Wednesday, 30 January 2013

ROW80 Check in 6 - Do I Get Points For Just Showing Up?

So, holidays, as it turns out, do not give you as much free time as you would think. Well, maybe just as I would think. 

I've got some pretty major stuff done, but it's all behind the scenes and a lot of other stuff I've spent ages on but have nothing to show for.

So, overall, things not looking great. And how did I go with my goals? Hmmm...

'I want to edit the introduction and first day of my e-book'
- Um, well, does 'not looking at the book once' count for much? 

'I want to write at least 3 articles'
- two articles down. Yah. Okay, so it's not three, but it's better than nothing.

'and finally get my fitness blog transferred and up and running.'
- We won't mention this one.

Though, things I did manage to do:
- write a pretty good blog post on barefoot running for FitBuster.
- did some work on so there are two new pages.

Oh well.

My goal for next check-in?

Yup, that's it. I'm driving up to Sydney on Friday with my aunt(10 hour drive, going to be making the most of audio books) to see the Paris Ballet perform Giselle. 

Then I'm off to The Golden Door, an amazing health retreat, for their 7 day program. This is going to be amazing, and just what I need to de-stress. (Though, giving up caffeine over the last two days has left me really irritable and headachy. But better now than while I'm there, as caffeine is band). 

So, have promised my mother faithfully that I will completely relax, won't do any writing (unless I really, really have to), and won't think about internety stuff. 

I wont' be able to check in or do my sponsor duties for a week so sorry to all ROW80's out there. But I will come back bigger and better than ever!

Lots of Love,

Monday, 28 January 2013

Winner of the Goal Journal (Again)!

Goals Journal

Thank you everyone for entering into the competition for the goal journal again. 

As some of the entries were lost in posting and so did not have the creative flare that might have been otherwise presented, I ended up using my old random number generator to find a winner.

A big hurrah to... number 1: Jasmine from SmileLoveJazz!

Jasmine, send me an email at: to collect your prize!

Tomorrow I'll do the next in the series of creating your killer online platform. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

ROW 80 Check in 5 - How Not To Do A 30 Hour Novel

Not the Rosiest of Forecasts 

I have not failed in doing the 30 hour novel, I have very successfully found useful information on how not to write a 30 hour novel!

Based on my day of experience, here is my top advice for anyone that wants to write a 30 hour novel:

1. Don't. 

This is not to totally discourage you, but to make you think about why you would want to do this?

I admit, I wanted to do it to show off. This is not a good reason at all. 

If, say, I was totally excited about an idea, so much so that it kept me awake at night, and I decided I would take all the passion for that idea, and just lock myself away from the world and pour it all out over 30 hours, this would be a perfectly good thing. But if you are writing solely to write 'a 30 hour novel', it is a waste of your effort and time. If it is a good idea it deserves being developed properly, if it is a bad idea don't waste the 30 hours on it. 

2. Have a character to start with. 

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I'm a big fan of letting your creative youth take over and doing discovery writing. I am now revising this theory just a little bit. 

You need to have something to start with. 

Yesterday I sat down with absolutely nothing. No name, no image, not even a time period. I started writing, and then just kept going with all the weird stuff that came up. This is not the way to start a time-pressured writing piece. 

I came up with some good concepts, but 3,000 words in realised what I had were a few points that needed to be sorted, brainstormed and extended, in amongst a whole lot of confusing not so good stuff. It was not the beginning of a story. It might, just might, have been the beginning of an idea. Trying to turn it into a story without sorting it out was a mistake.  

I am now coming to believe that for me I need to have a grasp of my main characters and the overall feel of the book before I can be expected to sit down and do long writing sessions. If I had taken the time to plot out my characters and understand the environment I was going to put them into, then I could have done the discovery writing much more successfully, and without feeling like I was trying to sculpt using my own brain matter.

3. Run Away Where People Can't Find You.

So, one of the guys I was meant to be having a date with, but called off because I was going to be writing all day, offered to drop off some supplies. This seemed very sweet, and I reminded him that I would be writing. However, if felt super rude to have this guy turn up, give me food and then kick him out, so I offered him a drink. His reply should have alerted me potential problems:

'Just water for now, I'll have a tea later.' 

Um, excuse me? Later? How long did you think you were going to stay? Writing, remember? 

But I wanted to be polite, and the food was great (market cheese and dips with crackers), and did enjoy talking to him, but after over an hour (!!) I suggested I needed to get back to writing, and it took another 20 minutes to get him out the door. 

Then my little sister rang to say my brother Tim had just flown in from Brisbane as a surprise for Australia day, was I coming up for the family dinner? 

Seriously people? What part of 'writing, all day' did you not get? 

But as I was getting nowhere, I gave up and went up to my parents. 

So, conclusion: no 30 hour novel, but some good advice.

