Sunday, April 20, 2014

Some Taglines that Work: Part II

Last month we had a look at taglines, what they are, and what they're meant to achieve. I encouraged you to try your hand at creating your own, if you hadn't already done so. This month I thought we'd take a look at some author's taglines that really work well.

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to find 10 effective author taglines! Does this mean the authors haven't bothered to work on one? Or is it that they are not using them?

I suspect more of the latter. I admit that is something I haven't been good at either. I use the tagline as the name of my newsletter, The Write to Inspire and Encourage. But when I looked at my websites I discovered welcomes you to the website where writers and readers receive inspiration and encouragement. And says, Shirley Corder offers inspiration and encouragement to any who are negotiating the Cancer Valley, whether as patients or as people who care. So in both cases, the thought is there, but the tagline is not.  (Note to self: Make use of your hard-sought-for tagline!)
So here are ten author taglines that I think work. Take a look at them and see if you think the author's taglines (in bold) fit the type of writing (in italics).

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist well-known for her trademark "Seatbelt Suspense" books. The majority of her books cover harrowing though Christian crime thrillers. Her tagline says it all: Don't forget to breathe...

Karen Kingsbury, often described as America’s favorite inspirational novelist writes fiction that links her readers to real life crisis situations. Her tagline is: Life-changing Fiction.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson who writes suspenseful mysteries seasoned with romance, humor and faith writes under the tagline: Endless Adventure—Timeless Truth.

Cynthia Herron writes heartfelt, homespun, contemporary Christian romance novels. "A hopeless romantic at heart, Cynthia enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances." (Taken from her website.) Her tagline is Heartfelt, Homespun fiction.

Heather Thurmeier writes "sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!" (Review by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst.) Her tagline is Heart, Humor, and a Happily Ever After.

Pat Ballard (with the nickname of Queen of Rubenesque Romances) writes books for plus-size women. Her comment on her website says, "The message is for all women to love ourselves as we are and stop trying to be something we were never meant to be." Romance novels with big, beautiful heroines.

Ciara Knight writes edgy fiction that always has a ray of hope. Her tagline? Defy the Dark.

Clive Cussler is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist who writes thriller novels. His tagline sums it up: The Grandmaster of Adventure.

Ali Cross says, I’ve always been a dreamer. When I would tell my family what new adventure I wanted to take on, they’d roll their eyes and say something like, “Oh yeah? Well let us know how that works out for you.” Her tagline? Stories that transcend the ordinary.

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author who has a passion for both God and romance. Her tagline sums it up: Passion With a Purpose.

So what do you think? Are there any that you think stand out from the others? Or are they any you don't think work?

Next month, same time, same place, we'll take a look at some taglines that definitely don't work—and why.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her sojourn in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley's Write to inspire and encourage website or at, where she has the Write to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

P.S. Does the attempted use of my tagline in my bio work? Yes? No? Help!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writing for Children: 3 Tips to Make Your Books More Appealing to the Library and School Markets

Writing for children is a very competitive business. And while most children's authors are available for book signings at libraries, bookstores, and schools, there are a couple of additional things EVERY children's author needs to do in order to make their books more appealing to the library and school markets. After all, teachers and school librarians account for a great percentage of children's book sales. Why not cash in on these ready markets?

Here's how:

1. Before you even write your book, figure out several ways it can tie in to the school curriculum for your intended readership.

2. Teachers and librarians also love to be able to use a tradebook to teach content ACROSS the curriculum. If you write a book about the Civil War, for example, it's pretty obvious how educators can tie the book to the social studies curriculum. But figure out ways they can also use your book to teach other subject areas like science, math, language arts, etc.

3. Create study guides for your books and post them to your website, where teachers and librarions can download them, or offer to provide the guides for teachers or librarians who purchase your book(s). Again, guides that provide activities across the curriculum will be very appealing to teachers and school librarians.  Educators will also expect the suggested activities in your study guides to align with state education standards (common core standards), so go online to your state's Department of Education to get the common core standards for all subjects at all grade levels. Once you look at these standards, you'll get some ideas as to the types of activities you can create for your study guides.

