"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Tisket, A Tasket a Doctor and a Basket!

Last December, after much consideration, I decided to do something nice for my doctor.
I know, I know...it sounds kind of strange; especially when many are already overpaid and sometimes have questionable practices. But hear me out here.

While most folks dread going to the doctor due to all the prodding, probing, pain and impersonal treatment, my experience over the last few years has been different.

Besides being "easy on the eyes" my physician is funny, warm, patient and compassionate.
Dr. "P" has a great bedside manner and a very calming effect.
In many ways, he is his own form of medicine.

Because of this, I wanted to convey my respect and regard for him.
But, allow me to digress a bit here.
Last year, when my brother died it hit me like a ton of bricks.  His unexpected and untimely death left an emptiness I can't explain.
It also taught me to give folks their flowers while they are living.

I never really got the opportunity to tell my brother how much of an impact he had on me in my development as a woman and now I never will.
But I CAN do better in sharing warm, wonderful thoughts and gestures with others (in the spirit of what his death taught me).

Fast forward...

90 days after my initial doctor's visit, I needed to come in again for a routine screening.
Busy, as usual, he was training two of his assistants and sharing some procedural info.
Then all of a sudden he pulled out his cell phone. Which was strange for him.
With a wide grin he said to them: "Guess what someone did for me for Christmas?"

Dr. "P" then went on to show images of the Xmas basket I had given him with his colleagues.
He told me that he was so excited he took pictures and shared it with just about everybody!
He let me know that in 10 years of being there, no one had ever given him a gift before.
He was clearly touched.
Go figure.
Here's a man who earns a six-figure salary who was moved by my small gesture of kindness.

The moral of the story here?
Small acts, kind words matter.
In a day and age where we have so many horrific things happening (many of which we have no control) we can CHOOSE kindness.

Truth is, we just never know what issues, insecurities or burdens somebody is dealing with, that  perhaps could be ameliorated simply by something positive we say or do.
And it takes so little to mean so much.

As writers there's even more.
We have the opportunity and platforms to promote good; inspire change; combat stereotypes; champion worthy causes; to widen the "lens" by which others see the world.
We can and we must use our "powers" for good.

In fact, there's an organization and a movement dedicated to random acts of Kindness.
Read more here:


If you're on board, here are some


  • Give a compliment.

  • Volunteer.

  • Donate to a charity.

  • Make a blog comment.

  • Forgive a grudge.

  • Refrain from gossip.

  • Share the gospel to give hope.

  • Start a "GO FUND ME" page for someone in need.

  • Run errands for someone elderly.

  • Be a mentor.

  • Give benefit of the doubt.

  • Be a beacon.

  • Attend a book signing for a local author.

  • Listen attentively.

  • Spend more time with friends and family.

  • Let someone else have the spotlight.

  • Make someone a meal.

  • Be less critical of others.

  • Share laughter.

Get the idea here?
Here's my small part, a starting point.

Won't you join me?

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

NOTE: I'm releasing this post early so I can "pencil" in a possible vacation soon.:-)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

5 Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference this Year

As a writer, one of the things that I love the most is the sense of community and shared experiences of those who are similarly wired. I dig that though we're all different, hail from different geographic regions, have different ideologies, are of varying races, religions and backgrounds, there is a commonality in our goals, struggles and even the way in which we "process" the world.

Online or off,  no matter where you are in your creative journey, or the obstacles you encounter, a fellow writer "gets it" like no one else. Which is why attending a writers' conference is a great way to stay motivated, receive support and achieve some of those new year's resolutions made in January.
Remember? :-)

This weekend, Chicago Writers Association sponsored its first conference, for writers of all levels and genres. This exciting and informative forum was held at the beautiful Whitehall Hotel and featured some literary heavy-weights which included: David Fisher, Joe Meno, Fred Mitchell, Kathryn Craft and Ann Garvin (to name a few). Read more here:

"What do you write?" was the ice breaker that served as the opening line for many "getting to know you" conversations throughout the weekend.

 The great conversations added warmth to this chilly winter season, and represented just one benefit of attending this conference for me.




1. Information and Inspiration

Writers conferences offer an array of resources, tips and strategies to help you to "work smarter, not harder."  Remember that knowledge is power.

