Greetings Blogger Friends.
Warning: This is a very long post: You may find that it is worth the read. I am offering some great prizes!!!!
It is mid January and time for me to return to the blogging world on a regular basis. I have checked in sporadically this month after dealing with my husband’s scary heart condition over the holidays. I am happy to report that he is doing well and we celebrated our birthdays this past weekend. My husband turned 68 today and I turned 45 on Friday, January 13th. Yes, my birthday was on Friday the 13th and it gets better~~I was born on Friday the 13th. Spooky? Not to me. It is kind of cool.
Some of you may recall that I posted in late November about wanting to host a blogfest or some sort of contest. This idea originated as a way for me to show my gratitude for reaching an important blogging milestone, 100 followers. I have many other blogging milestones I want to celebrate and I really just want to host some sort of contest or blogfest to honor all of my blogging friends, readers and followers. I am truly honored to know all of you. It amazes me how much I have learned from many of you. It makes me smile to see how quick each and every one of you is to offer your help or support to me or any other new blogger (or veteran blogger) who has a question or is having a difficult time in our writing or personal lives. Ya’ll are the friendliest and most caring group of people I have had the fortune of getting to know.
I have given quite a bit of thought to what kind of contest or blogfest I should host.
Initially I did not want anyone to have to do anything special to have an opportunity to win one of the awesome prizes I have selected, but then I came up with a couple of topics that I could really use some help with. If you remember my earlier post, I offered to include some wickedly awesome prizes.
I intend to still offer them, but have actually upgraded one of the prizes. Because I am going to ask you to actually do more than leave a comment or be a follower for one of the prizes, I am upgrading my original Kindle e-reader prize to the King daddy Kindle prize- the Kindle Fire. My husband gave me a Kindle Fire for my birthday and it is so wonderful that I could not resist offering it as a prize. It is just too damn super-cool to pass up.
I am aware that many bloggers and blog readers will not want to participate in anything too time consuming so I will also offer two prizes for lucky readers who will not be required to do anything at all-well other than either posting a comment, following my blog etc.
So… Here is how this thing will work. The blogfest-contest will open on January 29, 2012 and will end on February 29, 2012. We will have one month to LEAP toward the goal line. Plus I need from now until January 29, 2012 to finally figure out how the heck to install a Mr. Linky thingy so that people can sign up and I can keep track of entries (*HINT-HINT) I welcome any advice, tips, ideas or suggestions from those of you who are skilled at this sort of thing. Anyone who can help me out- getting my blogfest up and running will receive one additional entry for one of the prizes.
Entry Requirements & Prizes:
Prize Number One -#1
One person will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card.
The only requirement for entry is that you follow my blog and leave a comment at the end of the Post, dated January 29, 2012.
Your name can be entered more than once. You will receive one entry for being a follower, one entry for leaving a comment on 1/29/12 (with your email address) and an additional entry for using the word “leap” in your comment. You will earn two additional entries for tweeting about the contest, two additional entries for mentioning the contest on Facebook and a whopping five more entries if you post about the contest on your blog and send me a link to your post. You do not get two entries each time you tweet or put it on fb, this is a onetime extra entry.
In summary. One person will win a $50 Amazon gift card. That means your name can be entered as many as twelve times. The winner will be selected on February 29, 2012 by random drawing.
Prize Number Two -#2
One lucky blogger will receive, not one, but two books written by the wonderful and successful, plot whisperer herself, Martha Alderson.
The winner will receive a copy of Alderson’s new book, The Plot Whisperer and also a copy of her older book, Blockbuster Plots which is an excellent companion book for The Plot Whisperer and includes a DVD with templates for creating your own Plot-line or Plot Diagram.
The same guidelines apply for prize number two as for prize number one. The only requirement for an entry to win these two fabulous books is for you to leave a comment at the end of my post on January 29, 2012. You can earn up to eleven more entries.
See examples set forth in prize number one.
Prize Number Three- #3
Okay bloggers, this is where the blogfest/contest involves a tad more of your involvement and time. This is precisely why the prizes will go up significantly in cost and desirability.
