Follow Me on Pinterest Welcome to Gael McCarte's FOCUS MATTERS

Welcome to Gael McCarte's FOCUS MATTERS

That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Steve Jobs

Social Media: Opportunity and dilemma

Time for your social media checkup. Social media is no longer just about advertising your products or services. It is about relationships, but not the touchy feely kind. Relationships where your readers can relate to you about your products and services. And where they can easily contact and converse with you.
What you do on social media today lays the ground work for tomorrow. The highly successful campaign that reaps immediate rewards is great, but the continual stream of residuals is what usually finances you to stay there, hovering over the mound, pitching.
Millions of users are entering or are posed to enter the cyber world. Those over 50 and those between 16-24 are part of the incoming tsunami. They are all eager to find and connect with you. Can your current social media sites and practices meet their expectations and provide them effective customer service?

Time to review: The sites and functions you use now may work for now but you need to gear up and prepare to services growing numbers of users in the future.
Sites upgrade at a dizzying speed. Marketing tools add features like scheduling, linking with others, service and response tools. Your sites must do more than just promote you. They must allow for interaction. This interaction fosters relationships, builds trust, answers questions, provides services, introduces new products and services. Your sites morph you into the reception desk, sales and referrals, the help center, the friend they have in your business and the manager who solves all problems.
Is your present social media network evolving to gear up for, or is it ready for that? Or are you on the mound pitching air, using lots of energy and time without much effect? Do you have an integrated approach that combines sales, customer service, resources and every other facet of your business? Generation D is marching toward you. This is a generation with the concentration capabilities of a gnat, a generation raised on gaming, widgets, graphics that were not even known when we were raised. These are the babies of the digital age and they are your next customers.

Your target audience is not the one you are reaching today, it is the one coming at you tomorrow, and next week, and next year, and next decade. You need to catch up, keep up and produce effective social media funnels that invite and facilitate interaction with your products and services.
An effective social media network that is flexible enough to handle your customers today, that will expand to meet tomorrow’s needs is the only way to compete. Those who fall behind lose…
An artisan who makes hand crafted jewelry concluded, “If I do all of that I will not be making jewelry”, authors say the same thing, keeping abreast of social media takes away from their writing time. A viable option exercised by many is to hire a virtual assistant. However you choose to solve this dilemma, solve it you must.

71 year old author “learned” how to grow pot for her book

Linda aged 71, is a song writer and author. As she does not play a musical instrument others set music to her lyrics. Her song writing inspiration comes from counter intuitive places. Her song, “Amazing Grace” was inspired by her first failed marriage. “Mama Where is Heaven?” wrote itself soon after the death of her 3 month old daughter. “Mary’s Christmas” fermented for a year while Mary morphed from the original Mary, to an orphan trying to survive on wintered streets to a military wife.

Linda was a Legal secretary for years. But the characters she met there have not yet crept into her stories. She is a natural leader and her name has often been written above the title President of various organizations like the Alpine Writers’ Guild.

Linda began her college adventure at age 49 while working full time. She graduated with honors at age 54. She married the same year and she and Fred just celebrated their 17th anniversary.

Linda wrote, The Devil Wore Plaid, in 2001 about her first marriage to an alcoholic hemophiliac, fiction based on actual events. Her older daughter, Tammy Sue, is writing about that same period of time. She will present her view of the impact of living with an abusive father and a weak mother. Linda has not read it, expects it to sting but applauds Tammy for writing it. Her son threatened to write a book called, Son of the Devil Who Wore Plaid! He hasn’t but he does write poetry. Last summer Linda self-published a collation of four generations of poetry, from her father down to her grandson. It’s already a treasured family keepsake.

She started writing later than most but has tenacity. She began at age of 32 with If You Don’t Like Worms Keep Your Mouth Shut under another title. She reworked and retitled it almost 2 decades later after joining the Alpine Writers’ Guild.

She wrote one book about two little girls, one about two cranky older persons. She says, “Worms is about my sister and me growing up in Vermont in the 1940s. Bumps Along the Way is about my husband and I on a cross-country trip we took four years ago. Ten thousand miles by car and neither of us likes the other’s driving!” While the characters are known to her they take on a life of their own in print.

