Local History is Revealed in National Archives Holdings

The first documented gold discovery in the United States was here in present-day Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799. The discovery by a little boy playing in Little Meadow Creek led to gold fever in the area. Numerous gold mines were dug and mined to various levels of success.

In fact, there was enough gold found in the southern piedmont of North Carolina that a branch of the United States Mint was built in Charlotte in 1836 and 1837. It opened for the production of gold coins in 1837.

A trip to the National Archives at Atlanta (which is in the Atlanta suburb of Morrow, Georgia) a few years ago gave me the opportunity to look at ledger books from the Mint in Charlotte. Within those pages I recognized names from my community.

Register of Gold – Branch Mint – Charlotte

I’m blogging about some of that information today to give you an example of the type of documented local history I included in Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2. Although the book (and Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1) concentrate on Harrisburg, both books do include articles about other communities in Township One.

One of the communities rich in history in the township is Pioneer Mills. Little more than a quiet crossroads now, it was a center of activity in the mid-1800s after the discovery of gold and the opening of Pioneer Mills Gold Mine.

I recognized names such as John C. Barnhardt from the Pioneer Mills community as taking 123 ounces of amalgam to the Charlotte Mint on August 31, 1843, for which he was paid $2,340.33. That was no small sum of money in 1843!

Robert Harvey Morrison, on whose land the Pioneer Mills Gold Mine was located, was paid more than $4,000 for the gold bars and amalgam he took to the Mint from late in 1846 into early 1850.

Other names I recognized in the Mint ledgers included two other Barnhardts,  Robert R. King, three men with the surname Treloar, and R.B. Northrop.

Comparing US Census records, Charlotte Mint records, and various years of Branson Business Directories helped me get a better idea of what the Pioneer Mills Community must have looked like 150 to 180 years ago. There was a general store, a dry goods store, a blacksmith, a school, and a post office, In 1869, Pioneer Mills Community had three physicians.

Gold mining brought people from Canada, Great Britain, and New York to Pioneer Mills. Gold mining, no doubt, brought some undesirable people into the community, which led the wife of the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church to say in the early 1870s that Pioneer Mills “is no place for a preacher’s son!”

If you’d like to read more about the history and people of Cabarrus County, North Carolina, you might enjoy Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2. They are available in paperback at Second Look Books in Harrisburg and in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

By the way, you can visit the research room at the National Archives at Atlanta (in Morrow, Georgia) by appointment only. Visit the website for more information:  https://www.archives.gov/atlanta.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

I hope you spend time with family and good friends.

And, as always, remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Janet

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2 is Published!  

I’m pleased to announce that not only did my second proof copy of Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2 arrive in a timely manner, but it was also in fairly good order!

The cover is now a reddish-brown instead of dark brown. (I don’t think I’ll try to self-publish any more books with a red cover! We all learn from our mistakes.)

There were still a few formatting errors that resulted from the last “chapter” (my research notes) being almost 30,000 words in length, but at least Carl Higgins’ World War II B-26 bomber was flying horizontally on page 467.

Although the manuscript was proofread and corrected several times, three typos got past me. I strive for perfection, but I’ve yet to see a perfectly printed book. I can live with three typos in a 536-page book.

Available on Amazon!

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2 is now available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon. Click on https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BW2QMLHC/ for the paperback or click on https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BXBQ1F79/ for the Kindle book. I shortened the Amazon URL so they wouldn’t look so intimidating. If they don’t work, just put the name of the book in a search on Amazon.

Available soon at Second Look Books!

The paperback book will be available in a few weeks at Second Look Books in Harrisburg.

The first issue of my newsletter!

Those of you who read my blog post last Monday and subscribed to my newsletter before March 1, received the first issue of the Janet Morrison Books Newsletter (clever name, eh?) on Friday. I hope you enjoyed the variety of information it contained.

If you’ve read my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, you were able to answer the trivia question near the end of the newsletter.

Please subscribe to my newsletter & receive a free short story!

I’m working hard to get my writing career off the ground, so please subscribe to my newsletter. I plan to send out a newsletter every other month, so be sure and visit my website, https://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com  and subscribe so you won’t miss another issue. You’ll also receive a downloadable copy of my short story, “Slip Sliding Away: A Southern Historical Short Story.”

Thanks for being on this journey with me!

All these recent accomplishments are the culmination of a lifetime of studying local history and learning how to research and document it and 22 years of studying the craft of writing.

It’s been a bumpy journey. Thank you for having faith in me and offering encouraging words along the way! I have some loyal lifelong friends and just as loyal friends I’ve made through my blog and Facebook. I value each and every one of you.

Buckle up! I’m just getting started!

I’m working on a family cookbook, more historical short stories, and an historical novel. With my two local history books and first short story published, I look forward to concentrating on my fiction writing.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book (or historical short story!) to read.

Make time for your family and a hobby.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine.

Janet

I just wanted a proof copy of Harrisburg, Did You Know? Book 2

This should have been a very short blog post. Two or three paragraphs should have covered the story. Actually, if that had been the case, I would have chosen a different topic for the post. I hadn’t planned to blog about this today.

When I started writing my blog more than 10 years ago, I set out to chronicle my journey as a reader and a writer. It’s been a bumpy ride and there have been detours, successes, and obstacles. I’ve tried to share my ups and downs.

Just three weeks ago in my February 6 blog post, What does a month in the life of a would-be author look like?, I described a particularly trying month I’d experienced. The things I ranted about in that post eventually all worked out.

Today’s post is about last week’s stress. Last week’s stress has lapped right over into this week. I’d like to think there’s light at the end of this tunnel, but after what I’ve been through, it’s hard to be optimistic.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Today’s post falls in the category of “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Here’s the timeline as tracked on Amazon.com:

February 19

Having submitted the formatted copy of Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2 to Amazon for publication, I ordered a proof copy. After having some technical difficulties with several photographs in the book, I especially wanted to be sure they were going to be oriented correctly in the printed book.

I also ordered two paperback copies of Slip Sliding Away: A Southern Historical Short Story, but those two books had to be purchased as a separate order.

Amazon chose to combine the orders and deliver (or attempt to deliver) the three books to me via the United States Postal System, otherwise known as “carrier facility.”

February 21

9:11 pm      Order left carrier facility, Concord, NC.

This is when I had a feeling that things had gone awry. Since Amazon does not print books at its facility in Concord, NC, which is about 12 miles from my house, I wondered why Concord was the first point of transit. The first point of transit should have been Amazon – not the US Postal Service. My books are usually printed either of Columbia, South Carolina or Indianapolis, Indiana.

February 22

Unspecified time   Carrier picked up package in Columbia, SC (about 90 miles south of me.)

8:18 a.m.     Package arrived at Amazon facility, Concord, NC (about 15 miles north of me.) [This is great! Maybe my proof copy and the short stories will arrive today or tomorrow at the latest! Life is good!]

February 23

6:18 a.m.     Package arrived at carrier facility, Walkertown, NC (about 80 miles north of me.) [What?]

6:32 p.m.    Package arrived at carrier facility, Harrisburg, NC (Post office is five miles from me. I live on a Harrisburg mail route.) [I’m not sure how it traveled 75 miles in 14 minutes, but okay. Whatever.]

7:47 p.m.    Package arrived at carrier facility, Greensboro, NC (about 85 miles northeast of me.) [Wait a minute! Something’s not right.]

But I don’t want a refund. I want my books!

You know you’re in trouble when Amazon tells you on Thursday that you can request a refund if your package doesn’t arrive by Tuesday.

A refund won’t do me any good. I need to receive the proof copy before I can give Amazon the go ahead to start selling it. More importantly, I can’t order author copies to supply Second Look Books in Harrisburg until the book “goes live” on Amazon. Then, it takes about four weeks for me to receive the author copies, and my “Meet & Greet” at Second Look Books is scheduled for April 15.

February 24

5:19 a.m.     Package left Amazon facility, Concord, NC (about 15 miles northeast of me.)

9:21 a.m.     Package arrived at USPS distribution center, Charlotte, NC (about 18 miles west of me.)

February 25

3:15 a.m.     After spending 18 hours at the USPS distribution center in Charlotte, the package left.

3:20 a.m.     Five minutes later, it left again. (I’m not making any of this up!)

7:07 a.m.     After traveling about 15 miles, package arrived nearly four hours later at the USPS in Harrisburg, NC.

7:18 a.m.     Package is out for delivery “by 8 p.m. tonight.”

3:20 p.m.    Package arrives at my house! According to the back page, the books were printed in Columbia, SC on February 20, 2023. There was only one 2×4-inch gaping hole in the package right over the cover of the Harrisburg book. These books have seen parts of North Carolina I’ve never seen. As far as I know, I’ve never been to Walkertown. I looked it up. It’s between Winston-Salem and Virginia.

Alas, I had the books in my hands.

I quickly turned to page 465 in the Harrisburg book to make sure Carl Higgins’ B-26 bomber was shown correctly; but, no! In the image, the plane is heading straight up instead of to the left.

Various subheadings in the book appear at the bottom of one page instead of at the top of the next page, although I painstakingly made sure that none of the subheadings were at the bottom of a page when I submitted the formatted manuscript to Amazon. Likewise, all images were oriented in the correct manner when they left my computer.

And did I mention that the cover is dark brown instead of red?

Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash

I discovered, though, that the errors (except for the color of the cover) were my fault due to my lack of technical knowledge. If I’d been more in tune with general computer technology, I would have realized that I had created a problem… all the problems in the way the book was printed… except for the brown cover on the red book.

I still hold Amazon and the USPS responsible for shipping my book all over North and South Carolina for nearly a week. The best I can figure, the USPS transported it around 425 miles to get it 90 miles from Columbia, SC to Harrisburg, NC. If I could have received it five days ago, I’d probably have all the problems worked out in the formatting by now and would still be on schedule for publication.

Instead of giving Amazon the go ahead on March 1 to publish my book, I’m now working to correct errors. Then, I’ll submit the revised version. Then, with a great sense of foreboding, I’ll pay to get ANOTHER proof copy of the Harrisburg book. And I’ll wait who know how long for it to arrive. Then, if it is in good order, I’ll order author copies. Then, I’ll wait four weeks for them to arrive. Will they arrive in time for the “Meet & Greet” at Second Look Books on April 15th?

If I were a betting person, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Since my last blog post

Besides following the day-to-day saga of the trip the proof copy of my book has been on, I did some yard work. It’s been unseasonably warm here in North Carolina. I was surprised to see two black snakes on Wednesday. I’ve never seen a snake in February (or March!) before. It’s unusual to see one in April.

My email provider is a company called Windstream. There are many things I’d like to say about Windstream, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that on Saturday night, just five hours after I received the awful proof copy of my Harrisburg Book 2, Windstream downloaded into my inbox the last 4,449 emails I had already received. As we say in the South, “Bless their hearts!” Again, you can’t make this stuff up.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I plan to write about the books I read in February.

If you’re looking for a good historical short story, just visit https://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com and subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll be rewarded with a free e-copy of a short story I had fun writing, “Slip Sliding Away: A Southern Historical Short Story.”

