Keli Gwyn
Sarah Sundin’s Book Launch Party

Sarah Sundin is a masterful storyteller and is one of my must-read authors.

When I received Sarah’s newsletter with an invitation to her book launch party, I got excited. Normally I read such announcements and bemoan the fact that I live too far away. However, a two-hour drive is all that separates Sarah and me, so I sent my RSVP ASAP.

Keli in front of El Campanil theater in Antioch, CA

At 1 p.m. Sunday, August 28, my husband and I arrived at the El Campanil Theatre in the riverfront town of Antioch, California. The heroes in Sarah’s three WWII romances live in Antioch, and portions of the stories take place in the town. In the third book, Blue Skies Tomorrow, the eldest Novak brother takes his gal to see a show in this historic theater, which is on the book’s cover, so it made a fitting location for Sarah’s launch party.

El Campanil's billboard

Sarah worked with the theater management to select a period movie and chose the 1946 film, The Best Years of Our Lives, which shows the adjustments made by three servicemen upon returning from WWII. The final book in Sarah’s Wings of Glory series, Blue Skies Tomorrow, ends with the conclusion of the War, so this movie was a great choice.

John and Marci Seither

A couple in WWII uniforms greeted the guests. Marci Seither is a writer friend of Sarah’s who made the cute 1940s-era aprons Sarah is using as drawing prizes. (Nope. I didn’t win one.) Marci and her husband, John, dressed in the outfits they wear to Moonlight Swing Big Band, a Glenn Miller tribute band. Their attire added to the festive atmosphere.

Keli with Sarah Sundin

It was great to see Sarah again. I interviewed her on my blog several years ago, met her in person at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference soon after she’d received her first contract, and have gotten to know her better online. Being present for the launch of the final book in her Wings of Glory series was such fun.

Sarah signing her books

With some 100 guests attending the event, Sarah had a steady stream of fans making their way to her table. She spent much of her time signing books. I had a stack for her to sign. 🙂

Each guest received a complimentary ticket to the show, a ticket for the drawing, and free popcorn. We filed into the renovated theater and admired the beautiful architecture as we waited for the show to begin.

Sarah with her agent, Rachel Kent

After the movie and the drawing, Sarah signed more books while I waited to get a photo with her. Someone called my name. I turned and found that the person was none other than Rachel Kent, Sarah’s lovely agent from Books and Such Literary.

Keli, Sarah, Rachel Kent, and Michelle Ule

Rachel and her agency partner, Michelle Ule, had driven over from Santa Rosa to attend Sarah’s book launch. I was mightily impressed by their show of support. Rachel and Michelle are every bit as nice in person as I’ve found them to be online.

Keli with Kate Burnett of Christianbook.com

While Sarah was impressed that my husband and I made the two-hour drive to attend her launch party, that was nothing compared to one of her guests who traveled all the way from Boston. Yup! What’s even more amazing is that this guest was Kate Burnett, the social media manager for Christianbook.com. Kate had read Sarah’s books, loved them, and arranged to take a vacation so she could visit California and help celebrate Sarah’s release. Isn’t that one of the greatest author appreciation stories you’ve ever heard?

I had a wonderful time at Sarah’s party and enjoyed meeting Rachel, Michelle, and Kate. My husband and I were able to have lunch beforehand with longtime family friends who are Sarah’s friends, too, having served as her aviation advisers on her second book, A Memory Between Us. Don and Nancy McDaniel appear in that book’s acknowledgements. Isn’t it amazing how writing connects so many people?

• • •

Have you attended a book launch party? If so, what was it like?

If you’ve held a book a launch party, what contributed to its success?

• • •

Win an autographed copy of Blue Skies Tomorrow

Blue Skies Tomorrow with El Campanil theater in the background

To enter the drawing, leave a comment by Sept. 1 and include your email address when prompted. I’ll draw the winner’s name Sept. 2 and post it here as well as in the comments.

Congratulations to Melissa K. Norris, winner of the drawing!

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.
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Keli Gwyn
How to Get Your Blog Post on Google’s First Page

Would you like your blog post to appear on the first page of hits in Google?

Would you like your post to stand out among a million others on a certain topic?

Who wouldn’t?

I read blogs written by several social media gurus, one of them being Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

Kristen knows her stuff. I took an online workshop from her and learned heaps.

One of many things Kristen taught us was the importance of using tags to label our posts. She suggests using our name as a tag so when anyone searches for us, our posts will appear in the results. She also suggests using search-engine friendly terms in our tags.

I put Kristen’s tag tip in practice last week and met with astonishing results.

On Tuesday, August 23, an earthquake rocked the Eastern Seaboard. I saw a reference to the quake in a blog comment. Knowing news hits Twitter faster than bugs strike my windshield in the spring, I opened TweetDeck and watched as the earthquake trended.

As soon as it became evident that this earthquake was not “the big one” and that injuries and damage to property were minimal, humorous tweets appeared. Some of them were so clever, I shook with laughter as I read them.

I copied some of my favorite tweets and used them in a blog post on August 24: Clever Tweets about the Quake. Following Kristen’s wise counsel, I added three tags to the post: Keli Gwyn, Virginia Earthquake, and Writers on Twitter.

The next day many blog visitors from the East Coast commented, saying where they were and what they were doing when the quake rocked their world. As a native Californian who has experienced a number of quakes, I couldn’t believe how far from the epicenter the Virginia quake was felt. Here in the Golden State, a quake is felt some 30-50 miles away. I live 100 or so miles from the San Francisco Bay Area, and yet we don’t feel the effects from a quake that takes place there.

Being a curious person, I hopped on Google to find the answer (the crust in the East is thicker and less jumbled than the crust here in the West), but I got a surprise as well.

When I input the words Virginia Earthquake in the search bar, my blog post appeared on the very first page of hits – #12 out of over 1,000,000!


After picking my chin off the floor, I shot a hand in the air and said, “Thank you, Kristen!”

Thinking my first-page experience to be a fluke, I input the words Virginia Earthquake in the search bar on 8/29, five days after my quake post first appeared. When I input the words without quotation marks as I did on 8/24, my post was no longer on the first page. Since the hits now topped 105 million, I didn’t find that too surprising.

Just for fun, I input “Virginia Earthquake” in quotation marks as shown in the image above, which narrowed the search to posts where the words appear together in that order.

Guess what I found?

The post still appeared on the first page of the more limited search–out of the 1,240,000 hits Google’s web crawlers found–right up there with the likes of Nova and Wikipedia.

My experience proves two things:

1) If you’re not following Kristen Lamb’s blog and reading her book, you’re missing out.

2) Tagging could get you in trouble with the police if done with spray paint on freeway overpasses, but tagging your posts will get you positive attention in cyberspace. 🙂

• • •

Do you use tags to label your blog posts? If so, do you have any tagging success stories?

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Keli Gwyn
9 Reasons to Attend Local Writers Conferences

Can’t afford to attend a big writers conference? Don’t have the time?

There are plenty of smaller writers conferences held across the country.

I’m attending one this weekend, and I’m excited. It’s the Write to Inspire conference held in the town of Elk Grove, California south of Sacramento, just an from where I live.

I’ll be blessed by the teaching of agent Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Agency and author Ginny Yttrup, whose debut novel, Words, made a splash when it hit shelves and e-readers.

Karen Ball

Ginny Yttrup

I was one of the 2,100 at the Romance Writers of America® conference in New York City in June and will be one of the 600 at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis in September, so why would I add a small local conference to my list?

Here are nine reasons I choose to attend local writers conferences.

1. They’re less expensive, saving me money.

2. They’re closer to home, reducing my travel time and expenses.

3. They’re shorter, reducing my time away from home as well as my hotel bill.

4. There are fewer attendees, so the atmosphere will be more relaxed.

5. I’ll be able to meet writers who live in my area and make new face-to-face friends.

6. I’ll be able to see local writer friends I’ve already met and catch up with them.

7. I’ll have more of an opportunity to interact with the speakers.

8. I’ll receive quality instruction on par with that at larger conferences.

9. I’ll have lots of fun!

• • •

Have you attended local writers conferences? If so, what are your reasons for doing so?

Would you be more apt to attend a local conference or a national one, and why?

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Keli Gwyn
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