Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Judging a Book by its Cover

My last post was a bit negative and I apologize.  I would prefer to keep my posts positive but there will be days when certain attitudes, characters and just life in general may get my goat.  My life has taken many twists and turns lately and for someone who does not deal well with change, there does come a time when I may not be able to help myself from penning my frustrations.

Thankfully, my frustration level has dropped since I last posted.  It helps that I was side-tracked while preparing for a family BBQ we had planned during the holiday weekend.  I was further distracted while I touched up the last few edits on my book and I was even more preoccupied as I ran through ideas regarding the cover I’d like to have for my book. 
What’s the big deal about a book cover?

It is a much tougher decision than you might think.  As a new author, I won’t pretend to believe my name will stand out or cause a flurry of quick sales.  I am a realist and there is no doubt that until an author becomes a household name, it must be accepted that books are generally judged by their cover.  Until my name is something readers actually look for, I have to draw them in…enticing them with a great cover design that will promise a real treat inside.  While a book cover has to jump out at you as you walk by in the bookstore, it is even more important when the cover is no larger than a finger print as readers scroll through titles on their Nooks and Kindles and every other electronic device now capable of downloading books.     
But what kind of book cover will really draw someone’s attention? 

Murder at the Lake
That is certainly the question of the day and it is a tough one to answer.  Every person has their own likes and dislikes.  Should the cover offer images of real people?  A landscape?  Or weather depicting a mood?  Are more readers drawn towards images of historical homes?  Of animals?   Or a mixture of all the above?  Should the cover include image fading, special effects or the use of illustrations? 
The choices are enough to give me a headache but it is also exhilarating because there are so many choices.  The trick is finding what will look and feel best for my particular story.  Of course, the deciding factor will not be whether I like the cover but whether the cover will do what is expected…and that is to interest readers who might not otherwise give me a second glance.

It is interesting to see what types of covers have been associated with various types of books.  Such as this cover for Twilight.  Who knew the simple photo of hands holding a red apple would later be symbolic to a new vampire-themed fantasy romance novel?
Lily's Letters
Many book covers are specially illustrated such as Harry Potter while others are simply designed with a peaceful photo which may or may not give you a real indication as to what type of story you might be in for.

My book series is a mystery series and I feel there are many more choices when it comes to that genre.  The covers of mystery novels have changed quite a lot over the years.  I still have my old Nancy Drew mystery books and the era is very evident when you first glance at the cover illustrations.  While the covers may show their age, they do bring back fond memories for me.

Homicide in Hardcover
Death Drops

Many “cozy” mysteries on sale now use covers that usually draw me in.  There’s just something about them that I like. 

They feel comfortable, even if they do involve a murder.

Unnatural Exposure
Of course, once your name is what draws people to your books, an author can use any method while creating a somewhat eye-catching cover as long as the author’s name stands out.
Notice how these last two book covers differ from the two before?  The authors’ names stand out more than the title or even more than the cover image while the cozy mysteries are focused on the cover image and the name of the story but the authors’ names are left to fade into the background.
It is a matter of choice.  It is a choice to be made by the author but in the end, the choice is left up to the readers.

While writing a book was difficult, it was enjoyable and I’ve come to love my characters and the lives they lead.  What I do not enjoy is the idea that I may not choose a book cover that will adequately portray my characters or my story in an attractive and enticing way.  A cover is the most important first impression my book will give as it hits the market and while it is not nice to judge a book by its cover when speaking about people, I will certainly keep in mind that readers will, in fact, judge my book by its cover.   

Friday, May 25, 2012

Words with Edges

Words should not be spoken in anger.  Sometimes, we get so upset, so angry, so fed up…we just lash out and later regret how we may have responded.

Other times, it feels good to say what we feel and it feels even better to get it all out in the open.  We may regret some of what we say but it is overshadowed by the relief of letting it all out. 