Also, hurry and subscribe before March 1, in order to receive my first newsletter!

I hope to have a corrected copy of Harrisburg, Book 2 completed, submitted to Amazon, and have a new proof copy of it in my hands by the time I blog again on March 6. I can only hope.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Don’t forget the brave people of Ukraine who have been under unwarranted attack by Putin for a year.

Janet

DRUMROLL!  My Website is Redesigned!

In celebration of the unveiling of my newly-redesigned website, I’m announcing a giveaway! Who can pass up free stuff?

Today’s blog post will be short because I want you to spend some time exploring my website.

The home page of my redesigned website!

What’s free?

Just for visiting my website and clicking on the “Subscribe” button, I’ll send you a FREE E-Copy of one of my short stories:  “Slip Sliding Away: A Southern Historical Short Story.” It’s set in the southern Appalachian Mountains in 1875. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

This is the cover of the short story if you prefer to purchase it on Amazon.

Please rate or review the short story

If you like the story, please consider going on Amazon.com and rating it or even leaving a brief review. That would be great and I would truly appreciate it!

History in Photographs

History in Photographs page on my redesigned website!

One particular page on my website that I want to draw your attention to is “History in Photographs.” On that page you’ll find pictures of various historical sites and items that are representative of the 1700-1900 era of American history I’m most drawn to and prompted to write about.


Since my last blog post

In addition to my newly-designed website going “live,” I finally received a refund for the damaged copies of Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 that I received in December. I emailed the company again and my request finally landed with the right person!

It was a great week!


Until my next blog post

Please visit https://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com and subscribe to my newsletter! I anticipate sending out the first newsletter in March and follow a schedule of every other month.

I hope you have a good book (or short story!) to read.

Thank you for reading my blog and for visiting my website. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter to get my free short story!

And as always, remember the suffering people in Ukraine, Turkey, and Syria.

Janet

How to (Possibly) Build an Author Platform? A New Perspective

Today’s blog post is a follow-up to my January 30, 2022 blog post, How can I attract readers when I write about my author’s platform? In spite of my rant last week in What does a month in the life of a would-be author look like? and a continuation of that craziness this past week, I’m feeling good now about my author’s platform.

Read on, to find out what has lifted my writing spirits.

Photo Credit: Emrecan Arik on unsplash.com

Colleen M. Story’s Perspective

The Writers in the Storm website came to my rescue again. Colleen M. Story wrote an article for it months ago while I was already trying to decide when to blog about this topic. Here’s the link to Ms. Story’s September 14, 2022 article: How Your Author Platform Helps You Do More Than Sell Books (writersinthestormblog.com).

Ms. Story hit on some important points and helped me not to feel quite so intimidated by the whole author platform thing. Her article touched on the “whys” and the “wherefores” of an author platform. It boils down to anything and everything you do to attract readers.

She talked about five ways an author’s platform can help your career. They all made sense. Then she listed 14 examples of things a writer can do to attract readers. I was happy to see “Blog” on the list, but the wheels fell off my wagon when I got to “YouTube site.” Yikes! Moving on down the list (because, after all, I can’t do all 14 of them) I came to “Newsletter.” I’ve toyed with that idea, but I haven’t attempted that avenue yet.

When my redesigned website gets up and running (soon!), I will start asking people to sign up for my email list/newsletter. More to come on that in the coming weeks.

Ms. Story also had “E-books” and “Social Media” on her list. I’ve mentioned my lack of comfort with social media in many blog posts. There’s certainly more work for me to do there.

On the E-book front, I’ve written a southern historical short story that I plan to give away as an e-book to everyone who signs up for my mailing list. Stay tuned for my announcement about that when my new website is ready.


Blog and Social Media: Is it Both or Either/Or?

Photo Credit: Elena Mozhvilo on unsplash.com

I recently listened to a Penny Sansevieri of https://www.amarketingexpert.com on this topic. It unburdened me! I learned that more and more authors don’t have a desire or the time to be on social media. Whew! What a relief! I’ve read and heard a thousand times that authors have to be active on social media.

I’ve tried to be active on Twitter. It’s just not my thing. It’s a chore. It’s something I have to put on my to-do list, but usually it gets pushed to another day. And Instagram? I created an account several years ago, but I’ve never used it. By that, I mean I’ve never logged in to my account a single time.

I enjoy putting things on Pinterest, but I’m more likely to pin a recipe than something writing-related. Last week I read a theory that Pinterest might be an author’s best friend when it comes to social media. I like Pinterest, so that was encouraging.

When Penny Sansevieri said I don’t have to do social media, I wanted to jump up and down. If I blog on a regular basis (check!), update my website (check! Being done!) and stay active on Pinterest (fairly easy!), all I need to add is a newsletter.

With that in mind, I looked back at the “Next Steps” section in my January 30, 2023 blog post. I was tempted to strike through numbers 5 and 6 (find out where my target reader hangs out and hang out there), but I’m pretty sure historical fiction fans hang out on Goodreads. I like Goodreads. I just need to get more serious about it.

My takeaways from the podcast were (1) Since I blog every week, I don’t have to have a presence on social media; (2) I need to upgrade my author website; (3) I must have a newsletter with updates on what I’m doing and teasers about what’s coming; (4) I need a magnet to attract people to my newsletter; (5) I must have information in the back of my books with links to my website, blog, and any social media I want to participate in; (6) I mustn’t overlook local events and local media; and (7) I need to engage with influencers.


Where do I go from here?