If I were to do it all again, which maybe one day I will, though not on the first day of my holiday when I'm still stressed and tired and people are wanting things from me, this is how I would approach it:

1. Read more motivational material before starting. 
2. Spend the week before brainstorming and developing enthusiasm for an idea. Do some in depth character description and build up an emotional context for the story.
3. Run away with no communication and lots of supplies to a place where I can be totally self-indulgent and just write with no disruptions. 

And I would have to seriously consider if this was the best thing for my book and my mental health. 

So, sorry for letting everyone down, and I do feel I broke very easily, but I think if I had continued on I would have made things even worse. 

From now on, I'm going to be setting ROW 80 check-in by check-in goals because, frankly, I'm really tired and need to take better care of my mental capabilities. 

So, I'm now officially on holidays (yah!), so for the next few days, until the Wednesday Check in, I want to edit the introduction and first day of my e-book, I want to write at least 3 articles, and finally get my fitness blog transferred and up and running. 

We'll see how that goes. 

Thanks everyone for the support, I really appreciated it.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

8am - The Beginning of My 30 Hour Novel.

Good morning all, well, anyone else stupid enough to have gotten up early on the first day of a long weekend (and their two weeks leave). 

Just me? Right, thought so. 

So why have I woken up so early? 

 So I could get ready to spend 15 hours today and 15 hours tomorrow trying to write a novel (novella) in a single weekend. 

And no, this wasn't actually my idea. I was just one of the people crazy enough to agree to do it. It was much better in theory, let me tell you. 

Unfortunately, I am not sure if I will be allowed (let alone able) to compete properly. Just got an email part way through the night saying they expect everyone to do it on UK time. This does mean starting later, but also working through the night. Some advantages, I admit, but I'm here now and I'm just going to sit down and write. 

I'll give a brief hourly update on my Facebook Fan page for those who are interested in the process. 

Don't judge me too harshly if I get to 2pm and just want to curl up and sleep. Definitely not feeling at my most creative. However, one of the major points of my blog is that you write even when you don't feel like it, just because you are a writer.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bad Writing - A Review

One of my friends, who has just caught onto the blog and is working her way through chronologically (shout out to Vanessa!), linked on her Facebook page an interview with Margaret Atwood in the documentary 'Bad Writing'.

Instead of just watching the related interview, this evening I thought I would sit down and watch the full documentary (1 hour and 27 minutes). It is currently streaming free until the 31st of January.

Now trying to decide if this was a mistake and I should demand back the 1 and 27 minutes of my life.

The basic premise was that the interviewer in his mid twenties threw himself into writing poetry. A number of years later, after attending college and actually doing some creative writing classes he found his old work and realised they were completely crap. He then went and interviewed a variety of different writers about what was 'bad writing'.

The major problem with the documentary is that the interviewer was in no way engaging. His writing was crap, and his forcing his interviewees to read it aloud and then comment on it, even with the disclaimer that he knew it was bad, still came across as uncomfortable. What was the point? It felt like bizarre self-promotion in a negative sense. And the bad writing didn't stop there. The documentary had multiple scenes of the interviewer wandering around with a voice over reading his bad poetry. Okay, we get it, you wrote really bad poetry. Let it go.

Also, in my naturally critical state, just looking at him, listening to him talk, I would quite confidently say that he isn't any better at writing now. Probably a different sort of bad. But watching him interview these famous authors, he did not interact as someone who has a natural perception to situations and can find appropriate ways of describing them. These I think are key elements of being a good writer. Even if you don't speak, if you just observe, you at least observe.

The film is also filled with scene after scene of him becoming all self-reflective and not being able to ask questions as he catches himself in mannerisms, which totally should have been edited out. He might have been trying to make some meta comment about how bad writing is also inherent in everyday life (one of the interviewees, trying to laugh off his inability to ask a question without analyse his own language suggests this, but he doesn't really seem to pick up on it).

The other thing that really annoyed me was that some of the authors were in the middle of making a good point and then they just cut the scene to something completely different, mid-sentence.

So, having trashed the actual documentary, were there some interesting things said by the authors?

Obviously, a better interviewer who had better questions would have brought out a lot more. However, that aside, some interesting points:

There was a definite sense that even good writers could do bad writing, even at the height of their career. And even the suggestion that a bad writer could occasionally produce good writing. Which brings up the question of how separate is the writer from their work?

There was also the sense that there is something optimistic about bad writing, in that if you can recognise it is bad, you are on the way to improving.

One author noted that first drafts should be bad, it is through editing that things are clarified and purified.
(Buffy plug: so don't let fear of being bad hold you back, get the words out and then rejoice that you can make it better! I used to think of essays like kiwi fruit, after writing the essay there was that satisfactory time of peeling off all the furry bits so it was just clear and smooth.)

There was a discussion on the value of writing classes, that writing can definitely be taught, but it is up to the individual as to whether it can be learnt.
I second this notion, that in my writing classes the good writers were also the ones that were usually prepared to take on the most criticism and do the most revision. The bad writers you would point out half a dozen major structural things, and they would come back having changed one sentence. If you can't let it go, you are never going to improve.

