TURN YOUR BLOG INTO A BOOK

So, I’ve recently been using that new “questions” tool on Instagram stories, requesting all your questions about writing. One that I received recently said this:
“Can I turn my blog into a book?”
My short answer: ABSOLUTELY.
Grab a cup of coffee and join me for my long answer:
Can you turn your blog posts into a full-blown, published book? YES, you absolutely can! But maybe you’re saying, “But Brandi. I write about everything on my blog. I cover home decor, my kids, even DIY! How can I turn that into a book?”
Obviously, it would be easier to create a book off of a blog if the entire blog revolved around one thing, like designing a home on a budget or raising kids in a technology-led world. BUT, it’s not impossible if your blog covers an array of topics. You just need to hone in on what content you’re truly passionate about and run with it from there.
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I used to write a lifestyle blog myself. I adored covering the topics of every day life and bonding with other women over them. I never wanted to pick just one topic to write about, so I never did. Now, I really wouldn’t recommend writing a book that begins with how to handle toddler tantrums and ends with how you decorated your living room. That’d be a mess.
Here’s what you can do. Pick your three favorite topics to write about it. Say it’s natural living, homeschooling, and renovating your home. Now drop one of those topics that you tend to blog less about, whether you realize it or not. There’s two topics standing now. Ask yourself these questions to pick the one that could be your next book: Which one really screams “pick me!” over the other? Which one are you truly passionate about? Which one can you easily think of a handful of possible chapters?
There. It’s that one. That one right there.
Now run with it.
Make an outline with your posts about the topic (do this even if your blog revolves around one idea). Write possible chapter headers (Resources to Begin Your Homeschooling Journey, Why Homeschooling is Becoming More Popular, Facts About Homeschooling, etc.). Do your research (and make sure you site your resources). Then start writing! Remember:
First drafts don’t have to be good; they only have to be written.
If an entire book seems too much right now, write an e-book first! You could offer your e-book for sale, or as a reward for people signing up for your email list. You can decide from there if writing a book is what you really want to do!
Edited to add: A blog visitor had the helpful tip to make sure you include information that is not on your blog. This entices people to buy your book instead of reading your free blog!
I hope that in-depth answer satisfies that question, but if it doesn’t, feel free to reach out in the comments and let me know how I can help!
Ps…if you’re thinking about self-publishing this awesome new book, be sure to check out my blog post HERE about the things you need to know before you do!

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MEET KAVIN LEY - AUTHOR, FATHER, FRIEND


I first met Kavin in a college band class six or seven years ago. I say “met”, but I sadly don’t remember talking to Kavin all that much. He was more my husband’s friend than my own, but somewhere along the way, we became Facebook friends, where I kept with his family and he kept up with mine.
Through a thin screen, I scrolled through Kavin and Betsy’s wedding photos, Kavin’s humorous musician jokes, and later their pregnancy announcement, joyfully sharing the news that they were pregnant with their son, Asher.
It brings tears to my eyes remembering the day I saw Kavin’s post about their heartbreaking loss, so very close to Betsy’s due date. I vividly remember calling Kyle while he was at work, tears blurring my words, asking if he saw Kavin’s post. We both shed tears that day for Kavin and Betsy, and for Asher, too.
I do not know the Lord’s reason behind the Ley’s loss, but I know that God used Kavin’s writing talent to aid me through our own loss, and I’m absolutely sure that I’m not the only one. His book is many things, but especially raw, powerful, and transforming.
For this reason, I asked Kavin if I could interview him for my blog about his book, Asher, My Son. Readers and friends alike, meet Kavin Ley.

