This blog’s for you!

Sometimes I get carried away and forget my blog is for you. It’s not for me. You have a limited amount of time to read, so I’m flattered that you read my blog posts.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

If my blog doesn’t fill a need of yours, then reading it is a waste of your time. The pressure is on me every week to inspired you, make you laugh, give you something to think about, or at least put a smile on your face.

Although I’ve been blogging for almost nine years, I’m still learning. If there is something on my blog page that isn’t of benefit to my readers, I need to delete it.

Deleted national flags widget

In an effort to declutter my blog on February 4, I deleted the widget that showed the flags of all the countries in which my blog readers reside. I realized that showing those 93 flags was for my own edification, not yours. That widget was providing information that you probably didn’t care about. I’m a geography nerd, so I found it very interesting.

Actually, I found it shocking and a bit frightening to know that people in that many countries had looked at my blog at least once. The biggest surprise was when the flag of the People’s Republic of China first appeared.

My most popular posts

In place of the national flags widget, I added a widget that lists my 10 most popular blog posts. This should help my new reader find some of my best posts, and it will help me see at a glance the topics that garner the most interest.

An unexpected source

I knew my blog was for my readers, but it wasn’t until I started reading Building a StoryBrand:  Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller that I was prompted to try to view my website and my blog through the eyes of a first-time visitor.

Everywhere Building a StoryBrand says, “customer,” I mentally substitute “reader.” Sometimes it works better than others. Although Mr. Miller’s book targets business owners, it made me ask myself how my website and blog portray me as a writer. I’ll continue to make changes that help first-time visitors become loyal readers.

Mr. Miller says a person should be able to look at my blog or my website and know within five seconds what I’m about.

I’m reminded of Alan Alda’s book

If you read my February 11, 2019 blog post, you know I read Alan Alda’s book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

That book prompted me to ask myself, “What does my reader need?” and “What is my reader hoping to gain by reading my words?” Mr. Miller’s book dovetails into Mr. Alda’s book and reinforces what Mr. Alda said about communication.

The purpose of my website and blog

Mr. Miller’s book prompted me to state the purpose of my website and blog in one sentence. When I got to the heart of what I’m trying to accomplish, this is what I concluded: 

The purpose of my website and blog is to show you that I write with authority and skill and, therefore, you can trust that my writing is worthy of your time.

If it sounds like I’m boasting, that’s not my intent. I’m setting the bar high for myself, and will read that purpose every day when I sit down at the keyboard.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I just finished listening to The Midwife’s Confession, by Diane Chamberlain. (Audio books come in handy when a reader has vertigo.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Don’t forget to look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow when I’ll reveal two books that remind me of someone. (Writing prompt provided by “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog post on January 8, 2019 (

Let’s start a conversation

What are you hoping to find in my blog? A smile? Humor? Something to ponder? Inspiration? My take on a book I’ve read? Samples of my fiction writing? A variety of these?


My “Sound Bite” and My Author Brand Story

Those of you follow my blog are probably growing weary of reading about author brand. I feel your pain! After today’s post, I look forward to blogging about other topics. Thank you for bearing with me as I went through this necessary journey and soul searching in preparation for what I hope will be the publication of my first novel in the next couple of years.

A Reductive Phrase or Sound Bites

On her company’s website,, Theresa Meyers defines a sound bite as “a reductive phrase that encapsulates more than the words contained in the phrase.”

She says an author must “boil down” his or her message points to “a one liner that will be used in every interview, every speech, every talk you give.”

I needed to ask myself why I write southern historical fiction. It’s what I’m naturally drawn to. It’s like all my life experiences have pointed me in this direction. But Ms. Meyers nudged me to go three more steps. I had to verbalize why people read southern historical fiction, what makes it sell, and why people seem to be gravitating toward it. As if that weren’t enough, the task was to come up with one phrase or sentence that would answer all of those questions.

My thought process as I pondered those three questions:  I think people read southern historical fiction, buy southern historical fiction, and gravitate toward it because The South is a state of mind. It is a place and feeling that its children cannot easily define or explain. It is unique due to its history. It is at once looked down upon and held in a place of fascination by the rest of the country. It is a place that one cannot begin to understand without having lived there, or perhaps without having been born there. It is probably the most misunderstood place on earth.

My conclusion, in one sentence or phrase:  Southern Historical Fiction touches the heart.

My Author Brand Story

If the following five paragraphs might sound like I’m bragging, that’s not my intention. It is my understanding that an author brand story is a writer’s statement of what qualifies him or her to write what they write. The next five paragraphs are my author brand story.

My 40 years of tracing my various family lines back to the colonial days in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia as well as collateral family lines back to the pioneer days in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi has served to reinforce and strengthen my knowledge of and history of The South (i.e., the southeastern states in the United States of America.)

I have done extensive local history and church history research and writing. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. I identify with people who lived through the American Revolution, though I doubt if I would have had the physical fortitude to survive that period in our nation’s history. My studies have given me a profound appreciation for the hardships endured and sacrifices made by that generation of Americans that laid the foundation for the country and freedoms we enjoy today. Their blood runs through my veins and the red clay soil of the North Carolina piedmont is in my soul.

