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Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden

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BLOG TIPS FOR BUSY WRITERS

I thought I knew a bit about blogging even though I didn’t come on board with it until my debut novel, The Cruelty of Lambs came out in November 2016. With great enthusiasm I created a blog page as part of my content managed website,   tingling with excitement at the idea of all the subjects I could chat about. Three people read the first one and six the second one. The dog didn’t count. It was then I realised this was not going to be easy. 

Writing a blog is the easy bit, if you follow a few general guidelines. Sucking folks into your star-spangled sentences is the tough part. Especially for writers who may not have a digital marketing background or an established platform.

 Running a business blog is  much easier because customers seek you out in search of something they need.

Authors are selling themselves, ‘Brand Me’ and it doesn’t always feel comfortable. These techniques  have helped me. 

  • Don’t make the piece too wordy.  500-750 words is about right unless you’re an expert on something and writing non-fiction.
  • Lay out your piece using bullet points with white space in between bite sized sections. 
  • Visual support – pictures (check copyright), graphs, sketches, cartoons and your own match stick characters help draw the eye to your key points and keep the reader interested. At the moment my blog only takes one image. 
  • Snappy headline – draw people in without tricking them.  
  • Write around your book – if it’s romantic fiction then pieces on roses, honeymoon venues, different kinds of love, clothes for a first date… give full rein to your imagination ( within the parameters of decency). Blogging gives you a chance to take the wadding out of your book and put it into a different file for your readers.
  • Make it fun, easy to read, accessible, diverse and inclusive. These are the essential ingredients for good blogging. Font, size, style and colour make a piece easy on the eye.
  • If you tend to write blogs about writing, ask yourself how is yours different to the zillions of others out there. Break the mould and without getting controversial, include pieces about your life’s lessons, inviting others to contribute theirs. The more eclectic the better because your followers need to be entertained with the unusual, the quirky and something that rings a bell in their world. 
  • How you solved a problem, made a difficult decision, got through a crisis – stories of resilience are hooks for attracting people to your site.
  • Blog regularly. A flurry in one week followed by silence for a month is no way to secure a loyal following. They will have moved on.
  • Invite comments (moderated) to help engage opinion. The more feedback you get on your content, the more helpful it is in getting you noticed.  

 

ATTRACTING FOLLOWERS

  • Controversial writing attracts followers but usually not the sort you want. 
  • In each blog piece, embed and repeat key words that Google can pick up and shuffle you up through the rankings. My piece, ‘The Silent Treatment’, has had the most views on my website because of key words – abuse, passive-aggression, refusing to engage, being ignored and the title repeated in the text. 
  • Use hyperlinks where appropriate. My book highlighted in blue takes you to the amazon.co.uk site). 
  • Social media is a great help to raise awareness that you have a new blog on your site. A big no-no is to tag followers on Twitter without permission in the hope they will RT. I have a few people that are happy to do this for me but I ask them each time and they get the chance to approve the piece first. 
  • You’ll attract followers if you persist. Make your writing accessible, not filled with jargon or long words requiring a dictionary. Of course, much depends on the audience you want to attract. Vary the sentence length. Short is good.
  • Let your personality shine through your writing. Blogging is networking and giving something of your work and yourself for free. It’s not about selling your book(s) nor is it a lecture. Consider the tone and your audience. 
  • It takes time to build a blog following. Why not add vlogs so people can see the real you or podcasts which are great for commuters. Mix and match. They don’t have to be professionally produced. A smart phone and good microphone is all I use these days.

 

I’ve learned this stuff along the way but it’s been reinforced and added to, hugely, by the purchase of a brilliant book, ‘The Author Blog’ by Anne R Allen. @annerallen 

Get yourself a copy today.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Blog-Easy-Blogging-Authors-ebook/dp/B077Y5DKP9/ref=la_B005R2SBI4_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538296864&sr=1-1

 

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CHANGE AND HOW TO NEGOTIATE IT (reblogged with permission)

Tom Hocknell's latest blog on Change and How to Negotiate it is a must read. He's the not only the popular author of The Life Assistance Agency but a master sculptor of a witty line.
 
Like me, Tom thinks September is the pivotal month for change and not January when we fall into the pattern of making promises to ourselves, and if foolish enough to others, for self-improvement, outlandish plans and unrealistic goals. His brilliantly written blog conjures up for me delicious smells of damp autumn leaves and a back to school feeling. For me, it was Clark's leather shoes and a new pencil case which heralded in a new era.  I love autumn and I love Tom's writing.
 
Enjoy his blog and don't forget to check out his novel. https://amzn.to/2xhah2e  It was chosen for WH Smith Fresh Talent. 
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ON WAKING UP

Depending on how you interpret statistics, it seems that 80% of people check their phones within fifteen minutes of waking up. I imagine them rummaging around under the duvet, growing more frantic if their fingers don’t connect immediately with their precious device. An irrational fear of missing out on something that had happened over night, seems to override common sense. I know this feeling, because I was one of those people.

I’m looking out through my study window down to the river, pondering on those halcyon days before the internet sunk its claws into us.   I’d be gently woken by the radio, tuned quietly to a local station while the Teasmade whirred into action. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time, before getting ready for work, always put me in the right frame of mind for the day. Nobody would have dreamt of phoning so early, unless in an emergency. An unspoken etiquette wrapped a framework around such intrusive behaviour.

