Friday, February 29, 2008

Customer Evangelism: Kudos to Zimbio and Spaghettipie

star fruit

I just sent Mark Goodyear the final information for a "Customer Evangelism" segment in our Mount Hermon Powerpoint presentation.

According to Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, authors of Creating Customer Evangelists customer evangelism is:

"When customers are truly thrilled about their experience with your product or service, they can become outspoken 'evangelists' for your company. This group of satisfied believers can be converted into a potent marketing force to grow your universe of customers."

It appears that I myself have customer evangelist tendencies. Which is why I feel semi-comfortable talking about the subject in a seminar on blogging for promotion.

Case in point. A few short weeks ago I sang the praises of Zimbio on this blog. I also chose Zimbio, from many possible contenders, to host my Stone Crossings Book Club Wiki. Many of you decided to join Zimbio because you could see the possibilities too.

Then the other shoe dropped. On Zimbio, I was given "kudos" by four Zimbio members who've given many of you kudos too. None of these Zimbio members care about you or what you stand for. None of them even bothered to get to know you before giving you kudos. Obviously they meant only to get attention for themselves.

This was all fine and good for the Real Estate woman, the Business Man, and the Craft Seller, but the Unmentionable kudos giver was a definite problem. I wrote to Zimbio immediately at "feedback [at] Zimbio [dot] com" and complained (something customer evangelists also do sometimes). I did not want this person on my page, no way, no how. But I was powerless to delete him (or her?).

Which is where we begin our happily ever after. Zimbio admitted that they need "a more robust system in place", which they've promised to work on. Then my new friend Danny from the Zimbio team went in and personally deleted the Unmentionable kudos giver from my page.

Now I just need to talk to Google, whose ads on the Stone Crossings Book Club Wiki sound something like this: "Kitchen Knife Sets: Top 6 Websites For Kitchen Knife Sets. Sharpen Your Knives. Skip the gimmicks. We have knife sharpeners that work. Best Sharpening Stones. Arkansas, Diamond & Belgian Sharpening Stones. Low Prices!"

(In other kudos news, a big thanks goes to Spaghettipie for being generous and interviewing me for her blog tour series. Needless to say, it was ever-so-kind of her to post my response since I'm not a big fan of blog tours!)

Star Fruit Tree photo by Sara B. Used with permission.


Ann V's new wikizine The Sacred Everyday

L.L.'s latest Zimbio experiment: Blog Post Tool Kit

Brandon's The Journal Journey

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Go Ahead, Artist, Prophesy


The book of 1 Chronicles, starting around chapter 22, is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, the church. One would be tempted to think at first glance that it's simply lists of who does what in the temple of the Lord. But on second and third glance, oh!

There are bakers-of-bread and gatekeepers, washers-of-utensils, oil mixers, treasurers, judges. And musicians. Musicians who are told to prophesy with the lyre, the harp and the cymbal.

Looking at this, I was struck by the necessity of each job for making the temple a holy place that would proclaim the beauty of God. I was also amazed that the musicians were a form of prophet. The verb used in telling them to prophesy does mean to sing or praise, but naba' also means more deeply...

to bubble up, to be under the influence of the divine spirit, to speak with ardour, to show and declare the words of God.

Imagine, that music could do this. And imagine that music does this in a place where all those other workers are keeping the place fragrant and abundant, beautiful and just. To me, this is a picture of the body of Christ. We all work together to prophesy, to show and declare God's word.

So go ahead, Artist, prophesy, and know that you are bubbling up with Glory.

Speaking of artistic fervor, check out the new and amusing group of Crossings pictures that Dave Zimmerman added to the Stone Crossings book club wiki.

Piano photo by Sara B. Used with permission.


Sarah Grace's An Answer, Of Sorts

Mark Goodyear's Finding God in Heifetz and Porcelain Life Jackets

the High Calling's Labors of the Artist

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Counting: Take Two

Dried Frond in Hand

I had so much fun with this reading from Stone Crossings that I wanted to put a recent Love Notes to Yahweh prayer of confession called A Counting into audio form too.