In today's competitive world, children's authors need to do everything they can to widen the appeal of their books. These 3 tips will help you do that.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

Lieurance helps children's book authors and illustrators get the word out about their books through the author showcase at the National Writing for Children Center.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Creatively Dreaming

Last week my husband asked me, "Don't all authors only have one book in them?"

I think I almost snapped at him, "No, the saying is all people have at least one book in them.
Writers have too many to count and they just keep coming."

The reason I might have almost snapped, well everything is an opportunity for another project. Which is why it's such a struggle for some of us. We hear a snippet of conversation in a grocery store and it's the beginning of a novel or the scene for a great character. We see a movie and think, what if they'd gone a different direction? What would that have done to the story? I have so many ideas, and so little time to flesh them out. Right now my idea notebook is full, and I found my last one in a drawer a couple of weeks ago and thought, hmm, there's some good stuff in there.

As a creative writer, I'm finding that I'm constantly inspired - what causes me the most challenge is the 'behind' in the chair kind of work that is required to get them completed. Or even the 'which one should I work on now' kind of thought. Which is why I'm creatively dreaming these days.

Do you have a writing dream? Mine is a cottage or cabin far from everyday life. A place without internet or television, but with running water and heat. I think I could get by with just that.

So why don't you find me on a mountain top? That's a great question. One I'm still asking myself. I guess to some degree I feel selfish doing something that brings me so much pleasure. Your work shouldn't make you that happy. Right? Wrong!

But creatively dreaming inspires me to exciting realms of new thought. Places where I can be and do anything. It's better than reading a good book, only because I can determine the direction I will go, and even though right now I'm also working a 'real job,' creatively dreaming means I'm always ready to get to work when the moment presents itself.

The best news is, that creatively dreaming doesn't mean you can't have and live any of your other dreams. So today, start dreaming.

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Story Pricing

My friend, Lana Voynich, and I were having a discussion the other night about the price of ebooks, specifically short stories. I've put all my short stories on Kindle (for now, and had them enrolled in the KDP select program) at 99 cents each. The story length varies from just under 1800 to just under 5000 words. So, the question is, "Is 99 cents too much to pay for a story that is under 5000 words?"

If I tried to price them lower than 99 cents, I can't make any royalties, so anything below 99 cents is not eligible for any type of royalty payment. She suggested that I compile the similar stories and put them up at $1.99 for the one combination of stories (3 or 4). Looking at my short stories and some started stories I probably could flesh out, I could combine four of the ones I already have published coming in at just about 12,000 words (the four romance stories), but by the same token, by doing this, I would only make 70 cents for the combined stories as opposed to 35 cents for each one that sells at 99 cents (not that any of them are selling well anyway). If I price the compilation at $2.99, I would make 70% royalties, roughly $2.10 for each copy sold, but with only 12,000 words, I wouldn't feel right about doing so.  What are your suggestions on this pricing dilemma?

She has priced her novels or novellas (roughly the same length as FINALLY HOME, mine being 56,000 words; hers being 51,000 and about 58,000 (I think that is what she told me)) at $3.99 and $4.99 and I've priced FINALLY HOME at $2.99. What do you all think of pricing of ebooks? Do you mind paying 99 cents for short stories and a bit more for longer stories or do you think 99 cents is too much to pay for a short story?

 Remember, no matter how the writer sells her stories, she still has to make royalties in order to make it worthwhile. The big name writers don't count here since we are all struggling to make a little piece of the pie in order to survive in the writing world, what with the market being saturated with everything since it is so easy to self-publish these days and most of the time, self-pubbed can be done at much lower costs than even five or ten years ago. I'd love to hear some of your comments on how to price stories and still be able to make a small amount of money from my writing.

 Leave a comment and be entered in the drawing for an "earth day"(* - see note below) bookworm bookmark. Conserving trees all around the world, one bookworm bookmark at a time.