Either way, it might be best to simmer on our thoughts and feelings and, before we speak or lash out, maybe we should write about how we feel.  Okay, that sounds sappy.  It’s also not very realistic when oftentimes our emotions take over and we don’t give much thought to waiting to express ourselves until we can meditate on our feelings.
However, to avoid any potential guilt for saying the wrong thing or truly hurting someone’s feelings, it is a good idea to first write our thoughts down.  It gives you the opportunity to review what you’ve written, think about it, stew on it, and grumble to yourself about it some more before you decide where your battle truly lies.  Is it with the person who upset you, how you were treated, what they said, how you reacted, what you said or what you didn’t say?    

Each circumstance is different, each offense is different, and each reaction is different.  It is what you learn from each instance that truly matters.
You may wonder why I’m writing about this particular subject.  Well, today I had an instance where I was treated in such a way that caused me to feel many emotions.  I was upset with the way someone approached me about something.  I was then put on the defensive when I was asked to explain my response.  And I was angry for being spoken to in a disrespectful manner which I did not deserve.  When I did not respond how the individual apparently hoped I would, I was questioned in a way that not only made me feel I had to defend myself but which also made me dig my heels in further and refuse to back down.

This is an example of what I call ‘words with edges.’  These words are sharp.  They hurt.  They can sometimes cut.  If the edges are sharp enough, they can cause wounds that will never heal.  I’ve dealt with sharp words in the past and some of my wounds have healed, while others have not.  The words I dealt with today were not the sharpest I’ve ever dealt with but they were certainly unexpected and I was not prepared for them. 
Had I not been approached in such an aggressive way, I believe things would have turned out much differently.  It may have ended in an agreeable way for all involved.  While I was very upset with the treatment I received, I am relieved that after saying what I needed to say in response to what I was approached about, I refrained from saying anything more.  I did not say anything I will now regret. 

While I am still upset about what happened, it is as a whole not significant enough to completely ruin my weekend.  But I’ll admit it did dampen my day.  I’m still learning as I continue to adjust to a new routine, a new job, and new personalities at work and I guess I’ll continue to learn and to adjust as new situations pop up.  What is important is that I learn from each situation. 
Thanks for listening as I write out some of what I’m feeling here.  What I have learned from this experience, I’m not quite sure but when new situations pop up, as I expect they will, I’ll try to remember this little bit of advice as I continue to learn, adjust and move on:

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt~

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If Wishes were Granted & Dreams Came True

Everyone goes through what most perceive to be a mundane daily life schedule.  For most of us, we get up the same time every day, work the same hours, come home to the ultimate question of the day, “what’s for dinner?” and try to complete what few chores, paperwork, social time or hobbies we can squeeze in before we head to bed and start all over again.

It is the mundane of daily life which endears us towards books and movies.  We can live an exciting life through a character we read about or follow throughout a movie.  With a few exceptions, we aren’t subjected to watching the characters floss their teeth, sort laundry, shop for groceries, sit in the office for 8 hours on the computer, lose sleep over a baby’s midnight feeding or any other daily dilemma a regular Joe or Joann might need to attend to.
For those who love to read, it is exciting to read a good book, get to know the characters and visualize the details the words describe.  For those who enjoy movies, it is exhilarating to become lost in a world of make-believe as you watch in awe the intense special effects so often attributed to feature films.  Both methods are an enjoyable way to get away from the routine of what we call life.

We often dream of living the life of the characters in our books or in the movies we watch.  But what if real life was like a book or the movies and we were able to live the adventure of a lifetime?  Could we really handle ourselves as well as the characters we read about or watch?  I don’t know about you but the escapades of Indiana Jones, Gandalf & Aragorn, James Bond, Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne are all exciting but are also likely more than most people can tolerate.
I know it would be too much for me.  After the first couple of days treasure hunting with Dr. “Indiana” Jones, I’d be groveling for a hot meal (certainly not monkey brains) and an even hotter shower.  While hanging out with Aragorn and Gandalf might be a dream come true as far as characters go, I’d miss brushing my teeth and I would probably pee my pants at the first sight of Lurtz the Orc or Balrog in the Mines of Moria.