Can't help it. I'm in the mood to play.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Reading is a Together Thing

Sara's "Waiting for Stone Crossings"

I come from a family of readers. My mother sustained me through many a dark day as a child, by reading poem after narrative poem to my sister and I on the couch. My father will not give you an hour's peace before he once again picks up a newspaper or book and reads an excerpt to you. Even my paternal grandmother read huge volumes of The History of the World when she was in her seventies. And she would tell me all about what she was learning.

So imagine my surprise when my Littlest just didn't show an interest in reading. Or so I thought. It occurred to me one day that she is highly interested, as long as reading is a social activity. And then I realized she is not so different from my mother, my father, my grandmother. Reading is something they always shared. It was and is a time of bonding and affection, of sharing.

Which brings us to me. I belong to three book clubs. I love to read, but rarely finish a book unless it's one I'll end up sharing with someone. It is only natural that I would function the same way in regards to my own book, Stone Crossings. After all, as I recently told an interviewer who asked me why I love to write, "I don't love to write so much as I write to love."

No surprise then that I wanted to start a Stone Crossings book club wiki where readers who desire to go beyond the opportunity to comment can really join the club by bringing themselves more fully into the sharing process.

As you may know, a wiki allows everyone to post, not just the wiki-master. So if you visit the new wiki right now, you'll see that this has already begun. People are posting pictures on the theme of Waiting for Stone Crossings. And, at least for me, it's a wonderful time of sharing, laughs, awe and bonding.

Of course, I invite you too. Stop by and see what others are doing, hear me read an excerpt, add your own pictures or blog post about Stone Crossings. Because reading is a together thing.

Here are a few people who've already joined the party by doing:

Photos and blog posts:
Dave Zimmerman
Christine Scheller
Charity Singleton
Blue Mountain Mama
Flourishing Mother

Carl Holmes
Christianne Squires
Ted Gossard
Gail Nadeau

Waiting for Stone Crossings sculpture and photo, by Sara B, age 10. Used with permission.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Increasing Blog Traffic Through Zimbio

Stone Bridge

In my quest to increase blog traffic (so I can tell writers at Mount Hermon how to increase their blog traffic) I've come upon another thing worth talking about. And that is Zimbio.

Zimbio is a wikizine site. It offers an absolutely simple way to have an e-zine without all the work involved in creating one of your own. (Though you can quickly create your own as well in Zimbio).

Here's how it works. You register at Zimbio. Then you can begin "publishing" your old blog posts or writing new articles in any number of existing e-zines. The e-zines have multiple contributors, which is why they are technically wiki-zines, so you don't have to work so hard to publish enough things to have an active e-zine.

It's worth doing this for a number of reasons:

1. you can re-use valuable content that has been buried over time in your blog. In this way, you "bring it to the top" in a new place, where people can see your work.

2. you automatically get links to your blog, potentially bringing people over from the e-zine to your bloggy doorstep

3. the links you get at Zimbio are more links to YOU at your blog, thus raising your Google rank (which means that Google will also show up at your bloggy doorstep more often too... and I can testify that this is happening here at Seedlings)

4. according to some blogging forecasters, things like the e-zines at Zimbio that are based on focused content, will ultimately be the most powerful ways that bloggers get noticed on the web

So there you have it. Between this post and the last post, I've mentioned several things you can do to increase your blog traffic. Here would be my recommendations as to where you might go from here, in this order, at least for now...

1. Socialize your blog and your posts

2. Register at Zimbio and re-publish some older posts.

3. Join Squidoo only if you have some very specific interests which would be easy to develop a quick page about. Like the way it was natural for me to do Writing Like Annie Dillard.

Oh, then just be yourself like you're used to doing. 'Cause despite your traffic, you know we really like you.

Stone Bridge at Rockefeller Park photo by J Barkat. Used with permission.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

When One Thing Leads to Another: Blog Traffic, A Book Idea and a Little Self-Discovery

Blue Bridge

As some of you know, I'm teaching about blogging at Mount Hermon Writers Conference in March. And I'm so glad that Marcus Goodyear will be at my side for one of the sessions.

