Liebster Award 2018

Hey All,

It’s been awhile. In case you missed it on my social media pages, this lady finally got some chickens! I’ve been raising them for three weeks now, and I love them, but I can’t wait to get them out of my house. Bring on the warm weather!

Other than that, I have been busy polishing some manuscripts and trying to work on some illustrations.

Last week, a friend of mine nominated me for the Liebster Award. I am so flattered and completely honored! Thanks Jess! Check out her blog for all things writer-ish. She’s funny, talented, and came up with a system for rating books using pizza slices. Need I say more?

Anyway, the Liebster awards were created as a way to find new blogs. The rules can be found here: https://theglobalaussie.com/liebster-award-2018/

Jess gave me three questions to answer. I will then go ahead and create three more questions for my nominees!

Describe the most important book for teenage-you.

I wasn’t really a big reader growing up. I think that is why reading to my kids is so important to me today. However, one summer I was bitten by the bookworm and I could not read enough. That summer, (1994), I read ‘Go Ask Alice’. I was fairly immature and all of the concepts of the book were very foreign to me. However, that book haunted 14 year old me and stuck with me ever since.  The concept that one decision can change the course of your entire life or even end it was a scary concept for me at such a young age, but an important one.

What smell brings back great memories?

It’s funny. I thought long and hard about this question because I am a very scent/memory oriented person. Which should I choose? The smell of chicken cutlets frying in my grandmother’s kitchen? Or the lingering smell of broiled steak that hung in the house after dinner? Those scents bring back comforting childhood memories of being cared for (and cooked for). I admit that I still get butterflies whenever I am met with a waft of the cologne my husband used to wear when we first met. Every season has a smell for me. Summer? Coconut and suntan lotion. Fall? Duh, Apple Cinnamon.  Winter? Balsam Fir and cookies baking. Spring? Lilacs… always.

What’s the most binge-worthy show on television?

Although I write for children, I am into true crime in a big way. I recently binged Mind Hunter on Netflix, I also like to watch old episodes of Forensic Files. To offset all of the murder and suspense, my husband and I rewatched the entire Parks and Rec series in a few weeks. It still stands the test of time and is just as hilarious if not more than when we watched it the first go round…

There you have it, folks! Now it’s time for me to nominate blogs/bloggers I have found helpful or inspirational:

Milly Schmidt – The Cat’s write

Baily – Pretty in Print

Your mission (should you choose to accept) is to answer the following questions:

  1. When/how did you decide to become a writer?
  2. What is your ultimate comfort food?
  3. You have an entire weekend with nothing to do but read, which book(s) do you choose?

Thank you again Jess! Until next time everyone!

Oh! one last thing, if you’ve read my book, can you do a gal a solid and review it on Amazon? Thanks!

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Putting the Cart Before the Horse: How One Woman Nearly Blew it With a Literary Agent

OK… I am not quite sure how to start this post because I have a lot to share. I will start off by saying this post will be about my recent experience with querying and the very valuable lesson that I learned.

Let’s start from the beginning…while it’s not my forte, I will try to be brief. As you all know, I have been struggling really to find ways to promote my book. I decided recently that it might be best to try and get traditionally published. I figured that with traditional publishing my books would reach a wider audience. If you know anything about publishing, it’s that you need to query not only publishers, but you also should be querying agents too. I will get into this more in a future post.

After my first round of rejections a few months ago, I decided to shift focus and try to self-publish the second book. I started attempting to illustrate and failed miserably and then kind of just quit altogether. I kept flip-flopping on which direction to go which really meant that I needed to sit and think about things for awhile. Should I start heavily promoting  Sam Likes Jam? Should I keep querying? Should I focus on building my platform? Should I take drawing lessons? Should I keep revising another book I was working on? Should I try to get articles published? As you can see, I really needed a plan.

Through an interesting series of events that I will share at another time, I found that a literary agent had mentioned my book on social media a few months back. I researched the agency and decided to send in a query. To my surprise, I received a very positive, thoughtful, and insightful response. Spoiler alert: I did NOT get signed. The reason? I don’t have enough of a following, and while I am very happy with them, sales of Sam aren’t quite where they need to be. It’s all about the platform. I should have known this. In fact, I DID know this. I worked a brief (very brief) stint as a PR rep for authors and experts, and I would tell people this.

Learn from my mistakes people. I could have blown this opportunity altogether. However, the agent gave me some tips to get started and invited me to contact her again. I know what you are thinking… I thought the same thing too. If building a solid social media following and increasing sales were so easy, we would all be signed. This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take hard work, more dedication, and a PLAN.

I have started working on a list, and hopefully, this list will become a plan in the weeks to come. In the interest of transparency, and to help others. I am sharing my list below.

  1. Post weekly blog – gather list of writing topics
  2. Pursue guest blog opportunities
  3. Post to Twitter, Instagram & Facebook Daily
  4. SELF PUBLISH SECOND BOOK
  5. Celebrate Sam Likes Jam’s first birthday

This is a very high-level list, and frankly, this won’t guarantee more followers or sales. Each item on this list could be an entire post. However, I have to start somewhere. You never know which post, tweet, or article will catch people’s attention. I just listened to one of the most recent episodes of the Tim Ferris Podcast where he was giving advice to those who want to grow their podcast or blog, and he said “be in it for the long haul” I took it to mean that I should aim for slow and steady growth.

So what’s the big lesson? Well, there were several:

  1. Make and stick to a plan.
  2. Don’t lose focus.
  3. Never neglect to build a platform.

I will keep all of you posted on my progress! If you have any topics that you would like me to cover or if you are interested in guest blogging/having me guest blog, please do not hesitate to contact me! 

Until Next Time!

-Niki

 

#foodporn: Millennials & Their Influence on Food Trends

Depending on who you ask, “Millennials” are generally thought of as the people who were born between 1981 and 1997. This generation went from cassette tapes and VHS to MP3 and Blu Ray. They are pre-smartphone, and for some, pre-internet. Despite their less than technological beginnings, millennials are the driving force behind many innovations from virtual reality to avocado toast.

We’ve come a long way since the very first cooking show aired in 1946. A self-taught home cook named Philip Harben graced the airways for 10 minutes, dazzling viewers with a recipe for Lobster vol-au-vents. There is a shift in our culture in the way we view food. Food isn’t only for sustenance it is to be experienced.

In fact, according to a recent Business.com article, “over a third of tourist spending is devoted to food,” and “the percentage of people specifically traveling for unique dining experiences rose from 40% to 50%.” In addition, there has been an increase in attendance at food festivals around the globe, as well as travel to rural areas, for those who seek a more farm-to-table experience.

People are not only travelling to satiate their taste buds, more and more millennials are taking their culinary adventures to their own kitchens. According to a study done by Cambell’s, “between 2016 and 2021, e-commerce sales of food and beverage will reach $66 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 38%.”  Meal kit delivery services are on the rise. Millennials not only want to learn how to cook healthy meals, they want to create post worthy plates.

Speaking of posting on social media, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very entity that likely had a hand in aiding millennials in creating this gigantic culinary monster. According to the aforementioned Business.com article, social media sites like Instagram have fueled food tourism. When the article was posted in February of 2017, there were 76,239,441 posts using #foodporn and today that number has grown to 142,721,723 posts. That is nearly 23,000 posts a day just for that hashtag alone. Websites like Tastey share their binge-worthy short recipe videos on Facebook that make healthy cooking look simple to even the most novice home chef. Pinterest allows people to view, share and pin recipes which can heavily influence the popularity of a particular dish or even an ingredient. Sriracha anyone?

So what does this all mean? I can only guess, but to me, this means there is a positive shift happening. A rise in home delivery meal kits means more family dinners. A rise in “foodie tourism” means we as a society are more open to learning about other cultures. The rise in interest of where our food comes from means that sustainability will become more important to us. All of these things add up to what seems to be most important to the millennial generation…to eat well, and live well.