On the other hand, the life styles of the rich and famous are quite appealing so a week with James Bond would definitely be exciting…until we end the day crashing in some method of transportation.  Ethan Hunt, well, he’d be fun to tag along with wouldn’t he?  Maybe, except for that slim chance of getting shot at or thrown out a window.  I love the Jason Bourne series and it would be thrilling to know how to do just about anything, anywhere and at anytime but I don’t think that guy ever gets a good night’s sleep.  And I really, really like my sleep to be full, not fitful. 
If I was granted a wish or two or my dreams were to come true, I don’t think I’d wish to be like one of my favorite book characters.  My wish would be simple.  I only wish to live my life as a full-time writer, able to spend my days on what I truly love to do.  Beyond that, there are a few wishes and dreams I could think of which would make life easier:

What if, say, exercising in your dreams actually counted and made you burn calories and lose or maintain your weight?  There would be no guilt in having a chocolate sundae before bed or that maple bar for breakfast!
That, in a word, would be awesome.

What if, like in Stephen King’s Tommyknockers, a typewriter could be changed into this incredible machine that would write your thoughts while you were dreaming…essentially, letting you write not only during the day but also while you sleep?
It would be a writer’s dream and I imagine very likely why King wrote it into his novel.

What if we could communicate with our pets so that they could understand what we said to them?  “Don’t chew on my shoes, don’t dig in that flowerbed, don’t chase the cat, poop as far away from the house as you can.”  They might listen about as well as our children do but it would be worth a shot to make the wish anyway.
It would also give my husband less reason to tease me when he hears me speaking to my dogs.  

What if we could read everyone’s thoughts?  That ability would, of course, cause some issues but it sure would change the way we do things.  We’d already know if someone were up to no good, no one could ever lie, and there would be no faking your feelings towards another.  A person would have no choice but to “think” their mind (rather than the option to speak their mind) and the benefit would be never becoming bitter with unspoken words they really wish they could say.
Of course, such wishes and dreams are unattainable.  However, my wish or my dream to become a full-time writer need not be placed in the same category as dreamt calories lost, fantastic and unbelievable inventions or psychic abilities more believable in fiction.  A wish is a strong feeling of wanting something to happen or wanting to have something while a dream is based on a hope, a longing or an ambition.  While a dream may be difficult to attain or may be far removed from the present circumstances, it is not completely unattainable. 

So I will continue to wish and I will continue to dream but even more so, I will continue to move forward towards what I know is an attainable end.  I will also remember these words by Eleanor Roosevelt…”It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” 

Friday, May 18, 2012

A (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

I’d love to share more about my boys, who I love dearly, but I decided from the very beginning when I started this blog that I would respect their privacy.  Other than a few snippets I might offer here and there when I post, I will respect the privacy they deserve and refrain from going on and on about how wonderful they are. 

Instead, I thought I’d write about my other kids…or rather, my dogs. 

Do you agree that dogs are somewhat like children?  If you have a son or daughter out on their own who is even thinking of having a baby with their spouse or partner…get them a puppy.  It will wake them up to the responsibility of taking care of something small, helpless and in need of constant attention. 

That’s how it started with me.  I had never had to care for a dog by myself before.  We always had dogs while I was growing up but I did not have full responsibility of caring for them.  I’d never cared for any animal, really, other than my cats. 

And I was a complete cat lover. 

My husband, on the other hand, was a complete dog lover.  I guess he should have taken out a ‘must love dogs’ ad because for a number of years after we shared a home together, I only wanted cats and wanted nothing to do with taking care of a dog. 

And then one day, my husband came home with a surprise.

