Thursday, September 18, 2014

Never too Old to Learn New Tricks to Help Your Writing Soar

I am a great believer that we as writers are never too old to learn new tricks to make our writing and our careers soar. That being said I am also aware that some of those "new" tricks may be more difficult for some.

Those same skills that are a must for promoting our work can be absolutely maddening for writers who rather write than do any more techie things needed to connect to outsiders, yet those outsiders are our audience and buy our writing.

I have struggled myself with many fears about the techie world... some days it is a challenge to just open a Google document or sign a contract with an E-signature. I recognize that I needed some added encouragement and instruction so I am taking a course with Julie Foster Hedlund on How to Make Money as a Writer which I am hoping will ease some of my fears about the technical word of promotion and maybe my also fear of success. I need to continue to learn.

Here are  easy tips to get over the fear of technology and get on with the business of writing.

  • Educate yourself on the phases of promotion and production that you are most unfamiliar with. Take classes, on-line courses, read books on the matter, and practice.
  • Practice. This may seem elementary but if you only post to your blog once a month or to your website infrequently then it may take some time to remember how to do it. Guilty as charged. My website takes me a minute every time I go there because I let it go thinking I have nothing new to promote. Wrong. We always have something we can say at least once a week to reach our audience. Getting onto that site more frequently and taking notes helps to make adding content easier.
  • Set Goals. Setting goals will help you to be productive without the frustration. Make the goals for what you need to do or learn reasonable, for instance work on adding images or posting regularly first then go on to adding video etc,
  • Get feed back. Ask others to view what you have done to your site and give you honest feedback on how your technical additions work. Do your pages flow smoothly and are they easy to manage? Can your audience go from the home page on your site to the other pages you offer online? If not, they won't return. Ask for help if you can't get your site to do what you want. Consider paying someone more experienced to do your changes if you don't have time. And if it is E-publishing that you want, find sources that make the process run well and can take some of the pressure off of you- the writer. Many writers handle the start to finish of every e-book they write and others don't want to be bothered with some of the formatting and such. Know your limits and find others who excel in what you need assistance with.
  • Keep going. Never give up even if you feel lost in the techie world. Writing is the first and most important step to success, and the technical stuff will follow either by yourself with learning or by finding another to help.
Social media and all the technical online expectations of an author increase everyday as the audience needs to continually be entertained and engaged. Now is the time to get on board and add more spark to your self promotion and your presentation of your work. Education and practice will give your work just the boost it needs. Remember we are never too old to learn new tricks to make our writing soar.

Terri Forehand and her husband live in the hills of Brown County Indiana where they own a quilt shop. She writes for children and adults, is the author of The Cancer Prayer Book and has begun designing her own patterns with stories to match with the goal of making her writing soar. Her website is or visit her blog at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 Tips to Writing Your Author's Bio

Writing your first novel is an endeavor that takes perseverance, but writing your author’s bio can cause the most loquacious of authors to freeze. What should you include? What can be left out? And most important of all, what do your readers want to know and that will encourage them to buy your book?

Here are 5 tips to writing your author’s bio.

1. Write your bio in the third person. While writing your novel you probably struggled here and there with the invisible critic that seems to be ever close. That critic rears up again when the time comes to write your bio, which is why it’s best to write your bio in the third person. This will create some distance and you may find it easier to talk yourself up.

2. Figure out what facts are relevant to your story. Where you were born or raised is probably only important if you are writing about that particular area. Telling about your previous or current career will also only be important if it ties somehow to what you have written. Degrees and education should be dealt with in a similar fashion. If they lend you credibility for your writing mention them, if not, leave that information out.

3. Always be sure to mention any awards, contests, or achievements related to your writing you have acquired. No matter how insignificant you may feel they are, they will show you are serious about your craft.

4. Are your characters quirky? Is that what brings them to life, if so use that same quirkiness when writing your bio. If you have a sense of humor that comes through your writing, find a way to share something humorous.