Elysabeth Eldering
FINALLY HOME (A Kelly Watson, YA, paranormal mystery)
coming soon THE TIES OF TIME (A Kelly Watson, YA, paranormal mystery)

*Earth day bookworms are essentially available in over 20 colors, not just the "earthy colors" any more, and can be mailed anywhere, not just in the United States. For choices and pictures of colors, please stop over and visit my blog,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Reasons Why You Can't Afford Not to Go to Writers Conferences

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I've been waxing lyrical over the past month over the Newcastle Writer's Festival, a writer's conference that has now taken place twice in my locale. I've been extremely enthusiastic about the festival, not only because it was easy for me to get to (very few of the big festivals are), it was supported through my local Writer's Centre and it was full of people I knew well enough to enjoy hanging out with, but also because it was seriously good for my writing career.  I know that, for some of us, our writing time is limited, and networking is often tiring, time consuming, and expensive, but attending a writer's festival, maybe once or twice a year, can make a huge difference to your work itself, the opportunities that present themselves, and your public profile in a way that nothing else can.  Here are three reasons why it's worthwhile making time. 

1.  The courses.  You can attend courses at a writer's conference for a fraction of the price that you'd pay anywhere else and they're often the kinds of courses you won't find anywhere else.  I'm thinking of the masterclass.  Most conferences hold these, and they're usually taught by very high-profile authors in small groups where you can get extensive one-on-one criticism. For example, at the upcoming Sydney Writer's Festival, you can attend masterclasses on such things as writing for young adults, writing comedy, writing a memoir, screenwriting, and writing for digital media.  Most tickets are around $75 for a full day of it.  The learning is invaluable, but you can also then say that you've "studied with..." which is a nice thing for a literary resume, promo kit, etc.

2.  The networking.  Writing is such a solitary profession that it's very enjoyable to come out of the cave and hang with other writers.  But it's also very healthy for your career. If you're seen, and known, then you'll be invited to participate in projects. You can spend time trading notes with others working in your genre, which will give you perspective and a greater understanding of the market.  You'll create an impression that you're a writer, and although an impression is no match for an excellent piece of writing, it's a critical part of promotion.  If you're a relative newby, shy, or broke, you can always volunteer to help (volunteers get plenty of perks, like free admission to many events, free food and drink, direct exposure to the guest writers, and a lot of appreciation - plus you'll learn from every event you help out at).  It may be that you volunteer to help at the first one, but you actually offer to run a session at the next.  Getting known to the organisers is the first step towards being a direct invited participant.

3.  The Pitch.  Most writers conferences offer the opportunity to pitch your work directly to agents and publishers.  In a noisy world where getting noticed is hard, this can be a very worthwhile exercise.  Make sure you do your homework, perfect your elevator speech, and come very prepared if you intend to do this (and make the most of the rest of the conference too).  Don't bother pitching to a publisher who doesn't publish your genre (pitching your work as a 'cross-genre' manuscript is probably doomed to failure unless you're already famous, in which case you don't need to pitch), don't go in without a prepared and super-concise pitch, and above all, appear relaxed and professional (even if you don't feel it). 

There are plenty of other reasons to give writer's conferences a go, not least of which because they're utterly fun and if you pick your sessions carefully to match your own writing challenges and interests (as a reader too!), can be very energising, providing you with ideas, material, and inspiration that you can carry with you into your solitary work, so you produce better writing.  That's what it's all about.

Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sublime Planet, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Helpful Critiques

I don’t know what I would have done without my critique groups over the years. They keep me accountable, give me a deadline to meet, and each person has had a strength that helped me improve my writing. Without feedback, I get too close to the writing and can no longer be objective or see the mistakes.

Here are some hints for critiquing:

As Critiquer: This is important! Always start out your critique with the positive—what you liked about the scene, what worked well, what evoked emotion, memory, nice descriptive phrases, etc. When you talk about something that didn’t work, say “I bumped on . . .” Try not to “fix” the problem or tell her what to do—let the author do that.

As Critiquee: When you are being critiqued, remember the motto “JUST NOD AND SMILE.” It is best not to try to explain too much and especially not to get defensive about your work (it’s a natural reaction, but not constructive).Just take in what the critiquer is saying and use it or not as you see fit. It may be something you might not agree with at the moment, but after thinking about it, maybe it starts to make sense. Or, it’s a question that you know you’ve answered in a previous or upcoming scene. When the critiquer asks a question, you are not required to answer it—it’s just food for thought.