There are two sides to bad writing; bad writing which only makes sense if you are inside the writer's head, and bad writing where the writer has tried to explain every little bit in case you the reader couldn't make any of the connections or images yourself. These are useful concepts to keep in mind.

Similarly one of the authors talked about how bad writing often comes about from a fear of being honest, and that truly good writing can only develop from honesty; of emotion, experience, etc.

A lot of the authors talked about the development, that in their twenties they were pretentious and bad writers, and it wasn't until they were in their late thirties to forties that they began doing their better work, and improve from there.
I found this encouraging for a number of reasons:
1. I'm not too old! You read about those prodigies that have their books published at 20 and think 'damn, I'm past it', but no, no I'm not. My best writing years are yet to come.
2. It supports my notion of it taking about 10 years of almost an apprenticeship before you can start performing at the required level. I'm counting my years of academic study, week after week of writing and being critiqued on the writing, writing in different styles and all to a deadline, as my training. And now I'm just beginning my actual career as a writer, which is pretty exciting.
3. It demonstrates that writing is a skill, like most others, that can be improved. It is not a magical gift from on high, hard work and proper coaching, along with an attitude prepared to develop, is all that it takes.

I suppose I got some interesting ideas out of the documentary, so in that way it was no more a waste of an hour and half of my life as if I had just fallen asleep on the couch... something I'm starting to do with more regularity. Shouldn't have got such a comfy couch!

What makes bad writing for you? Do you have en examples? (I have to admit, when I was doing creative writing classes as a student, the bad pieces were almost more enjoyable than the merely good ones.)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

ROW 80 Check In 4 - the 30 Hour Novel

Photo: Commons
Photo stolen from the Kernel's 30 Hour Novel post.

So, on Saturday and Sunday I've agree to sit down and do the 30 Hour Novel. Of course I knew it was ridiculous: writing for 15 hours a day two days in a row. But you know, there are 24 hours in a day, so why waste them doing something that isn't writing? 

Well, as happens often in Buffyworld, I agreed to the challenge, and then did the maths: this means starting to write at 8am in the morning and not stopping until 11pm at night. 

But my bedtime is 10pm. And when do I eat? And waking up before 8am on a weekend just seems cruel. Can I include my tea breaks in the 15 hours?

Add to that I have now been asked out on 2 (two!!) dates on Saturday. Seriously? Nothing for years, and then 2 dates on the same day? I've had to say no to both, because I'm writing. What, all day? Um, actually, in this case, yes, all day, and a bit into the night. 

Felt like telling them they could be like my pit crew and bring me energy drinks during the day (though I'm trying to be super healthy because I'm going to The Golden Door Retreat for their 7 day health program, which is going to be super amazing (and is super expensive, thank God I won the lottery) but can't have any caffeine or sugar while I'm there, so trying to cut down now so I don't spend the whole week curled up in a ball crying. On that note, made super delicious date and almond balls, with just a hint of vanilla... highly recommended!). 

Point of that long side track: no binge energy drinking for me during my 30 hours of madness, or other sugar packed props which were my regulars during all nighters at Uni.

Also, feel I cannot ask people who want to go on a first/second date with me to be my personal slaves. Not just yet. But if I have any volunteers from people who actually know me... Just to bring me supplies and check that I haven't tried to kill myself, that would be great. :D Anyone? Anyone at all?

Anyway, this week I haven't been focused on my writing as I know I have this mammoth weekend effort, so have been doing other things. (That is my neat way of saying: no, I haven't met my ROW 80 goals). 

Started the Celtic mythology book my sister gave me for Christmas, as thinking maybe the 30 hour novel will be a mythological fantasty. Though, am seriously struggling with the names. I'm sure they have made up sounds. 

Managed to get Telstra to cancel my contract without charging me (which since in 3 weeks they hadn't managed to get my internet actually working I think is fair.) Also renewed my lease on my super cute apartment for another 12 months, and managed to negotiate the rent down (pretty proud of myself for that, though probably means I was paying too much before, but still.) So am going to get naked dsl set up here if I can. (So instead of Telstra's 4GB per month, I'm going to be getting like 50GB, for less. In your face, Telstra. Not that I'm bitter or anything.) 

Haven't written any more articles, even though I really should have. So, might try and do one tomorrow. 

Pretty proud of my last blog post. I know it looks like I just copied Pat Flynn, but it was a lot of conceptual work to realise that what is what I wanted, and to make sure it all worked for writing, and delineate all the different aspects. Well, I just hope it is useful. And now I have to put it all into practice for my own work! (Yeah, I teach because I can't do :D). So have write the required number of blog posts. 

And that is pretty much it. 

I should point out that the 30 Hour Novel is closing for entries today. The big advantage of the competition is that everyone gets to upload theirs at the end, then its open to a public vote (no, that's not the good part, that might be quite horrific depending what you write). However, HaperCollins has actually said they will publish the winning entry! Okay, so I don't really expect to win, but still, it's a great motivation - cut through all the trouble and hassle of trying to find an agent and then a publisher. Just saying. 

Will be tracking my progress on my Facebook Fan Page. Stop by if you want to see how I'm going and leave me any encouraging message (or you can leave them here on the blog, either is fine).


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

KOP: Understanding How It All Works.

So, last week I introduced my new series with an Overview of How To Build A Killer Online Platform (known as KOP from now on.) I outlined 22 steps to make yourself super famous online and because of that have agents and publishers lining up around the corner, or failing that allowing you to self-publish to your millions of adoring fans. 

And then I left you hanging for a week while I finished my draft and tried to work on my own online platform. Sorry about that.

But now I'm back, and ready to give you the first piece of the puzzle.

Now, the first step on the list was actually 'Identify Your Niche Area', and so last night I dutifully started writing a post, that turned into about three posts. Not quite sure why it wasn't working, I took a break and thought about it today. Just after dinner, I realisd my problem. Before jumping straight into building the KOP, I really need to start with the basics and show you all the different elements that are going to make up your KOP, and how they all work together. 

Now, I'm sending out a big thanks to Pat Flynn over at the Smart Passive Income for explaining the process so well in his series on his 'Niche Site Duel'. 

Basically a friend challenged Pat to a duel to find a brand new area that he knew little about, start a website in that field and make it to number 1 in Google for a particular keyword. Both of them blogged about the challenge as they went.

Instead of just building one website and trying to write lots and lots of posts for it, Pat developed two separate levels of sites all linking and directing traffic from a wide range of areas towards his central website. 

Basically, that's what you want to do for your platform. You want to have lots of different landing points to catch traffic and guide them through to your central page which is all about you.

I hope Pat doesn't mind (and in repayment, go check him out, he has awesome free content, and a great free e-book on how to create your own ebook), but I'm going to let him describe the strategy in his own words, and then I'll discuss how it applies to writing (and some of the necessary changes). 

The clip goes for 11 minutes, but is totally worth it:

Remember that his major aim is to get his Niche Site to No. 1 in Google, and therefore he is only interested in 'back links' (links in other pages that point to your website and therefore give it more authority and love from Google). We are interested in back links, but also flow through traffic, and therefore care a lot more what is presented in all these other layers because it is going to be YOU presented on these blogs, and in the article directories, etc.

So, how does it work for writing? Well, Pat's Method looks like this:

Pat Flynn's Backlinking Strategy

So, your niche site: this is your branded page where you are selling YOU. This is not a blog about what you did today, it is a professional webpage that is basically an interactive resume and pitch for your work. It is the way people can hire you for speaking engagements, contact you for publishing deals, or buy your books that are already published. This is the core of your platform, everything should point and direct people here.

In the anchor level Pat talks about four aspects:

1. article directories such as, where you can post articles with a link that basically says "like this and want to know more about my writing, then check me out at.... (core webpage)". These are direct links to your core page and should get traffic already interested in your work to come through (Targeted Traffic).

2. your blog. I highly recommend separating out your blog and your core webpage because it will widen the net you throw. Also, as I'm going to discuss in a later topic, your blog really needs to be keyword relevant in a specific area and be focused not on promoting your work, but helping people and giving them information that is of such high value they can't wait to go to your website and buy your other books, get you as a speaker. 

You might end up having a number of blogs, for example one on how to be a great romance writer, another on simple details to make historical fiction more realistic, and another on how to keep the romance alive in your everyday life. A reader from any of these blogs could then be interested in going to your core site and buying your steamy, accurate and well written historical romances.

3. Web 2.0: he mentions HubPages, which I've talked about before (and found out about through this video) and Squidoo which is similar. These allow you to build a mini platform within their platform. They do all the traffic getting and point it towards you, you just have to publish top articles which will rank higher in Google because of the authority of the site. You get to set up a profile, collect followers, and in your 'about' page you can list your core site so people who like your HubPages articles will follow through. But you aren't allowed to directly push people from your article to your site as you can with article submissions. (You can also earn money just off these, which is nifty for the starving writer).

4. He mentions BlogBlueprint which in an update he mentions has changed and he doesn't recommend, so we'll not be looking at it.

So we are first going to be focusing on: building your core, setting up your blog/s, direct article submissions and Web 2.0 profiles.

After that his second layer is where you use mass-article submissions to drive traffic and back links to your anchor level (such as your blogs, or HubPages). Using Unique Article Wizard (the software that I started using after Pat recommended it, note that this is an affiliate link) it is possible to get hundreds of backlinks per article that you write. 

The software is actually reasonably expensive, it's about $67 per month on-going subscription. However, I have bought it and am trialing it, and even though I've only sent out about 5 articles, I can already see increased traffic directly from some of these to my fitness blog. If you are organised enough to publish an article every few days, then with the program you would see increased traffic.