5. Your bio should be accompanied by your author’s photo. Give your photo some careful thought. For many of your readers, your photo will come to represent your brand. Do you want to be perceived as knowledgeable? Thoughtful? Funny? Brave? You may want to consider hiring a professional photographer and discussing the impression you wish your photo to give to your readers before you sit for your picture.

You will need two or three bios: a short one for queries and such, a longer one for your book cover, and sometimes just a one or two liner.  Read the bios of other authors before you begin and see what stands out to you about each. Which ones compel you to check out their work? Then write several versions and share them with other authors who can also help give you feedback. And remember, just like a resume, your bio should be updated regularly.

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and the co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with co-author, 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: Perception, Rocky's Mountains, and Fire in the Hole. 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:

You can also follower her at or find her on Facebook.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bring Your Characters to Life with Character Dictionaries

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

Before you start writing your first or next novel, take some time to create a character dictionary for each of your characters. You can add to these dictionaries as you’re writing your first draft of the story. These dictionaries will help you bring each of your characters to life.

What is a Character Dictionary?

A character dictionary is a list of words and phrases that reveals how your character uses language. These words will help you make your characters as authentic within their identities and worlds as possible. For example, let’s suppose you’re writing a book about a 10-year-old boy growing up among the surfing community in southern California. This boy’s vocabulary would probably be much different from a 10-year-old boy growing up at a prep school in New England. Here are some words that might be included in the dictionary for your surfer character:

• Dawn patrol
• Leash or Leggy
• Foamies
• Going Off
• Locked In
• A-Frame
• Getting Worked

Just imagine how these terms used in your character’s dialogue could help set him apart from other characters in your story and bring him to life for readers.

How to Find Words and Phrases for Your Character Dictionaries

So how do you find words and phrases to add to your character dictionaries if you’re creating characters who are very different from yourself?

Well, you do a little research, of course. And it can be fun!

Read books by other authors whose characters match yours in some ways.

Go online and google terms that apply. For example, when I googled “surfing terms” all sorts of online surfing dictionaries popped up.

Rent movies that include characters like yours and make notes about the words and phrases the characters use.

Visit online forums that apply and read comments in these forums and jot down specific terms and use of language you find there.

Find “meetup” groups in your area that your character would most likely join. For example, if your character is an artist, attending a local meetup group for artists will help you learn some of the terminology artists are using these days. You can find all sorts of meetup groups by visiting

Sit in the park or go to a coffee shop and listen to the way people speak. Parks are perfect if you need to get a feel for how moms today speak to their kids or how kids speak to each other. Coffee shops will help you learn what teens, young adults, and business professionals (who often do business in coffee shops) are saying these days.

Character dictionaries can be especially helpful if you wish to write in the voice of a character from a race and ethnicity different from your own. Your character dictionaries should include:

• Individual use of diction (word choice) and syntax (sentence structure)
• Vocabulary
• Metaphoric language
• Idioms, sayings, and dialogue tags

For more tips and information about creating powerful character dictionaries, read Manuscript Makeover, Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon.

Try it!

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. She publishes The Morning Nudge, a free e-mail for writers delivered every weekday morning.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Story Ideas Are Tiny Treasures

I was 12 when my grandmother died, and when my dad and I went through her photo albums, he casually mentioned, “Your grandma rode steers in rodeos, and she competed with Marie Gibson (a world-champion bronc rider from Montana in the 1920s and ’30s).”

That was a surprise to me, although I knew she loved riding the range and preferred the back of a horse to a dustmop any day. But I thought that was pretty cool, to have a rodeo-riding grandmother.

I stored that tidbit of information away in the back of my mind for many years. I went on to a career in journalism (when I figured if I ever wrote a book it would be non-fiction), several years as a freelancer, and a non-creative 13 years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. When I hungered for creativity in my life again, I took a class in writing for children, just to see if I still liked to write. I did.