He brought home a white, curly-haired fluff ball which turned out to be the smallest, cutest, two-month old Cockapoo I had ever seen.  My heart melted.  I held that little guy in my arms and I was completely in love as he cuddled against my neck. 

I was soon on my way to becoming a dog lover. 

We named the puppy Jake and he was a great training tool when it came to teaching us how to care for something other than ourselves.  I hadn’t realized a puppy would take so much work!  We had to move things out of reach so Jake would not chew or choke on anything, then there was the potty training (yeah, that was fun), a regular feeding schedule, and we had to find a babysitter when we were gone on vacation and could not take him with us.  For at least one, maybe two years, we had to celebrate with a small Christmas tree on a table because he would not leave the ornaments, or the presents, alone.  When he got mad at us for leaving him at home alone, he would deliberately tear things up…like one of my favorite plants (not poisonous) and another time, one of our wedding photos. 

I can laugh about it now…though not so much then.
Jake is gone now and has been for some time but he did the job of turning me into a dog lover.  It wasn’t long after losing Jake that we adopted a Dalmatian we named Zoey and she is by far the sweetest dog we’ve ever had.  We lost Zoey a year ago and it was a difficult time for me after she’d been with us for over 13 years. 

Zoey, however, did not leave us before getting a taste of what being a mother and even a grandmother might be like for a dog.  Zoey was never able to have puppies of her own, so when our Mastiff/Lab mix named Shadow came to live with us as a 2-month old pup, Zoey was more than happy to take her in.  They made quite a mother-daughter duo.  
Although two dogs are plenty, especially when it comes to big dogs, we had every intention of breeding Shadow with another Lab, preferably a Chocolate Lab.  Shadow became pregnant, all right, but not by a Lab, or a Mastiff or anything remotely close to either.

Nope.  We received an unexpected visit from a stray Border Collie.  Don’t get me wrong.  These are smart dogs.  But we had hoped for Mastiff/Lab/Lab pups, not Mastiff/Lab/  Collie/Whatever-else-might-be-in-there pups.  However, I was now a dog lover.  Even more so, I loved puppies.  I was soon over what type of puppies we were having…I was just excited about having puppies!

And puppies we had, well, Shadow did anyway…a total of 10. 

Taking care of one puppy is doable…taking care of ten was insane.  If I had been on Facebook at the time, my friends and family would have been treated to daily updates, funny stories and photos as I cared for all ten pups the first two months of their lives. 

Like these…
Newborn pups napping

How small they looked when they were first born,  even when they were all clumped together:


Or how they ate together out of their bowl (the bowl is there, you just can’t see it):

Feeding frenzy!

How cute a Border Collie mix pup can be:

Cute Collie

Hanging out with
Jack (-o’-lantern):

Hanging out with grandma:


Enjoying their first real snow while I kept a watchful eye because I could not let them wander very far (again, just like kids):
First snow and it was a lot!

The pups will be four years old in October but I still remember how much fun it was to raise them from birth until we found eight of them new homes.  We ended up keeping two.  Why two?  Just like when I loved cats and my husband loved dogs, this time he had his eye on one pup while I was attached to another.  Neither of us wanted to let our favorite go.  So rather than choose between one or the other, we could do nothing else but keep both. 

Piper & Mandy:


Two peas in a pod. 

And while I have raised them from the time they were born, they have in a way also raised me to become even more of a dog lover than I thought was possible.  At this point, it is arguable who is more of a dog lover, myself or my husband.

It really doesn’t matter though.  Dogs are not just a man’s best friend or a woman’s…they are part of the family and always will be. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother’s Day Note

It’s that one special day which happens just once a year…a tribute to all the mothers out there.  Of course, I’m sure most mothers would welcome being appreciated all year long but at least this is the one day a year when they will receive a certain amount of attention for all they do as mothers.

And mothers do a lot; we all know that.  As quoted from The Golden Girls, “It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” 
Dads do a lot too.  Don’t get me wrong.  But this is not their special day.