For those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a husband and father, first and foremost. Our first child, Asher Joseph, was stillborn at 35 weeks. He remains a major part of our lives, though we do not get to watch him grow up. He has been an inspiration to us and to so many more through his too-short life.
Besides devoting the majority of my life to my family, I am also a middle school band director. My wife Betsy and I are both musicians and music is a key element to our life together. We currently live in Auburn, Indiana with our two mini-dachshunds, Leo and Louie. As I write these words, we are expecting the birth of our second son, Bryn Anderson, tomorrow and will be in our arms by the time this is published!
Can you tell us more about your book, Asher, My Son?
When I received the call from Betsy that Asher had died, I had an instinctual awareness that writing was going to be my main coping mechanism to help with my grief. Asher, My Son is the published version of the journal that I created through my first year of being a childless father. When I began writing, I didn't know if I was writing for me or for someone else--I just wrote to fully express what I was feeling and to document all that was to come so I would never forget the important details of our grief journey. After I had written for a few months, I found that what I was writing could--and should--be shared with other people, particularly fathers who had also lost children. I wanted to use my raw, uncensored feelings to communicate what a man goes through with the loss of his child. There are some resources available for loss fathers, but very few. I felt that my journal could be a useful tool for others.
What sort of emotions carried you through the publishing process? I’m sure there was a wide array publishing a book so raw and near to your family’s heart.
Beyond the grief that all those dealing with loss feel, I experienced apprehension and hope while writing and publishing Asher, My Son. Because the book is literally my journal, my heart and soul was poured into the pages. I made known all of the sadness, anger, grief, joy, and anxiety that I experienced after losing my son. I was apprehensive to share that with the world in such an open manner. Very personal experiences were written about and I needed to weigh whether or not the experiences were something that needed to be shared. I eventually came to share everything so my candor could help other people (men in particular) see what a father's grief is. In addition to the apprehension though, I had a good amount of hope. Hope that my words could bring understanding, hope that my experiences could bring empathy, hope that Asher's story could effect change and help others. 
What was a goal you hoped to accomplish when putting your journal out into public eye?
More than anything, I wanted to help others. Even if it was only one person, it would have been worth it. I know from interactions I've had with those who have read my book (including complete strangers) that Asher's story has had an impact on them. I've heard from multiple people that reading my journal has helped them cope with miscarriage, stillbirth, and other losses of their own. I've heard from others that they now feel they can communicate more easily with those they love who are experiencing grief. I've heard from others still that my book has helped them to become more empathetic to other difficult situations. I already feel that I accomplished my goal for publishing my journal. I only hope that it can continue to be a resource to help others.
What is something you hope readers can take from your book?
I hope that readers take a piece of Asher with them when they read my book. While readers can find help with communication, help experiencing grief effectively, and comfort knowing that others has lived through this most difficult of journeys, I simply want people to carry a small piece of my first son with them in their hearts. I know it's selfish to want that most of all, but as any parent would agree, I love my son and am proud of him. I want others to know him as well as we do.
To anyone who has gone through the indescribable pain of infant loss, what is one thing you would tell them? 
Experience and express your feelings fully. Suppressing any emotions--good, bad, or neutral--is unhelpful and unwise. If you are in a situation in which you cannot fully express your emotions, be sure to communicate them when you are back in a safe space. Bring your support system close to you and don't hold back. If you don't have a solid, reliable support system, find one. Reach out to family and friends, join a support group, participate in online groups, email me if you have to (kavinjley@gmail.com)! Fully express your emotions so you can move through them, rather than letting them weigh you down. 
Do you have any more books on the horizon?
I do have some ideas for writing a pregnancy and parenting after loss book from a father's perspective. Such a resource doesn't really exist, but it's another journey that fathers often take without the support of other loss fathers. 
Beyond that, I have some silly ideas of children's books featuring my mischievous dogs and a few other fiction ideas to write for fun. Nothing may come of those ideas, but it's always fun to dream!

If you’d like to read Kavin’s book, you can purchase it via Amazon HERE.

SEVEN MYSTERIES TO READ THIS OCTOBER

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We are in the midst of my favorite time of the year! September through January are the months that I truly adore and wait all year to experience.
They are also my favorite reading months. I love to sit outside on a cool day on our swing and get lost in a good book with only the chilly breeze as my company. Can you just imagine it?!
Just as the seasons change, so do the books in my hands. A couple weeks ago I gave you a few books that are perfect for your final summers reads, and today I’m bringing a few more that are perfect for the spooky days of October!
Along with the book deets, I’ve included the “graphic-meter” of each book. I totally understand the feeling of putting a book down because it’s too graphic (that’s one reason I was mindful of the graphicness during the suspenseful scenes of my book!), and it wouldn’t feel right recommending a book without letting you know what you’re getting into.
SO, let’s get to it, shall we?

Perfect || I’m being really honest here: I was not expecting to like this book. I found it at Barnes & Noble in their clearance section for $2. I fell in love with the book cover art and that is the biggest reason I bought it. Turns out the book is just as good as the cover! There are so many twists and surprises and I adore the author’s style of writing. It’s perfect for the spooky months out of the year not because it’s scary, but because it’s a darker-style book that sucks you into every twist.
Taken || This is another book that has dark elements to it, but not in a horror-kind of way. It contains Christian values, which I loved in a suspense book, and the plot is so, so good. I will definitely be looking for more of Henderson’s work because of this book!
The Collector || There are a couple moments of graphic scenarios, but not to the point of me shuddering away from them. What I loved most about the book besides the suspense is that it had historical elements in it and I’m a huge history buff. Perfect for chilly weather reading!
The Murder House || I’m going to start out by saying that this book is very graphic. Normally I would put a book with this many “eek’s” down, but this book drew me in from the FIRST page and my goodness, it was so.good. The ending was mind-blowing and despite the graphicness, I’m already ready to read it again!
See Me || This book by Nicholas Sparks is different from his norm, but I actually think it’s my favorite one written by him. Maybe because it’s a similar style to my book? I’m not sure. But I loved it! It’s perfect if you’re looking for a suspenseful book without any gore or horror. Plus, there’s a love story involved, and you know I’m all about a good love story.
Prodigal Son || If you're looking for a quick mystery to read in-between Halloween festivities, this is it! The plot was interesting and kept me turning the pages throughout the entire book. Enough mystery for October, but no blood and gore to scare you away.
Leave No Trace || The twist at the end of this book...absolutely gripping. There's so much suspense within the pages of this book and it'll keep you guessing all the way up until the last page. Warning: there is a bit of blood and graphicness.
I’d love to know what bone-chilling books you’re reading with your bucket of candy this October! Let me know in the comments what book I need to look for next.


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TEN SPOOKY (BUT NOT SCARY) TODDLER HALLOWEEN BOOKS

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A very happy beginning of October, friends! Even though this month is the beginning of the holiday craze, I look forward to it every year. Pumpkins, apples, Halloween - oh my!

My daughter is just as big of a fan of the holidays as I am, especially Halloween and Christmas. Well-rounded Christmas books are pretty easy to come by, but I find that I have a harder time with Halloween books. They're either too spooky for my toddler or the pictures would give me nightmares.

But this year, I've done all the hard work for you! I went to the library and sifted through a good chunk of Halloween books, then complied a list of all those I recommend for your toddler this Halloween.




"Slide and Find" SPOOKY || There aren't too many words in this book, but that's okay because the "slides" make up for it! Filled with 16 "spooky" slide and finds, your toddler can use their counting, matching, and deciphering skills to find the answer behind the slides. There is only one thing I warn: there is a picture of an actual spider in the book. My daughter has never batted an eye at it, but another toddler might (I did!). Check it out HERE.

Five Little Pumpkins || A Halloween classic! I will admit, this story doesn't make much sense to me, haha! But my three-year-old loves the pictures and we count the five little pumpkins on each page to add a little more education to the book. Short and sweet, it's also perfect for beginner readers! Check it out HERE.

Mouse's First Halloween || This book is so fun to read! Lilli gets a kick out of hearing me try the sound effects of Halloween nights. If your kiddo is especially prone to the scares of Halloween night, this book may be a good option. It talks about some of the elements of Halloween that are scary (bats, rustling leaves at night, etc.) and makes them into something joyful! Check it out HERE.

Mickey's Halloween || Attention Mickey Mouse fans! This is one of my daughter's favorite Halloween books because it has the flaps to lift, which she just loves. There's also an educational aspect to it, like counting and deciphering skills, that are perfect for toddlers. Check it out HERE.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown || I don't think I need to say much about this classic! This book is perfect to read around the same time you and your babe watch the movie to see if they can spot the similarities and differences! Check it out HERE.

Room on the Broom || This book has turned into one of mine and Lilli's favorites! We loved it all the more when the movie came out on Netflix and we could read the book, then watch the movie (over and over again). Cute, quick, and perfect for little babes! Check it out HERE.

Halloween Heroes (Paw Patrol) || Paw Patrol quickly became popular over the last few months, and Lilli loves to read books that she recognizes the characters in. This one is also a board book, which can be quite handy if you've ever lived with a toddler. 😉 Check it out HERE.

There Was an Old Lady That Swallowed a Bat! || I think this one is my personal favorite! If you've ever heard of the book, "There Was an Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly" (one of my favorites as a child), this probably sounds familiar. Lilli and I have so much fun reading this together, and I think you and your toddler will, too! Check it out HERE.

The Spooky Wheels on the Bus || I'm pretty sure Lilli and I sing "Wheels on the Bus" about 50 times a day, so this book is right up our alley. A cute little sing-a-long that perfect for reading right before bedtime. Check it out HERE.

If You're Spooky and You Know It || I really love interactive toddler books because let's be honest: sometimes pictures just aren't enough for those busy body kiddos. This book is great for getting your child involved with reading, and Halloween! Check it out HERE.


What books do your toddlers love to read around Halloween time?? I'd love for you to tell me in the comments so I can check them out for my three-year-old!


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