Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

The Worst Feeling As A Parent

Some things in life are very difficult. I’m sure every adult you know has some kind of difficulty whether it’s a relationship problem, financial concerns or health scares–problems and issues are all around us. I’ve had my share, but they don’t compare to what many of you have experienced or may be experiencing now. But the hardest thing for me is when my daughter has a problem and I can’t solve it.

Disclaimer: Before any of you get up in arms about this–I know I shouldn’t solve all her problems. She is only 6, but she has to learn to work through things and figure it out for herself (in a lot of cases), so she will learn to do this as she grows up. 

The problem my daughter and I are now facing is that the little girl who she considers to be her best friend, her grandparents’ neighbor, her playmate three or more times a week has MOVED TO FLORIDA. Naturally, KT is very upset. She has been crying off and on, and I have been encouraging her to talk about it. I’ve been trying to use skills I’ve learned at Kids in the Middle, where feelings need to be validated and worked through–not ignored and pushed under the rug.

I told her there is nothing she can do about this but feel the sadness and talk about it if she feels like it. I’ve left out the part that she will probably never see this little girl again. She might not even remember her very well in a couple of years because right now, this missing her friend already feels all consuming to KT. I think that “wisdom” would actually make it worse. We’ve talked about the things KT could do at Grandma’s house to pass the time and how sometimes, when you feel sad, it really is okay just to sit and watch TV and relax for a while.  That was the end of my wisdom. My heart breaks for her because she is so sad, and there really is nothing to fix this.

Of course, this made me reflect on my own friendships throughout the years. Social media makes it easy to “keep in touch” with people nowadays, but there are some people who I loved dearly that I am not in touch with anymore (whether it’s because they aren’t on social media or I haven’t found them or they don’t want to be in touch) or who have actually passed away. And there is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can do but feel the sadness and work through it, maybe write about it, maybe just sit and watch TV and relax for a while.

The worst to me as an adult is when you have a good friend and you are having a conflict and you are out of touch, whether it’s agreed upon or not. It’s sad. And you miss this person, but what can you do? You just have to work through the sadness and hope one day you both can figure it out.

So for now, that’s what KT and I are going to do. The good thing is KT is busy at cheerleading camp this week, and she told me that she doesn’t even think about it when she is there, and I see that as a positive life lesson she’s learning. And I will follow in her footsteps.

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4 Money-Saving Resources for Single Parents Looking to Vacation (Guest Post)

Recently, it seems as if I’ve been posting a lot about travel, and this is not a travel blog. But it’s summer, and let’s just pretend I had this in mind as one of my themes ON PURPOSE. Today’s post comes from Julie Morris, who is a life and career coach. She has a nice website with interesting articles, such as “How to Change Your Life For the Better When You Can’t Change Careers” and “How to Give Your Life a Positivity Boost.” Although this guest post is geared toward single parents, any adult could take advantage of some of these tips. So, on to today’s guest post. . .

4 Money-Saving Resources for Single Parents Looking to Vacation by Julie Morris

Traveling and vacationing are exciting, fun, and sometimes life-changing experiences, but for single parents making a solo trip, working it into a tight budget can seem almost impossible. The last thing you want to do is to spend your trip stressing out over money. Pre-planning and using all the money-saving resources at your disposal is the best way to guarantee a stress-free vacation. Here are a few of the best tools for saving money and enjoying your childless trip.

Don’t Over-Pack

Often, it’s tempting to throw in every item you think you could possibly need on your trip, but try to avoid doing so if possible. An over-sized, over-packed suitcase can lead to extra fees at the airport and will simply be a pain to lug from destination to destination. Before you pack, make a list of the core items you’ll need and try to stick to those items only. If you just can’t figure out how to get everything you need into your suitcase, there are many great tutorials available online.

If you will be traveling by car, try to get the car loaded up the night before, so it will be one less thing you have to worry about. Dedicate that morning to getting the kids dropped off where they need to be, securing the house, and making sure everyone has what they need for a few days apart. Make a pre-travel checklist , so you don’t forget to close the garage or turn off the bathroom light. Include a list in your child’s suitcase with any special instructions such as bedtimes, medications, or scheduled activities. You’ll rest easy knowing you covered all your bases.