So if you are a mother yourself but you also have a mom or mothers and mothers-in-law who you need to spend time with, how do you accomplish making the day special for yourself as well as everyone else?
Myself, I’ve just come to the conclusion that the actual day of the Mother’s Day holiday is not my own.  I have a mother, a stepmother and also a mother-in-law who we divide our time between.  It’s just what we do and I won’t be selfish about wanting the day all to myself especially when I know some day I’ll miss visiting our moms on this special day once they are no longer here.

I’m also pretty fortunate in that both my husband and also my boys are really good about letting me know how much I mean to them.  I really don’t need a special day set aside to hear words of appreciation and love from my family because I hear them on a daily basis.  I am very thankful for that.
This holiday is more for the moms who do not get the constant words of love and appreciation on a regular basis.  Sadly, there are many who don’t.  While everyone loves their mother, there are many who don’t often show it either out of selfishness, busyness, or maybe even a lack of ability to show emotion. 

But when Mother’s Day comes around, the most selfish, the most unavailable and even the most unemotional child will find a way to do what they don’t find time to do the rest of the year.  Mother’s Day is, in its own way, a magical thing.  This special holiday snaps some of us out of a daze controlled by our self-centered, busy and detached lives so that we can give our full attention to one of the most important people in our lives.  And our mothers, who most often have forgiving hearts, take what they are given without complaint.  I love this quote by Robert Brault, “A mom forgives us all our faults, not to mention one or two we don’t even have.” 
Of course, not everyone is in contact with their natural parents but even for adoptive or foster mothers (and for moms like my stepmother), they too deserve to be credited for what they do for the children they take in and care for as their own.  I found this quote, also from Robert Brault, “There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child – and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.”  This is so true when it comes to adoptive mothers, foster mothers and stepmothers.

Do you show your mother on a regular basis what she means to you?  Or do you wait until this holiday snaps you out of your daze to do it?  I won’t deny that I probably have my own faults when it comes to showing both my mothers and my mother-in-law how much they mean to me.  I’m certainly guilty when it comes to getting too busy to make time for them.  Maybe this holiday gives me some room to make up for my faults but I hope most of the time, Mother’s Day only confirms for them what I attempt to show them all year long.
Whether you are a mother who is being celebrated or you are celebrating the mothers in your family, or both, it is my hope that this day is truly an enjoyable day.  And here is one last quote I found which hits home about mothers more than any quote yet:

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone~

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Only Time Will Tell

It’s been less than three months since I went back to a full-time office job.  Admittedly, it seems longer.  While I enjoy the work and the people I work with, the day in and day out work routine does get a bit tiresome...as does the fact that 10 hours of my day are already spoken for. 

Except weekends.  Boy do I love the weekends.

I enjoyed weekends before when I was self-employed but I also worked from home half the time.  Now that I’m gone from home 50 hours a week, I am very selfish with my evenings and weekends.  I prefer not to venture out on my days off, as I’m still adjusting to my new schedule, and much of my spare time is spent writing. 
Back to the topic of work, this morning something came up so that I ended up arriving at work a little late.  Thankfully, my boss doesn’t come down hard on me and it was an amount of time I easily made up during my lunch break.  But what this issue brought up for me was how much I have had to change with regard to my daily routine, especially when it comes to being available for my kids.  Going back to work for someone else is difficult, sure, because it is a change in what I do and where I work during the day.  But what is very difficult is not having the last say when it comes to when and where I need to be.  I either have to get permission or, like this morning, apologize for having to readjust my daily work schedule at the last minute.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I feel very fortunate I was able to work for myself while my husband and I raised our boys.  Although my youngest isn’t yet in high school, his and his brother’s younger years were, I believe, that much better because I was able to be around more often than not.  I know their younger years would have been much different if I hadn’t had the flexibility running my own business gave me.  That flexibility also allowed me to actively be a part of school functions, sporting events, field trips, the PTA, booster groups and whatever else I could get my hands on because, for whatever reason, I just love taking on too much. 
I think some people may have wondered how I did it all…the secret is that I had control of my daily schedule, not someone else.  I am great at multi-tasking but I do wonder if I could have been as involved with the boys and all their activities if I had also been working full time for someone else.