The instructor told us that biographies were great for kids, and they didn’t need to be about famous people. My cowgirl grandmother immediately came to mind. But the idea still needed several more years to gel.

When I was ready to try my hand at writing a book, I tried writing vignettes for a straight biography. But it wasn’t working. Grandma hadn’t become a world-champion bronc or bull rider, and my characterization was coming off too flat. I was too close to the subject.

When I gave myself permission to write her story as fiction, it came alive. I was able to fill in the gaps, create emotion and conflict, and write a character that was well-rounded, likeable and active. The result has been a trilogy: Cowgirl Dreams, Follow the Dream, and Dare to Dream.

After all the research I did for my three novels, based on my grandmother’s life, I had enough information to try my hand at that non-fiction book. Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women has just been released.

From a casual conversation and one tiny bit of family history has come four published books!

You never know what treasure an idea will become. Where have some of your book ideas come from?


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, the sequel, Follow the Dream,  won the national WILLA Award, and Dare to Dream rounds out the trilogy. In addition a non-fiction book, Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women has just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of the Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing, edits, and blogs.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

7 Ways to Educate and Motivate Your Muse

"7 Ways to Educate and Motivate Your Muse” by Joan Y. Edwards

What can you do after you've submitted a manuscript to a publisher or agent?
What can you do when you're not working on marketing your work?

I believe this is the time to educate and motivate the muse within you. Here are 7 ways to educate and motivate your muse:

1. Experience Life, attend workshops, take courses.

a. Bake cakes.
b. Go on a tour of an Historic house.
c. Attend a weekend workshop.
d. Volunteer at a homeless shelter for children.
e. Take a writing course at a community college or other learning institution.

2. Read three books about the craft of writing.

a. Darcy Pattison: Novel Metamorphosis
b. Donald Maass: The Fire in Fiction
c. Donald Maass: Writing the Breakout Novel
d. Donald Maass: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
e. James N. Frey How to Write a Damn Good Novel
f. James N. Frey How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II
g. James N. Frey How to Write a Damn Good Mystery
h. James N. Frey The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth
i. Karl Iglesias: Writing for Emotional Impact
j. Margaret Lucke: Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories
k. Noah Lukeman: The First Five Pages
l. Jordan E. RosenfeldMake a Scene
m. Katharine Sands: Making the Perfect Pitch
n. Remni Browne and Dave King: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

3. Read three best-selling books in your favorite genre.

4. Watch three movies in the genre you write.

5. Study the websites of three best-selling authors.

Here is a list of many to choose from or search for your favorite online.
Best-Selling Authors for Children
James Patterson
Rick Riordan
Jeff Kinney
Victoria Kann
Jane O’Connor
Suzanne Collins
J. K. Rowling
Best-Selling Authors for Adults
John Grisham
George R. R. Martin
Catherine Coulter
Janet Evanovich

6. Study and find three matching three publishers and agents for your manuscripts:

a. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over! by Jeff Herman
b. Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide
c. Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market, Writer’s Digest Books.
d. Writer’s Market by Writer’s Digest Books
c. Visit the Preditors & Editors website to check out the editors and agents you’ve chosen. It’ll tell you if they are legitimate or warn you about them.
f. Check the submission guidelines of the websites of the publishers and agents of three of your favorite books.

7. Write.

Pub Subbers from my website will recognize these as activities for Week 4. I hope these ideas lead you to the right experiences to educate and motivate the creative muse in you. Believe in you. I do.
Please leave a comment with other ideas to activate the creativity within you.
Celebrate you now.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Flip Flap Floodle, the Never Give Up duck.

Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release Early 2015 by 4RV Publishing

For more articles to inspire you and help you market your writing, read Joan's Never Give Up Blog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Midwest Review's Selected Titles for Writers

Midwest Review’s Top Books for Writers
In a recent article in his newsletter, Jim Cox, founding guru of the Midwest Review, includes his suggested titles for writers and I'm flattered (and glad to be one of them). I thought the readers of this Writers On The Move blog might want to select one or two for the betterment of their careers in 2014.
Jim said, "There are a lot of excellent how to instruction manuals and guides available to the novice publisher and the newly self-published author on what has been termed 'guerilla marketing' strategies offering a wealth of tips, tricks, techniques, and strategies for those of limited financial means. You will find them reviewed and listed at:

"There you will find such informative and "every author/publisher should read this" titles like:

"1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer
52 Ways To Sell More Books! by Penny C. Sansevieri
The Author's Guide To Publishing And Marketing by Tim Ward & John Hunt
Book Marketing De-Mystified by Bruce Batchelor
Book Promotion Made Easy by Eric Gelb
Brilliant PR by Cathy Bussey
The Complete Guide To Book Publicity by Jodee Blanco
The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing by Linda F. Radke
The Frugal Book Promoter: 2nd Edition, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Grass Roots Book Marketing by Rusty Fischer
Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers by Shel Horowitz
Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World by Shel Horowitz
Grumpy's Guide To Global Marketing For Books by Carolyn Mordecai
Maverick Marketing by Lisa Messenger & Mel Carswell
Maximum Exposure Marketing System by Tami DePalma & Kim Dushinski
Mosquito Marketing for Authors by Michelle Dunn
Musings Of An Online Bookseller by John Landahl
Online Book Marketing by Lorraine Phillips
Publicize Your Book! by Jacqueline Deval
Publishing For Profit by Thomas Woll
Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny C. Sansevieri
Sell More Books! by J. Steve Miller & Cherie K. Miller
Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eager
Selling Books as Premiums & Incentives by Marilyn & Tom Ross
The Selling Of An Author by Bruce E. Mowday
Simple Guide to Marketing Your Book, by Mark Ortman
The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! by C. Pinherio & Nick Russell
Why, When, Where, & How To Write, Publish, Market, & Sell Your Book by Bill Thurwanger
Write, Publish & Market Your Book by Patrika Vaughn
You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal

"There are a lot more titles where these came from. I take a justifiable pride in the Midwest Book Review web site as having the largest writing/publishing bibliography data bases in all the world!"

Naturally, I thought I'd pass his suggestions on to you. I always say, "One book on the writing and marketing of books is never enough."

Subscribe to Jim's newsletter at
You'll also find my personal list of helpful books for writers in the Appendix of The Frugal Editor, 2nd Edition, (presently only as an e-book).
Blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. She has a large section of Resources for writers on her Web site at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finding Appropriate Literary Magazines For Your Stories

If you’re submitting short stories to literary magazines, doubtless you’ve read in submission guidelines things like this:  “To get a feel for our editorial style, read several issues of the magazine before submitting.”

This is excellent advice, not only for finding good fits for your stories.  Reading many good short stories from different literary magazines will also help your craft.  However, it’s extremely time consuming if you do it in a scattershot, luck-be-with-me sort of way, finding a magazine at random, reading back issues, and only then deciding it’s not a great fit.

Instead, narrow your search first.  One way to do this is to buy or check out recent short story collections that pull from various literary magazines.  Two good ones are The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize; Best of the Small Presses.  If you’re a genre writer, you may find similar anthologies in your field, like The Year’s Best Science Fiction.  These anthologies generally list which magazines the stories first appeared in. When you find a story you like, and feel it might fit with your writing, put that magazine on your short list.  Research your short-list magazines to make sure your first impressions were right.  Then, of course, submit exactly how the magazine wants, according to their guidelines.  Then submit again.  And again.

*     *     *     *     *

Melinda Brasher has sold short stories to several magazines, including Ellipsis Literature and Art and Intergalactic Medicine Show.  You can read her most recently published story, "Passcodes," free at The Future Fire.  She's currently living in the Czech Republic and loving the nature (and the wild blueberries and raspberries for dessert during her hikes).  Visit her online at