To enter you will need to add your name and information to the Mr. Linky (that will be provided shortly) if I have to beg or bribe some lovely blogger out there to set it up for me. Just kidding. I hope. I mean how hard can it be? Oh no. Every time I have ever made a statement like that I have been in for a rude awakening (like the time I erroneously assumed I could put a simple desk chair together for my daughter’s Christmas gift.)
In keeping with the original theme of my blogfest/contest/sweepstakes/give~a~way and my desire to show my appreciation to everyone for following my blog, reading my blog and mainly for becoming my friend and offering support and encouragement during my journey toward learning to blog and hopefully finding an agent, this next prize and requirement is intended encourage as many of you as possible to continue doing what you do best: Helping other bloggers, especially newer bloggers, find their way.
All of you remember what it was like when you began your first blog. I know you remember posting your articles while reading others and commenting on as many as you could. We all hoped to gain a loyal audience and we all know that it doesn’t happen overnight. We often struggle. We make mistakes. We question ourselves and often want to give up. There is nothing more frustrating than doing everything we are told to do, following all the rules and suggestions for building a blogging platform and hoping each day to gain new followers only to find that we still have very few.
I know how hard it was. I would read so many other blogs and comment faithfully, yet I still felt very lonely in the blogosphere. I Have read many heart wrenching stories and post from fellow newbies wondering and asking “what am I doing wrong?” Didn’t I read somewhere or hear somewhere, “If you build it, they will come.” So where are they?” We all know that it takes quite a bit time for the number of followers to grow. It is often so slow in the beginning that many bloggers who have much to offer throw in the towel. They cannot see the light at the end of the blog.
I was so impressed when Matthew and Alex started the “Pay it Forward” blogfest. It was awesome and it gave new bloggers a once in million opportunity to get out there and meet friends, to connect with other bloggers and to build their contacts.
Well I cannot copy their idea but I admire it too much to not try and do something similar in hopes of discovering more new bloggers, helping others connect with all of the fabulous people I have met, and hopefully to convince at least one struggling new comer to hang in there.
Pay it forward was incredible. It helped me immensely. I have, however met other new bloggers who said that even though they participated they still did not increase their on-line blogging presence or connection with others. This could be for a variety of reasons. It is quite possible that we inadvertently visited more bloggers that we were already familiar with than newer bloggers. It is also very possible that some of those new bloggers just do not realize how much time they will have to put in to the art of getting to know other bloggers.
I cannot answer that question. I can, however make another attempt for all of you great people out there to help me search for struggling bloggers who share our passion for writing.
Let’s find those who are still struggling. Let’s help new bloggers connect. If they are not making their site easily accessible to other bloggers, let’s show them how to do it.
I have an idea, but if you can think of a better way for me to host this then by all means please get in touch with me before the 29th and share your idea. I cannot think of a better way to offer this kind of support to new or struggling bloggers than Pay it Forward did. I have been trying to come up with a second chance so to speak to offer this same sort of help. I have been thinking of ideas for weeks and nothing too remarkable comes to my mind.
So by all means, if you have an idea, Please, Please, Please share it with me. My goal is not for me to come up with the best idea, it is to try and accomplish much of what Pay it Forward did for new and struggling or ‘under the radar’ blogs.
Here is my idea. If you like it and think it will help, let me know. If you think it is a waste of precious time, let me know. If you can think of a way to improve it, let me know. If you know of a way that will work instead of this way, let me know.
For one month I am asking all of you to be on the lookout for fellow bloggers who are struggling to connect with other bloggers who share our passion for writing, reading , critiquing, agent hunting, publishing etc. and for new bloggers who are just getting started and are having a tough time figuring it all out. Look for bloggers who you know will make a great contribution to blogging if they can just get their feet off the ground, if they can just get their blog up and running, if they could just find a wide enough audience. You get the idea.
Here is the good part: You don’t have to go searching for them. We are all busy and barely have enough time to do everything we need to do as it is. But since you are going to be reading blogs anyway, if you stumble across the name of someone you don’t recognize (it doesn’t matter where you find this name) maybe they left a comment on a blog post that you regularly visit.