Things to look for in doing a critique:

Point of View (POV)—not switching from one to another within scenes. Trying to avoid the omniscient.

Character Development—emotions and feelings. Does the character stay “in character?” Growth/change as the story progresses. What does the character learn from his/her experience?

Setting and Grounding—Descriptions, using the five senses (Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, Taste). Keeping the reader “grounded”—reminding him/her where the characters are and what they’re doing during dialogue.

Dialogue—realistic, concise, not overly didactic (giving info to the reader through dialogue where the character would obviously know it and not have to state it). Watch for overdoing dialect. Watch overuse of “taglines” (he said/she whispered). Whenever possible, substitute with an action or a reaction by the character. This helps with grounding and helps you develop each character’s individual voice.

Show vs TellHint: Any time you write “He/she felt something” or “He/she was something” you are TELLING. You want the reader to identify with your character, to be inside his/her head. Do you identify with the first or the second example?
“Sally felt so sad and depressed after John died that she cried all day.” Do you feel her sadness or depression?
Or-- “Suddenly she realized the sound in the room was her own sobbing. Tears burned hot on her cheeks. She raised a hand and it trembled before her eyes. She could end it all right now.

Orchestration/continuity. At the beginning of the scene she was wearing a blue dress, by the end she had on brown pants. Or how did he get from sitting in the living room to suddenly standing in the kitchen? Are all the arms, legs etc. in the right place, doing things that are physically possible (in a love scene or a fight scene etc.)?

  A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, will be published in May 2014. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Turn Your Main Character's World Upside Down

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013-2014 Joan Y. Edwards
“Turn Your Main Character's World Upside Down” by Joan Y. Edwards

If your main character has everything he needs, take the most significant thing from him. Pick his pocket. Get it out of his closet or take it off the shelf. Turn your main character’s world upside down.

Let me explain.

For instance, some children must have their blankets with them wherever they go. Baby Bop called hers,"Blanky." Others may call it Wooby, like they did in the movie, Mr. Mom. It is their security blanket. If they can’t touch it, they become emotionally unglued and devastated.

Here’s the definition of Wooby from Urban Dictionary:
Urban Dictionary: wooby
(noun) Security blanket, teddy bear, or any physical item (for children) or emotional feeling (for adults) that gives a safe, fuzzy, warm aura.

What is your main character's security blanket? Take your main character’s security blanket away so that he becomes emotionally unstable and in a state of despair great enough to cause him to risk change in order to get it back or get that same feeling of security from reaching his goal.
  1. If your character is addicted to a schedule, change it.
  2. If your character is addicted to coffee, have a coffee shortage.
  3. If your character is addicted to fancy, expensive clothing, have him spend time with the homeless with a torn T-shirt and a pair of shorts.
  4. If your character needs to have his wallet with him at all times, have him lose it.
  5. If your character needs a car to get to where he’s going, have it break down.
  6. If your character needs to have a security system to feel safe, have a storm knock it out.
  7. If your character depends on another character for his money, have that character disappear and make him have to get a job.
  8. If your character is a runner who needs good running shoes, have someone switch his shoes to one of a smaller or larger size or a shoe that is not a big name brand..
  9. If your character needs an alarm clock, break it.
  10. If your character needs a great hair style, have the hairdresser chop it off.
When you take away your main character’s security blanket, he will have to deal with his anger, loss, and will have to make changes to reach his goal. When you take away his security blanket, he becomes vulnerable. Readers relate to vulnerable characters. A reader might say, “I can’t stand to be without my lucky pen, I understand how he feels.” When readers find characters similar to them, they are drawn to them and find them lovable.

Try taking away your main character's security blanket. You’ll like it. Your readers will, too.

How do you make your main characters vulnerable and lovable? Please leave a comment to let me know. 

Celebrate you and your gift of writing,

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

I hope you'll read Flip Flap Floodle to your children because even mean ole Mr. Fox can't stop this little duck from playing his song.
Paperback, Kindle and Nook

Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards