demonstrates, countless famous authors relied on adhering to a consistent routine to get their writing done.
Maya Angelou, for example, didn’t do anything in half-measures. She booked a hotel room long-term specifically to use for writing. And that’s not all: she declined to use housekeeping services and had all distractions, such as paintings and decorations, removed from the room. That’s some impressive dedication to her craft.
Kurt Vonnegut used a different strategy. He alternated his bouts of writing with swimming and other exercises, as well as breaks to run errands and listen to music. Perhaps he enjoyed the boost in creativity he got from exercise, or perhaps he simply needed respite from staring at a blank page.
Ultimately, your writing schedule should fit your life and goals. This infographic shares the daily writing routines of 20 authors, each one different from the next. Read on for a little inspiration!
Mirror Image: Freedigitalphotos.net INFOGRAPHIC SUBMITTED BY: Sierra Delarosa/Global English Editing
There’s an art to seduction. Whether it’s love-oriented or literary. In fact, whether or not you realize it, your writing represents a “relationship” with your readers. Particularly if you’re a blogger currently active on the scene.
Are you committed? Are you good “relationship material“? Or are you merely seeking a casual, temporary, until something better comes along “booty-call“?
If your goal is to create quality connections, cultivate a cohesive bond between you and your audience, and go the distance, there are a few tips to “courting” them that you’ll need to know. Consider this post like a Cosmo Magazine “how to please your mate” guide. (Candles optional).
If you’re in the mood, let’s get started. Shall we…?
HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO GET IN BED WITH YOUR READERS (AND STILL RESPECT YOURSELF IN THE MORNING)
1. BE ATTENTIVE TO THEIR NEEDS
Like any successful relationship, it’s crucial that you cater to your readers’ needs. Do you know what those needs are? In other words, what’s your readers’ motivation for visiting your site? Is it to be entertained? To get the 4-1-1 on celebrity gossip? To get ahead in their creative careers? What are their pain points or problem areas? Your job is to translate this knowledge into something that helps to enhance them, inspire them, or create magical moments.
2. DON’T FEAR INTIMACY
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Communicate with honesty and depth. It’s okay to let us see you without all your make-up on.You’re still beautiful.Share your fears. Your shortfalls. Your future dreams. This can be accomplished through anecdotes, “ah-ha” moments, and real-life revelations. Remember, sharing is caring.
3. DISPLAY PASSION
Don’t “fake the feeling.” Your interaction with your readers should convey that you are truly excited about words and language, their power and their impact--and your role. A passionate writer chooses expressions carefully; cares about the reader’s experience; stimulates through the use of sensory words; and spends quality time in producing work.
4. CULTIVATE GOOD LISTENING SKILLS
There’s nothing that engenders real regard and affection like listening. In the words of the Verizon commercial: “Can you hear me now?” Everybody likes to feel validated and heard. Are you “listening” to your readers through their comments? Posed questions? Suggestions? Surveys and polls conducted? “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” states famous author, Steven R. Covey. Surveymonkey.com provides tools and techniques to tap into the minds of your readers and address their concerns, issues (and if you’re lucky, even their fantasies).
5. KEEP THE COMPETITION IN MIND
Never take your “intended” for granted. There’s always someone waiting in the wings to “woo” them and turn their heads. Did you know that according to Statista.com,“ The number of bloggers in the United States is set to reach 31.7 million users in 2020”? Like it or not, each of us are in competition for the valuable time and attention of today’s busy readers. Step up your game to stand out, stay relevant and to keep your date card punched.
6. EXTEND ROMANTIC GESTURES
Give some to get some. You know how flowers, candy and Hallmark cards can make a favorable impression with others? Along the same lines, free E-books, give-aways, links to resources and valuable information products can also show your appreciation to readers and foster a “warm and fuzzy feelin’.”
7. BE CONSISTENT
Don’t be a no-show when the novelty wears off, or when the hard work kicks in. Stay in touch. Quite often "out of sight, out of mind."