She wrote fiction because “Someone in my writers’ group last year suggested I try fiction as I’d basically written about my life. I did and I think that book, Willard Manor, is my best writing yet. It’s currently in the hands of an agent. The book is about a house built in Connecticut in 1840 and the generations of one family that lived in the house for 170 years. A young couple bought the house and, in the process of renovating it, found clues to the various former owners. The story alternates between 2010 and 1840. The characters drove the plot. I had no idea where they were going to take me”.

Linda writes because “I love to take a blank screen and put words together and see where they lead.” She writes for various readers, for those who remember when there were air raid drills, ration books, when oleo came in plastic bags with a color capsule, and when families sat around the radio at night listening to favorite shows. And for any couples who have traveled together with one person driving and one reading the map.

Linda has a strong personal faith but does not barrage readers with religion. She writes about it as naturally as she would any other aspect of her life. In Willard Manor, a church-going family struggles with the death of a son in the Civil War. They’re not heroes or saints, just a normal family with a strong faith and questions.

Linda enjoys writing about historical events and times gone by even though it requires research. She had to learn when electricity was available to the masses, and telephones, septic tanks, automobiles, and indoor plumbing. She said “I also had to research the Underground Railroad, how to grow marijuana, how to demolish lath and plaster walls, and how to repair window panes.”

Her new book, Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author, will be released this July. She fictionalized her writing journey. As Linda’s maiden name was Gay, the hero’s name, Rhonda Gayetski as a nod to her ancestors.

She writes with a purpose. Worms, gives readers a glimpse into a time they might not have lived through. Bumps, offers a ringside seat to the nation’s wonderful sights. Willard Manor, invites readers to immerse themselves in the Willard family and read the book for pure enjoyment. Twelve Steps is a primer to help writers prepare for publication.

The isolation of writing is not a problem to Linda she says “I could spend all day at the computer, writing, reading emails … the computer is an extension of my hands”.

She currently revisiting The Devil Wore Plaid, renaming it, and toning down the language. She did a trailer for Worms and Bumps, using two different programs, to learn how to use them. She published a booklet on Smashwords to see if she could. It’s called, Winging it While Slinging It. It is about staying independent when your dominant arm is in a sling. She wrote it with her left hand, as her dominant right arm was broken. At age 69 she learned how to self-publish using She published Bumps and a companion calendar, showing places she visited.

She advises writers to read a lot and write a lot. “Write in your own voice; don’t try to write what you think people want because people want you to be authentic”.

Linda said she was tempted to say she wished she had known how difficult getting published was before she began writing but she added “if I’d known that, I’d have never even tried. Sometimes ignorance is bliss; I blithely submitted to publishers full of hope that they would accept my manuscript.”

To learn more about Linda visit: and her blog at and her Smashwords Author Profile:

Learn more of Gael at her facebook page:

Pin Me: The 6 Be’s of effective Pinterest use

If you are reading this you likely know Pinterest is a social networking site with a creative twist! Pinners share collections of images they find around the web or create, allowing users to engage visually with a product. A 500 character comment canbe added to each pin.

Be generous: If you have a service of a product to sell the rule of thumb is you promote others 75% of the time and yourself no more than 25%. And the joy is that when you repin your successful competitors they usually come to your board, follow and repin you. Much like those you retweet on twitter follow and retweet you. Pinterest has announced they will soon release a business stream to their product.

Pinterest is a huge referral site so refer others. It is revolutionizing selling and buying practices.

Be ready to be surprised:  Almost as a second thought I added steampunk boards featuring the fashions, tools, trains, flying machines and precious goggles of the steampunk genre. Being the great granddaughter of a blacksmith who helped usher in the Industrial age, the daughter of a mechanic, and the wife of a mechanical engineer I have a heightened interest in things mechanical. I was stunned how quickly those boards gathered followers.

Be Creative: Offer a product or service of worth. Create visually appealing photos, the photography will make or break your product. Use great lifestyle photography of your life, your surroundings, how the product is used, what it looks like and encourage others to share them. Add relevant and keyword rich comments – you have 500 characters, use no more than 2 #’s for each pin.

Users repeastedly bookmark How To’s, DIY’s etc, blogs on Pinterest. Put your content on video or a slide presentation that you create. Know your tools, know what the “populars” are, and what users are sharing? Ask yourself, “how do my images compare to others?”

Be Proactive: Put ‘pin it’ buttons on images you want them to share. Install the “pin it” on pinterest plug in, it will give you the “pin this box so you can upload an image and a description” and if anyone hits the button it will upload your interest. you will find the url of the web page and the image and it generates a code you can add pin it buttons. Pinterest is a huge traffic driver. Encourage people to pin your products, whatever you produce, remind people to share it on pinterest to encourage them to put your posts out there.

Retailers encourage users to make a wish list pinterest board of their products. Those who did were given coupons. If your business lends itself to this, you could replicate that approach.

Turn your books testimonials/product reviews into images. Take your reviews from Amazon, and other review places. Turn them into visually appealing graphics that people will want to pin and re-pin. Share pics of the settings, the clothes, the houses you imagine they used. Have a board just for characters or scenes.

Hold a “Pin it to Win it” contest for the launch of your book or product. Create a graphic for this or have your readers create their own with a picture of them holding your book. Ask them to make a video testimonial and pin it. You will know it was pinned because they can tag you with your “@username” just like in Twitter and Facebook.

Create your own videos and upload them on YouTube. Introduce yourself, your characters, and then pin them. Video is visual and Pinterest is a social media book marking site that thrives on visually appealing images. Just as blog owners are increase traffic to their sites with visually appealing graphics, your pinned visually engaging videos will drive traffic to your YouTube channel. Will tripling your video’s views and growing your channel’s subscriptions by pinning them on Pinterest increase your exposure and selling potential?

Pinning tours are like virtual blogging tours. Again, have visually appealing images on those blog posts for pinning and a “Pin It” button. Invite everyone participating in the blog tour to be part of the “Pinning” tour.

Tours are just like events, make sure your event pages are visually appealing and have “Pin It” buttons.

Make sure there is a “Pin It” button on everything you want to drive traffic to. If you are worried about people taking your images watermark them with a link back to your site.

Author/Fans Collaboration boards – invite people to contribute to your board. This engages and builds a community while you tap into other people’s imaginations. They can ask questions about the characters, vote on their favorites or write an alternative outcome.

Be strategic: If you use key words effectively, making sure your board titles contain key words you increase the already substantial search engine potential of Pinterest.

Make your boards relevant to your main products. If you are promoting a book on furniture repair you would have boards on furniture refinishing paint, another for glue., another for the tools required. Think about what users are looking for when they do what you do.

Pinterest now provides a monthly summary of your most popular pins. This shows what is trending and which board will give you the most return for your time. Clicking on the word Pinterest shows you the recent activity on your boards. Clicking on “Populars” shows you what is trending.

Be Honest: To avoid difficulties with copyright infringements do not repin a pin without including the original source. Do not use photographs from Pinterest on your blogs, often they have passed through many boards, losing the original source as they did. As you cannot crop Pinterest repins it is likely watermarks and signatures will remain with the image. It takes a lot of effort, expensive equipment, travel costs etc. for photographer to create their masterpieces, the least they deserve is credit for their work and a link to their work if one is provided.

Pinterest offers easy to follow instructions. If you have difficulty understanding them turn to you NBF (new best friend) You Tube!! Someone, somewhere, perhaps in South Africa  will have prepared a video or slide show to demonstrate how to use every facet of Pinterest effectively.

Have fun!!

E-book solution to rising text book costs

Many parents and educators worry about the spinal effects of children carrying huge backpacks filled with books. They may be delighted to read that major and community colleges are considering the e-book option. A student would exchange an onerously heavy canvas bag for a simple reader.

Weight is not the only consideration, the cost of text books rises annually. “Experts said…this technology will help students cut some of their expenses — a fiscal advantage stressed by the University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison campus and five other major universities that have launched digital textbook pilot programs during the spring 2012 semester”.

The cost of tuition and text books is rising as scholarship funds decrease. Add to that the limited employment opportunities available for students and the prospect of attending college dims for many. If you thought the price of text books is rising, you are correct.  Between 1986 and 2004 they rose 186% and I was there for each rise. There are many students who do not buy books. They borrow them from friends or the library (when they could), or just wing it bookless due to the cost.

Consider the massive use of paper, bindings, glue, cardboard and ink to produce millions of text books annually and the landfill reception many receive. This usage of resources and waste could be virtually eliminated with e-books. 

Thanks to technology e-books offer an interactive experience where real photographs, video implants, moving images that can be stimulated or changed by the reader add to the attraction and the learning experience. Those born in this digital age are familiar with this form of information gathering, it’s where they live. Tests could be linked to the e-books and taken on digital readers. The tests would then be scored instantly saving teachers scoring time and standardizing the process. 

Imagine the biology books where the internal organs can be removed, to see how one interacts with another. Imagine geometry or trigonometry coming alive as students manipulate angles and planes with the touch of a finger. Those studying mechanical engineering or others forms of engineering could “create” and understand the project by manipulating it using the same simulated learning technology as the military.    

Not all “progress” is beneficial but this progressive step into ebook learning appears to be one that is overdue.

Need relevant twitter followers? Use Follow Blast

Want more relevant followers. Think of the key words you need to use to find them. As my first novel is on crime and the criminal justice system I googled FollowBlast and clicked on the link.

This instruction appeared:

In order to search for users by hashtag and follow them, please sign-in with your Twitter account.

Easy enough to do that. Once the “Follow Blast” page appered I typed in “criminology” and bingo a list of those interested in the topic appeared. There is a bar that is difficult to see as it is blue on blue but it is the blast bar, it lets me follow all those pulled up under my search simply by clicking on it. I did and within seconds I was receiving messages of thanks for following and invitations to exchange information. I responded to them all. I list them in the list I created for them on my twitter account. That way I know where and who they are when I need to contact them.

In one week I will run my account through tweepi, to see who has followed me back, I will unfollow those who did not or who have inactive accounts, with a note saying I am sorry to see them go, tell them I will be happy to connect if they want to follow back and next week I will begin again.

It is the way to manage my account, keep it current and connect with relevant tweeters.

Ready? Your turn. It’s only a mouse do not be intimidated.

How To Plan a Successful Book Promotion

Book done? Nearly done? Well done. Time to promote it. Don’t think you have to? Think again. Even large traditional publishing houses expect you to self promote. Ready?

If you are uncomfortable with self promotion and the concept that you write for profit you will be uncomfortable with this.

You have to settle that first. 

Stop reading, settle it, now let’s get on with it.

You may have already done all or parts of this, bear with me. You have to think promotion as early as you can and plan a successful strategy. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on pre-publication promotionsal opportunities. These include having your book reviewed before the release date by the publishing trade media and by library media. You also might miss the opportunity to ask for and gather endorsements for your back cover copy.

To establish your promotional plan work through this reality check right now:

1. Who is your readership? Who will buy your book?

2. How will readers know your book exists? How will they know how it will add value to  their lives? Hint: Enter stage left, social media.

3. How will readers come across your book, how will they buy it?

4. How will it be available primarily?

5. Who can write a testimonial about your books, you will need 3 or 4 for the back cover.

6. What are the keywords? Remember these are the highway down which readers ride      their mouse to find you. Choose those with a large platform.

Choices: Print book, ebook, interactive book, audio book, all 4.


Plan the event. Date? When will your book be released? Plan a venue that has some relevance to your book. Offer refreshments (keep it simple sister) and perhaps some form of entertainment, maybe music that goes with the theme.

Some authors reenact a scene from the book, in period costume, serving food mentioned in the book, is that something you would consider?

Do a creative presentation based on the book’s content.  Perhaps have your friends with relevant accents and clothing act out some of the dialogue.

Speak on the book’s topic or plan an interactive activity based on the topic. Read parts of the book aloud, speak on the topic of the book, make it interactive if you can. Many authors moan about the trials and tribulations of writing and publishing, it’s been done, think of something else. Take questions from the audience. Be creative and interesting!

Print loads of bookmarks for attendees to share with others. Bookmarks with uncoated paper on the back side allow you to sign them.  These are cheap, often free, just for the cost of postage through Vista Print.

Encourage attendees to bring their smart phones to the event so that they can photograph and email, tweet or post to others about the event in real time.

