Posts Tagged ‘Lisa J. Jackson’

I just got back from a 3-day mystery writer’s conference (Julie mentioned it last week), and am now looking forward to 3 day-long conferences to attend this week.

I go through highs and lows when attending conferences, so I thought it’d make for a nice topic of conversation.

Whenever I’m set to go to a conference, the excitement builds as the start time gets closer. The weekend’s conference was mostly for fun — I love hanging with other mystery writers and readers and hearing about what everyone is interested in. The day-long conferences this week are mostly business-related, so I’m looking forward to mixing and mingling with professionals and learning new ways to enhance and build my business.

Each has (or had) the excitement build up.

Then when at a conference, there’s the peak high while settling in, saying ‘hi’ to people I recognize and introducing myself to people I don’t know yet.

Next comes the thrill at the ‘official start’ and through the first workshops, panels, and presentations.

Breaks and food are much needed throughout the day. Staying hydrated is important, but those bathroom breaks can be a bit crazy!

The excitement level wanes a bit as the afternoon progresses, but it’s still there. Learning and socializing can be mentally exhausting to different degrees.

At the end of the conference, there’s a mixed feeling (for me, anyway!) One that combines the realization that it’s officially The End (a bummer) and Oh-Good-Back-to-the-Routine and my own bed (uplifting). The mixed feeling can be delayed if carpooling or traveling with others part of the way, but it hits at one time or another.

Once back home, in order to recover and get back to real life, I find it’s important to rest. Naps are my best friend. 45-90 minutes can go a long way to resetting the body and mind. The challenge is shutting the mind off from thinking over everything that just happened, but it’s worth the time to decompress and get back to ‘normal.’

Most important of all, though, is to not lose track of people or details to follow-up on after a conference. I put those on the top of my desk as soon as I walk in the door.

Follow-up is very important, especially from business-related conferences. Letting connections fall by the wayside defeats the purpose of attending a conference.

There may be the emotional/energy roller coaster with attending events, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m never disappointed to learn something new or meet new people.

Do you find your energy levels going up and down when you go to conferences? 

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Have you run short of ideas for articles, your blog, or perhaps a client’s blog? Here are four places to look for inspiration and ideas.

Google Alerts – https://www.google.com/alerts

This is a quick and easy-to-use resource for getting ideas. Just enter a search term (1 or more words), hit that ‘Enter’ key, and voila, some ideas will (most likely) show up. You actually don’t even have to hit ‘Enter’, as it’ll start searching on the words as you type them into the search field.

The first random word that popped into my head was ‘applesauce’. Here’s a quick peek at what Google Alerts found:



The first reference that came up was under News:

A Walking Dead Halloween party: Long pork and blood orange cake

Communities Digital News
Here at CDN we can’t vouch for that, but if it’s true, applesauce or a cherry sauce would probably be the best condiments to serve with a human roast.

No way I expected that to pop up, but it triggered a short story idea or two.

The next 2 references came from the Web — one was a Facebook post talking about how jarred applesauce may be convenient to purchase, but it’s easy to make your own; the other was a Pinterest reference to Spice Applesauce Cake.

Google Alerts will offer you variety at a minimum and maybe give you just enough to kickstart your ideas again.

Tip: if you set up an account, you can receive summaries of the alerts sent to your e-mail as they happen, daily, or weekly.

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com

You can use Amazon in a similar manner to Google Alerts, in that you type in a search term (or phrase) and then read through the options that pull up. Using applesauce again, here’s what came up:



At a minimum you’re going to see different brands of applesauce, applesauce for babies, fruit butters, and so much more (that I never thought about in relation to applesauce). And if you start clicking off boxes on the left side of the screen, you’ll narrow your search and have new ideas leaping off the page at you.

The dropdown arrow in the main search box lets you select different departments. I left applesauce in place, then clicked the dropdown and selected the ‘Beauty’ department. Yes, there were items that popped up. 4 GoGo Squeezes, 1 Mott’s, and 1 Kirkland Optifiber. The avenues to travel down for applesauce keep widening, don’t they?