I am detail-oriented. Living my entire life in North Carolina and most of my life on land that has been in my family since the mid-18th century gives me a strong sense of place.

Having lost my first and second careers due to my health, I need to prove to myself and others that I can still contribute to society. I have been a writer all my life – just an unpublished one until recently.

My background, education, and desire to write historical fiction make me uniquely qualified to pen southern historical novels.

If you like my blog, please tell others about it. You may use the social media icons below.

Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read and, if you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. Thank you for coming along on my journey as an aspiring novelist.


My Author Brand Progress Report – Part 1

In my last blog post, “More Thoughts about Author’s Brand,” on November 22, 2016, I ended the post with comments about the first four questions on the 12-question “Brand Story Worksheet” written by Theresa Meyers and found on and the promise to “work my way through the remaining eight questions on the worksheet, I’ll start drawing my author brand ‘map,’ and I’ll do some research on ‘message points.'”

Question 5

The fifth question on the worksheet prompted me to consider how what I have to offer in my writing is different from what anyone else can offer, and how I will make an emotional connection with readers. That’s what I was supposed to do but after evaluating my lifelong love for the history of the geographical area in which my historical mystery manuscript (The Spanish Coin) is set (the northern piedmont of South Carolina and the southern piedmont of North Carolina) I forgot to address the emotional connection with my readers. Nevertheless, this exercise has helped me know that this is where my writing needs to be geographically. I guess it boils down to the old saying, “Write what you know.”

Question 6

Perception as a writer is addressed in the sixth question. To answer it, I had to imagine how my ideal reader would perceive my writing and how she or he would describe my work. I have concluded that I want my ideal reader to describe my work as “spot-on” historically and beautifully-written. I want my ideal reader to say my work my books are “real page turners” with memorable characters that they remember years after reading my books. I want to be perceived as an honest writer.

Question 7

The seventh question asked what people are saying about my writing. I was encouraged when I remembered how people raved about the local history column I wrote for six years for the weekly Harrisburg Horizons newspaper. Also, I received compliments on my short story, “Slip-Sliding Away!”

Question 8

Emboldened by my reflections on question #7, I jumped into the next question; however, it was not so easy to answer. It was about signals my brand sends. This is going to require more thought, since I’m still trying to determine what my brand is and how to project it.

Question 9

The ninth question also addressed things that I don’t have yet since I am still figuring out my brand. I have a website, business cards, and a head shot, but I didn’t know until last week that my website and business cards should match or at least blend. The head shot I had made to appear on the back cover of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is not on my website. The purpose of the ninth question is to prompt me to make sure everything I do is a positive reflection of my brand.

What’s left to do

That leaves three more questions to be addressed, as well as the writing of my brand story and strategy, my brand story map, and my message points. I’ll see how much progress I can make on those items before my next blog post in a few days.

If you feel led to Tweet about my blog, Pin one of my posts on Pinterest (yes, I know, most of them don’t have a photo to Pin), or comment about it on other forms of social media, I thank you for helping me get the word out about my writing. You’ll find social media icons below.

Until that next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read and, if you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. Thank you for coming along on my journey as an aspiring novelist.


More Thoughts about Author’s Brand

Since my last blog post, What is an Author’s Brand… and How Do I Get One? I have done more reading on the subject and I’ve taken my first steps in figuring out/designing my brand. If you’re also an aspiring novelist, perhaps my blog posts on this topic will help you. Disclaimer: I am learning as I go. I am no expert.

“The Basics of Author Branding,” by Theresa Meyers

In her article, “The Basics of Author Branding,” Theresa Meyers, the president of Blue Moon Communications ( stresses the importance of mapping out your branding plan. Since I love maps, this concept appeals to me.

How an Author Brand Works

Theresa Meyers gives three steps to explain how an author brand works.

  1. When readers love your stories, they will “believe that they have formed a relationship” with you. (She calls this “emotional Velcro.”);
  2. Garnering accolades within the writing community and publishing industry will create a public perception of you; and
  3. Your author’s voice will set you apart. You have a unique way of writing.

Summary of Theresa Meyers’s Article

What I came away with is that the following things must be done in order to form your author’s brand, and they must be done in the following order:

  1. Produce good quality product;
  2. Decide on your message points;
  3. Be consistent;
  4. Get your name/brand out there; and
  5. “Find a word or phrase . . . to define what you do or your unique aspect and own it.”

That last part got my attention. I haven’t seen anyone else give that tip. It has me thinking. I write historical fiction, but what sets my historical fiction apart?

The second item on the list also got my attention. I’m not sure I know what my message points are.’s “Brand Story Worksheet”

In addition to studying what Theresa Meyers wrote about author branding, I have put some serious thought into answering the first four of the 12 questions on the “Brand Story Worksheet found at

Right off the bat, the first question forced me to put in writing my beliefs and worldview and analyze how that influences my writing. That was a sobering exercise. It made me seriously consider and discover why I write the historical fiction I write and aspire to write.

