Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumn Dreams in Indiana

Here I am at Old Mission Lighthouse and Coast Guard House in Michigan. It's exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator! This is near Traverse City.
 A couple weeks ago in late September we traveled to Traverse City, Michigan area so my husband could take some well-deserved time off from his very stressful job for a mini-vacation with a couple friends. We were going to play golf, eat, tour some of the local beauty (Sleeping Bear Dunes is not far from there,) and oh, yeah, eat. They are known for their cherries and I love cherries! We got only two rounds of golf in. Sad sigh.

We went to Crystal Mountain to play golf, which made me feel like a narcissist, but I was pleased and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time. You see,autumn was already hitting them with her gorgeous glory when we were there. With that comes the rains. But I love Michigan and even with the rain, I was so happy and daydreamed about that area of the state even days after I came home. (It's always, "I could set a book there!" ha.)

When we came back, I took a look around my own yard and while we have started to show signs of fall, it really wasn't in full regalia until this week. Why is it when you're home, even though you do notice the beauty, it isn't until you snap a few photos and try to describe it to others that it finally hits you--you DO live in a gorgeous place? So, here's a short tour around my "yard," which is about 7 acres of woods, mostly. And yes, I think I live in a beautiful place, too.

Do you like black walnuts? I do, but no one else here does and they're a mess to fix, unless you are into natural staining of clothing (which some people use black walnuts for that.) We have black walnut tree that I think has more walnuts than I've ever seen on it. They continuously fall with a loud pop on our driveway. I end up kicking them off the drive when I walk the dogs. 

Black walnuts that have been pelting our driveway
Used to be that the squirrels would have them socked away in some squirrelly retirement fund, but now we have cats. With cats you don't see hide nor hair of the squirrels. So, my goal is to chuck them (the walnuts) down into the woods (we have a 30-ft. drop to the ravine where the creek flows and the main floor of the woods is.) Maybe they'll find them down there and no cat will get the squirrel.

Smokey, one of the feral cats who guard our place, and also one of only two gray cats. The rest are all black.
The woods are constantly trying to retake ground where our house sits. This would be ok with me, but the civilized world requires some grass to mow and some curb appeal. Whatever. (God plans the best curb appeal!) But after Michigan, I came back to this full blown profusion of tiny flowers. I'm not sure what they are or why suddenly they took over this section of the yard, but I left them. The last of the bees thanked me. And aren't they pretty?

I mean, seriously! This is a huge takeover. I didn't plant them. They just "showed up." (Really showy!)

Up close to the tiny blossoms. They are "daisy-like" but very tiny. Maybe you know what they are called? I'll look them up.

Another part of fall are all the mushrooms showing up around the yard. Here are some that were growing next to a tree we cut down.I've never seen them grow like this before in our yard.
There are tons of leaves down already (mostly oak) but meanwhile, so many trees haven't turned yet. But by the end of October all of our leaves will be on the ground, deep and swishy.
I know it's hard to see, but this is a canopy of grape vines which are draped over some trees along the edge of the woods. I took this photo last week, anticipating this blog. The grape leaves are already on the ground and the vines are bare.
My favorite season of the year is autumn. I used to dream about having an autumn wedding, but I didn't get to do that because of my husband's schooling schedule, and I was a school teacher. But I wish some days that I had my wedding anniversary (we celebrated 30 years in June) in October so I could have an autumn celebration with a specific purpose. But you know, as life passes by, we have to celebrate any moments that are important. Like breathing in fresh, spicy autumn air! And cool, rainy autumn afternoons with hot cider and cinnamon and honey cookies. Oh, yeah.

So, tell me, do you have turning leaves and autumn season where you live? Do you have any reasons to celebrate in autumn? What's your favorite season?

Crystal Laine Miller

Posting at The Barn Door Today!

Today I'm posting at The Barn Door! Come on over and visit!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig....

"...Home again, home again, jiggedty-jig!"

How many times did we sing that song as kids? Well, about every time we'd been to town. Back in the day, you went to town if you lived in the country, and that only happened about once a week. And you knew where to go for each thing, trying to get everything in one-stop shopping. There was a jingle for every kind of product on our 3-channels-only TV. You sang them without thinking and looked for those things when you went to town. 
Well, guess what? Authors have to market their product, too. And I have been asked about this aspect so many times this past month that it was time to give out a few links to help you on that road.

You may have to lick a few stamps to get results!

First, do get a web presence, if possible even before you ever shop your manuscript, or as soon as possible. Whether it is blogging, website, commenting on other blogs, guest/interview or group blogs, book review sites, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social networks, being an expert about your main mission  or topics (topic blogs,) whatever works, or all the above. 

Please, please, puhlease, do not flood your readers or networks with constant marketing. What I mean is when the only thing you contact people with is to beg people to read your book, that's not cool. It's a delicate balance,I know, because yes, you want people to be aware of your book, and yes, they want to know. But sometimes talk about things that just interest them (or you) or get to know your faithful followers.

Two of my favorite author group blogs are Seekerville and Girls Write Out. Both are group blogs where they take turns blogging about a topic on their mind. We always know when they have a book coming out, true. But most of the time they are blogging about things that just interest us. It's like a conversation with best friends. (Seekerville dishes out virtual buffets! Yum. No calories!) You're just chatting with them in the comments (they are good to comment back) and next thing you know, you're checking on their latest book. 

Indiana's Own Denise Hunter has one of the best author pages on Facebook. She doesn't just upload her book covers and link to her website. She has conversations with us. (And she's introverted, like most of us.) Another Hoosier, Diann Hunt ,also has started an author blog that is engaging and fun.

Since I love the group blog that I'm on, I have to mention The Barn Door, too. These are Midwest writers (some fiction, some nonfiction) blogging about life in the midwest. And there's a whole section on books, too, but it's not just the books of those authors. 

But if you're looking for marketing advice, I have four links this week to help you with that all-illusive platform. 

1. I can't tell you how many of Michael Hyatt's blogs I've copied to put into my file. (Yes, I keep a file to refer to for just this sort of thing.) Some have to do with your life mission and life goals. Some on writing. But he is a master of marketing, too. He has so much information.

While you're there, you may get lost for awhile on a multitude of topics if this is your first visit.

2. I caught this blog entry on the Word Serve Agency's client blog on what you can be doing for marketing at Word Serve Water Cooler:
3. The CAN Marketing gurus are always talking shop on this blog. I get their blog by email. I can click on their link if I want to go there to comment.

4. Finally, Terry Whalin has built a website that has more information than you can go through in a day. He's built it over years and has articles from some of the best in publishing in layer-upon-layer. Definitely worth sifting through there. The September 30, 2011 guest blog is called,
"10 Rules of Social Marketing (Guerrilla) Engagement" by Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA

Do not forget our national website where there is more information than you will ever absorb. Like eating an elephant; take one small bite at a time.

You may have gone to town to buy a pig, but with good marketing in advance, you could come home with a cow, a chicken and few magic beans, too. That's why we do what we do. There's a master plan in that organized chaos!

Lemme Know: What's the best marketing tip you've seen for a fiction book?

Crystal Laine Miller
Catch Me At: