Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Every Day You Get Our Best: Lessons in Viral Marketing from One of the Nation's Top Supermarkets

Who cares about a grocery store?! The first day Wegmans was opened, 24,000 lined the store front. Hundreds of fans, some bearing shirts labeled "Wegmaniac" stood outside the door overnight in order to be one of the first customers to enter the store. The grocery chain has a bit of a cult following and a facebook search yields dozens of campaigns of rabid shoppers begging for the store to be brought their community. So many wanted to work for the company that over 3,000 applicants were rejected.

Wegmans Food MarketsSo a brief look at statistics would tell you that Virginia is bonkers for the popular shopping destination. Wegmans recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and Richmond is its 89th store. The long-standing success of the chain from humble beginnings, a penchant for keeping in touch with tradition while also innovating to match the times, and some crazy viral marketing in the digital era make Wegmans growth techniques a great pulse check for writers who want to grow their own reader relationships.
Wegmans started as a small grocery store with a roaming vegetable cart in upstate New York in 1916 and within a few years  the Wegman family store was 20,000 feet and contained an innovative cafeteria filled with fresh food along with technological advances that were unique in stores of the time such as mechanical produce sprayers that are a fixed mainstay of our markets today.
In 2015 Wegmans won the Harris Poll #1 spot for corporate reputation. This is one of many awards, including being named Fortune's #1 Company to Work For in 2005 and making the top 10 list of Fortune 500 many times. Whether or not you are a "maniac" its clear Wegmans has been doing something right from a marketing standpoint.
Now I'll admit I'm a bit of a rabid Wegmans fan myself as part of a multi-generational family who shopped at the original stores in upstate New York. From the age of 16 and continuing until I received my graduate degree at 24 I worked off and on for several Wegmans stores in customer service and as a patisserie assistant. 
I think there are dozens of marketing strategies to be gained from examining Wegmans. Here are a few of the reasons Wegmans has such a large fan base and how understanding their strategies can help you build your own:
1) "Every day you get our best."  
I'll admit this is a hokey slogan but it started with the early days when only the freshest produce was sold on the street carts. Part of why I was excited for the arrival of Wegmans in my city is some of my past produce experiences at several national chains. I was excited to join a pick-up service at my local superstore only to cut into several of the vegetables for stirfry and find black mold. I've seldom experienced this at Wegmans and when I have I have been immediately offered an alternative and the produce removed from the shelves. When we worked in the bakery we were trained in choosing the top berries and peaches for our pastries.

Do your readers get your best? Whether its in your books, your blog posts, your social media be known for excellence. Your reputation precedes you in all things.
release posted on their website , grocery store to the stars <b>Wegmans</b> ...
2) Build enthusiam for your product.
The day before opening (which is a stressful time for any retail business) Wegmans will have a local marching band in and have a pep rally for its new employees in an effort to build team spirit. The store even has their own cheer which the managers lead as the main doors open the first morning. Honestly, I think this is all a little nutty, but something can be learned from it. The corporate culture is one that builds enthusiasm. In my college years working at Wegmans, there were often small celebrations to mark store victories: new records achieved, an award for the company-at-large. Sometimes it was a catered lunch, a cake and punch toast, or a tee-shirt or another small reward. These small things helped us feel part of a bigger picture. Let your readers know how much you value them and how your success is due to them!
Celebrate your readers and the victories along your way. When you achieve a victory: a new contract, 10K hits on your website, a certain number of likes on your facebook fan page let the readers reap the rewards. Offer eproducts, contests, copies of your releases. Be generous as you can afford. Readers love celebrating with you! And where is any writer without their noble reader?
3) Be willing to step aside for others.
Wegmans made a decision that I believe may have eased its advent into the local market even further. They refused a business deal in our city in past years in order to protect a family-owned business. Wegman's respect for the business was due to the fact, they too, have been family and privately owned since 1916. Being kind to others is never a mistake. Each day make it a point to help others out during your time on social media. Remember that writing is a ministry, first of all and listen for the people God is putting in your life in order for you to bless.
4) Offer something unique in a saturated market.
The prices at Wegmans aren't always the lowest. What they are known for is customer service and innovation. The chain is given kudos for offering ready-meal options packaged together along with recipes. In-store restaurants of several varieties, make your own pizza and subs, and loads of samples are a few of the things you will find every time you walk into a store. What do you offer that's unique, your flavor in an overflowing market? 
5) Keep ahead of the trends, but stay known for your traditional values.
Every company has a code of ethics that drives them, but we are fortunate to have God's Holy word as our complete guidebook for all we face in life. Let's make sure to seek His face for each individual decision knowing that our career or writing life won't look like someone else's. 
6) Ask what does the reader want. 
In the newspaper article interviewing the store manager, he asked the customers to be sure to let him know if there was a product they wanted. They delivered on that promise. I asked for a favorite and visited the store less than a week later to find it on the shelves. Customer comment cards are all over the stores and the service representatives make it a point to call or email with further information within a week.
Do you deliver on what you promise? Do you care what your reader wants? How often do you ask what they are looking for in your fiction, website, etc? Are you prompt in responding to your reader's emails? 
7) Offer small sweet incentives for readers.
Store openings are always fun because they offer a small extra. In this case, samples were all around the store, coupons abounded, a free magazine with recipes and a free bottle of seasoned olive oil were given to customers as an incentive for signing up for a shoppers club. Do you have an exclusive reader club? What little things can you offer your readers? A mini ebook you make especially for them? Discounts? Excerpts from your latest story? Some recipes or special photos? The sky's the limit.
I personally always get excited when I see pre-release digital goodies for books and am more apt to purchase the book early. Recipes from the book, an extra chapter, a study guide, even a poster are simple little things that are exciting for the reader.

Are you offering the reader your best everyday when it comes to marketing and social media? Wegmans has built its popularity by following a variety of strategies that I think could benefit the general reader.
 Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia and enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction. You can find her work in Library Journal magazine and at Wonderfully Woven, a devotional site for women.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Top Ten Ways to Know You're Married to an 'Alley Cat'

This is certainly an oldie, but after a week away with my man, I am trying to get back into the writing groove so I thought I would share this fun perspective. I will also be guest posting on a couple of blogs this week so check it out at Seekerville Wednesday and Robin E. Mason's website Thursday!

Hope you have a great Memorial Day and remember all those real-life heroes who died so we might be free!