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com (requires an account)

And just for fun, if you have absolutely no ideas whatsoever, why not scroll through the posts you see on Facebook?

With Facebook, you get to eavesdrop on numerous conversations. See what posts are getting a lot of comments and a lot of Likes. Those could be great topic ideas for articles. If a simple Facebook status update can generate a lot of feedback, people will be curious to read more about it.

Where do you go for ideas?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. If anything, she has too many ideas, but when the muse needs a quick boost, there are many places to look for ideas. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Having your own writing business involves dealing with work that ebbs and flows.

You may have a client hire you, but then delay the start of the project, delay payment, change the scope after you start, give you more than you expect a lot sooner than you expect… it’s seldom as straight forward as it should be.

It can be scary thinking about the ‘ebbs’ of a writing business. It can also intimidate if there’s worry about “too much” work flowing in.

How do you handle the ups and downs?

Writing life ebbs and flows are like the tides.

Writing life ebbs and flows are like the tides.

Here are some overall tips:

  • If you’re determined to start your own business, start it (it feels so good to take that step)
  • If at all possible, have enough money available to cover at least 2 months of expenses (to avoid worrying about bills)
  • Know where you want to go as a writer and accept any opportunity that is a step toward that goal (get your first byline, write that first feature, submit that first query, tell people you’re a writer, and so on)
  • Focus on one thing at a time: work in 30-minute or 1-hour blocks (set that timer and don’t let anything disturb you until the bell sounds)
  • Make sure you exercise

Tips for when you hit an ‘ebb’ (slow) period with your business:

  • Study up on social media and get more proficient
  • Update your website and any business listings
  • Seek out assistance for the busy times – a transcriptionist, virtual assistant, chef, cleaning service, whatever you might need when you’re flooded with work
  • Find ways to become more productive – read up on time management, learn to schedule emails, and so on
  • Get out and network
  • Find someone to collaborate with on projects – another writer, a graphic designer, whoever you need
  • Seek out new business; send out queries; answer job postings for writing jobs you find interesting
  • Review past clients; evaluate the projects you’ve done; identify changes you want to make and make them
  • Make sure you exercise

Tips for when you hit a ‘flow’ (busy) period with your business:

  • Call on that transcriptionist to transcribe your interviews or notes
  • Use that virtual assistant to help with your calendar
  • Have your house cleaned, your meals prepared, your errands run for you
  • Delegate social media posting (you’ve developed the content, but someone else can schedule it and post it)
  • Shut off email and close the Web browser while you’re working (if at all possible) to avoid distractions
  • Always make time for exercise, even if it’s in 10-minute increments; it’s so important to stay healthy
  • Focus and prioritize the work

Are you able (and willing) to go with the ebbs and flows of owning your own business?


Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. In 8 years of business, she hasn’t found a pattern to the ebbs and flows of assignments. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Last Friday I had the wonderful experience of posting to a company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for a day.

The company, actually an airport, had their 5th Customer Appreciation Day. This was my second year assisting with their social media activities. And, honestly, it was so much fun I can’t wait until next year.

Social media mavens early in the day

Social media mavens early in the day

These are my 3 big business-related takeaways:

  • Even if your company is equally active on Facebook and Twitter, a one-day event may not result in equal activity on each platform.

For the most part, we posted to Facebook and Twitter at similar times and with similar calls-to-action. We quickly realized Facebook users interacted with us the most. (Last year it was a 50/50 split). So, even if you have a Plan Of Action for the day based on past experience, one platform may leap ahead of the other. (this can apply to any social media platforms, of course).

  • The more you interact with those who reply to you, the more interaction you will get.

It was easy early on to post a question and reply to each person who gave feedback (on both platforms), but as the day progressed and more people became involved, well, you can imagine, it was difficult to keep up. But replying to customers who take time to talk to you is critical to running your business. They need to know you’re there and that you’re listening. And in social media, your public reply to one person is magnified when seen by that person’s connections.

  • If you ask the right question at the right time, feedback can explode!

As the day came to an end, we posed the question “How can we serve you better?” On Facebook, most of our posts during the day averaged 250 ‘people reached’. This one question is still receiving comments and has exceeded 11,100 ‘people reached’. Even without knowing the intricacies of Facebook’s algorithms, this is significant. Ask your customers what they want, and they will tell you.