Take Advantage of Research

Utilize available data to study bookings trends. Studies of these trends have shown that 54 days before your departure is the best time to buy tickets, as they are at their cheapest on that day. This time frame does vary when booking international flights, though. While you may have heard that you can get the best prices by waiting until the last minute, research has shown that tickets cost $150 more when booked two weeks in advance of your trip. Try to snag a departure date in the middle of the week such as Tuesday or Wednesday, as it will often fall in the middle of other people’s trips, making it a prime travel day. As soon as you know the exact date of your travel plans, let your child care know, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Nothing will cause more stress than having to scramble to find a sitter at the last minute.

For car trips, save on gas by utilizing gas reward programs or downloading gas saving apps to locate the lowest gas price near your location. Get the most out of your gas mileage by ensuring your car is in tip top shape before hitting the road. Properly inflated tires can increase your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, while clean air filters increase it by 7 percent.

Freelance Sitters for Homes and Pets are Cheaper

Freelance pet and home sitters are often more flexible and affordable options than kennels or leaving your home unattended and hoping for the best when you return. If you require additional home services, you can ask your pet sitter or dog walker to water your plants, check your mail, adjust your thermostat, turn your lights on and off, etc. Furthermore, they will provide more personalized care for your pets than a traditional kennel facility will.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Beauty, majesty, culture, and wonders exist in all corners of the world. Just because a destination is not a typical tourist location does not mean it isn’t worth traveling there. In fact, the less tourist traffic a place gets, the cheaper it is to get there, stay there, and shop there. Food, souvenirs for the kids, and lodging will all be at a lower, more local cost as opposed to the increased tourist prices. Most important, the plane ticket costs will be lower if you choose to visit a place that is off the beaten path.

Traveling on a budget does not mean missing out. Sure, you may not be able to decide to hop on a plane to Catalina Island tomorrow, but you will be able to hop onto your computer and start comparing the prices of a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida. With simple tips such as traveling to an uncommon destination or booking your trip in advance, you will be sure to leave your stress at home.

beach photo above by Stevebidmead

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.

Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. To contact Julie and find out more, please visit her website at http://juliemorris.org/.

 

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Practical Moms Unite: Picking Your Parenting Battles (Guest Post)

I love this post about focusing on what is important to you and your kids when choosing your battles by my writing friend Jennifer DiCamillo. Jennifer is the author of 37 books and has won well over 200 writing awards. She is a mother of five and grandmother to 8. She lives and writes in a haunted hollow in the Missouri Ozarks. Her pets include a 4 lb Yorkie named Pixie and a blue eyed paint stallion named W.C..

Picking Your Parenting Battles by Jennifer DiCamillo

I am a mother of five. I grew up in the seventies when Daisy Duke shorts were in. However, for my four daughters, I preferred to keep their butt cheeks covered. That was my first rule. But my girls are really long legged, so I had to draw another line. Shorts must be at least three inches long from the center seam. At least, that insured covering of the buttocks and other private areas. But then I decided fingertip length was better. You see, as a parent, you have to be flexible. If something doesn’t work, try again, make a new rule.

Then came the prom dress dilemma. I’m frustrated by the strapless and spaghetti strapped formals offered, as if sleeves were not used on modern clothing at all. I fought this battle, made a dress from scratch that was perfectly modest; and when prom pictures came back, my daughter was the only one who didn’t have a dress to match EVERY OTHER GIRL IN HER CLASS. My daughter forgave me, but I haven’t forgiven myself. I stood strong on the basis of modesty, and the fear of her losing her virginity on prom night. When in reality, both issues were character issues, not reliant on the straps or lack of sleeves on a dress. So, I actually lost the battle that I won at the time. I’ve cried repeatedly over what I think was a big mistake.

In a similar issue, I inspected my kids before church, sent them out to the car, climbed in, and half way to the church one day, I looked in my rearview mirror to see one of my daughters, after inspection, had added a poofy ponytail on the center top of her head, and let her sister draw (with an ink pen) a rather stylish headband across her forehead. Complete with an impressive starburst in the center. I was livid. I ranted about respecting God and self and embarrassing your family on top of all else.

It so happened that my daughter had to speak in front of the congregation that day…on judging other people. Or rather, not judging. I learned that she’d been a victim of a very churchy woman who didn’t like the length of her dresses, or how she dressed, period. After she spoke, eloquently on the subject I must add, many women approached me, said they loved the example my daughters all set. I complained about the headband and ponytail, to hear woman after woman say, “If that’s the worst rebellion you have to contend with, thank God.”

So, I’m here to tell you, don’t let a hairdo, or even a funky headband be your undoing. Don’t let a dress become a mortal war between you and your daughter. Relationships are fragile and need nurtured. Pick your battles, give in a little, and maybe you’ll win the war and still be friends with your daughter(s) when it’s all said and done.

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Extreme Travel Gadgets to Improve Your Travel (Guest Post)

Perhaps you saw my post last month: “Practical Moms Unite: Traveling With Your Child” , which provided tips for traveling with a child that did not require breaking the bank or stressing yourself out AND did provide fun for EVERYONE.

Recently, I was contacted by a writer who provided me with the infographic below and I think some of these are pretty practical if you travel a lot with or without children. So, here’s a short, fun guest post courtesy of De Vere.

Extreme Travel Gadgets to Improve Your Travel  (guest post)

The rise of travel gadgets over the past decade has meant that whatever your reason for traveling, some tasks, such as staying in touch with people and recording your journey, should be much simpler than ever before.

But when you’re planning your next trip and wondering what gadgets are worth including, the sheer amount of gadgets available on the market can make it an overwhelming task. Luckily, we trawled through hundreds of potential gadgets to select just a few that we think are worth considering.

We focused on gadgets that should help across your whole trip, from your journey to your actual stay. Check out this great infographic put together by De Vere to discover some great travel gadgets you might not have seen before:

 

 

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The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up

Most of us want to change something in our lives–whether we want to be more patient with our kids, not engage with someone abusive in our lives, lose weight, exercise and sleep more, or clean and organize our lives. And we expect these things to happen immediately, and I don’t know about you–but I am very hard on myself when I have a “relapse.”

This past spring, I was in a 6-week book study course called Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa has a great sense of humor and shares all the ways she still can sometimes come unglued–and she is the one leading us in trying to do better! This is why I liked her and her book. It was realistic and practical. The best thing I learned in this course was imperfect progress.

Imperfect progress is what most of us make when we are trying to change. We take three steps forward, and then we take a step back (sometimes a giant leap backwards unfortunately), and this backwards step is the turning point. This moment is when you decide if you are going to make imperfect progress and get back on your plan to the life you want (diet/training program/break from a bad relationship), or you are going to give up with the negative thinking of: What’s the point anyway?

There are a lot of things I need to change. And I am the textbook definition of imperfect progress, but here’s what I realized about myself and my progress after a brief encounter with a difficult person: I am finally starting to realize when I’m falling into the trap of what I usually say when faced with confrontation and also what I usually do. I also noticed I don’t have the same feelings or reactions as I did even if my behavior is the same, and  I am thinking about what to do differently next time.

Do you realize how big this is? It’s big. It’s big because before this year, an encounter with a difficult person like this would have left me for hours or maybe even an entire day upset and blaming myself, wondering why I am the way I am, and a lot of other terribly self-pitying behavior.

How about you? Did you cheat on your diet? Don’t beat yourself up! Did you eat healthy for five days before that? Then focus on those five days because you are making imperfect progress. Did you yell at your kids instead of using love and logic? Okay, you might have been tired or hungry, and next time you will realize that and won’t yell.

This is the thing about change–don’t give up. We all deserve the life we want. 

By the way, I’m currently having an Editor 911 sale and a writing coaching sale. Here are the details: Now through June 30, 2017, I am running a sale on my Editor 911 and writing coaching services. Regular price for a content edit OR proofread is $3.00 a page (250-275 words).SALE price $2.25 a page.FULL edit  (content and proofreading) regular price $5.00 a page, sale price $4.00 a page. If you pay your total bill upfront with Paypal, receive a 10 % discount on top of the sale price. If you don’t have a project ready, but want me to work on it this summer or fall, you can pay a $100 deposit before June 30 to keep the sale price and use it anytime.

For writing coaching, regular price is $25 for 30 min. or $40 for 60 min. If you pay beforeJune 30, 2017, you can get a package deal and use the minutes however you want (including splitting it with a friend)! SALE package price is…300 minutes for $150 (savings of $50). You don’t have to use these minutes this summer; but you must purchase them by 6/30/2017. Writing coaching can be used to complete projects, define goals, discuss plot, etc. and in person (if you live within 15 miles of Margo) or by phone or Skype.