First time ever...we are letting an Alley Cat Spouse post, I think....Hmmm...will it be the last? This is my husband, Cody. Enjoy! 
-Angie Dicken
I don’t know much about Twitter, and even less about blogs. But one thing I do know, is that the number of ‘followers’ you have is a precious statistic in either of these virtual worlds. It’s the barometer of how solid your content it; how much impact you are making in near infinite battleground of the blogosphere.
One day this week my oldest son was telling me some things he learned about his Mom’s blog, “The Writer’s Alley”. He told me they had 650,000 followers. 650,000?!? No way. I’m proud of the 19 I’ve got on Twitter. And Garth Brooks only has 21,000 followers.  
So we were together in the pickup and I thought I’d ask how many she actually had. Now I don’t remember the answer, or if I even got one. But somehow I was dumb enough to open my mouth and suggest that I could come up with a post describing the husband’s perspective of an ‘Alley Cat’. So It is my privilege to put pen to paper for the purpose of sharing a fresh and daring perspective in these hallowed halls with my first, and almost certainly only, guest appearance on the “The Writer’s Alley”.
I don’t have very much experience writing blog posts, or really writing anything other than my name on the bottom of a speeding ticket. But I do have an eye for the posting format that hits the ‘sweet spot’. Where you maximize the reader’s interest, while at the same time minimizing the writers need to think and organize.  Yep, I’m going with the tried and true ‘Top Ten’ list.
So without further delay, I present to you the faithful Writer’s Alley followers, all 650,000 of you, the Top Ten Ways to Know You’re Married to an ‘Alley Cat’.
#10: For 45 minutes to an hour a day she clasps her iPhone tightly in her hand texting away with her ‘Crit Partner’, grinning from ear to ear, continuously giggling, and periodically snorting.
#9: It doesn’t matter where your favorite college football team is playing, how good the fishing report is, or if your job calls you on a business trip. The third weekend in September she will be out of town to the ACFW conference and you better just be ready to spend the weekend babysitting, buddy.
#8: At least once a year, and possibly twice, you will be asked to provide ‘tech support’ to ensure that the house’s WiFi is fully functional and that the latest version of Skype is installed to facilitate a 4-hour virtual laugh-fest that just really gets going around 10:30PM when the Australian girl is good and awake.
#7: Your favorite NFL team will most certainly be playing NBC’s Sunday Night Football each and every time it is her turn to post the Monday morning blog. You know this because you will miss the third quarter, and the most important play of the game, while you proofread her post for her.
#6: When you see her working away on her latest entry for the ‘Genesis Competition’, you know to keep your head down or else you will be summoned to read the chapter she is working on…for the fourth time.
#5: If you you’ve ever been to Kinko’s twice in one day to print the same 300 page manuscript…because the page numbers were 1/32nd of an inch too far to the right.
#4:  You have come to expect that when you are on a long car trip she will ask you if she can read just a few pages to you.
#3:  You have come to accept that when she asks you if she can read just a few pages to you, she really means just a few chapters.
#2: Your conversations at home include the characters in her stories so often that you start to think they are real people. And you actually start to miss them a little bit when she moves on to the next book.
#1: If she has been too busy and exhausted coordinating getting four kids through the first week of school, you will be asked to write her post for her on “The Writer’s Alley”.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Tool for Your Toolbox: Personification

Our words on the screen aren’t just descriptions or pieces of letters strung together to form a barest of expectation stories. Our words on the pages are expected to breathe life. To come alive on the screen of our reader’s mind. They are expected to dance and writhe and form a menagerie of descriptions that will come alive to the reader.

Take the line below from The Book Thief:

·         The secret sat in her mouth. It made itself comfortable. It crossed its legs.

Do you see that in your mind?

Did you feel the secret taunting on the edge of your tongue, crossing its legs and making itself familiar with who you are?

How could you not?

Even if literary fiction is not your #1 preference, there is no denying that every story needs a little bit of the literary to bring to life the scenes you are trying to write. I attended a local ACFW class taught by Brandy Vallance, author of the novel, The Covered Deep where she brought alive my passion for words and how to truly use them to paint a beautiful mosaic for your reader.

A good book is not made up of what it shouts or tells you, it is made up of what it whispers. Those moments when you sit down with the book and before you realize it you are taken into a completely different world and to leave it is to be jarred in the most uncomfortable of ways.

How do you make this happen?

Personification. Personification to maximize your reader’s visceral reactions to a scene. Personification to make the blurred clear and the cleared blurred.

Our job as a novelist is to make people feel. A book that does nothing to make you feel is time you can never get back in reading.

Go into every scene asking at least one question: what do you want your reader to feel? And the sub question: what can I use within this very scene to make those feelings actually happen?

What is the mood of the character? Is it dark and brooding: what should the weather be doing and how should that weather taken on human qualifications (personification) to dance across your character’s raw nerves and hence your readers? Most times your character won’t know their surroundings are taunting them, playing with their emotions because this series of descriptions is for your reader. To bring them into the middle of the scene and really make them feel what is happening.

So how can you personify one thing in a scene that you have? How can you take something animate—or inanimate (my favorite preference) and make it dance in tandem with what the character is going through?

Like that secret that sat in our characters mouth, becoming comfortable. Do you think that character told their secret? Do you think it was awkward and uncomfortable at first, something they just wanted to spit out and absolve themselves from? So what caused them to become comfortable with it? What changed their way of thinking?

It plants an image in the reader’s mind. A question without telling the reader that they should be questioning anything. We want our readers to become so invested in the story that they become one with it. That their emotions are entwined within these characters and deeply invested through the personifications of our words as one of the tools in our arsenal.

So your turn: Find a scene. Just a short paragraph (because we never want to overdo our use of personification) and share it in the comments. Those moments of raw beauty we use to string along the emotions of our character and readers.

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Quality Vs Quantity in Editing

This is a repeat from a post I did a few years ago... but I've been mulling over the idea of getting feedback and this post was interesting for me to reread.

Would love to get your thoughts on how YOU get the best feedback on your writing!


Getting feedback on our writing is easy these days.

From the barrage of writing contests out there to the numerous online critique groups to one-on-one relationships you've formed, the "HOW" to get feedback, on at least a portion of your writing, is a pretty easy question to answer. And most of these methods are fairly inexpensive and have a decently quick turn around.

At some point in the journey though, we need to get beyond the "get as many opinions as possible" way of thinking and take a ride on the "Quality vs Quantity" train.

I'm not discounting the easy methods. I used them myself in my journey to publication. They are needed and helpful.

But there needs to be a transition.

Reminds me of labor. (men... and women who haven't given birth... I apologize for this analogy.)

You're going along... contractions 5 minutes apart... you're breathing fairly easily... it's hurting but you can deal with it. But in order to get that baby out, you have to go through transition. It's the moment that the squeeze around your belly goes from not just hurting pretty bad to "Blank-ity-blank-blank-blank, get this baby OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW." The hurt goes deeper, gets more productive, and instead of having nurses coming in and out every once in a while to check on you, trying to remember everything you've read in those child birthing books, or listening to your husband beside you trying to fumble through helping you breathe....  you have a doctor and a dedicated nurse who tells you exactly, specifically what to do so you can deliver this beautiful, sweet, wonderful baby.

Our writing needs to transition as well. At some point, the feedback you receive needs to go deeper, get more productive. Instead of having multiple people telling you different things to try (which might not all work for your story), you need to narrow your focus, get experts in there that know exactly what you need to do, who can tell you what to do without a lot of fluff.

So... how do you find this quality feedback?

Here are two of the main ways to get that deep, lasting, productive feedback.
  • A FANTASTIC critique partner - This is someone who gets your voice and doesn't try to change it (unless your voice is getting squeaky and annoying...) Someone who has no problem giving you tough love and telling you like it is. Someone who understands the genre that you write in. Someone whose strengths complements your weaknesses, and visa versa.
    • Pros: 
      • Doesn't cost any $$
      • Can grow into a long-term arrangement that is mutually beneficial, a personal touch
      • Can include in-depth discussions on items, brainstorming help, and general encouragement at all stages of the process.
    • Cons:
      • Hard to find
      • If it doesn't work out, it can be very humbling and difficult to dissolve the relationship.
      • A large time investment is needed, as you're "paying" them in edits of their own work.
  • HIRE A PROFESSIONAL EDITOR - One good way to get solid, thorough feedback on your writing is to hire an editor. This is someone who has a proven record in editing and knows their stuff well.
    • Pros: 
      • You know you're getting GREAT feedback and can vet the person before hiring them.
      • A timely turnaround
      • If it doesn't work out... you just use someone different next time. Hard feelings need not apply.
    • Cons:
      • Costly. Price usually depends on what time of edit, how long the work is that you are submitting to them, and sometimes is a customized price based on how much editing will be needed.
      • This is usually a one-time edit with opportunity to discuss, but is not a long-term relationship for this book.

Not everyone is  ready for this level. Really, this should probably come AFTER you've done the whole crit group thing, done the contest rounds, gotten some feedback and done a LOT of editing on your manuscript to make it the best you can. So don't feel like you have to go spend a grand on editing right now.

It might be in your best interest to wait until your manuscript is in the best condition YOU can get it in first.

Discussion: Have you ever hired a professional editor? What was your experience with it? Do you think you are at or near the transition point of your writing career?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and writes romantic comedy. Her latest book A Side of Love, released February 29, 2016.  She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at http://www.kristaphillips.com. She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MC's Pearl-A Treasure Every Reader Will Want

Your story is great!

MC begins her story with such a problem readers will simply have to read what happens to her. How does she work through these issues? And oh, the climax moment, readers will be on the edge of their seat whipping pages to see if she makes it through! Great writing.

But somehow, as you do edits you feel like something is missing. That "mm" factor. What perfect gem is needed to satisfy your soul, MC's heart, and keep this story in the forefront of reader's minds?

In truth, this is the jewel of Christian fiction. 

The pearl of great price that draws readers to this story.

MC has whispered the answer in your ear. She has a hidden need. One that is deeper than the story. One that she has kept secret, afraid to admit the truth to you and herself. It is a spiritual need.

Have you noticed, from the beginning, MC was in the right place where this spiritual need absolutely had to be met--so desperately? At first romance or some other need struck MC and even you, the author, as the primary need. And maybe it was. But much, much more--this hidden spiritual need poke it's head up in crucial times of the story.

How can this hidden need play a greater role in the story?

1. Introduce the hidden need progressively. One of the key components of a spiritual truth is to not write preachy. We all have spiritual needs. We know this. But we don't want to be beaten up with it. Jesus always worked these truths like a fine golden thread through the tapestry of His stories. 

2. MC then needs something tangible to provide the way to meet this need.

3. Unfortunately, MC will not have an easy time of this. No MC ever does. MC now understands the way to satisfy this hidden need, but must walk through the steps. And fail. And try again. And question before a bona fide change will happen in her life.

4. Just as the man dug to find his pearl in Jesus' story and held it in his hands, so too, MC's hidden need must be displayed in her story. Not blatantly. Instead, creatively woven in MC's pages.

5. MC's hidden need should be crafted not as a layer, but as a spice in her story. First, bitter. Then, as MC walks through her story, the hidden need becomes a savory revelation, and finally a sweet, delicious change. One she will never regret making. In fact, the reader, too, will find herself wanting to satisfy the hidden need in her own life and desire to pay the price to buy the field and own the pearl. 

Maybe you have a personal hidden need begging to be satisfied. You know the answer. God has told you. But you are afraid to follow through because of the great price. If we can be of any encouragement to you, if we can pray for you, please let us know. You will find the Alley Cats are prayer warriors.

What examples of heart needs can be used in our stories? Sometimes the answer is in front of our face and we can't see it. We can help each other by making this resource list. Please share you idea in the comment section.

Research for today's post came from Nancy Rue's class at Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference.  Photo courtesy

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Help others--tweet or FB share this post


Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive her new short story an intriguing suspense/mystery. Come, read a good story. To get your free gift, sign up for the newsletter at Mary's website or:  Join the adventure!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When God’s Will is the Sweetest Place to Be {Guest Post by Meghan M. Gorecki}

Today, I (Laurie) am thrilled to host longtime Alley Pal, Meghan M. Gorecki, celebrating the second birthday of her book, God's Will! Meghan means the world to so many as the biggest cheerleader <3 I'm so grateful for her spirit and can't wait for y'all to read what she has to say. Meghan, take it away!


My Bible fell apart the other day. Not the binding, but a ton of papers and notes and cards from years gone by tucked within the leaves. One that fluttered out caught my eye—a torn piece of notebook paper labeled Publishing Options.

That sheet of paper is five years old, and it listed a number of ways I could see about getting the novel of my heart (then unfinished) published. A few avenues of indie-publishing—strangely enough that did not include the route I eventually took—and the paper also held a list of prospective agents to query when the book was finished.

This list sat for a while near Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Problem with five-years-younger-me, I didn’t keep reading the entire chapter.

After querying no less than twenty literary agents (after two rewrites and one major overhaul), my impatience and frustration got the better of me, and I shoved the novel of my heart far away because I was fed up and feeling like an utter failure after a total of seven years of hard work. And less than six months of over-optimistic/naïve work in putting it out there to gain an agent. May have only been two/three years ago, but oy with the youthful arrogance already.