Now, it is possible to do this all by hand, but it means re-writing your article just a bit each time, signing up for the article directories, and individually submitting. Doing some is definitely better than doing none, but you won't get the hundreds of back-links you can with the program, which sends out your article to 25 article directories a day, continuously, until it has sent it out to all the directories related to your keywords. My articles have all been sent to around 130 directories each, though not all of these will accept the article. However, even if only half are picked up, for one article, that's 50 new back links pointing to your anchor layer. And with the article directories, people are allowed to copy your articles onto their own blogs, as long as they keep your resource box (which is where your link is) so it can spread out even further. Most of my traffic has come from just one or two websites that have published my article (under my name, cool, huh) as an expert on that topic!

So, if you have money to invest in building your platform, and you can be strict with yourself and actually get articles out there, then I highly recommend Unique Article Wizard. Out of all the bits of software that I've bought and used, it and another one I'll talk about soon, Market Samurai, have actually shown almost instant results when used. 

When I do the post on creating backlinks, I'll show you more about how to use it, though they have pretty good tutorials on the actual site, if you can't wait that long. But I recommend having a few articles written and ready to go, so you make the most of every month. 

In this outer layer we also have all our social media, and important aspects like your Twitter account, Facebook Fan Page, YouTube account (why not?) etc. 

Then all you have to do is find the keywords your audience is looking for, get articles out which feature your keyword, send people to your blog or HubPages, and then on through to your core site, liking and sharing as they go along, so that you soon have thousands of followers on your core webpage's email subscription. Next time a new book comes out, you send out a simple email to all these followers saying you are having a launch party, and bam, you're done. 

How hard can that be? 
(There is laughter there, as this is going to take months, and along with writing your novel you need to be writing posts for the blogs, articles for HubPages (which can't be duplicates), turning your blog posts into articles for E-zine etc and then creating the variations on articles for automatic article submissions every few days. But hey, it all adds towards your 10,000 hours of writing practice to become an expert!)

So, sorry if that was either too basic and you know all that stuff already, or a bit too full on. Let me know if you want more details, or want me to explain anything better.

Next week I'll start looking at setting up your core webpage. 

(and remember, the Goal Journal competition is still open! Just comment on the Giveaway Post why you want it.)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

ROW 80 Check in 4, and First Non-Fiction Draft Complete!

Hello and welcome on this very nice night.

Why am I so happy, you ask? 

Well, I have just completed the first draft of my first non-fiction book!

The Five Day Writer's Retreat is all there! Everything I want to say, my action points, a whole lot of quotes, and some little digressions. 

And to be honest, I'm pretty proud of it. It has some really good advice which I was interested to learn about. (My creative youth gave me a brilliant example of how to set goals which was exciting to write, and I did a bit of research into a few areas such as nutrition for brain function which has pointed some things out I should be doing.) It's great when writing teaches you what you are writing about.

I want to go through a put a few more quotes in, and photos (though the photos are a bit of a discussion point at the moment because if it is an e-book, on computer they will look great, but on kindle or other grayscale devices I'm not sure they won't just be a bit irritating. Thoughts? Anyone read books with a lot of pictures on their e-reader?). It also needs a huge edit, as there will be spelling and grammar errors all over the place. But now that it is all there, the process of cleaning it up, giving it a shave and doing its hair, making it presentable seems rather fun.

I think the plan for the next two weeks is something like this: next weekend I'm going to attempt the insane task of writing for 15 hours a day Saturday and Sunday and see if I can completely discovery write a book from beginning to almost an end in that period. 

Therefore, I don't to start another new project this week. So, instead I'm going to alternate between editing this book and doing the preparation for my next top secret assignment.  Well, it's only top secret now because I'm really excited about it, and want to give the project its own entire post. So for now you will just have to wait in anticipation. 

So, ROW80 goals for this week:

5,000 words for 5 days:
Monday yes, Tuesday almost, Wednesday yes. Then Friday and Saturday together yes, and Sunday almost (finished the book, so didn't keep writing). During this period I have also edited away a lot of words as I went as well. However, succeeding in finishing the first draft was the main purposes.

3 articles:
Yes. 2 hubpages and 2 article directory submission. Go me. 

Blog posts:
I think I did 4 posts per blog, which is not everyday, but I think this might become my new goal. 4 is quite a lot, and now that I'm getting a steadier readership, I don't feel I have to post to hold onto readers (I was a bit anxious about this for a while, because my stats showed a great increase on the days I posted, and almost nothing on the days I didn't, so naturally I felt compelled to post everyday). You all happy with just 4 posts a week? Will give you a chance to actually read all of them :D

Other things:
So, have started putting together my new website for my company:
Don't get too excited, as I'm currently playing around as I've never used WordPress before and is taking a while to adjust from Blogger. 

Blogger continues to irritate me, particularly Wednesday where I tried for over an hour to get my post to publish, and in the end had to email it to myself and do it at work because even the next day it still wouldn't work. (And wasn't my internet, as my other post worked). 