With the new advice from Penny Sansevieri’s podcast that I just need to choose those activities I’m comfortable with and focus on them, I don’t feel overwhelmed now. (Well, not completely overwhelmed.) I will stop feeling guilty for not Tweeting every day.   

You wouldn’t believe how much weight just got taken off my shoulders!


Photo Credit: Jacob Kiesow on unsplash.com

I’ve Been Part Way Down That Road Before

I could be the poster child for how not to build an author’s platform. I’ve given half-hearted effort in the past to everything on Kimberly Grabas’ list I shared in m January 30, 2023 blog post. I’ve let excuses like lack of technical expertise derail my good intentions.

Reading the articles I referenced today and two weeks ago and listening to the podcast I mentioned were extremely helpful. Those actions, plus taking Tim Grahl’s “Launch a Bestseller” course, prompted me to make a plan and set goals and deadlines for myself.

It’s all paid off. I put my nose to the grindstone last fall and self-published a 500-page local history book in November. I’ll have a revamped website later this month. Then I’ll be able to start compiling a mailing list. I’ll give away an e-short story. I expect to have my second local history book available by the first of April.


Since my last blog post

I’m still dealing with the problems I blogged about last week, but I’m trying not to be as upset about them. Several of you have reached out to me about the issues with suggestions and empathy. Thanks to each of you!

My sister and I continue to proofread the manuscript for Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2.

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 continues to sell well at Second Look Books in Harrisburg and on Amazon.

The daffodils are blooming, so spring must be on the way!


Until my next log post

Thank you for dropping by my blog. I truly appreciate the time you took to read my post today. If you have friends who might enjoy it, please tell them about it.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m listening to The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman. I recommend it. It’s historical fiction based on a real life experience and is set in 1950s Quebec. Saskia Maarleveld is the reader on the book on CD. She does wonderful work! I’m beginning to seek out books she’s recorded.

Remember the suffering people in Ukraine, Turkey, and Syria.

Janet

What does a month in the life of a would-be author look like?

In my first blog of the month I almost always write about the books I read the previous month. If I did that today, this would be my shortest blog post ever.

Near the end of this post, I’ll do just that; however, first I need to let off some steam.

If, after reading my blog post last week, How can I attract readers when I write about my author’s platform?, you thought it might be easy to build an author’s platform, just read today’s rant.


January 2023 from where I sit

January was a month filled with distractions and frustrations. The redesigning of my website has gone more slowly than I had hoped, mainly because I’m not very computer savvy. There were answers to technical questions I couldn’t readily figure out.

Plus, I had to learn a lot of technology in January so I can enable readers to subscribe to my email list and receive a free ebook, That’s still a work in progress because the good people at the very well-known email marketing service I’m using required me to fill out a long survey before they can answer two of my three basic questions. At least, they seemed basic to me.

I’m still not sure I’ve figured out how to give away the ebook. Maybe I’ll have to just reward my subscribers with a link to it so they can purchase it on Amazon for 99 cents. At least that remains an option.

Bless their hearts, the folks at the very well-known email marketing service I’m using are more interested in such things as my top three goals, how many subscribers I’ll be downloading (right now, it looks like zero), and what software I anticipate “integrating” with them. I’ve already asked them about Zapier, but they can’t answer me until I fill out the survey and tell them the best time to call me. I thought my question about Zapier was a yes or no question. Apparently, I was wrong.

Due to my moderate hearing loss and the fact that I just prefer having answers in writing, I much prefer answers in writing. I wish I’d gone with ConvertKit. Perhaps there’s still that option – which I told the good people at the very well-known email marketing service in my last email to them on Friday.

On an equally frustrating note, the very well-known print-on-demand company that prints my books has also forced me to learn more technology than I ever wanted to know. However, even with my best efforts in responding to each of their emails and supplying them with 20+ digital photographs, all the order numbers, etc. more times than I can remember since January 5, I have now given up on ever being reimbursed for the 14 damaged books I received on December 21, 2022 because there was no packing material in the boxes.

I worked my way up to a supervisor, but she has chosen not to respond to my latest plea for a refund. I paid the cost of printing, tax, and shipping for those books but I can’t sell them. And who wants to give away a damaged book that has your name on it as the author?

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 is selling very well at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, but I dread all future shipments of it and of Book 2, which I hope to have published by April. It sort of takes the fun out of being an author.

(By the way, don’t bother to send the very well-known print-on-demand company that prints my books photos of the condition the box is in when you receive damaged author copies or a photo of the inside of the box showing the four inches of empty space in which your $25 books were allowed to bounce around in while they were in transit for 600 miles from Indianapolis because the company doesn’t want to know such things. You have the benefit of learning from my silly assumptions that someone in the company would want to know why so many of the books they print arrive at the author’s home in unsellable condition. But if they don’t have to issue a refund to the author, I guess they really don’t need to know what the books arrived damaged.)

I spent the entire month of January formatting Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2, trying my best to learn how to giveaway an ebook via a very well-known email marketing service, and attempting to get a refund from the company that prints my books for 14 unsellable copies of Book 1. That left very little time for reading for pleasure, but numerous opportunities for screaming.

Photo by Simran Sood on Unsplash

What I read in January 2023

However, when I wasn’t screaming, I read part of The Shadow Box, by Louanne Rice. It was the January book for the Rocky River Readers book club. Time ran out and I didn’t get to finish it.

I tried to read one chapter in Black Raven, by Ann Cleeves every night. Unfortunately, I only got to do that for three nights before the ebook went back to the public library.