Holding onto my dream of signing a book contract for God’s Will with tight fists, more than one person began to ask me if I had ever considered self-publishing. For too long, I held onto the old stigma surrounding it—and wrestled with feeling like I was letting down my dream and that I was a failure if I should pursue this avenue of getting my book out in the Great Wide World. I didn’t realize though, that in the midst of, ahem, a lot of refining work God was doing at that time that He was also reshaping my dream to fit within HIS will. The struggle being—it wasn’t my will. Self-publishing was not what I wanted for this novel—I felt I wasn’t giving my novel its due. And as it turns out, if I had done nothing with it or, even worse, kept chiseling away at trying to get a just-shy-of-trade-length novel with six main characters traditionally published? Well. I wouldn’t be celebrating this novel’s second birthday this month.

I don’t understand, nor often particularly like, God’s plan. And despite me writing a novel titled God’s Will, the irony of that is so not lost on me: it took nine years from the start of writing it to re-releasing a second edition to knock some sense into my head. God’s will is best. His plan is perfect. He knows better than me. Shocker, right? Everything that hits us in life comes either from or is allowed by God’s hand. Including the numerous trials and tests of faith that’ve hit between May 2014 and now since first publishing my book. I had to recently take a hard look at my heart and evaluate where I was in accordance with that Psalm 37. That chapter I never finished reading. In addition to exhorting the reader to delight in the Lord and HE will give us the desires of our hearts, there is so much more we have to do. Especially in the writing and publishing journey.

We must trust in Him alone to bring it all to pass. Take steps of faith when He calls us to—and rest and wait on Him to move. It was hard for me to do this—to uncurl my fists around my book baby and let God have it. Multiple times over. But once I let go and embraced the fact God was reshaping my plans and dreams for this novel, all I can say is His will is the sweetest place to be.

Oftentimes getting to this “sweet spot” doesn’t so much take a lot of physical actions on our part but a great deal of surrender. What are some ways you work on this tricky but crucial part of the process? Letting go and letting God?


About the author: Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction, a blogger, book reviewer and voracious reader. Taking her life a day at a time as God leads, she is pursuing a career in the publishing industry as an editor in training and as a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A hopeless romantic, history and Marvel nut, she's also a redhead (thanks to a box), who knows way too much trivia about movie musicals and the Civil War. Find her on social media and at her blog, A Northern Belle (www.northernbellemeg.com). 

Meghan is giving away a paperback copy of her debut novel, God’s Will, on Goodreads through the 28th so be sure to head over there for a chance to win.

You can find her on: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Pinterest

Monday, May 23, 2016

What is Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference

So…are you guys gearing up for writing conference season? I am…and it feels like it’s going to be a doozy!

In fact, today I’m attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. I can’t go for the entire conference this year, but since it’s taking place 30 minutes from my house I’m popping in today and tomorrow to hang out with other writers, glean from the great teaching, and…of course….dress in costume!!

If you’ve never been to the BRMCWC, I’d like to give you a few tips- and hopefully encourage you to visit next year, or even in the fall when they have their annual Novel Writing Retreat.

BRMCWC is held at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina. About 30 minutes east of Asheville, NC and about 2 hours northwest of Charlotte. It’s nestled in the mountains and the entire atmosphere sets the stage for your conference experience.

Blue Ridge offers some of the quality classes you’re used to receiving at the ACFW or Mount Hermon conference but at a smaller scale. The
conference center has rooms scattered throughout their buildings, surrounding a beautiful natural area where author photos can be taken, author videos made, one can take walks, or just enjoy sitting by the quiet stream.

Meals are offered in the dining hall, and like many other Christian conferences, worship time and devotionals are offered each day.