EMAIL ME FOR DETAILS: margolynndill (at) gmail.com

 

 

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Practical Moms Unite: Traveling with Your Child

So the 6-year-old and I went on a trip during spring break, and I’m just now posting about it. No, it’s not because I need to recover–it actually went quite well. But I thought now would be a good time to talk about some practical tips for traveling with your child or children with summer break just around the corner.

First, don’t go to Disneyworld. HA! Just kidding. My friend Camille is planning a huge family trip for her 2 kids and hubby this summer. Did you know you can get someone to help you plan your Disneyworld trip? I don’t mean a travel agent–I mean another mom who likes to figure out where you should eat dinner and what parks you should go to and when! Now, this is practical. If you want more information about this, send me an email, and I’ll put you in contact with Camille. (margolynndill@gmail (dot) com)

KT at Legoland

Anywho, here are my actual practical tips for traveling with a 6-year-old:

  • Don’t overbook your days: If you do, both you and your child will be exhausted and not have fun. In my opinion (since you are reading my blog, you’re gonna hear my opinion), you need one big thing on the trip (like an amusement park) and the rest smaller activities that don’t have a set schedule. Here’s what our itinerary looked like:

Leave St. Louis at 4pm on a Monday night. Drive 2 hours to Columbia, MO. Eat dinner that I packed in the car.

Go to the first hotel  and go swimming that night. (Because this is what kids actually care about –hotels and pools)

On Tuesday, eat breakfast and go swimming. Check out of hotel and drive to Kansas City (2 hours). GO to next hotel and take showers there after check-in. Walk around the Plaza in Kansas City since it is a beautiful day and eat dinner somewhere.  (We didn’t have a specific time we had to be anywhere, so no rushing.) 

On Wednesday, OUR ONE BIG DAY–eat breakfast and go to Legoland. Make the reservation around 10:30 am, so we don’t have to get up early and rush. Eat dinner in the hotel room with food brought from home. Go swimming that night at the hotel pool.

We sat outside here at Crown Center for a while. (photo by Mark Goebel Flickr.com)

On Thursday, eat breakfast, check out of the hotel, and go to Crown Center and Hallmark’s Kaldeioscope, which is free! Eat lunch and drive home. 

  • You need a hotel room with a refrigerator and microwave when traveling with kids. You should also look for hotels that have free breakfasts and indoor swimming pools, so your child can swim regardless of the weather. After a long day at Legoland, being able to eat the food I brought from home and relax in the hotel room, as well as that night just go swimming for an hour, made both of us happy and not so tired or cranky!
  • Schedule activities as much as you can in advance and look for online coupons and deals. We got an amazing deal for Legoland because I had a buy one adult, get one child free Legoland coupon from McDonald’s. We saved $18 on Katie’s admission. We also would’t have been able to get into a session of Kaldeioscope if I hadn’t checked out online first how it all worked. Many children’s activities and events have special deals for people who buy their tickets online in advance. If you are military, you probably already know that you can get all sorts of deals on kids’ admissions to museums and other fun stuff. Check out the Blue Star Family website here.

Remember to ask yourself: What is your big goal (s) for this trip? These were mine:

  1. Take Katie some place for spring break, where she and I can spend quality time together and BOTH have fun.
  2. Don’t exhaust us.
  3. Don’t break the bank.

 

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Practical Moms Unite!

Here it is. My new series on the blog–Practical Moms Unite.

Every time you see this symbol, you will know that a Practical Moms Unite post is coming! 🙂

So what is a practical mom (parent, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc, etc)? I’m focusing on practical moms because that is what I know best. But this does not mean I am excluding any of these other most-important roles. Anyway…

The definition of a Practical Parent is:

An adult who cares for a child/teen 17 or younger and who also keeps the big goal in mind. It is a person who tries NOT to allow little, unimportant, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses details get in the way of everyday living. It is remembering what being a parent should mean AND remembering who YOU are as a person (and that is not just a parent).

Let’s break it down a little!

