Author Archives: janetsyasnitsick

About janetsyasnitsick

Visit blog for writing, marketing tidbits to dazzle your creative endeavors. New book: Courtships and Carriages, a sweet Christian romance, (two proposals but who wins Gwen's heart?). Other works: Ruth Ann Nordin's and Janet Syas Nitsick's anthology, Bride by Arrangement; Janet's five-star, inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns; 10th place story, "The Silver Lining;" and Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Background: former journalist and language-arts teacher. www.JanetSyasNitsick.com

New Year Changes

I stepped into the New Year with trepidation as I awaited the installer of our new television and Internet provider to arrive. Is it not funny how these small-life changes can throw us for a loop?

Well, it did for me. Change was in the air and was it really going to be better as the new carrier suggested? I was apprehensive. We had used our previous providers for many years and were happy with both until recently.

I awoke at 5 a.m. to a blistering-cold morning of one degree. Would he come as promised on this chilly day?

But he arrived and got right to work. A pleasant man who knew his business. Within a couple of hours, I looked at my living room, where wires had stretched for years beside my couch and now I could clean behind it. Besides that, I no longer had to lock our downstairs-bedroom door to keep the cat from playing with the wires in there.

I also no longer had to fret over the modem. Would I have to restart the computer or unplug it today? Relief swept over me. I never realized how all these years these items gave me such anxiety. Now, I felt liberated and in the process I have better television with the program I missed and a faster Internet.

As the man said as he grasped the wires: “What I have in my hand is old technology.” He was right. I needed a change.

This also is true of authors. We get into our grooves and routines and forget to try new things. Last year, I tried something new – the anthology, Bride by Arrangement, with Ruth Ann Nordin. This endeavor allowed me to reach a different audience through my story, She Came by Train. Ruth Ann Nordin and I plan another anthology – a follow-up on last year’s – and my goal is to write book two – a follow-up on Courtships and Carriages – in the Great Plains series.

In addition, I am excited about writing again. I renewed that interest after the busy Christmas activity. I needed a break. Winter also puts you in the mood to write and sit by a fireplace, if you have one. I have one close but not near enough to curl up on a sofa and write. However, it does keep me cozy and keeps my fingers warm enough to type even if my work is gibberish at times. Ha! Ha!

It also makes for a great time to clean up your office and get rid of old files and rearrange your office. Without that modem sitting next to my computer, I was able to wipe away the dust where it used to lie and even that small step gave me pleasure.

When you throw away your old calendar, make sure you replace it with something inspirational to keep you excited about writing. I replaced my office-wall calendar with a calendar portraying a variety of paintings, including January’s winter scene with gray skies, cardinal birds perched on a white fence with a church in the background. The scene fills me with peace and awe in the Creator’s majesty.

Well to wrap up, remember to embrace the future and the change it brings, and I wish you the best in your 2015 writing career. God bless.

Categories: General Writing, Writer's Block & Burnout | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Developing Effective Web sites

Ruth Ann Nordin and I just returned from a Heart of America Christian Networking conference. We had a wonderful time. The conference revitalized our faith and our writing. There were many workshops, and one of those was on how to develop an effective Web site. That workshop was facilitated by Jim Watkins of Wesleyan Publishing.

As you develop your site, pay close attention to detail and keep it consistent, he said. He highlighted Billy Graham’s site as a good example of a well done Web site — simple, easy to read and not cluttered with material. Here is a link to that site for your examination:  http://billygraham.org/video/heaven/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=November%202014&utm_campaign=CTV&SOURCE=BT14BYGGS&gclid=CPWlsobI88ECFehAMgodSmkA4Q

Define the blog or Web site’s purpose, he said. Is it for people to get to know you better through an author biography (which, according to him, is a must), to sample your material and/or purchase your books or what? If your ultimate purpose is for visitors to buy your products then make sure no more than two clicks gets them there or anywhere on your site, Watkins said.

The home page should show what you are offering, he said. Also, give viewers a way to search your site and contact you.

In addition, keep the site simple, the best readability still is white background with black lettering, Watkins said. Use fonts, such as Helvetica, which are easy to read. Point sizes should be no smaller than 10 to 11 points and use one font throughout your site. However, you can vary that font by using bold and italics and no matter what do not use all capital letters, he advised.