Have the latest food trends on social media influenced millennials or have millennials influenced food trends? It is much like the age old chicken and egg question. Only this egg is poached and tops a ramen noodle bowl.

J is for Jam – Picture Books from A to Z

Thank you so much for the kind words and feature on your blog!!

Paws4Thought

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Hi everyone,

Adana here. Do you like Jam? I’ve never had it myself but it sounds really good. What’s your favorite flavor. Debbie tells me she loves fruit spread and her favorite flavor is Apricot and the best smell in the world is when you open a brand new jar of fruit spread.

I wonder if it is lovely as the smell of the flowers in my home, the Land of the Dragons?

Anyhow SAM LIKES JAM by Niki Morris is today’s featured picture book.

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Meet Sam, and read all about his favorite food – JAM! ‘Sam Likes Jam’ is not only a fun and relatable story, it inspires children to think about and make their favorite foods. Getting your children to help in the kitchen will not only encourage them to try new foods, it may even ignite a love for cooking that will last a lifetime. Use the included…

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A little cheese with my whine…

I need to vent. I know my situation isn’t unique and honestly, I am confident that others are going through this. I am putting it out there so that others know they aren’t alone.

I just need to get this off my chest and I will move on…

Here it goes: Being a self-published children’s author is really tough.

This is my current situation:

2 kids, 2 dogs, 6 chickens, 1 traveling husband, 1 job, 1 house that needs cleaning, 1 published book that needs promoting, 1 edited book that I am trying to illustrate, 2 un-edited manuscripts that need work before I send them off, 3 Social media accounts that need to be interesting and engaging, 1 mystery novel poking around my brain and 1 neglected blog.

This is the life of a writer. I know this. I CHOSE this. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and I need you to know that. My hope that someone out there is reading this and thinking “I’m so glad it’s not just me!” This is why I’m sharing. It’s cathartic to get this all typed up and out of my brain. I am in desperate need of the headspace, so I’ve got to clear it out.

My biggest frustration right now is trying to illustrate ‘Go Play’ I am having a real tough time with it. I’m not an illustrator, but I can’t afford one. I pieced ‘Sam Likes Jam’ pretty well, but I don’t think it’s going to happen with this book.  So I’ll just practice and press on…

I recently bought a passion planner. I think it’s going to help me keep my thoughts and to-do list organized. I tend to lose focus, but this is something I am actively working on. It’s just hard when a lot of things seemingly need your immediate attention.

Anyway, I shall keep plugging away. Some days will be more productive than others and I just need to focus and keep riding the wave.

Until next time!

-Niki

 

Well, that will teach me!

Part of the learning how to blog journey is learning when to post. Let me tell you… If you have exciting news or an announcement, Saturday morning at 8:00 AM is not the time to post it. Take it from me!

In case you missed it,(and you probably did) as a way to celebrate Sam likes Jam’s birthday, I am offering the Kindle version of the book for free until the end of today!

Last day to grab your Kindle Copy FREE!
Sam Likes Jam https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XL128L5/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_s1tNAbVH5EA5W

Building a Better Blog in 10 Steps

Great ideas in how to improve your following and put out a better blog!

Author's Canvas

Every blogger want to know what they can do to improve their blog, generate more traffic, and engage readers.  While some people think that having an interactive blog with tons of followers and fans is an impossible feat, the journey towards improving your blog an actually be turned into a simple step by step process. As it turns out, the journey towards a better blog is not that complicated, but just takes time and effort to do the right way.  Writing it not for the weak, and not for the quitters, but it also doesn’t have to be reserved only for the geniuses either.

Feel like you’re ready to amp up your blogging game and generate more interest in your writing?  No matter where you’re at in your blogging experience, keep reading to find ways to improve your blog today!

1. Define Your Purpose

This can be important at any…

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