But it can be done, right?  Lots of women work full-time jobs out of necessity and they raise their children just as well as anyone else.  Sometimes better.  It may be the other activities which get little, if any, attention.  So what I’m trying to figure out now is my place as a full-time working mom and what it takes to make it work.  While my boys don’t need as much of my time as they used to when they were younger, I still want to be there when they need me and on top of that, something else has taken over what attention my boys no longer require...and that would be my writing. 
I am a full-time working mother and I am attempting to give birth to another child…well, not literally, but I think of my book as my baby.  I am giving birth to a new life.  If I had to say how far along I was, I’m full-term.  I’m so close but frustratingly, the contractions I feel are only Braxton Hicks contractions.  I’m very ready to finally hold my baby in my hands and I know the time is coming soon but some days it is not soon enough. 

I was able to write my first book while still self-employed and I am writing my second book while working at my new job.  The two projects couldn’t be any more the same while also so very different.  My first book was given what my boys received, my time and attention while working under a flexible schedule.  My second book is vying for my attention as I work at an office job and am away from home most of the day. 
While I would never wish to use children as guinea pigs where this type of quandary is concerned, when it comes to my books, it will be interesting to see how well brought up my first “child” will be compared to my second.

As the saying goes, only time will tell.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Writing...Weather Permitting

It’s an odd time of year for me.  It’s this time of year when many of my favorite shows are ending or will soon end, leaving barely anything to watch on TV and the days are beginning to provide more sun, therefore offering more opportunities to play outside.   

I don’t let the television take time away from my writing and I am very thankful for the invention of the DVR so that I don’t have to worry about missing my shows.  I know they’ll be waiting for me when I have the time to view them.  But I have always enjoyed this time of year, when the shows wrap up and take a breather for the summer.  It means less time worrying about how to catch up on my shows and more time available to accomplish other tasks.  I was looking forward to how much more I could write, as this will be my first summer since I began writing my book.
But sunshine is a different factor.  You can’t put off the sun like you can a TV show.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, sun is a delight we do not get to enjoy as often or on our own terms.  When the sun decides to bedazzle us with its warmth and brilliance, especially on our days off from work, we forget what needs to be accomplished indoors for what we can accomplish outdoors, knowing the weather could change very easily over the course of a few days.

Sunshine a wonderful thing, as is the nice, warm weather it brings when you are beginning to wonder whether the rain will ever take some time off.  Today was a preview of the quandary I will soon face during the summer months when I will have to decide between staying inside to write and going outside to work in my garden.  Yesterday was cloudy and it sprinkled off and on all day so I was able to complete my chores around the house before spending most of the afternoon writing. 
I was very happy with the amount of writing I was able to complete.

I was on a roll and I thought I’d accomplish just as much today but…the sun came out to play.
And it was wonderful.

I enjoyed the afternoon in my garden and while I would like to have spent just as much time writing, the garden will not weed itself.  The garden plants will grow or the weeds will grow…I prefer my veggies, fruits and herbs to the weeds.  I especially like the plants that won’t give the weeds a chance to grow, like my rhubarb.

Working in the garden is truly therapeutic while I dig weeds from the soft dirt and add new plants to the old as I listen to the birds sing their songs above me.  I was thrilled to finally break free the table, umbrella and chairs from their winter storage so that I now have a place to sit by the garden while I sip my iced tea.  I especially enjoyed relaxing in a chair at the end of the day as I soaked in the sun and listened to nothing other than the whisper of the breeze, the slight rustle of leaves and the birds as they sang their melodies. 