The point is- we all make an effort to visit the blogs of people who follow us or leave a comment on our post. This is probably not where we will find the new and struggling blogger. Chances are you come across unfamiliar names all the time when you visit the blogs of your friends and followers. If you do and if you have a little extra time that day, click on the name of the person you don’t know. If they don’t have a lot of followers and you see potential in the content of their blog-offer to help.
I would use the word mentor- but I am afraid of scaring you away. The mere mention of the word “mentor” conjures up images of us spending hours helping someone, hours we just don’t have. So call it a mini-mentoring. See if you can help them.
How you ask?
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->Offer to review their blogger profile and make sure they know how to make their blog easily accessible to other bloggers
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Spend a few minutes answering any blogging questions they may have
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->If they have a good blog with good content, but are lacking an audience and you are a well known and respected name in the blogging world-offer to lend your name and status to help get them started. Offer to do a guest post for them and then promote it on your blog
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4. <!--[endif]-->Offer to introduce them to your blogging world via an introduction guest spot as a guest on your blog
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[endif]-->Offer to help them with the design and layout of their blog- if you are gifted in this area
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6. <!--[endif]-->Give them a blog award , thus exposing them to many other bloggers
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7. <!--[endif]-->If they have a specific talent or expertise, offer to interview them about it on your blog or better yet see if you can get two more of your friends to do the same
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8. <!--[endif]-->Anything you can do to help new bloggers, undiscovered bloggers, struggling bloggers –get their blog up and running, or to help them widen or build their audience, or to convince them to stick it out, participate more and hang around long enough to enjoy the wonderful benefits of blogging, belonging to a close community of blogging buddies and the eventual benefits of building an on-line platform or presence.
So what’s they prize? And exactly how do I win it? You ask.
This will be an awesome prize and well worth any effort you put toward helping another blogger (in addition to the good feeling you get from helping a new or struggling blogger)
You have a month to help others:
Between January 29, 2012 & February 28, 2012
For every newly discovered or struggling blogger that you help, write a short post about who they are, what their blog is about and the help, support or advice you offered or shared with them. In your post link to their blog encouraging your friends and followers to check out their blog.
Then you can email me or leave me a comment and let me know who you have helped and a link to their blog or a link to your post about it.
If it sounds complicated let me know so I can try to simplify it. If it is too complicated let me know because my goal is to help and if this is asking too much from ya’ll then I will fail in my attempt to help those who struggle. I remember that feeling and I hope to alleviate it or reduce it for others with your help.
The judging for this will be somewhat subjective. I don’t see any way around that. I will try to engage the help of other bloggers who are not vying for this prize to help me select the winner or perhaps I can come up with a method for other bloggers to vote on the winner once all participants have posted their “I helped a fellow blogger” article.
And finally…The Prize
The winner will receive their choice of either of these two prizes. Not Both, choice of one.
Prize Choice Number One:
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->The amazing, new kindle fire: from Amazon. The Kindle Fire is a full color 7” Multi-touch Display e-reader, complete with Wi-Fi. As the proud new owner of one I can attest that is it (as my kids would say) “The Bomb” It is the Cadillac of all e-readers. This prize is valued at $199.
Prize Choice Number Two:
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->Two- One hour plot consultations with the remarkable author of The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson. Martha is affectionately called, “The Plot Whisperer. She is an amazing published author who most of you have heard of. For more information about Martha and her plot consultation services, visit her website http://www.blockbusterplots.com/
A two hour plot consultation with Martha Alderson cost two hundred and eighty dollar ($280). I am a client of hers and I cannot think of a better prize for an author, whether you are a published author or a novice. That is why I have selected this prize for this category.
Winners Choice: Kindle Fire e-reader or 2 hour plot consult with Martha Alderson
Prize Number Four #4
The fourth and final blogfest prize category and prize is again going to be a subjective decision as this challenge (so to speak) is intended to benefit me or my blog. I intend to update my blog design and layout at the end of this contest.
As everyone knows, if a blogger changes the name of their blog or god forbid the url, they often end up losing much if not all of their blog content. We also risk losing all of our followers, friends etc. I have learned from fellow bloggers and from experience (fortunately this happened to me when I first began blogging so I only had a handful of followers and I was able to locate them again) but I will not take that chance again. So, I am not willing to change either the name or the url for my blog.