I read Chasing the Ripper: A Kindle Single, by Patricia Cornwell. She wrote it in 2014 about her research about Jack the Ripper after her book, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed was published. This 57-page Kindle Single was interesting even though I haven’t read her Portrait… book. Her Kindle Single is sort of a prelude to her 2017 book, Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert. The Kindle Single made me curious about the details Ms. Cornwell has pieced together lending credence to the theory that British artist Walter Sickert was indeed Jack the Ripper.

The other book I actually read in its very short entirety was The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy. I can’t describe it better than the blurb on Amazon, so I’ll just quote it, in case you aren’t familiar with the wee book:   “From the revered British illustrator, a modern fable for all ages that explores life’s universal lessons, featuring 100 color and black-and-white drawings.”


What I’d thought about blogging about today

An alternative subject for today was the 89th anniversary of the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution. I hesitated to write about that, since just two weeks ago I blogged about the ratification of the 24th Amendment in #OnThisDay: The US Constitutional Amendment that Put an End to Poll Taxes. Plus, I couldn’t seem to set aside enough quiet time to refresh my memory about the 20th Amendment enough to blog about it. Please take time to Google it and refresh your memory. That’s all I had time to do.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m listening to The Diamond Eye, by Kate Quinn. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and I hope to have time to finish listening to it.

Take time to relax. If you figure out how to do that while dealing with this technologically-mishandled world, please let me know your secret.

And in all seriousness, I remind you and myself not to forget the freezing, suffering, weary, much-abused-by-Putin-and-his-henchmen, and terrorized people of Ukraine.

My problems don’t hold a candle to what the Ukrainians are dealing with 24/7. Remembering that helps put my concerns in perspective. Come to think of it, I have nothing to scream about.

Janet

How can I attract readers when I write about my author’s platform?

What comes to mind when you hear author’s platform? Two-by-fours and a hammer? Actually, it’s how an author connects with his or her audience.

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

I’ve been trying to build my author’s platform for years, but building a name for myself as a novelist before any of my novels are published has been a challenge. I could probably write a book about how not to build a author’s platform.

Six months or so ago I made the decision to publish my local history books before concentrating on my historical fiction writing. I reasoned that proving to readers that I’m somewhat knowledgeable about history would lend credence to my historical short stories and historical novels later. That remains to be seen, but I hope I made the right choice.

I’m not tech savvy. I tend to procrastinate, especially when it comes to doing things out of my comfort zone.

Where is my comfort zone? It’s sitting in the chair at my computer desk doing research, reading about how I can improve my writing skills, and writing.

My comfort zone is not talking on the phone, trying to figure out something clever and helpful to Tweet, Instagramming (I have an account, but I’ve never used it), Tweeting, or Facebooking. I tend to go down rabbit holes when I get on Twitter or Facebook, so I’ve been using them less and less recently. I like Goodreads.com, but I don’t interact much with other readers there.

I started writing this blog post months ago. I’ve scheduled it and rescheduled it more times than I want to admit. Today is the day for it to see the light of day. It’s all part of my journey as a writer.


An Insightful Perspective from Lisa Norman

I follow the Writers in the Storm blog (https:writersinthestormblog.com), and one post by Lisa Norman on June 20, 2022 caught my attention and fits nicely into my post today. Here’s the link, in case you want to read the entire post: Why You Want People to Hate Your Website | WITS (writersinthestormblog.com)

In a nutshell, Ms. Norman’s blog post opened my eyes to the fact that as a writer I don’t want to attract every reader and, specifically, I don’t want to attract everyone to my website. She presented four reasons, but the thing that really grabbed my interest was in the introduction. Ms. Norman said about many writers, “They have a unique take on life and story. But they also want everyone to like them.”

She then makes her point by quoting from the book of Revelation in the Bible, chapter 3, verses 14-16: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

It doesn’t get much clearer than that!

Instead of being neither cold nor hot – by not stating clearly on my website what I write and why I write it – no one knows enough about me and my writing to know if they like me and my writing. In that situation, they’re likely to move on to another website – one they can identify with.


Joel Friedlander’s Perspective

On WriteToDone.com, Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com wrote in the Creating Author Websites: The Definitive Guide | WTD (writetodone.com) post, “The key things to consider when building an author platform are the persona you plan to inhabit; consistency of message, branding, and tone; and focusing your efforts on the places and methods of communication your specific readers prefer.


Kimberly Grabas’ Helpful Articles on the Topic

Kimberly Grabas puts lots of helpful articles about the craft and business of writing online. One of her pieces that appeared to be written just for me was titled, “How to Build a Writer’s Platform with No Time, No Credentials and No Book.” Here’s the link to it on WriteToDone.com: How To Build A Writer Platform | WritetoDone.

Reading that article recently helped me to at least get my writer’s platform back on my radar. Here are my thoughts on the topic.


No Time?

Reading Ms. Grabas’ article inspired me to do better. At least, I did better for a little while. The first thing she addressed was “No Time.” I thought about skipping that section because time is not my problem. I have plenty of time, but I decided to read that section anyway.

Glad I did. It wasn’t about trying to write a novel while also having a full-time job, which was my assumption. You know what assuming will get you! What Ms. Grabas was talking about was committing time to building your writer’s platform.

The nitty-gritty of what she said is that I need to get out of my comfort zone and put in the work and the time. In other words, it means I need to schedule and commit to time for social media. It also means I need to toot my own horn and make my goals known.

Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash

Truth be known, I spent last summer with daily and weekly to-do lists regarding my writing. I tried to Tweet on a schedule. I hated the whole process, so I failed miserably.

On the other hand, it seems like the last couple of months have been consumed with getting my new website up and going. That means learning a lot of new technology so I can answer the website developer’s questions and supply him with what he needs from me.