2. Networking Opportunities

Sometimes these gatherings can present the right people and circumstances to fill in information gaps; introduce you to others for future collaborative projects; or provide leads to your "dream job."

3. Access to Industry Experts


One of my favorite sessions of the conference was the "Pick the brain" forum where writers were allowed to ask specific questions of the professional panel to address individual pain points and challenges. Things like marketing recommendations, how to craft a query letter, platform building, dialogue dos and don'ts, and how to successfully navigate relationships with editors.

4. Goodies and Freebies!

Who doesn't love "swag bags" filled with decorative pens, journals, bookmarks and other useful items? Winner winner chicken dinner!

5. Feedback and Guidance for your W.I. P. (Works in Progress)

Depending upon what type of conference you attend and the format, you may be able to receive  a critique session from an editor, have peers evaluate your ideas and approach, or simply benefit from Q & A sessions that broaden your knowledge base and help to move the needle on your career.
Trust me; you can't "Google" the quality of information received via these types of forums, folks.

This year's conference was a great success! A special thanks to all of those who made it possible.

Though I hope to have Pen & Prosper readers join us for our next conference here in the "windy city," I'm also providing a listing of other conferences across the globe, that may be of potential interest.


"There is strength is numbers."

Your turn.
Thoughts? Have you ever attended a writer's conference? How was it?
What did you learn?

Typewriter image: Pixabay.com

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Get Hired, Be Inspired-the 3Rs Series Continues!

Greetings Readers,
In my ongoing efforts to advance and enhance your writing career, you'll find an array of diverse reads, leads and resources in today's post.
I hope you enjoy.
Feel free to let me know what resonated the most with you here, or to offer suggestions for future inclusion.
Here's to your success!


5 Non-writing Ways Writers Can Make Money

What you Really Get When Hiring Writers for Projects

Say "no" to these Freelance Writing Jobs

7 Ways Meditation can Transform Your Life

Google's Push for a More Secure Internet

11 Habits of Successful Freelance Writers

3 Signs that Your Book Cover Misses the Mark


2018 Writing Contests

Jobs for Bloggers

Free Writing E-Books to Hone Your Craft

What Would Life be Like Without the Arts?


On a Stick! Cookbook 80 Party-Perfect Recipes
By: Matt Armendariz
As many of you are aware, I am a big foodie!
I'm always trying out new recipes to entertain and "wow" family and friends.
Which is why I was so excited to score this clever and creative guide (from my local Dollar Tree Store) with appetizers and desserts essentially presented on a stick. It's a fun read filled with beautiful images and an innovative approach to both new and old recipes.
I'll be trying these treasures out soon. I'll keep you posted...
On a scale of 1-5, I give it 4****  stars.

Image Credits: Pixabay.com 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Become a "Thought Leader" to Enhance Your Blogging Career & Your Bottom Line

“The world is a stage.” ---Shakespeare

Everybody’s got an opinion.
But, unfortunately not everyone will have the opportunity to be “heard.” Particularly in the virtual world; where there is so much noise, clamor and folks seeking 15 minutes of fame.

Here’s a crucial statistic to consider: according to Statista.com, the number of bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020. Which means that competition for the time, engagement and attention of today’s busy readers is becoming increasingly fierce.

All the more reason you’ll need to STAND OUT and stay relevant, to “stay in the black.”
One way to do so is to become a thought leader or influencer in your respective niche.
Before we cover how to accomplish this, I’ll address what an influencer or thought leader is, and why it benefits bloggers to become one.


Simply put, a thought leader or influencer is a blogger/writer who has earned the reputation of being someone who is informed, interesting, credible, respected and popular among peers.
Another way to think of it is the slogan: “When E.F. Hutton speaks everybody listens.”


Thought leaders and influencers typically garner:

  • Greater traffic levels to their sites and a higher level of engagement and comments
  • Greater credibility; which translates into more sales of information products and creative services
  • More opps to partner with major brands and publishers as a brand ambassador and spokesperson
  • More avenues to make money through affiliate programs and ad revenue
A good example would be bloggers that often grace your annual "Top Blogs for..." listings.
Here are a few:

Get the idea here?
Don’t get it twisted. Your blog does not have to have a cult like following to qualify. Though it indeed helps.
Now that you know what a thought leader is, you’ll need to know how to become one.

Accordingly, here are the 3 key traits that determine who typically becomes an influencer in the blog community and publishing industry.
I like to call it the 3Rs:

Reputation refers to your brand, your online image, your overall public perception.
It takes into account these major contributing factors: your website design, your social media activities, your writer’s voice, your logo, your slogan, writing awards, and even your guest posts. A solid reputation helps increase your visibility and your social media impact. It also helps to potentially cut down on your marketing efforts considerably. For example, in being recognized as an influencer via my “Top Blog for Writers” designation (for the past few years), I’ve garnered numerous requests to review merchants’ products; invitations to participate in collaborative projects; job offers; and some affiliate offers from major brands. And you can too.
Simply put, a good writing reputation better positions you to be a “go-to-guru,” stand out from the crowd, build your fan base and your bottom line.

Quality trumps quantity. Always put forth your best work. Though ideally, you want to publish on a very regular and consistent basis, it’s better to wait until you have something of substance to share, as opposed to publishing mediocre posts that merely help you meet your weekly quota. If generating ideas is a problem, check out this post to motivate your muse:

Reach simply refers to your collective following. It encompasses your Twitter peeps; your blog subscriber numbers; your Facebook fans; and other social media supporters. Advertisers, publishers, agents and investors crunch the numbers to determine whether there’s a likelihood that partnering with you will be profitable, based upon the size of your social circle. It’s also referred to as your “platform.”

In the absence of massively large numbers, it helps if your blog contributes real value to the blogging community. Bonus points if it’s very unique and/or funny as well.
Strive to be recognized as a resource; as someone who helps and supports other writers and bloggers; who is professional and “plays nicely” with others.
Your work does not have to be Pulitzer Prize level to be popular and well-received.  Perish the thought. It just needs to be quality oriented. Write from the heart. "Speak" from an informed position. Have your own style. Take the time to proof your writing for typos and careless errors.

To become the best writer possible, read as much as possible. Read the blogs of respected authors; read outside of your niche; read books in different genres. Reading helps you to build your vocabulary, understand the needs of your audience, and hone your craft.

Becoming a thought leader is within your reach. Consider today's tips as "food for thought" for a more successful blogging career in 2018.

Comments? Questions?

Image credit: Pixabay.com






Monday, February 19, 2018

Motivation Monday! Quotes to Inspire & Inform


Greetings, Readers!
Whether you're experiencing a "Manic Monday," need a mood-pick-me-up, or simply seek advice for a better approach to life, today's quotes suit an array of purposes.
They come from a variety of sources--some may be familiar, while others I'm betting will be new.
If you're creative, you can even use them as writing prompts to jump start future essays, articles or blog posts.
So, pick up a cup of your favorite brew, read through, and enjoy!


"Never say anything which doesn't improve the silence."
"To thrive in life you need three bones: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone."
"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations."
"Don't strive to be better than others; strive to be better than your best self."
"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." --Zig Ziglar

"Only you can control your future."--Dr. Seuss

"Take another bite of chocolate. It’ll help."--Anna Marie Gire

"Successful people have big libraries. So read to succeed!"--Shel Horowitz

"The greatest revenge is to accomplish what others say you can not do."

"Sometimes God will shake you up to move you forward."--Jennifer Brown Banks

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."--Eleanor Roosevelt

"Life is about using the whole box of crayons."

Thanks for reading!

Thoughts? What's your favorite quote?

Image credits: Pixabay.com


Friday, February 9, 2018

This Valentine's Day-The Art of Seducing Your Readers

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
There’s an art to seduction. Whether it’s love-oriented or literary. In fact, whether or not you realize it, your writing represents a “relationship” with your readers. Particularly if you’re a blogger currently active on the scene.

Are you committed? Are you good “relationship material“? Or are you merely seeking a casual, temporary, until something better comes along “booty-call“?

If your goal is to create quality connections, cultivate a cohesive bond between you and your audience, and go the distance, there are a few tips to “courting” them that you’ll need to know.
Consider this post like a Cosmo Magazine “how to please your mate” guide.
(Candles optional).