I do however need to make some changes. If you read Laura Barnes blog, http://laurabwriter.blogspot.com/ you know that she critiques the blogs of other writers, FAMP: From A Marketing Perspective.
I love Laura and am a faithful reader of her blog. I have not yet dared let her critique my blog, but I have learned so much from reading her honest and helpful critiques of many other writer-bloggers. I am the first to admit that I did not have a clue what I was doing when I created and designed my blog. My blog is called “Have you Heard?” Why? Um, not sure. It sounded good at the time or maybe it made sense once upon a time, or maybe not…
I cannot remember.
Perhaps it meant: Have you heard, Hey have you heard, Melissa just wrote a best selling novel? Okay well a girl can dream? And should. Right?
Not that I really understand google key words or seo and all that stuff, but I do know that changing the name of your blog is like supposedly the worst thing you can do if you want to ever drive traffic to your site. I also know (thank you Laura Barnes) that I need to have my actual name associated with my blog. So if it is not part of my blog address and it is not part of the name of my blog, I need to do something about it. I have also learned that when people first land on my blog, my header or sub-header needs to tell them what my blog is about.
Mine does not! Nuff said.
I want to change that and am turning to you for help. Yes there will be a prize.
The girls over at the cutest blog on the block are going to make some changes to my blog very soon. I will be adding a sub-header directly under my header.
The purpose of the sub-header is to tell people who I am and what my blog is about as soon as they land on my page.
The challenge is for you to come up with a quirky, unique, cool, different way of doing this. I am not changing my crazy design.
I actually like my bright, bold, funky colors and design. I know it is not very professional (that is what my author website will be for). I am so tired of having to have everything generic and bland for my law firm, law office, law firm website right down to the neutral clothes and fingernail polish that I wear as a lawyer for court. I want to be able to express my fun and quirky personality in my personal blog. I am saying all this so that your suggestions are not for me to tone it down.
SO: THIS IS WHAT MY BLOG IS ABOUT (IN A NUTSHELL):
This is my personal blog. This is a place for me to meet and communicate with other writers and readers. I am a pre-published (like that better than unpublished) author who writes legal thrillers/mystery/suspense/courtroom drama.
I blog about my life as a mom, lawyer and a writer.
This is my journey toward finding an agent and eventually becoming a published author..
This year I intend to blog on a regular schedule of Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I will blog on other days as time permits. I will share excerpts from my novel and share my trials and tribulations of revisions from my just completed novel, my new work in progress, my query letters and responses or lack thereof from agents. I am not a published author so I will not be offering advice in a professional capacity, but I will share with readers the steps I take and the mistakes I make.
I will share what does and does not work for me. I will write post on writing tidbits, pointers, and things I have learned either from other writers, blogs or through trial and error.
I will share my TBR list and I will review the books I read this year. I will promote other blogs, authors-especially debut authors.
I will share links to post from writer’s blogs that I find helpful, informative, creative or useful. I will share links to sites that I find helpful for writers. I will participate in and promote challenges and blogfest hosted by other bloggers.
I can answer any specific questions you have about what I want my sub-header to say. It can be long or short and punchy. If my name and that I am a writer can somehow be used together in a clever and catching way, we will have a winner.
Your entry can be serious, humorous, metaphorical or mysterious or a combo platter.
I am eager to be surprised.
The Challenge, should you choose to participate:
Come up with a clever or unique sub-header that will show readers who I am and what my blog is about.
Leave a comment with your email telling me that you would like to enter. There is no limit to the number of entries that you can submit.
Email your entry-ideas to me at email@example.com or as I see other people display their email sugarlaw67 at yahoo dot com
Contest is open from 1/29/12 - 2/29/12
I will select the winner within 48 hours and you will be notified by email.
Okay, okay. I know. Get on with it.
The Prize: Your choice of either of the two prizes:
Prize Choice number one .
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->Scrivner Software for Mac. Value $40
Prize Choice number two.
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->Amazon $50 Gift Card.
Thank you in advance to all who participate. Thank you for your continued friendship and support. Writer/author bloggers are the best.