Still haven't heard from Telstra who promised super, duper faithfully to ring me in 'two to three days' last Monday about why they can't get my internet to work. Am going to ring them tomorrow and tell them not to bother, I'm changing providers. 

Still having issues trying to register my fitness blog....

And on that note, I need your help!

I have come up with a range of names that I could have for my new fitness blog. I'm moving my old one (Fitbuster) over onto its own domain, partly so I have more control and partly so it isn't ''. So, all the content, and hopefully the appearance, will stay pretty much the same, I'll just rebrand it and build on it. 

My current choices (with input from friends and family) are below, please vote on your favourite in the comments! All advice greatly appreciated.

1. PersonalFitnessBaseCamp (this is my favourite at the moment, just to let you know).
2. BuffyFit (am afraid I might have trademark issues with this).
3. ThinkingFit.
4. FitTrack
5. GetFitHQ

So, what do you think? 

And don't forget to comment for the Goal Journal! Open until next Sunday when I will hopefully finish my 30 hour madness :D

Friday, 18 January 2013

And You Thought NaNoWriMo Was Insane...

So, there are a lot of people out there who think that the concept of NaNoWriMo is insane: to write the first draft of an entire novel (at least 50,000 words) in a month. 

I was therefore pretty proud of my efforts to write a draft in two weeks, until I saw this...

NaNoWriWee: Write a Novel in a Weekend (aka The 30 Hour Novel)

So it's slightly tongue in cheek, but over the weekend of 26th-27th of Jan, some crazy Brits are planning to sit down for 15 hours a day and see what they can produce. 

Now I count myself pretty insane in writing terms, but I don't think I've done more than 6 hours of writing in one day, and that leaves you almost blind with the inside of your brain twitching. 15 hours just seems ridiculous.

So ridiculous that I might just have to try it!

Who's with me?

(Was that crickets I heard?)

I've actually got 2 weeks leave starting that weekend, and for the second week am off to a health retreat, which is going to be awesome, though I don't know if I'll be doing much writing. So spending two days to knock off that fortnight's novel would then leave me time to do other things during the week. 

I won't have any particular word count in mind, because honestly I have no idea how much I can do or even what sort of novel I'll be turning out. 

But I am accepting the challenge that for two days, and two days only, I will sit down and write for 15 hours a day. So sorry world if you wanted me to do anything else. 

Don't have anything planned for it at all, because the projects I have lined up will either need a bit more time, or I've already got a little bit started. However, for Christmas my little sister gave me 'The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends', so I thought I might start reading that and see what my creative youth came up with. It will be completely discovery writing, no plotting at all. 

If you are also looking for something to just blow your socks off, check out their website and sign up for the challenge:

One added benefit is that it will make NaNoWriMo in November seem like a breeze :D

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Exciting News, ROW 80 Check In 3, Update on My Online Dating Adventures, and a Giveaway!

As indicated by the title, I just decided to chuck absolutely everything into this post, so here goes!
My Exciting News:

First of all, I'm excited so I'm going to share it all with you, so hopefully you can be excited for me:
I'm officially a company!
Yup, as of the 11th of Jan (didn't receive the certificate until the 15th) Australia has a new company:
The Buffy Group Pty. Ltd.
Yah! Expect more from The Buffy Group.
Anyway, back to the writing:
Am going to keep it brief and to the point.
5,000 words a day? - Monday yes, Tuesday close, Wednesday yes. Go me!
Of course, I also did a lot of cutting, so the current total is still only 25,890 but it is much, much better. Also did some work on other books in the series as my mind kept bring up ideas.

Blog posts: did an epic blog post here on Monday, which I'm pretty proud of (check it out if you haven't already: How to Create A Killer Online Platform. ) and posted on Fitbuster on Monday. Both of which are pretty amazing as I stacked my bike on my way home on Monday and was feeling sorry for myself.
Tuesday didn't post on either, but today I'm going to make up for that and do both again.
So win overall.
Had set the goal of getting the new fitness website up and running this week, but due to circumstances out of my control it is still in the process. (No internet, getting the domain name then realising I needed to get my company registration first before I could have a website, hosting it through a company that only hosts American sites, etc...)

Articles: have produced one article this week, so only two more to go by Sunday.

Yah to just sitting down and getting work done. Also, writing a book on how to write is very helpful for the writing process, I'm just saying :D

Want an update on my online dating?
People keep asking me, so I thought I would share my continuing adventures online and off.
Still chatting with a lot of nice guys, but also one or two not so nice guys. (One told me I shouldn't be on an online dating site if I didn't want to have a threesome. Very rude. And I was contacted by ANOTHER person with a foot fetish! Is that a thing now?)
Also noticed that since joining up I've been hit on more in real life as well. Got a very nice discount on my new Mac (didn't think they were supposed to give discounts on Apples, turns out they aren't, but if they are trying to pick you up, guys can become quite inventive). Also one of the guys trying to help me fix my internet told me to call him if there were any more problems... or even if there weren't! Might have been more successful if he had actually managed to fix my internet. Sorry dude.
Have now gone out with a total of 4 guys (one guy twice) since I joined up at the beginning of December (which is an amazing record for me, as any of you who know me will attest).