Before that, I learned how to use Atticus.io to format a book to publish on Amazon. I also learned on BookBrush.com how to create a book cover, a QR code, memes, and bookmarks. I’ve learned more technology in the last six months than in my entire life up to that point. Of course, my technology bar was set very low.

More on social media later in this blog post.


No Credentials?

Next, Ms. Grabas addressed “No Credentials.” She said a writer needs to “focus on earning credibility by providing useful content to your audience.”

I think I’ve been going about this all wrong. I’ve been thinking I didn’t have anything to offer another writer. It’s not about me! I need to spend more time writing reviews of the books I like and letting those authors know I enjoy their work.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Writing blog posts about the books I read isn’t enough. I’ll continue to do that, but I need to write more reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon, and public library websites.

Since I’m writing historical fiction, I need to find my target audience. To do that, I need to figure out where they hang out. I need to learn which keywords they use when they’re looking for 18th century American historical fiction and use those keywords in my blog posts and Tweets. I need to find out what my target audience wants to read and then write it. Since this is the genre I like to read, I should be able to figure it out.


No Books?

My first thought when I got to that section of Ms. Grabas’s article was, “Yes. The only books I’ve published are Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1; The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina (a vintage postcard book); three Morrison genealogy books (along with my sister); and several booklets related to the history of Rocky River Presbyterian Church. Until I publish my first novel, how can I establish my writer’s platform?

Ms. Grabas explained that it’s not about selling books, it’s about forming relationships, defining my author brand, and locating my potential readers.

These six items were my takeaways from Kimberly Grabas’ article:

1. Define my author brand;

2. Identify the reader I’m trying to reach;

3. Update my author website, http://www.JanetMorrisonBooks.com;

4. Start building my author email list for my newsletter;

5. Determine where my target audience hangs out on social media;

6. Hang out where my target audience hangs out.


First things first

#3 – I’m in the process of having my website redesigned. I have a new direction for my writing and it was time for a fresh look. Look for the unveiling of the new website in early February.

#4 – As soon as my new website goes live, I’ll start actively building my email list. Stay tuned. There’ll be a free gift for everyone who signs up, but please wait until I announce the new website is up and running.

#1 – I hope my new website will go a long way in defining my author brand.

#2 – My reader is someone interested in history – primarily in American history. As I turn from creative nonfiction, such as my local history books, to fiction, you’ll find that I’ll concentrate on southern historical fiction. When we peel away all those layers, my reader is someone who loves to read southern historical fiction.

That leaves #5, and #6. I’m learning where that lover of southern historical fiction hangs out and I’m making an effort to hang out at the same places on social media.

In a future blog post I’ll share Colleen M. Story’s perspective on the topic of author platform and Penny Sansevieri’s thoughts on how to balance the venues I should focus my efforts on.


Since my last blog post

I’ve learned more technology as the process of having my website redesigned is progressing. My brain hurts from all this new knowledge. I hope I can remember how to do a fraction of it.

I’m still formatting Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2.

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 continues to sell well on Amazon and at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, NC.

Where did January go?


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m listening to The Diamond Eye, by Kate Quinn.

Don’t work all the time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

#OnThisDay: The US Constitutional Amendment that Put an End to Poll Taxes

I majored in political science in college, but I’d be hard pressed off the top of my head to tell you  what the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution is about. Its ratification was completed on January 23, 1964 when South Dakota became the 38th state to ratify it. The 59th anniversary of its ratification prompted me to blog about the amendment today.

What the 24th Amendment prohibits

It prohibits the United States Congress and any state in the union from basing a person’s right to vote for US President, US Vice President, US Senate, or US House of Representatives in a primary or other election based on the payment of any tax.

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Why the 24th Amendment came about

In the late 1890s and until just after the turn of the 20th century, former Confederate States adopted so-called poll taxes. The laws varied from state to state, but they were created as a way to prevent many black people and poor white people from voting. This was a way the states circumvented the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits a person being prevented from voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The 15th Amendment said nothing about taxes.

The constitutionality of poll taxes was upheld by the US Supreme Court in Breedlove v. Suttles in 1937. In that case, Nolan Breedlove, a 28-year-old white man refused to pay the $1.00 per year poll tax in Georgia. By not paying the poll tax, Mr. Breedlove was not allowed to register to vote in any election in the state.

Mr. Breedlove filed a lawsuit against Mr. T. Earl Suttles, the Fulton County, Georgia Tax Collector, arguing that the poll tax was in violation of the 14th and 19th Amendments to the US Constitution. Hence, the name of the US Supreme Court case. The Breedlove v. Suttles decision was eventually overturned, but the case serves as an example of the US Supreme Court making wrong decisions sometimes

The Breedlove v. Suttles decision was unanimous! The Court concluded that the “privilege of voting is not derived from the United States, but is conferred by the state, and, save as restrained by the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and other provisions of the Federal Constitution, the state may condition suffrage as it deems appropriate.”

It was a case, like we’ve seen in other cases as recently as 2022, where the US Supreme Court took the easy way out and clung to the “states’ rights” doctrine.

How the 24th Amendment became the law of the land

After decades of some politicians ignoring the issue of poll taxes and a few politicians pushing for the abolishment of such taxes, Congress finally proposed the 24th Amendment at the prompting of President John F. Kennedy. The amendment was submitted to the states on September 24, 1962 after a vote of 295 to 86 in the US House of Representatives and a vote of 77 to 16 in the US Senate.

Illinois was the first state to ratify the amendment in November 1962 and South Dakota was the 38th state to ratify it on January 23, 1964. That 38th vote was all that was needed.