Provide a laptop computer where people can order the print book if you run out, or the ebook version. Make sure they log out of their Amazon or bookstore account after using it.

Do not be shy. Promote the event heavily. Suggested promotions include press releases to local media, emails or evites to your friends and local contacts, frequent announcements on your blog and social media accounts (scheduled by Hootsuite or similar program), and postcard invitations. Ask associates and friends to help spread the word.

You need a twitter account, an active facebook author page If you don’t know how to do this go to and pay some on $5.00 to do it for you), a Pinterest page - set up a board with the book title, another one for the period, another one for area, another one for the characters.  On every single pin put hashtags and links back to your facebook, newsletter, twitter etc.

You need a linked in account and you need to join and interact in appropriate circles. Support others, comment on their posts, add value to their lives and establish your credibility within the circles.

There are some essential skills for authors using social media.

Do you know how to shorten URL’s? Answer:

Do you know how to get an URL for photographs, some sites require them? Answer: Imageshack

You Tube is your best friend Someone has provided a relevant tutorial to teach you. Don’t like one teacher? Go to another.  

The business of self promotion requires focus and a plan. Go for it.

For free advice “like” my facebook page

To view my use of Pinterest for “The Con” visit

Writers, Never Give Up: by guest blogger Ron Katz

I lead a support group for people who are unemployed. I received an e-mail from a member of my the group last week. It said, in essence, “I give up. I don’t know what to do anymore to find a job. Nothing is working.”

I understand the paralysis and frustration he’s feeling. Life feels out of control. At our meetings we discuss strategy on how to gain control of an uncontrollable situation, and different ways of coping.

One person focuses on making sure she does at least one thing, takes one step forward, each day. Invariably one step leads to another and she finds that she’s accomplished a lot towards her goal each day. But she finds that if she looks at the situation in its entirety she will feel overwhelmed and depressed. So she focuses on what’s the one next thing she needs to do. And then she does it.

Another member creates separation. He spends his mornings on the computer. He spends his afternoons on the phone or going to meet people. People with job leads, people in his network,  he gets out there. He knows he needs human contact to keep his spirits up. In the evening he steps away from his job search and focuses on his family. Just as when he had a job to go to every day, the evening is family time. This way he can approach the next day refreshed, reinvigorated, and reminded of why he must keep looking.

Writing can be lonely, frustrating, and at times seemingly pointless. I know, I’ve been there.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I’ll never finish this.”

“I’ll never get this published.”

And the worst of all, “Maybe it’s not good.” I’ve encountered all these demons.

But then I remind myself what I heard in a seminar on writing delivered by Sam Horn. If there is one person who might benefit from what you have to say then you have a responsibility to write. You owe it to that one person. And if there is one person, there are more. Possibly many more. You owe it to them to keep writing. Do one thing. Write one page, one paragraph, hell, one sentence. Do something, but don’t give up.

The person who sent me the e-mail had skipped that week’s meeting. I know that sometimes going to a meeting, or seemingly doing anything, seems pointless. But sometimes being with people, especially people who are going through the same things you are, is a tonic in itself.  Get in touch with people in your support network if you feel like giving up.

If you’re a writer, find a writing buddy. I’ve done that. Contact another writer and talk with someone who understands what you’re going through. Schedule times to talk so you have something to look forward to. Plus if you know you’re going to speak with someone about what you‘re writing, you’re more likely to have written so you have something to talk about! Just knowing that you have that appointment will help you to focus. Take these steps before you sit down to write or meet with a publisher or an editor because you will be in a better frame of mind to present yourself or whatever it is you’re setting out to accomplish.

Success comes in many forms. Continuing to write when you feel you can’t is a success. Making a call to someone when you don’t feel like talking is a success. Pouring yourself onto the page is a success.

Giving up is not an option. You are only one “Yes” from your next success.

Ron Katz is the president of Penguin HR Consulting ( and the author of “Someone’s Gonna Get Hired…It Might As Well Be You!” a book that helps people deal with the stress of losing, finding, or keeping a job. He writes, speaks, and blogs about job search and the  inanities of working in today’s workplace.

(Source: RonKatz)

Focusing your website

Simon Jordan who has had amazing success online and who focuses on clarity in promotion and branding, wrote (with only a few of my own alterations):

On a website you have between 3-7 seconds to get your message across. If the message is lost amongst all the images and buttons, you will miss valuable sales leads.