However, it is not all rosy and golden. Having slight trouble with the whole 'not really offering sex before marriage' which appears to be a total deal breaker for absolutely every half decent guy in the universe. Seriously? Having no one is better than going out with me but not getting laid?
So, still dealing with that.
Though it's strange. Some get very defensive (one said he really liked me but couldn't enter into a relationship with constrictions being forced upon him. Um, I think all relationships have some constrictions, but I do get his point, sort of). However, some get totally fascinated with the idea, like they had never heard of it before and I was an alien being. They start asking all these questions, like is it just because I haven't had the opportunity? (Um, a) that's super insulting but b) you are prepared to sleep with me, so do you think that really is the answer?) But so far no one has said 'wow, a girl into purity, that's amazing and just what I've been looking for!' (Okay, maybe the guy from Kuwait was a bit more interested, but I wasn't interested in him.)
100 years ago, I would have been a goddess! Well, maybe not a goddess, but at least normal.
Went out for a great brunch with a nice guy today, so still planning in my head how to have 'the talk' because it's better to get it out before I get too attached. Sad but true. But at least I'm getting a lot of really nice first dates, which is not to be sneezed at.

Overall, I may have no proper internet or love life, but I'm officially a company and my writing is going well. You win some, you lose some.
And Finally...Giveaway!

Goals JournalOver two weeks ago I announced the winner of the Christmas Giveaway (A beautiful Kikki.K Goals Journal), which went to Ral. I posted it on the site and sent him an email through Blogger. However, I've never heard back from him! Since I don't know him in person, I can't chase him up.
So, I'm re-contesting the journal. Ral, if you are reading this and you want your journal, you'll just have to enter again!
So, comment below with why you think a goal journal would help you in 2013. The best/most amusing comment posted by Sunday night 27th Jan 2013 will win the journal! Open to absolutely anyone who will actually respond and tells me where to send it when they win.
Anyway, that's all for now!

Monday, 14 January 2013

An Overview of How To Build A Killer Online Platform

Web logo 2 

This is the first in a series on how to build an online platform, particularly aimed at writers/authors but also useful for anyone else out there. (There are people who aren't trying to be writers? Seriously?)

The aim of building a platform is to get your writing out into the big, bad world, get as many people as possible to see it and hopefully like it and/or follow you. You might or might not also want to generate income from the platform through advertising, affiliate links etc. (on top of getting book deals). That's up to you. But either way, you need to be prepared to promote yourself, in the nicest possible way.

Since you want to get as much possible traffic you can't just go in there with a happy-go-lucky attitude hoping you will magically be discovered. You need to be canny and purposeful in your positioning and targeting. 

The Internet is just like real-estate, it's all about location, location, location. And in Internet terms, that means having a site that is easily found by the search engines.

Sound all too commercial and selling out your art form? Well, just depends, do you want to change 5 peoples' lives, or 5 million peoples? With the right position and promotion you can reach almost imaginable numbers of people. And if you love your writing, really think it is of value to people, have put months and years into writing it, why not spend an extra year maximise it's potential reach? You do not have to monetize the actual platform if that makes you feel better.

I personally intend to, because I think I offer great value on my platform as well as in my books, and everything I offer through affiliate links will be helpful and won't cost my readers anything extra. So, I don't feel bad to have people pay nothing extra and bless me with a small side income that will allow me to keep writing in between the book deals (when the book deals come). But I understand that some bloggers do push it and make their readers uncomfortable, please let me know if I ever do that!

So, regardless of whether it is for the money, or for the exposure, let's start looking at how to build a successful online platform!

Today, I'm just going to lay out all the steps, so if you are super excited and know what you are doing you can jump straight in.

Over the next few weeks, I'll go through each of the steps and outline them in detail, and probably add more steps and then link back to this as I go, so don't be surprised if this page changes. (Will make this it's own page tab as I start working through the steps and linking to them).

The following is based on a collection of the steps in Gary Vaynerchuk's 'Crush It!', as well as advice from Pat Flynn over at the Smart Passive Income blog, Bob Lovich at Christian Personal Finance, and a good dose of Buffy mixed in there (and maybe a few other things I've read places and now claim as my own because I can't remember where they are from).

1. Identify your niche area.
Every author wants a blog about themselves. But until you are already famous, that might not be the best approach. If you market your blog towards particular area, people will be more willing to read it. For example, would you read a blog about Mary Jane doing her house work? Or Mary Jane's tips on how to become a top selling young adult author?