The aftermath of ratification of the 24th Amendment

Some states were slow to ratify the amendment even after its national ratification was final in 1964. Some states were slow to amend their constitutions to be in compliance with the federal amendment. Always looking for ways to get around the law, some states continued to require racial minority citizens to pass senseless tests in order to earn the right to vote.

People who want to keep other US citizens from voting have turned to more subtle (and some not-so-subtle) forms of voter intimidation. They’ve felt emboldened over the last seven years and the pendulum is swinging toward bolder attempts to scare certain people away from the voting booth. This is an attack on our democracy.

Our democracy depends on each of us defending the right of all citizens to vote.

Since my last blog post

As my new website has transitioned from the design phase to the development phase, I continued to write new content for the site.

It seemed like I had to learn some new technology every day. There is still more I will have to learn. I hope this is good for my brain cells. It isn’t good for my emotional stability or my disposition.

It’s been gratifying to see how well received my local history book, Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 has been on Amazon and in the local bookstore, Second Look Books. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it! Don’t be shy about rating it or even leaving a short review of it on Amazon!

My sister and I took a much-needed break on Saturday afternoon and went to see the movie, “A Man Called Otto.” Tom Hanks was perfect in the role of Otto. The movie is based on the book, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. I read the book back in 2017 and I’ve remembered it ever since. Here’s the link my June 2, 2017 blog post in which I wrote about the book: You Need to Read These Books!  I recommend the book and the movie.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. While you’re at it, please read one for me. I haven’t had much time to read lately.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.

Janet

How to Write Better Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Titles

A couple of months ago I found a free online headline improvement program. Have you noticed? The jury’s still out, though, as to how it’s working.

Funny thing is, “they” used to tell bloggers to never give a blog post a title containing more than five words. I’ve tried to follow that for years. Lo and behold, now we’re supposed to have seven- to 12-word titles. It’s hard to keep up with what’s acceptable. Who knew blogging would be so complicated and have so many rules?

This free program I’ve started using analyzes headlines and gives each one a numeric score. I’ve had some fun playing around with it and taking its “advice.” I don’t know that my higher-scoring blog post titles have attracted attention or not.

In fact, as my posts have turned more toward publicizing my writing and concentrating less on the art and craft of writing, my blog has lost some popularity. I continued to attract new followers at a slow but steady rate, but my posts are getting fewer “likes” from other bloggers.

My subtle change in direction was a decision I had to make. Was my purpose as a writer to attract the attention of other writers or was it to attract readers?

I hope to continue to attract the attention of other writers but, if I’m going to establish myself as a writer I must find and attract readers.


Headline Studio by Co-Schedule

This isn’t an ad for Headline Studio by Co-Schedule, and I’m getting no compensation for writing about the program in my blog. This is the program I’m using. It’s been a real eye opener.

The program analyzes the headlines or titles you enter and gives you a score from 0 to 100. Today’s blog post title rated a moderately good score of 67, whereas the blog post title I used on January 9, 2023 was my all-time high at 80.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Things taken into consideration in rating title include strength of words, number of characters, number of words, use of emotional words, and readability. The readability aspect is the one that troubles me enough. Some blog post titles I’ve created receive low scores because I used words that someone reading on a fifth-grade level would not understand. How sad is that?

Even sadder is the rating I got when I plugged in today’s blog post title. Read it again. Do you find it difficult to understand? The Headline Studio program gave me the following analysis for this title: “Your headline reads at a 10th grade or higher reading level, which may make it difficult for many readers to comprehend. Switch out the complex words in your headline to improve readability.”

To that, I say, “You must be kidding!” If you can’t understand the title, you probably wouldn’t be able to read my blog. It’s a sad commentary on the state of education.


#OnThisDay:  Operation Desert Storm Began in 1991


Since my last blog post

My book sales are going well on Amazon and at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, NC. Here’s a photo I took one day of my book on the shelf with books by other local authors.

I took the picture the only day I visited the store and it wasn’t sold out! Notice that my book was displayed next to Teachers are Amazing: The ABCs of Teachers, by Tierney Fairchild.

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 on the shelf at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, NC!

If you’re a teacher, know a teacher, or aspire to be a teacher, I recommend Tierney’s book to you. In addition to Second Look Books, her book is also available on Amazon. Tierney is a lifelong educator and is dedicated to the profession.

Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1, by Janet Morrison, next to Teachers are Amazing! The ABCs of Teachers, by Tierney Fairchild at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, NC!

I’ve been busy this week writing content for the “Home,” “Books,” and “History in Photographs” pages on my website that’s being redesigned. I continue to learn more technology. I created a folder on Google Drive to house the media kit for Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1. I know this sounds easy to many of you, but it was another milestone for me. I can’t wait to unveil the new website… soon!

I want to offer a free e-novelette to people who sign up for my email list when the new website goes live. My next hurdle is learning how to do that!


Until my next blog post

I hope you’re reading a good book. I’m reading The Shadow Box, by Louanne Rice for Rocky River Readers this month. I’ve also started reading Raven Black, by Ann Cleeves.

Thank you to each and every one of you for supporting me and my new local history book!

Remember the freezing people in Ukraine.

Janet

I absorbed history, poetry, tidying, and craft of writing books last month

“They” say a writer must read a lot if they aspire to be good at their craft. I can’t argue with that, but the last couple of months have not been conducive for me t,o get a lot of reading done. I’m learning that some months a writer has to concentrate on their writing and the business or being a writer. Otherwise, no one will know I’ve written anything.

I hope you’re not on book marketing overload from my recent blog posts and Facebook postings. There’s more to come for I have more projects in the works. You’ve been warned!