BRMCWC was my first writer’s conference over 6 years ago and it was a fantastic place to start. The smaller size and relaxed atmosphere created plenty of opportunities to meet other writers and talk with editors/agents. It’s a wonderful place for writers, especially new authors, to learn more about the craft from knowledgeable teachers- as well as a place to meet agents!

 I had the wonderful opportunity to meet my first agent here!

In the past, BRMCWC has had presenters such as Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, Beth Vogt, Ramona Richards, Eva Marie Everson, Alton Gansky, Chip MacGregor, Steve Laube, Diann Mills, Deborah Raney, Steven James, and so many more. This year, Steven James is back, and I can’t wait to take my oldest son to his classes J

As you can see from the pics, it’s a beautiful place with some great people. I even had my author video created here last year with LDP Media.

I also won my first major writing award at this conference.  In 2010 I won The Foundation Award for my favorite novel, Just the Way You Are.

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader's Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, and shortlisted for the Inspy Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. You can get to know Pepper on her website, www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.

Friday, May 20, 2016

You Might be a Readaholic if...

Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a readaholic. (Made up words are fun!)

If you suffer the same condition (excessive reading, not creative word-smithing) you might find yourself sucked into what I like to call a book vortex. One book a week turns into two, then spirals out of control to a book a day, becoming a gluttonous reading fest that only feeds the fiction monster in you.

Someone else’s books or your own, words can be addictive. Weaving stories a compulsion. The escape, an obsession.
Okay... easy now. Put the book down, and back away slowly…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy and mainly functional readaholic. Reading is a wonderful vice and far less dangerous than others like chocolate or nicotine, as far as I’m concerned. But I’ve come to realize (and admit rather begrudgingly) that there does come a point when reading starts to become a problem. Because as much as it might feel like it’s so integrated in who we are as writers and lovers of story that it becomes as natural and necessary as breathing, our lives are not fiction. We can’t go back and edit that scene. Redo that day. Pay more attention to our kids or be more productive on a day you are actually living in. The escape is wonderful, but we have to prioritize our reality.

So here’s a litmus test for your self-diagnosis and some tips to achieve a better balance.

You might be a readaholic if…

-You devour a book a day for more than three consecutive days.

-You confuse events in your life with something you’ve read.

-You daydream in storyworld.

-You promise yourself that you’ll finish the chapter and go to bed… (riiiggghht!)

-You spend your all your spare moments glued to the page.

-You read in the bathroom. (And spend more time reading than doing anything else.)

-You spend wayyyy to much time perusing Amazon.

-You have your library card number memorized.

-You’d almost always rather curl up with a book than go out in the real world.

-You start reading a new book when it’s past your bedtime.

-You have more than one book boyfriend.

-You’ve read and re-edited your own manuscript over a dozen times.

Perhaps we’re not looking for a cure, more like healthy boundaries. So if your fiction world starts taking over consider…

- Allotting time for reading binges before starting on a new manuscript or project.

-Give yourself a book vacation but make sure you come back to the real world (and keep a firm grip on it).

-Don’t bring reading material to the kitchen table.

-Go to bed at a decent hour and snuggle up with your spouse. Most things are better in real life than on paper. ;)

-Get out of the house. (Go on a date, take the kids to the playground, take a walk, ie… come out of the book cave and breathe in some fresh air. Great fodder for story, just store away those ideas for later.)

-If you tend to get sucked in, set an alarm for when you should stop.

-Read a book with your significant other. This is one way to make reading more interactive. Read the same book together or separately and have conversations about it. Like your own book club. J

Alright, any brave ones willing to confess? Anything to add to either list? Happy Friday, readaholics! You are not alone.

Amy Leigh Simpson is a writer, singer, runner, foodie, coffee-lovin’-chocoholic. When she’s not dreaming up saucy love stories sprinkled with suspense and mystery, she’s chasing around her two adorable tow-headed toddler miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with her miracle princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most hunky hero on the planet (sorry, ladies—taken). Though Amy doesn’t use her Sports Medicine degree for anything but patching up daily boo boo’s, she enjoys weaving medical aspects into her writing. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.