In the United States, we read from left to right so place the most important item(s) there, he said. Size, in addition, denotes significance, thus your largest lettering is the most prominent with each degradation in point size portraying less relevance, Watkins continued.

Adding color to your Web site is fine but make sure the color is rememberable because it should be used across media spectrums, he said.To go along with his point, I would tell you not to use white lettering. Because when you print out white lettering on white paper, it will not show up.

Watkins cautioned you to not overload your site with images. This, as you know, also takes more time to load and could make people leave your site before it finishes loading. I went to a Web site a few years ago, and it took forever to load the fancy wallpaper. I have not gone back since because I do not have time for that. So think of these details when designing your site.

Watkins likes WordPress because it is easy to use. WordPress has Web sites and blogs (which you could use as a Web site). Yahoo small business also is good, he said. These have templates you can choose and are about $120 a year and also are pretty easy to use, said a person familiar with this method.

After you have a Web site, how do you promote it? Watkins suggested you use Facebook to ask questions, prompting people to interact and to visit your site. I have such a question. To those who have read Courtships and Carriages, what character would you like to see as my main character in Book Two of the Great Plains series? You can respond here. I will later post this question on Facebook.

Well, have a great day and I hope this post was informative. Many of the Lord’s blessings to you until we meet again.

Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Promotion, Marketing & Promoting | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Having a Good Team

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Just as a sport’s team needs to have good team work to win games so does the writer.

With the finish of my sweet-Christian romance, Courtships and Carriages, I reflected on how much a good product stems from those behind the scenes. In other words, an author needs a good team. These include an eye-appealing cover, good editors and having a story which takes people on a journey that entices readers to read more and want more.

An eye-appealing cover is important, such as the one for my newest release, Courtships and Carriages. This beautiful cover is above.

However, getting a good design which matches your novel is not easy. It takes the right photograph as well as relaying the right story concept. Mine says sweetness and romance, all fitting the story. But other genres require different qualities, such as a horror book depicting dark or black designs to denote evil lurking in the corridors.

At a glance, readers need to know what lies behind the cover. Currently, I am reading, Doctored Evidence. What is on the cover? A picture of a doctor’s stool and the type of bed you would find in his office or in an emergency room. As indy publishers or with certain traditional publishers, you can have some input on your cover. But a traditional-published book without an author’s input, places that author’s story at the whims of their graphic designer. This could lead to disastrous results like a cover depicting a man wearing pajamas, but no scene contains anything of that sort.

A good cover also needs to focus on not more than three concepts. My Courtships and Carriages has three — the girl, the basket and the yellow-wheeled carriage. Each of these are important to the storyline.

If you are a self-published author, you need to make sure you hire a professional to do your design work or are proficient in developing a cover. I met an author a couple of years ago who used his mother’s painting of their Alaskan cabin for the cover. It was awful. After talking to the man, I heard intriguing stories about his family’s experience in Alaska, such as a bear peeking into their window when a certain television show was on air. I bought his book after talking to him, but if I only had seen his cover I would have dismissed it.

Another must is to line yourself up with good editors. I cannot tell you the importance of having an excellent team in this regard. I have readers who look over my manuscript from a reader’s perspective. One reader is especially knowledgable about farm animals since she grew up on a farm. She also is a great resource for lanterns and cooking without electricity because she experienced these.

However, I also have wonderful editors. They are great in finding grammar and spelling errors, historical inaccuracies, making the story flow smoothly and providing suggestions to improve the overall work. I am so grateful and I cannot thank them enough. Without this team, my work could end up in a wastebasket.

Of course, a key is to have a story which makes readers turn pages. I cannot tell you how heartsick I was last year to learn that my story needed major changes. It would not work as a book in a series as I planned so I made changes and started a new series with Courtships and Carriages. Her input was extremely valuable. It improved the work and although I hated to hear this terrible news it also was what I needed to hear. The story is better and it freed me from having to stay under the guidelines of a villainous character which I was trying to turn into good. Now the story flows and the characters shine. Thanks so much to this special person.

So line up a great team. One which also works for you and remember this sometimes takes time to find, but you will and as always I will end with a God bless.

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