If you’re in the mood, let’s get started. Shall we…?



Like any successful relationship, it’s crucial that you cater to your readers’ needs. Do you know what those needs are? In other words, what’s your readers’ motivation for visiting your site? Is it to be entertained? To get the 4-1-1 on celebrity gossip? To get ahead in their creative careers? What are their pain points or problem areas? Your job is to translate this knowledge into something that helps to enhance them, inspire them, or create magical moments.


Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Communicate with honesty and depth. It’s okay to let us see you without all your make-up on. You’re still beautiful. Share your fears. Your shortfalls. Your future dreams. This can be accomplished through anecdotes,
“ah-ha” moments, and real-life revelations. Remember, sharing is caring.


Don’t “fake the feeling.” Your interaction with your readers should convey that you are truly excited about words and language, their power and their impact--and your role.
A passionate writer chooses expressions carefully; cares about the reader’s experience; stimulates through the use of sensory words; and spends quality time in producing work.


There’s nothing that engenders real regard and affection like listening. In the words of the Verizon commercial: “Can you hear me now?” Everybody likes to feel validated and heard. Are you “listening” to your readers through their comments? Posed questions? Suggestions? Surveys and polls conducted? “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” states famous author, Steven R. Covey.
Surveymonkey.com provides tools and techniques to tap into the minds of your readers and address their concerns, issues (and if you’re lucky, even their fantasies).


Never take your “intended” for granted. There’s always someone waiting in the wings to “woo” them and turn their heads. Did you know that according to Statista.com,“ The number of bloggers in the United States is set to reach 31.7 million users in 2020”? Like it or not, each of us are in competition for the valuable time and attention of today’s busy readers. Step up your game to stand out, stay relevant and to keep your date card punched.


Give some to get some. You know how flowers, candy and Hallmark cards can make a favorable impression with others? Along the same lines, free E-books, give-aways, links to resources and valuable information products can also show your appreciation to readers and foster a “warm and fuzzy feelin’.”

Don’t be a no-show when the novelty wears off, or when the hard work kicks in. Stay in touch.
Quite often "out of sight, out of mind."


Whether it's through corny jokes, trending topics or mistakes made and lessons learned.
Laughter lightens the heart.

Once you master the art of seduction, you'll score with your readers time and time again.
Follow these "romancing your readers" tips for optimal success.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day and a wonderful writing week ahead!



Image credits: Pixabay.com

Monday, February 5, 2018

Pen & Prosper Honors Black History Month

February marks National Black History Month. A time to recognize, honor and embrace the collective contributions of people of color.

Accordingly, I thought it would be fun and interesting to share with you a few Black bloggers that are worthy of note. Good writing/blogging in my opinion has no color; it has universal appeal.
Which is why those that are being featured might just make it on your future blog roll list.

Here, in no particular order are four for this month:



As many of you are aware, I'm a "foodie" at heart. I love to cook for family and friends and stumbled across Monique's site while doing some recipe "sleuthing" on line. 
Her site has beautiful, delicious recipes to please almost any palate. Monique is on a mission to show today's progressive woman that it's okay to be "liberated" and love being in the kitchen too.


Kembala provides sage advice here on how to save money, get ahead and increase your financial I.Q.


Evelyn helps readers to "take charge of their health and own it!" On her site you'll find an array of interesting articles on healthy eating and weight management. A great blog for those of you who have made weight loss one of your new year's resolutions.


Sybil is a Harvard graduate who knows her stuff. Through her popular site she shares tips and strategies to overcome obstacles and enhance the quality of life.
Chavis and her husband decided to engage in a simple act that had major impact. They vowed to give up complaining for 40 days. This ushered in a new way of thinking and a new way of life. Read how having a paradigm shift and a positive mental state can transform your relationships, your career, and your overall perspective. You'll find a lot of interesting topics, resources, and posts worth pondering here.  Imagine the possibilities!
 Sybil has also been a guest post contributor to Pen & Prosper. You can read more of her work below: 

If time permits, I hope you'll visit these diverse, enlightening sites and expand your reading horizons.
Happy Black History Month!
Comments? Thoughts?
Image credits: BHM and Celebrate