Since it’s the first Monday in the month, I’ll tell you about the books I read in December. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a novel in the bunch.


Threshold: Poems, by Ray Griffin

Threshold: Poems, by Ray Griffin

I received this book of poetry early in December. In such a busy month, I was grateful to have an excuse to steal away every night for some quiet moments to read poetry.

In this collection of poetry, Mr. Griffin touches on many facets of life. Some poems embrace the beauty of the natural world as it is observed and enjoyed today, and some stem from the writer’s reflections on a life well lived.

Many of those memories are also rooted in special times in the Appalachian Mountains and the beaches on the east coast of America, but there are also pieces that bring to life memories of trips in the western states and the unique wonders that part of the that area hold. There are sweet poems of the love of a life partner as well as verses that pay tribute to and bring to mind memories of departed parents. One poem reveals the poet’s feelings of guilt for not being with his parents when they died.

There are poems that express one’s feelings after a cancer diagnosis. There are poems about the current war in Ukraine and wars in the past.

This collection of heart-felt poems will pull at your heartstrings. Some bring a smile, while others bring a tear to your eye. However, the poet almost always brings you to a positive state of mind in the final lines of each. I regretted coming to the end of the book. I wanted more poems, but at least for the time being I’ll have to be satisfied with re-reading a few of the poems each day until Mr. Griffin graces us with additional verses from his heart.

Threshold is Ray Griffin’s third book of poetry. His second book, Winsome Morning Breeze, was published in 2020. Both books are available on Amazon or look for them or request them at your favorite bookstore. Here’s the Amazon link to Threshold: Poems by Ray Griffin: https://www.amazon.com/THRESHOLD-RAY-GRIFFIN/dp/B0BLQYMR11/ .


Writing Vivid Dialogue: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors, by Rayne Hall

Writing Vivid Dialogue, by Rayne Hall

I tend to have more trouble writing narrative than writing dialogue. At least that’s what I think. I found this book helpful, though.

One issue briefly addressed in this book was that of authenticity versus political correctness. When writing dialogue for someone in the 18th or 19th and even in the 20th century, some characters, to be authentic to their time and place, would use words that are offensive to our 21st century ears. This most often comes into play in racist remarks, but it is also an issue when writing the words of a character who is misogynistic. Should the writer shy away from such words because they are not politically correct today? That is something each writer has to decide for herself or himself.


The Battle of Cowan’s Ford: General Davidson’s Stand on the Catawba River and its place in North Carolina History, by O.C. Stonestreet IV

The Battle of Cowan’s Ford, by O.C. Stonestreet IV

This little book about our regional history in the southern piedmont of North Carolina made me aware of some details about the Battle of Cowan’s Ford in the American Revolutionary War. I recommend it to anyone interested in the American Revolution or North Carolina history.

In case you didn’t know, General William Davidson was killed in the battle. The nearby town of Davidson and Davidson College are named for him.

When Duke Power Company created Lake Norman in 196_, the site of the battle was covered by the lake. As a tip of the hat to history, I suppose, Duke’s hydroelectric dam near the site of the ford and the battle was named Cowan’s Ford Dam. That’s little consolation to history buffs.


How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, by James Scott Bell

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, by James Scott Bell

This book was a tremendous help to me in my writing career status. Until reading it, I planned to publish a book of four or five short stories in 2023. It was going to be my way of introducing you to my fiction writing.

A few months ago, I started reading advice for novice fiction writers that/which said I needed to give away my writing in order to attract readers. No one wants to be told to give away things they’ve worked hard to create. I’m no exception. However, in reading James Scott Bell’s book, I finally had an epiphany!

I started thinking in terms of making my historical short stories available free of charge as e-books. The more I researched my options and the length of the stories I’ve written, a new plan materialized. My current plan is to self-publish Slip Sliding Away as an historical novelette in February.

Mr. Bell’s book prompted me to look into Kindle Direct Publishing’s “Select” program. That program will give me the opportunity to publish Slip Sliding Away on Amazon for 90 days. The novelette will be free for five of those days and probably for 99 cents the other 85 days.

I will alert you to that publication and it’s five free days in a blog post in February, so stay turned!


Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

Joy at Work, by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

You’re probably familiar with Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, is the third book in her “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” series.

Much of this book didn’t apply to my situation since I work at home and I’m basically my own boss. The main thing I took away from the book was how to go about tidying up my emails and my electronic and paper documents.

It remains to be seen if I’ll follow through and put those recommendations into practice. I need to give it a try.


#OnThisDay: As a result of the oil crisis that started in 1973, the US Congress enacted the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act. The act imposed a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit nationwide in an effort to decrease gasoline usage. It was not well received.


Since my last blog post

I’ve formatted more than 62,000 words for Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 2. It’s on schedule for self-publication on Amazon later this month. Watch for an announcement.

Harrisburg, Did You Know?  Cabarrus History, Book 1 can be purchased in Harrisburg at Gift Innovations (4555 NC Hwy. 49) or Second Look Books (4519 School House Commons.) If those locations aren’t convenient for you, look for the paperback and the e-book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Harrisburg-Did-You-Know-Cabarrus/dp/1888858044/

While you’re at Gift Innovations, look for my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. (It’s also available in paperback and e-book from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Ridge-Mountains-Carolina-Postcard-History-ebook/dp/B00NB5FJIO/.)

My website is being redesigned. Watch for an announcement about it soon.

I’ve designed the cover for my historical e-novelette, Slip Sliding Away, and will decide soon if I should also publish it in paperback.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I hope to read at least one novel this month.

Make time for family, friends, and a hobby.

Remember the freezing but very brave people of Ukraine.

Janet