  • What is the big goal? I would guess we all have specific different goals for ourselves and our children. But most of them probably fall somewhere in the range of: We want our children to grow up to be productive members of society as well as being kind, loving and successful people.  For example: if this is the goal, is it really that crucial to get those Troll cupcakes for the 3-year-old birthday party if you can’t afford them?
  • What are little, unimportant, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses details? Anything that causes you great anxiety that does not fall in line with the goal. These are a lot of the unnecessary pressures we put on ourselves as parents, like instead of bringing a bag of cuties and cheese sticks when it’s your turn for the soccer game snack, you spend hours on Pinterest to find a cute idea for soccer snacks and stay up til midnight making them.
  • What should being a parent mean? Again, we all have different definitions, but my guess is most of you will agree that being a parent means loving your child with your whole heart, providing boundaries for them to learn and be successful in, and fulfilling their basic survival needs. Maybe that sounds too simple. There are thousands of children that don’t get those things, so it’s not that simple.
  • What does it mean remembering who you are as a person? This is the problem with social media. We compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing. When you look at your friend list, you can pick out the baker, the crafty one, the smart mom, the athletic one–this might be you, but it might not. SO then why do you expect to parent like all these friends? How many of us have seen a photo of someone doing something on Facebook or Instagram and thought: I should be doing that with my child. But should you? Do you like to bake? If yes, great, then make a birthday cake with your child. If not, then buy it at Walmart. You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be a good parent.

I don’t want to alienate anyone who loves to make crafts or throw themed-parties. If you LOVE that, if you get ENERGY from it, then my point is you should do it. But if you don’t, as a practical parent, don’t beat yourself up over it. Your child doesn’t have to have that to reach the big goal. 

So that’s a little take on Practical Moms Unite.

What’s your big goal as a parent or grandparent?

What do you like to do with your child? or for your child?

 

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Don’t Let Fear Rule You

I typed this title on this blog post, as if I don’t let FEAR rule me. I know sometimes I do. Actually, I have to make a conscious effort to NOT let fear rule everything I do. I first realized this only a couple years ago when a very good friend quoted Dune and said, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Here’s the entire quote if you haven’t heard it before:

Why do I bring it up today?

I’m the type of person who needs to hear the same advice time and again before it sinks in. And I’m still learning. I’m the type of person who probably needs an entire bedroom mirror full of quotes and tips and things I’ve learned from books, so I don’t forget them. BUT…I bring this up today because recently I heard Andrew McCarthy speak (Oh no, not this again, will she ever stop going on about him? you think) and he talked about Fear. He talked about Fear a lot. He talked about how we have to face Fear right in the face.

Immediately, I became defensive and thought: Who is he to tell us that we are fearful? Well, after listening to him talk from his heart and realizing how hard he tries at everything in his life now: writing, parenting, directing, AND how he is successful, I decided to listen to his message. He told a story to the audience, which he also wrote for National Geographic, about how he was on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage in Spain when he had a meltdown,  where he says, “I literally shook my fists at the heavens and cursed whatever God it was I half-believed in.”

He goes on to say (to read the whole article, please go here):

I became aware of something I’d in some way known all my life. It disclosed itself with the simplicity of the absolute. There wasn’t something lacking in my character; I had an overabundance of something. It had dictated so many of my actions, been behind so many decisions, obscured so much of my judgment. FEAR, I SAW IN THAT MOMENT, had ruled my life. The vulnerability between my shoulders was the space created when the weight of that domineering, life-directing emotion had been temporarily relieved. It was in this experience of fear’s absence that it began to lose its hold on me.

When he said the same thing in his talk at St. Louis County Library Headquarters, I realized that I have allowed FEAR to rule my life also, and most of us do, in spite of friends and the universe reminding us not to. I felt an overwhelming sadness and disappointment in myself at that moment because I wasn’t in control of my own life or my destiny. Fear was. Fear is.

I could give you a bullet point list of my fears, and many of you reading this would probably nod along; but instead of that, I decided that they can all be boiled down to one little sentence:

I fear that I am never doing enough–in my relationships, in my career, at my home, with my child.

And because of this, I spend a lot of time in chaos and worry and listmaking and pacing around my house, where I am not actually accomplishing anything. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s exhausting.

I want to tell you I’m done with it. I can’t do that yet. I can tell you: I want to be done with it. But we all know patterns and habits are hard to change. What I’m trying very hard to do, in this year where I’m also searching for Peace, is to be aware of when I am feeling Fear and figure out why. Then make a decision based on what I want for me life, and not on what Fear wants for my life.