2. Make sure you can think of at least fifty awesome blog topics on that area.
Having a stock pile of posts ready to go, or even just a list of topics you want to work through (like a contents page of a book) makes a big difference. It also ensures you have enough to write about in your niche. If you can't think of 50 posts, find another niche.

3. Name your personal brand.
Two things to keep in mind here: it needs to be catchy and concise, and it needs to pick up on keywords people search for to maximise your chance of being found. Ideally it would be a short statement that summed you and your approach up neatly. Gary uses the example 'The cool guide to young adult books boys will love to read'. Pretty clear and targeted.

4. Build your Home Base!
If you are spending money: buy a domain name as close to your brand name as possible. Exact match domains are great. Then get it hosted and start building the site. 
If you want to do it for free: start up a Wordpress, Tumblr, or Blogger account with as close a match as possible. (Will discuss the pros and cons of these two options).

5. Choose your medium.
HeadphoneWe are all writers, so we naturally think in terms of a written blog. But you can also make an audio podcast about writing which people can listen to as they go to work, or a video blog where you can be much more interactive with your audience. Of course, you can include elements of all three as Pat Flynn does on his site. (am going to start adding video blogs soon, just because I want to experiment, so watch out for those, and if you don't see them soon, call me up on it!)

6. Design your webpage.
Gary suggests hiring a web designer, and if you are not really good with technology this could be money well spent. However, it is easy to learn if you are patient and ready to ask for help.And it's not necessarily all or nothing, you can do most of it yourself and just pay for help with the harder bits.

7. Create a Facebook fan page. 
I've just done this! (like, literally, yesterday). I haven't added much content yet, but join my page
Just to note, this is not your ordinary FB profile, this is a special page separate to that.

8. Start posting content! 
Yah! You need to get some solid content up before you really start driving people to your site.

9. Sign up for apps to distribute your content across various social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter.

10. Start creating a community.
Leave comments on other people's blogs and forums and reply to comments on your own. (Events like ROW80 is a great way to meet people in your area, just saying... :D)

Connect with Central Hub11. Start creating back links to your website.
There are a couple of ways to do this, but basically you want to your content and name to appear in as many places as possible, all pointing back to your home base site. There are two levels at which you can do this, and I'll discuss both. Some of you reading this will have come through articles and Hubpages that I've put up around the place, so you know it works!

12. Use Twitter Search.
This allows you to find as many people as possible talking about your topic and communicate with them.
Okay, for the sake of full disclosure, I'm not yet on Twitter, and so will be learning how to do this as I'm telling you.

13. Similarly, use to find more blogs that are relevant to your subject. Then become a regular, with such great, insightful comments people just have to know more about you!

14. Keep posting content! 
You need to be consistent, and posting about 3 times a week. I post a bit more here because I want to build up a good stock of content and practice my writing.

15. Join as many active Facebook fan pages and groups relating to your blog topic as possible.

16. Guest Post!
Write epic content and see if you can get other, more established blogs to feature it, driving their readers towards you as they will be blown away by how awesome you are.

17. Bribe people!
Run a giveaway or a contest which encourages people to interact with your content.

18. Set up a email subscriber list. 
As they say in the online business: the money is in the list. You don't have to directly sell anything through your list, but you could use it as your invite list to your first book launch, or to ask for reviews on Amazon, or even just to show an agent and say 'hey, I've got 500 people signed up to my list who already like my writing.' (would be better if it were 50,000 but we are still only up to step 18, not 992!)

19. Produce an ebook. 
While you are waiting for a publisher to snap up your first great novel, how about writing another one that will be fun and entertaining, which you can offer to your readers either as a free gift for signing up to your email list, or to buy for the price of a cup of coffee. (Yes, you will be seeing me doing both of these things in the coming months, so enjoy!)

20. Show me the money!
After about 6 months, you can start thinking about monetizing your platform if you want to.
I agree with Pat and the others when they say not to jump in too fast to monetizing, as the aim is to build up a really good community first. Once people trust you and love your content, then they won't mind you have a few ads here or there, and a few affiliate links.

21. Keep learning!
seo conceptThere is so much to know about Search Engine Optimization, new media, things that are trending etc., and if you want to stay on top of it all you need to dedicate time on a regular basis to learning. I've been listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast, which is completely free and I don't get any money for referring you to it, I've just learned so much from Pat that I want to point other people his way. I'm also investing in books such as Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (that is an affiliate link through to Amazon, just to be open. The book was useful, and good for the very beginner, but after 52 episodes of Pat, I knew quite a bit of it already, just to let you know).

22. Finally, keep posting epic content. 
Did I mention you should be posting great value content? 
No? Well, you should always post high quality content and get a reputation for giving great stuff away for free.

And that's pretty much it. Not that hard, really. Right? 

Don't worry if some of that sounds unfamiliar or overwhelming, because you know me - I'm definitely going to take you step by step (it's the teacher/lecturer/preacher in me, I just can't help it!)

So, get excited, because you are going to be huge!

Good night for now,