Tell them:

1.  how your product will add value to their lives, and

2.  who you work with. Make it clear and obvious.

A confused buyer is a non buyer.

Here is how to get your message right.

Ask yourself:

1. Who is my target audience?

2. What do I offer them?

3. What are the true benefits of my book, product or service?

For example - A life coach who offers help developing a more focused mindset to business owners, may write “We help business owners develop a focused mindset so they get more done and are more productive in their working day”.

This states who they work with (business owners), what they offer (focused mindset) and what the benefits are (get more done and will be more productive in their working day).

So let’s do it: How will your product/book/message add value to their lives?_________________________________________________________________

Who do you work with? _________________________________________________

Put it together:_________________________________________________________


Why do this? When someone arrives at your website, it’s vital from the outset that they understand what you are selling and how it will benefit them.

Make your message stand out. This message is more important than your logo or fancy images - They won’t sell your business, your message will. Tell them straight and make it clear.

More than 3 clicks and you’ve lost the sale.

Statistics say that if a visitor has to click more than 3 times to get the information they want they will lose interest and hit escape.

Note to You: Your website helps you sell your product to the right audience at the right place in the right (as in easiest way for them to buy) way.

Your website is an incredibly powerful tool and one that should not be underestimated.

Over 75% of our sales are now generated online!

Your website can act as your sales force.

It can attract new clients

• Build relationships

• Educate and inform clients

• Encourage feedback

• Close the sale

And it can be doing all this 24-7.

I emailed Simon about my using his material, he was delighted to release it but he wants to know what you think of it. So, what do you think of it?

Simon Jordan from

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The Third Fate, by Nadja Notarini: Book Review

The Third Fate by Nadja Notariani follows her previous two books, Claiming The Prize and Her Dark Baron.  The book is well named as the hero, Paige pursues just that, the third fate, without knowing that or that it is preceded by the first and second fates. 

Timid, compliant and one unaccustomed to power or status Paige Kinnell catalogues library books. Her mother died in childbirth. Paige was adopted by her aunt and raised with her two female cousins as their sibling. Her life is pedestrian and simple. She loved and lost a fiancé to death and seems resigned to a bland existence. The loss of her love leaves her unwilling to commit to another. As if to compensate for the banality of her life experience she invests herself in studying a time long gone, a time of magic and legend.

Unbeknown to her she is desired and sought by Cael Maccinnis, the handsome, mysterious Highlander. He enters her dreams before he enters her life. Without being asked he answers every unspoken longing of her heart. She becomes perturbed as dark and secret lusts demand to be satisfied. Her passion, her encounters with him transition her into what he is. A vampire. The journey into the world of supernatural creatures and ancient lore was written in the geography of her blood, by her own mother and father.

She dares to love Cael, but will forces beyond them cause her to lose him? She and her blue eyed vampire Highlander become unwitting pawns in a contest between ancients and ancients, and ancients and humans. The complexities of vampire to vampire to druid to human interaction are further complicated by centuries old passions, deception, calls for revenge and jealousies. The final battle causes Paige to wield hitherto unknown power and strength as she discovers her true identity, her gifts, her fate.

The reader may be less confused if the author named fewer of the characters. Some of the characters enter abruptly and without introduction. The reader has to reread or catch up with their purpose in the following passages.

The author combines erotica with bloodlust. The love scenes are heavy with lust and passion, the emotional aspect of the core relationships seem somewhat overly psychological, leaving the reader asking, if only fleetingly, “would an ancient vampire who drinks blood to survive be afraid of his feelings or is that a 21st century approach?”

The author skillfully uses strong language and imagery. The book is competently edited. The author retains control over the point of view, there is no confusion as to whom is speaking when. She shows the story from the character’s point of view, cancelling the need of a narrator. Reading the book is not a one-dimensional experience. The author engages the reader by transporting him or her to the scene through the five senses of the characters. Those who long for a time that never was, and who seek a world of vampires and unbridled passion will find it a rollicking good read.

 Her book is available on Amazon

Visit her Amazon author page


To learn more of Gael and her books “like” her facebook page