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Featured Author Despina Nicola

Despina NicolaWe’re happy to feature author, Despina Nicola. Despina lives in the beautiful Republic of Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, and she was born in New Zealand (two places on my bucket list). She’s written a practical guide for picking up the pieces and dealing with relationships, work, health and family.

Despina, when did you discover a passion for writing?

I have always had a passion for psychology which led me to do a degree and to also do over 25 courses in life-coaching, and it was then where I discovered my passions for writing.

How has that passion evolved for you?

Now I feel writing and life-coaching have turned into my career even though I run a successful English Institute and am an examiner for various examination boards. These do not give me as much fulfillment as writing. I have a blog which is a platform for my book, Dare to Begin: https://daretobegin8.wordpress.com. The book is based on picking up the pieces after a divorce. It goes through various stages one feels after the separation and gives practical steps of healing.

How does your blog assist with your author platform?

My blog gives various tips on how to make different choices or to improve erroneous habits and become unstuck; it’s aimed at helping people live a happy life.

Dare to Begin: The Process of HealingHow often do you post?

The blog is usually updated by two or three posts weekly.

What type of posts do you find most satisfying?

What I find most satisfying about the blog is that I actually have a blog and am able to promote my work. This is an exciting experience.

Despina NicolaDoes anything bug you about it?

What bugs me most about the blog is I still haven’t got the hang of all its functions yet like adding social media buttons, but I am so happy that I can always refer back to Jason Matthews’ course on blogging from Udemy.

Do you feel it’s important to capture emails or subscribers? If so, what’s your preferred method?

I do feel it’s important to get emails and subscribers to your blog so they can follow you along the journey of self-discovery. However,  I am yet to learn the necessary skills of doing so; if I knew how, I would use a payment like PayPal.

Any advice for a newbie blogger?

I feel comments must be first approved by me before being put on the blog because you sometimes cannot be too sure who is writing to you. And if I were to advise a new blogger on how to set up a blog, it would be one thing: buy a course from Jason Matthews before you do anything else and the rest is easy!

Thank you! How can we buy your book?

You can find it on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Dare-Begin-Process-Despina-Nicola/dp/1532867751/Hope I’ve been helpful.

Very much so. Thank you again, Despina!

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Featured Blog Hands For Good

hands-for-good

We’re featuring the blog, Hands for Good, run by Natasha Dickens. Natasha is a registered mental health counselor and financial mentor. Hands for Good helps people eliminate debt, something most of us could use help with.

Natasha, when did you discover a passion for helping others?

I’ve always enjoyed helping others. I remember being 5 years old and saying to my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to be part of the helping profession. I’m excited to see that I’m following my dreams.

How has it turned into a career?

I started blogging about personal experiences and how my husband and I are are taking strides to being debt-free. Several people have seen the website and requested personal assistance with their own finances. So far, I’ve been able to help one customer save $400 and another customer was able to pay over $3,000 in debt in 2 months.

How often do you post?

I currently post once a week.

What type of posts do you find most satisfying?

I enjoy posting about ways people can change their money habits and providing tips on growing their wealth. I enjoy talking about ways we can help the less fortunate and give insight to college students on ways to give.

Natasha, what do you like about your blog?

I love being able to provide tools that I know that work. All of the companies that I reference are the ones that I’ve had personal experience with at some point. I enjoy seeing people thrive and win, especially as it relates to their finances.

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Do you feel it’s important to capture emails or subscribers? If so, what’s your preferred method?

Yes! Just having a website is not enough. Capturing emails helps you target your specific audience and keep them updated on your post and activity of your website. It also provides an easy way to sell items or products.

My website currently requests people to subscribe.

How do you engage comments or attempt to, which can be extremely challenging?

This is currently a challenge for me as a new blogger. I’m open to suggestions. Currently, I ask a question or provide a challenge at the end of some of my post.

Any advice for a newbie blogger?

Natasha DickensBlogging is exciting! Write down your vision and put it somewhere to remind you often of the vision and plans you need to accomplish.

Read blogging books and follow others bloggers so you can sharpen your skills and grow.

Plan ahead. Schedule a day/time to write articles, advertise your site and grow followers.

When or if you become frustrated, take a day or two away from working on your website to get refreshed. Think positive and believe great things will become of your website. You can do this!

Awesome advice, Natasha! What else can you share?

Turn your blog into something you enjoy doing. Don’t let it become a chore. Share your blog with friends and on your social media site. That’s where I first started seeing revenue.

An excellent point. A blog should be something you want to continue doing. I love the fact that your blog can help everyone.

It’s all about eliminating debt, building strong financial futures and helping those in need. If interested in any of the following or started a blog, I can be reached at handsforgood7@yahoo.com.

Thank you, Natasha! For more information, visit http://www.handsforgood.net.

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Featured Author Victor A. Davis

Victor A. Davis Grains of SandWe’re pleased to feature Victor A. Davis, author of multiple short stories including the Grains of Sand collection. Victor has lived in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas. He has been a short story writer since high school, despite studying mathematics and computers at university. He works freelance in the field of IT, and writes constantly. He now lives in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.

Victor, I like your covers. Short story authors often need plenty of covers. Who makes them? Up until now I’ve done all my own covers. I’ve only recently started reaching out to professional cover designers to try to find an artist with whom I can establish a long-term relationship. The main reason is economics. A cover for an ordinary book costs the same as for a 20-page, 99-cent short story. It’s hard enough as an indie author to recover your investment on editing, advertising, and art for a normal-priced book. It’s just not possible when marketing individual stories. I really think of them more like illustrations. Each story gets its own illustration, and the collection gets a bona fide cover.

Why did you start blogging? Peer pressure. All I ever wanted to do was write short stories and have people read them and love them. I was naive. Everybody blogs, and it’s the only way for an indie to become recognized enough so that people try to reach out and read your work.

How does your blog assist with your writing goals? Blogging is the only way an indie author can announce to the world that they exist.

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Do you use Blogger, WordPress.com or WordPress.org? I use WordPress software on my own site. That is, I use WordPress software but own my own domain: http://www.mediascover.com.

Mediascover is different: how did you decide on the domain name? I hated it! As soon as I signed up for a hosting account I started trying all the domains I could think of and they were all taken. Those bastards! Finally, I settled on this silly-sounding mashup of the words “media” and “discover” and just decided to live with it. It’s grown on me. What I like about it now is that there’s nobody to compete with. I’m the first hit on google when you google “mediascover” because it’s a unique combination of letters. If I called myself “Victor’s Awesome Blog,” there’s less chance of accomplishing that because each word on its own is used so much out there.

Victor A. Davis The Flying KiteHow often do you post? Every few days.

What do you like about your blog? I like having my own little corner of the internet. It feels not unlike when you move out and get your own apartment for the first time.

What bugs you about it? The nice themes cost money, and you never really know if they’ll work until after you buy them and spend weeks tailor-fitting them. I think mine is a little simplistic, but I’ve invested so much time in setting it up. I’ll probably change it only if I make it big.

Victor, do you feel it’s important to capture emails? I’ve heard it’s important. I just started a mailing list recently and haven’t really spent a lot of time soliciting subscribers yet.

Do you run surveys or take polls? No, I don’t have nearly enough traffic for that.

How do you engage comments or attempt to, which can be so challenging? I don’t. My blog is my space, like a public journal. I am very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I think of my blog more as a studio than a social medium.

Great to be OK with that approach! It took me ages. Might you create a book from your blog posts? No. My idle thoughts aren’t interesting enough for a book. My biggest two subjects are my short stories and my book reviews.

Victor A. Davis authorAny advice for a newbie blogger? Research until you’re sick of it, then keep researching. You’re joining a conversation, and therefore it’s important to be both aware and engaged with other blogs.

What’s a good link for readers to find your books? Goodreads

Anything else you can share with newbie authors? The name of the game is reciprocity. Nobody will care about what you do until you care about what other people do. Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a book that helped inspire me to turn up the notch a bit in the blogging arena. If you want reviews, offer reviews. If you want to be read, read other indies. If you want to be famous, connect with other famous bloggers/authors and ask them questions. The writing process has such a “monk” feel, a meditative trance in a dark isolated room. Marketing is the opposite, and you must learn the concepts of the network.

Couldn’t have said it better. Thank you!

See Victor A. Davis books at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Victor-A.-Davis/e/B00KQRJC92/

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Free Calibre Course at Udemy Limited Time

Calibre Convert to Epub FileWould you like to make and edit Epubs for ebooks to sell on Amazon, Apple, Google and other global retailers? This course is perfect for self-publishing writers.

Learn to use Calibre to create Epub files. If you write in MS Word or other program, you can easily convert to Epub for selling ebooks at major retailers including:

  • Amazon
  • Apple iBooks Store
  • Google Play
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Smashwords
  • Scribd
  • Draft2Digital and more

Epub stands for electronic publication. It’s the standard file type for most retailers and optimized for any reading device (reflowable).

Calibre is open source (free) software and the one-stop solution for your Epub needs. Calibre enables you to convert documents to many file types and edit them. You can also edit metadata: the ebook title, author, cover image, series info, publisher, tags and more. Calibre makes it easy and this course shows you how.

Converting file types is amazingly simple. You’ll love what this program can do.

The course is taught by Jason Matthews, bestselling author and Udemy instructor for self-publishing topics. In less than 1 hour you’ll be creating Epub files that are ready to upload to major retailers.

For a limited time, this course is offered for free: https://www.udemy.com/calibre-convert-to-epub-file/.