Today’s waking up times are shattered by compulsive tweeting and messaging.  Just because everyone else seems to be plugged in, doesn’t mean we have to be. Surely whatever feels so urgent can wait. Count to ten, breathe slowly and let that urge to respond in a flurry of righteous indignation dissipate. 

I asked some sensible, grounded people I’ve met since I started my writing life, to share their post-waking up moments. Many are common sense but that doesn’t mean they’re common practice.

  1. Smile. A new day brings new possibilities and opportunities.  John Fish, book reviewer, @TheLastWord1962   I love the idea of smiling the minute you wake up. It releases those feel good chemicals of serotonin and endorphins, lowering blood pressure and heart rate and… it costs nothing. 
  2. Read a motivational quote and reflect on its meaning.
  3. Make tea into a pleasurable ritual – warm the pot, spoon in the tea leaves, wait for it to brew, pour into a favourite mug/cup. It encourages patience. 
  4. Drink a glass of water. A great tip to start the day from Anne Coates, author of the Hannah Weybridge series. www.annecoatesauthor.com   So simple, but how many of us do that on a regular basis? It fires up the metabolism and helps the body flush out toxins. 
  5. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Reflect on the words of the Stoic philosopher, SenecaTomorrow will take care of itself, so take care of today, otherwise tomorrow will take ill-care of you todaythus losing today. If you lose today every-day, you are lost every-day.
  6. I walk around the garden with my second cup of tea. This makes it sound like I live in a National Trust property. I don’t. It’s a short walk but it’s calming, depending upon overnight slug carnage. Tom Hocknell, Author of The Life Assistance Agency. https://amzn.to/2LrwMWC  
  7. I lie on the floor and breathe slowly and deeply for five minutes whilst listening to soft piano music. Angelena Boden, Author. Life coach.
  8. I take the dogs into my field of the back of the house, lean on the gatepost and have a fag. Then it’s black coffee time!  Charles Evans, Artist, Author, TV presenter, Main demonstrator for Daley-Rowney, UK   http://charlesevansart.com/
  9. I nearly always go outside first thing, wander around, sniff the air and look at the sky.  Dr. Andrew K Black, retiring consultant psychiatrist, author. 
  10. I write down my dreams, if applicable. If not I breathe and listen to the birds. Nikki, IT Tech and psychic. Nikki @Daimon Mediation

Tea, (and biscuits), books, walking, wandering, observing, watching the morning news, nature and dogs all featured in the research results. Maybe you do some or all of these things, or you have your own morning routines that don’t involve technology, but if not, you might want to consider the benefits of replacing that small blue screen with nature’s enormous, colourful canvas. If only for fifteen minutes.

Photograph courtesy of Charles Evans, Northumberland. 

Thank you to everyone who took part. 

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OATCAKES TO DIE FOR!

As a Derbyshire lass, my favourite Saturday treat was an oatcake with bacon and eggs for breakfast. Sometimes, lunch and even tea.  It’s a cross between a pancake and a crumpet and you wouldn’t think that something so humble could cause rivalry across boundary lines. That’s because they make them in Staffordshire too, a bit different, but I’m not going to get into debate here about which are best. Remember though, I’m Derbyshire born and bred.

My Mum made them by mixing ground oatmeal with yeast and water, setting it aside to activate, I think is the term. She added flour, salt and sugar to the batter before pouring some of the mixture into a frying pan to make neat round circles – except hers came out looking like Iceland a lot of the time. 

They are nutritious and so versatile you can fry or grill them and have them with any filling of your choice.  These days my husband makes them for me with gluten free flour, equally as delicious but I’ve always thought there was something missing.

A well -known maker of oatcakes are the folks out at Owlgreave Farm in Comb, a tiny village in the heart of the High Peak. (near Chapel en le Frith and Castleton).  They’ve been producing oatcakes using a recipe with a secret ingredient since 1949. So that’s it. I knew there was something special about the ones we used to buy in Bakewell. 

  In my new novel, Edna’s Death Café, eighty year old Edna runs a café called The Happy Oatcake. Her speciality is the oatcakes from her mother’s recipe. I wanted readers to discover this delicious product for themselves. She so happens to run meetings where locals can talk about the things in  life that make them happy, (oatcakes) and how they feel about their eventual demise. Set against the stunning backdrop of Castleton in a hard winter, the novel explores community, simple pleasures, good food and how to approach the end of life. They chat over tea and, of course, oatcakes. 

I spent a couple of weeks in Castleton in May 2017, staying at the quaint and utterly delightful Oatcake Cottage whilst polishing the book for publication. It was the time of the Garland Ceremony and this is plays a significant part in the novel.  Here’s a link for those of you interested in English history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castleton_Garland_Day

It was wonderful revisiting old haunts – Hope, Hathersage where I used to swim in the outdoor Lido, Surprise View where I climbed onto the granite boulders with my grandad and ice-creams by the river in Bakewell. I may have travelled round the world since I left Derbyshire in 1974, but my heart belongs in the Peak District which is why I wanted to bring this new book and a little bit of me to my loyal readers and hopefully some new ones this year.

Edna’s Death Café is available from September 5th 2018 from all on-line retailers. The paperback is planned for early next year. 

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/ednas-death-cafe/

Why not get yourself a copy. Put on the kettle and where ever you are in the world, pop an oatcake under the grill and load with your favourite filling. Enjoy.

http://www.derbyshireoatcakes.co.uk/

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