8. LAUGH TOGETHER
Whether it's through corny jokes, trending topics or mistakes made and lessons learned. Laughter lightens the heart.
Once you master the art of seduction, you'll score with your readers time and time again. Follow these timely tips for optimal success.
Have a Happy Valentine's Day and a wonderful writing week ahead!
February marks National Black History Month. A time to recognize, honor and embrace the collective contributions of people of color.
Accordingly, I thought it would be fun and interesting to share with you a few Black bloggers that are worthy of note. Good writing/blogging in my opinion has no color; it has universal appeal. Which is why those that are being featured might just make it on your future blog roll list.
Here, in no particular order are four for this month:
Evelyn helps readers to "take charge of their health and own it!" On her site you'll find an array of interesting articles on healthy eating and weight management. A great blog for those of you who have made weight loss one of your new year's resolutions.
Sybil is a Harvard graduate who knows her stuff. Through her popular site she shares tips and strategies to overcome obstacles and enhance the quality of life.
Chavis and her husband decided to engage in a simple act that had major impact. They vowed to give up complaining for 40 days. This ushered in a new way of thinking and a new way of life. Read how having a paradigm shift and a positive mental state can transform your relationships, your career, and your overall perspective. You'll find a lot of interesting topics, resources, and posts worth pondering here. Imagine the possibilities!
Sybil has also been a guest post contributor to Pen & Prosper. You can read more of her work below:
Let's face it: life is full of fears real and imagined...
In a tough economy, the fear exists of losing our jobs.
Then there's the fear of keeping our jobs and being stuck and suffocated indefinitely.
Add to this the fear of not having a bikini-ready body by summer (ok, this is mostly me).
For writers, the plot thickens. We are often faced with a myriad of fears, that if not handled properly can sabotage our success. Today we'll look at a few of them.
Because as Dr. Phil states: "You can't fix what you don't acknowledge first."
With this in mind, here are four of the most common phobias writers face:
The Fear of Rejection
Writing makes us vulnerable. Sharing our thoughts, feelings and experiences in public forums can be a bit scary. What if people don't like us? Or disagree with us? Or criticize us? Or make fun of us? What if editors say "no" to our submissions? The fear of rejection keeps a lot of writers grounded and "undiscovered." Don't let it be you. Develop a thick skin. And keep moving forward. Rejection as a writer is as common as cold weather in the winter.
The Fear of Stolen Ideas & Projects
Though creative theft does exist, it's more of an exception than a general rule. Most writers and publishing professionals think that their ideas are way better than other people's anyway. Besides, few would want to take on the risk of being sued. If you are seeking more security of your written materials, you can get copyrights for added protection. Learn more here:
How many of us chose alternative college majors because we were told that writing was more of a hobby than a "real" career? I know I did. But here's the truth of it. There are writers that are rich, successful, famous and living the good life. Think J.K. Rowling. Think John Grisham. And how about Danielle Steel? Granted, the odds are against you reaching their level; still, with diligence, confidence, and consistency you could earn more than your 9 to 5 gig. "Think and grow rich."
The Fear of Failure
Also known as Atichyphobia, is labeled by Fear.net as one of the biggest barriers to success.
Remember that failure does not have to be permanent. Consider how many times famous inventors "failed" before ultimately finding solutions and products that greatly enhance our everyday existence today.
"If at first you don't succeed, try try again."
What phobias do you battle to fend off? Here's an interesting compilation for inquiring minds:
Did you know that January is National Soup Month? I happened to be doing some online research and uncovered this fun fact. And since I am devoted to "nurturing" the mind, body, spirit and creativity of my readers, I was inspired to write and share this post today.
So, let's dig in, shall we...?
January and National Soup Month are a perfect pairing. Much like wine and cheese. Or peanut butter and jelly. Or Starsky and Hutch. Why? You ask. Because, there’s really no better time to consume soup than January--given the brutal winter temperatures and the need for “comfort” foods.
I love soups. They're hearty, healthy, and easy to prepare. You'll find my cupboards stocked with an array of different brands and versions, year-round. Though I have not mastered making them from scratch yet. (Does beef stew count?)
If you'd like to try your hand at a few home-made versions, check out these great recipes, provided by Campbell Soups:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”---Socrates
Many times, without realizing it, we operate on “auto-pilot.”We maintain jobs that deplete us of our joy, peace of mind, and sense of purpose, to pay the bills. Or we endure love-less relationships because they are safe and familiar. Or we hold silly grudges that weigh us down like boulders. Or we allow others to impose their agendas and personal opinions on our life’s unfolding, to our detriment. We go along to get along.
Until something tragic or magic happens to cause a reality check. For me, it was the untimely death of my brother, Peter. He wasn’t even retirement age, yet. His passing seemed so random, so unreal.
To make matters worse, about a month later, one of my closest friends lost her sister to Cancer. Ironically, her sister had never been a smoker or drinker, and had been in reasonably decent health all her life.
In the aftermath death seemed unkind, unfair, unreasonable. Mired in unspeakable pain and loss, I was forced to examine my own life. Let’s face it: We all have a “death sentence” attached.
If it could happen to them prematurely, it could happen to me. It could happen to you. Which is why it’s so important to make whatever time we have left here on this earth count.
Life is often compared to a classroom; here are some of the lessons it revealed to me in 2017. I share them with you to shorten your learning curve; in that we are all students of life.
Class in session…
1. MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY I spend more time than I should responding to the dictates of others, as opposed to carving out my days in my own way. Honoring requests, meeting deadlines, making a dent in my “to-do” list. As opposed to getting that much needed pedicure or massage, or championing my own personal causes. Sometimes leaving this "Super Woman" super tired. Sound familiar? It’s great to have a giving spirit, but self-love requires that we remember to put ourselves first, so that we can be fulfilled. When we are personally fulfilled, we can give to others our “best” self. If you've already mastered this one, move to the head of the class.
2. GIVE PEOPLE THEIR “ROSES” WHILE THEY ARE LIVING We often take for granted that people know how we feel. Or that we will find time to tell them… one day. Don’t wait til it’s too late. Spend less time on social media and more time interacting and communicating with your kids; visit an elderly relative who might feel isolated; tell an overworked spouse how much they are appreciated and valued. It’s never too soon. Love is a verb.
3. DON’T PUT OFF THOSE PASSION PROJECTS Make this your “year of yes!” Start that blog. Finish that novel. Start that business. Get in gear. Though some writers have become famous after their deaths, I’m guessing that you don’t wanna’ be one of them. J
4. STRIVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE As a wise man once said: “No one can do everything, but everybody can do something.” Volunteer. Mentor. Model. Donate.
5. GET YOUR “HOUSE” IN ORDER Don’t just be prepared for life; prepare for death. Like taxes, it’s inevitable. Get insurance; make out a will; forgive others; consider your soul’s salvation.
6. PREPARE A BUCKET LIST What exciting thing would you like to do in your lifetime? What foreign places are you longing to visit? What fear would you like to overcome? Write it down. Prioritize it. It will give you something to look forward to. It’s a great way to live with fewer regrets and more joy.
7. CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY Friends are like “shock absorbers” in the bumpy roads of life. They are angels here on earth. Good ones enrich and feed us like a hearty meal. When my brother died, the love, support, kindness, phone calls, donations, shared laughter and tears of friends that span the globe, reminded me of how richly I was blessed, even in my time of loss.
8. TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED Things can change in an instant. Save money for that rainy day. Preserve your health. Count your blessings. Live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is not promised.
May these lessons help you to live with greater life mastery and fewer detours on the path to happiness. Namaste.
Which lessons here have you mastered? Which do you struggle with? What would you add? Image credit: Chalkboard, Pixabay.com
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