And I have to add a personal takeaway:

  • Sit properly and get up from the chair now and then.

I literally sat on the edge of my seat all day instead of firmly planted in it and using the back rest. At the end of the day, had a stiffness from the left side of my neck down to my lower back. I did get up on occasion for bathroom and food breaks, but apparently sat twisted on the edge of the chair looking down to the left (at my notes) for too long. Note to self: You need to step away from the keyboard, stretch, breath, and hydrate — even during social media binges. It’s so easy to get caught up in the speed of live interactions on social media!

>>>What social media platform gives you (and your company) the best results?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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There’s a fun day on tap this coming Saturday, and if you’re somewhat local to Concord, MA and this is of interest, make sure to register today, Monday, October 6.

Fellow NHWN bloggers, Diane and Julie, and I are part of a mystery writers group called Sisters in Crime. We also both belong to the New England chapter. And it’s the chapter that has pulled together a wonderful mystery-focused event this Saturday.

Here are the details:

Sisters in Crime New England Presents

History, Mystery & Murder!

Saturday, October 11, at Concord’s Historic Colonial Inn

11 a.m. Guided Walking Tour (optional)

12:15 p.m. Luncheon & Author Panel

What happened when two Puritan ministers and a fur trader wandered into the wilderness? What was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s shocking and grisly encounter? What’s so memorable about Major Pitcairn’s boo-boo or Tildy Holden and her chickens?

This easy-going, 60-minute walking tour of downtown Concord and Sleepy Hollow covers a bit of what you’ve read in history books and a whole lot that was left out, including tales of witches and shoemakers, drunken barbers, and the almost unbelievable story of Frank Sanborn, “possibly the coolest dude that ever lived in Concord”.

Afterward, enjoy a luncheon at the historic Colonial Inn and a spirited author panel on writing one of the hottest properties in our industry, Historical Mysteries.

Moderator Leslie Wheeler and award-winning authors M.E. Kemp, Ben and Beth Oak, Tempa Pagel, and Sarah Smith discuss how to make the past come alive while spinning an exciting tale for contemporary readers.

SinC/NE is covering most of the cost of this unique chapter event for members and their invited guests.

Register as my guest at these rates:

Tour & Luncheon/Panel: $25

Luncheon/Panel Only: $15

Reserve your tickets now/today (this is the last call for RSVPs) at http://sincne.org/history-mystery-and-murder

It should be a fun time on a beautiful New England fall afternoon… as long as no headless horsemen appear, I’ll be just fine.


LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) conducted a study with 3,000+ participants to settle an existential question that has been plaguing mankind for centuries (or maybe a few years here and there):

“Which gender has the better writers?”

They published the results to the question above in an infographic (below) and I got permission to share it here with you. I thought it would be fun for some discussion.




The results for characters question splits out equal from both perspectives — I think it’s only natural that we include bits of ourselves in our writing, since that’s a person we know best!

Pronouns & Determiners are pretty evenly split, too.

What do you think about the plot vs character and long vs short sentences? Would you put yourself in the majority in those categories?

I would for the first – I like (try) to develop my characters and have the plot follow. For sentences, I do my best to write short active sentences, but there are times when long works better!


From their website: Grammarly’s online grammar checker is the most accurate tool for grammar correction on the market. 

Disclosure: This is an online tool you have to pay for (minimum is $29.95/month); I’m not a subscriber, but it can’t hurt to check it out when you have a minute or two if it’s something of interest — they do offer a 7-day free trial period. Remember to read all the Terms and Conditions!


LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She enjoys sharing writing resources when she finds them. You can connect with her on Twitter,FacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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September 22, 2014

Happy First Day of Autumn

I’m looking forward to the fabulous foliage colors this year.

Here are some favorite pics I captured last year.

LisaJ_fall leaves




I love the myriad of colors we get in New England. And Fall is when I start my serious planning for the upcoming year. It’s a time of renewal for me.

Do you see a lot of colors where you live?

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