Anyway, as some of you also know, I've not been one to be too concerned with increasing blog traffic. Today is my 200th-post birthday and at age 200 this blog has mostly grown through a commitment to write and through the friendly responses of people who stop by (I honestly believe that you all are part of what makes Seedlings work!)


I have been feeling a certain obligation. People at MH are going to want strategies. So.

This past week, I tried a few new things and I doubled my blog traffic. Yes, doubled. At this point I'm still trying to figure out exactly which button I pushed that resulted in such an amazing phenomenon. (Okay, so I've been a bad scientist. I tried too many things at once!)

Two things I want to share in particular are the new Socialize It button at the base of each post and in my sidebar. This button leads to a site that features all the major social bookmarking services like digg and These may sound like something you'd find at a kid's party, but they are powerful ways to either remember, share, organize or celebrate favorite posts and blogs.

I also opened a Squidoo account. It has nothing to do with marine life, I promise. Instead, it's another way to create a presence on the web and drive traffic to your blog. This is where, for me, one thing led to another. I started innocently enough, by creating a "lens" called Writing Like Annie Dillard. But by the time I was finished, I'd decided to create two more, one of which features a new book idea.

Why did I do that? Well the last post I wrote on talking to editors and publishers through blogging got me thinking. People do get book contracts through blogging. I may not end up being one of them, but the simple act of putting the idea out to the world was an act of finally admitting that I'm ready. Stone Crossings is on its way and I want to put my pen (keyboard?) to a new task.

I was going to tell you how all this led to a little self-discovery, but this post has grown rather long. So I'll save that story for next time. In the meantime, you can try socializing and squidooing. And if it doubles your blog traffic, please let me know. So I can tell my seminar participants exactly which button to push.

Bridge photo by J Barkat. Used with permission.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Golden Opportunity: Talk to Top Editors and Publishers

Publisher's Blog

Like a few other publishing pioneers, InterVarsity Press is blogging. Yet I notice that many of their posts sit with zero comments. Frankly, this astonishes me.

I could say I'm surprised because they have great posts, which should incite great comments. But this isn't really the issue. To my mind, the issue is that a whole lot of writers are missing a golden opportunity. Where else, besides a blog, could writers get the chance to connect on a regular basis with the people who make book and article decisions?

Okay, I'll answer that question:

1. a writer can spend up to several thousand dollars to go to a conference, to maybe get 15 minutes with an editor. A pricey option indeed, and it doesn't help the writer connect on a regular basis (unless the writer becomes annoying and begins emailing the editor incessantly, which will probably incite the editor... but not to great things)

2. a writer can publish articles in magazines and newspapers (and maybe treat the editor-to-woo to paid subscriptions of these magazines and newspapers); however, this option also requires first being noticed by other editors, a technical difficulty

3. a writer can move next door to the editor and offer to shovel snow (or clear out geckos, depending on the geography). This option has obvious down sides, not the least of which is shoveling snow or clearing out geckos.

Or.... [drum roll here]....

4. a writer could visit an editor's/publishers blog on a regular basis and occasionally make insightful and witty comments. This option is only a problem if a writer lacks the ability to make insightful and witty comments. But then, that might suggest that said writer would be more suited to shoveling snow or...

Anyway, someone is going to say that visiting an editor's or publisher's blog is totally intimidating and completely out of the question. But so, I might add, is trying to woo an editor in 15 minutes or less, while simultaneously trying to ward off the effects of jet lag.

I'd also like to suggest that editors and publishers may actually WANT to meet witty and insightful writers, without committing to 15 minutes of face-to-face time or promising to look at a particular proposal. (If you doubt this, I recommend this New York Times article.)

So why not begin today? Check out these great editors' and publishers' blogs. And if you've got some favorites I haven't listed here, by all means, let us know. Happy insightful and witty commenting.