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” ~Soledad O’Brien

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Winners, Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis and Practical Moms Unite Update

Book Giveaway Contest Results

Thank you to everyone who entered the book giveaway contest for Claire Gem’s books. I have 3 winners, whom I am in the process of contacting:

  • Chynna Laird
  • Brenda McCommis
  • Jeanne Felfe

(contest graphic above by Angela Mackintosh from WOW! Women On Writing, a great resource for writers here. )

Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis at the Library

I saw ANDREW MCCARTHY (yes, 80’s heartthrob from Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire) at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters last night, and it was amazing! This is not because he was so charming and I have loved him since the 80’s. But it’s because he was inspiring as an author. Here’s the beginning of my blog post I wrote about him on WOW!: “I Heard Andrew McCarthy Speak at My Local Library” True story. (Doesn’t my blog title sound like one of those titles from a “true story” magazine?) I live in St. Louis, and last night–actor, director, travel writer!, and now YA novelist Andrew McCarthy gave an inspiring talk about being creative. Once I got over the fact that I was in the same room with this man I loved on the silver screen since 1986 as Blaine in Pretty in Pink, who starred in my favorite comedy Weekend at Bernie’s and my favorite guilty pleasure, St. Elmo’s Fire, I listened to what the man had to say, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As writers, we know that we sometimes look at celebrity writers with disdain. It’s true because we know what it takes to slave over a manuscript and try to get an agent and then hope for some kind of book sales if we are lucky enough to get published. Then there’s this celebrity, who already has all the connections, and probably on some whim decided to write a book, and now is living our dream. Writers can be a spiteful bunch. (winks)

But guys, Andrew McCarthy is the real thing! To find out how he is the real thing and the inspiring things he said, go here. 

Practical Moms Unite

I know you are all anxiously waiting for practical mom blog posts, so you can be a practical parent, too. No worries. They are coming–and I am currently working on two of them. If you haven’t signed up to have posts emailed to you when they go up, you should do so RIGHT NOW. 🙂 Look at the sidebar, scroll up just a bit, and fill out the very simple form titled, “Want new blog posts emailed to you?” to make this happen.

 

 

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Unofficial Writing Week: Let’s Look at Blog Posts

If you’re a writer, most likely you have a blog OR will have to write a blog post for someone else for promotional purposes.

I did a series on WOW! Women On Writing a few months back about tips for writing good blog posts. Here are some excerpts and links to the rest of the articles, if you are interested.

ALSO, if you haven’t had the chance to enter to win one of Claire Gem’s supernatural novels or her new writer’s help book, The Road to Publication, you can enter on this post until the end of the weekend.

Post 1:

3 Tips to Title Your Blog Post and Draw Readers In:

You’ve heard time and again from articles, blog posts, and conference speakers that titles do matter, and you’ve probably spent countless hours coming up with titles for your prose. Here’s another point to consider about titles: the titles of your blog posts DO MATTER too. I feel like they are even more important than for an article or book, especially if you are tweeting and Facebook posting about your blog to draw more traffic. I have been WOW!’s social media manager for years as well as blogging for the Muffin. I also have my own blog and have done guest posts on several sites around the blogosphere. Your title needs to tell readers what you’re writing about–cute and clever doesn’t work well for a blog post. Here are three tips to help you create a good title to draw readers to your blog and keep them coming back:  1. Put a number in your title (if that works for your post):

To continue reading this post, please click here.

by orangeacid (Flickr.com)

Post 2:

How to Write the First Paragraph of Your Blog Post: 

Blog posts are important when used as marketing tools, freelance income, and editorial expression. To reach your audience online, connect with them, and get them to read an entire blog post, you have to begin with an opening that either gets right to the point (like this one), makes them laugh out loud (not like this one), or reaches them on an emotional level. This is not much different from what you’ve learned about article writing. However, with a blog post, you have a fewer number of words to catch your readers’ attention because they’re probably in skimming mode, until something catches their eye. (Have you seen the way people scroll through social media apps on their phones at top speed?)  Here are some beginnings that work well and why:

To continue reading this post, please click here

Post 3:

4 Ways to Close a Blog Post:

On the last day of 2016, it’s only appropriate that I close my series on blogging …with blog post endings. WOW!’s executive editor Angela said in a recent comment that she sometimes had difficulty with blog endings; and it seems if a person covers beginnings, she should also cover endings. So here we are saying good-bye to 2016 and discussing how to say good-bye to your blog post readers, too.  1. A Question If you want to see a good example of ending a post with a question, then please see just about any post on the Muffin written by Crystal Otto.

To continue reading this post, please click here

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