The second question forced me to write down my personality strengths and weaknesses. Maybe I did this exercise on a bad day, but I was stunned when I came up with 11 weaknesses and just three strengths! It seems I have some rough edges that need to be smoothed out a little bit.

The third question made me put in writing what motivates me to write. I already knew the answer(s), but it was helpful to write it down. It helped me focus.

The fourth question was harder to answer than I anticipated when I first read it. I not only had to try to identify the types of readers that will value my writing but also say why they will value it.

Until my next blog post, I will continue to work my way through the remaining eight questions on the worksheet, I’ll start drawing my author brand “map,” and I’ll do some research on “message points.” It’s too bad I can’t just write and have the reading public magically clamoring for my work. I’d rather be writing than spending my time jumping through these author branding “hoops,” but that would be too easy. This is a journey. It will not be accomplished overnight.

A Call to Action

I welcome your comments about this and my earlier blog posts, and I invite you to share my blog by clicking on the social media icons below.

Until my next post, I wish you a good book to read and, if you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time. And if you’re an American, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday.


What is an Author’s Brand… and How Do I Get One?

Today’s blog post is for writers who are in the same boat with me. I’ve been working on a novel for years. I hope to get it published in the next several years. I am trying to learn all I can about the craft of writing as well as the craft of being an author. In the 21st century It’s not enough to write a 100,000-word piece of earth-shaking fiction. An author has to have a brand and build a platform.

To tell you how far I’ve come in the last week, a few days ago I didn’t know the difference between brand and platform. I have a hunch I’m not alone in my confusion. I do not claim to be an authority on this subject. In fact, I’m far from it. Today’s post grew out of my need to try to figure out author brand and author platform.


What is an author’s brand?

After searching online for explanations of an author’s brand, I have concluded that my brand as an author is who I am, what I choose to share about myself, and what I want readers to think when they see or hear my name.


What is an author’s platform?

The best I can tell, an author’s platform is his or her visibility and ability to sell books.


How do brand and platform mesh?

An author’s brand underpins his or her platform. It’s part of the foundation. Brand, therefore, must precede the building of a platform.


When should I design my brand as an author?

Today, or perhaps yesterday.


How do I establish my brand as an author?

  • Set goals and objectives
  • Identify what readers of your genre are looking for
  • Determine how you are different from other writers in your genre
  • Feel comfortable in your own skin as a writer
  • Don’t be shy about telling your own story
  • Find your niche and focus on it
  • Take care to manage how you are perceived
  • Explore ways you can turn readers of your genre into fans of your work


How am I perceived?

How potential readers perceive you is created by a variety of ways. Everything from website, logo, social media presence, business cards, any printed materials, to your photo affect how you are perceived. In other words, be consistent in how you project yourself.


How can you learn from my mistakes?

Unfortunately, when I had my website set up, it was primarily to showcase the three family genealogies compiled in the 1990s by my sister and me. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, but at that time I really knew next to nothing about writing fiction.

I set up a Facebook account on June 14, 2011 in order to keep up with community events and news. Much later (August 12, 2014) I added a Janet Morrison, Writer Facebook page as a way to publicize my public appearances to promote my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

In 2010, I started half-heartedly writing a blog. I struggled with content and how often to post. It wasn’t until 2014 and the publishing of my vintage postcard book that I got serious about blogging.

Kicking and screaming, I created a Twitter account on April 11, 2016.

I did all these things in piecemeal fashion as I struggled to learn what an aspiring novelist should do in order to get noticed. The operative word is “piecemeal.” There’s nothing wrong with taking a gradual approach, but my mistake was that I did not have an overall plan and, therefore, I was not systematic. I was focusing on the individual trees instead of the entire forest. I did not understand author brand as it relates to author platform. In conclusion, I tried to build my platform without supporting it with a brand. I got the cart before the horse.


Where do I go from here?

With my website, blog, and Twitter account already in place, I have no choice but to keep forging ahead. Otherwise, I will lose my momentum and many of the followers I have. (I experienced that this summer while I had shingles in my eye.)

While I forge ahead, though, I know now that I need to design my brand. I have written the manuscript of a historical mystery. Although Arcadia Publishing reminded me during the editing process that my postcard book was not intended to be a history book, I believe it did help people to perceive me as a writer and historian.

My plan for the coming weeks is to hire a professional editor to evaluate my historical mystery manuscript (working title is The Spanish Coin) and to take the steps necessary to design my brand.

I don’t expect this to be easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Researching and stating facts and theories about author branding is one thing. Putting that knowledge into practice is altogether something else.


Some of the resources I used in writing this post are:

I would be remiss if I did not disclose and provide links to the online sources I used this week in writing this blog post.


A call to action

If you find this blog post helpful or if you wish to contradict or correct any of my statements, please leave a comment and give exposure by clicking on the social media icons below.

Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read and, If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.