Edit Cafe, Barbour editors Rebecca Germany, Susan Downs, JoAnne Simmons
Faith in Fiction, a Bethany House blog by "Dave"
Goodword Editing, by High Calling & Christianity Today's "Faith in the Workplace" Editor Marcus Goodyear
Heavy Topics with a Light Touch, a blog by Wesleyan's James Watkins
InterVarsity Press's Behind the Books
InterVarsity Press's Likewise Books
Joe Wikert, Vice President and Executive Publisher in the Professional/Trade division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Michael S. Hyatt President and CEO, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Loudtime, Dave Zimmerman, editor at InterVarsity Press
Orca Book Publishers
Oxford University Press USA
Pecan Grove Press by Editor Palmer Hall
Penguin Group USA
Simon & Schuster Tradetalk
Suburban Christian, Al Hsu, editor at InterVarsity Press
The Penguin Blog UK
Theodore P. Savas, of Savas Beatie (historical titles)
Today's Christian Woman Editor's Blog
University of Chicago Press
Writer's Digest, by Brian A. Klems, On-Line Managing Editor
Your Writers Group, Waterbrook Editor Mick Silva
Zondervan Blog

MORE LINKS, provided by you the commenters:

Editors' and Publishers' Blogs:
Andy Unedited InterVarsity Press's Ed. Director & Associate Publisher, Andy Le Peau
Christianity Today's David Neff
Christianity Today's Mark Galli
Joe Wikert's Kindleville blog

Agents' Blogs:
Agent Kristin
Rachelle Gardner

How to Determine if an Agent, Editor or Publisher is Legitimate:
Writers Beware
Preditors and Editors (what can I say, maybe they misspelled it on purpose)

Mick Silva's Blog photo, by L.L. Barkat. And a hat tip to Scobleizer and his commenters for several of the publishers listed here.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

As Easy as 1,2,3 (sort of)

The Centerpiece

Maria tagged me for the 1-2-3 book meme.

Here are the supposedly simple meme instructions:

Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
Open the book to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people.

The instructions were simple, or so it would seem. But the book I wanted to use was 54 pages. The book proper, however, began on page 9. So I subtracted 9 from 54, which led to its mirror of 45, which times 2 was only 90.

Being about 33 pages shy of 123 pages, I was compelled to then go 33 pages in, which plus 9 (remember the book proper began there) led me to page 42. Phew! Lynet!!! where are you when I need you? Off in someplace like New Zealand or something? ;-)

As it turned out, I didn't like the next three sentences on page 42, so I realized that all I needed to do was turn the book upside down. Then the fifth sentence was near the end of the three sentences I didn't want to post. Which put me exactly at the point of the sentences I DID want to post. Unfortunately, the sentences were now upside down.

I also wondered if turning the book upside down technically turned page 42 into page 43 and vice versa. However, I didn't like the sentences this took me to, so I decided to make an arbitrary decision. Page 42 would continue to be page 42. And I would post the sentences right side up so as not to completely confuse my dear readers. So...

Here are my sentences:

Alternatively, we may look closely enough to see that perseverance is also a matter of valuing what is happening now for its own sake. Moment by moment, we continue by engaging fully in the rich, dense, prolific dance of life. Taking the long view and looking closely... (p 42, Sharing Silence)

Since I haven't yet read page 41, I'm not completely sure what Norris is getting at, except that I must get dancing in the figurative sense, even as I eat my cheese-topped potato lunch and type this meme. I must put my nose down and smell the spices, see the pepper and paprika and smile, really smile that this is my life and I should keep on with it. After all, what blessing this is... me here typing and eating potatoes.

Now I pass this simple meme to five people:

Lilies Have Dreams
Loud Time
Goodword Editing
Flourishing Mother

Oh, and I thought it would be fun to share this surreal sculpture my daughter created for a silly skit at a party we attended on Saturday. For this post had its surreal aspects, in my opinion. (For another surreal moment that involves Barbie parts, I've always loved the poem Barbies at Communion by Marcus Goodyear. Go to page 21 when you get there.)

And speaking of inspiring poetry, you really must read Tidal, by Kirsten. No Barbie parts, but the ocean prevails, as does the depth of expression.

Surreal Sculpture by Sara, 10. Used with permission.

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