While the summer months might offer more challenges on when to write and when to work outside, I’m sure I’ll find a happy medium.  One thing is certain; it is days like today that can only provide positive results when time spent outdoors proves to replenish your mind, body and soul.
How about you?  What do you do to re-energize and prepare for the coming week?  Do you ever feel you spend too much time on one task over another?  Or have you found a way to evenly spread yourself between what you need to do and what you want to do?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Platform Challenge – The End?

What can you learn in 30 days?

Quite a lot, I would say.

You can learn what you’re capable of and you can also learn what your strengths and weaknesses are with regard to growth.
On the 1st of April I decided to tag along and try the April Platform Challenge offered by Robert Brewer on his blog My Name is Not Bob.  I was honestly prepared to try anything that might help me improve my presence on line and through social media.  Sure, I knew tackling a task every single day for 30 days might be a lot with my new work schedule but I wanted to try, even with the expectation that some days would be difficult.

What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t the tasks which would be difficult…it would be my resistance to change that might stand in the way.
Robert Brewer did a terrific job directing us in this challenge from the very first day.  He asked us to break free from our norm in order to expand our minds and our comfort zones so that we could benefit from new ways to reach out, promote ourselves and also meet other like minds.

“Comfort zone” are two key words for me.  I like my comfort zone and I prefer to remain there, especially with all the changes that have been happening in my life lately.  I will hold strongly to what I can to avoid change if I have to.  But, I knew this challenge would be good, if I could stick it out.  It was for a great cause, my writing platform, so who was I to argue with an attempt to make my platform better?
So how did I do?

I hit the gate running and kept up a good sprint for awhile.  I defined myself and my goals.  I got off easy with certain tasks I had already completed on my own, such as a Facebook profile and my blog.   There were tasks I enjoyed which caused us to reach out to others in various ways, such as reading other blog posts and commenting thoughtfully, searching for yourself on the web (which I did and this is what Idiscovered), sharing someone else’s blog post or article via your own social media (I enjoy sharing), connecting with new contacts through social media and creating a time management plan.
But there were some tasks I did resist during the challenge.  I’m still admittedly reluctant and I have decided to wait until I feel they are right for me.  That would include creating an account with other social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest and RedRoom or joining social media management tools.   I am too busy with my writing and with my day job and my family and my blog and my private investigation work on the side.  Facebook is enough for me these days and I can’t imagine adding other forms of social media to actively participate in every day. 

However…I did check out RedRoom and I admit I like the site.  It’s my cup of tea.  I’ve also checked out Pinterest off and on and while it looks like fun, I’m just not sure yet if I have time for it.  I did get some great ideas from other writers on how they use Pinterest and it would be interesting to give it a try.  I’m just worried how much time I might spend playing in that particular social media sandbox when I really don’t have the time to spare.
This challenge included 30 days and 30+ tasks (some had sub-tasks) and was a month well spent on learning new ideas for platform building.  When something is called a 30-day challenge you might think that would be it, correct? 

Nope.  This is not the end.
At the end of this challenge we were asked to make a list of tasks for the month of May and towards the end of May, one of those tasks should be to make a task list for the month of June.  Just like a “diet” is not a diet but rather a “life change,” this platform challenge is just the beginning of the tip of the iceberg.  We must continue to work towards change, growth and improvement; even more so for someone like me who enjoys staying cozy right where I am.  I’ve made my list and I’m pleased with Brewer’s advice:  I get to decide what the tasks will be.

If you have started your own blog or are trying to work on your own platform, you might want to check out Brewer’s platform challenge.  Make sure to read his post about how to brand yourself before you begin with Day 1 of the challenge.  About half way through the challenge you’ll receive some tips with regard to SEO along with a link to an earlier post with more detail about improving SEO.
Go ahead.  Check it out.  If you are interested in building your own platform, I urge you to take the challenge yourself.