Try This for A Creative Start to Your Day

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it's good to start your day with a little creative writing practice.

It gets your juices flowing—so no matter what you spend time writing the rest of the day, the writing seems to come easier.

Plus, if you try this on a regular basis, you'll get better at writing dialogue, using sensory details, and creating dramatic tension in your work.

Here's what to do.

Get a new spiral notebook and use it just for your creative writing practice.

I say "practice" because most of what you write in this notebook won't be full-fledged stories, just snippets of stories.

Still, the longer you stick with this morning writing practice, the more creative you will get.

And, after a while, you'll find that you might be writing complete stories using the prompts.

If so, good for you.

But the main purpose of the prompts is just to give you some creative writing practice every day.

Here are some visual and written prompts to help you get started:
1. "Where are we going?" Evan asked his sister.
"You'll see," she said.

2. Nathan frowned. "You never told me you had a cat," he said to Martha. "I'm allergic to cats."
3. Logan had waited all day for Lacy to text him. But there was still nothing from her. What's going on with her, he wondered.
4. Maggie sat looking out at the water. Her dog, Max, sat next to her. Her boyfriend, Richard, had dumped her this morning when they met for breakfast.
"At least you'll never leave me," she said to Max.
5. Casey wanted to keep running forever. But she knew she'd eventually have to stop running and go back home and face everyone.

First thing every morning, choose one or more writing prompts and spend just 15-20 minutes writing in response to the prompt(s).

Make a commitment to do this for one week and see what happens.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a writing coach. Visit her website at for more articles and resources about writing. And, for daily tips about writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

How to Reboot

It's inevitable. Every now and then you need a personal or professional reboot. 

Whether you just survived some massive stress, like moving - I know that one really well - or illness; need to refocus or revamp your business - yup, know those, too; or have to climb out of a rut (post-summer or otherwise), there are a few steps you can take to get back on track and move your work forward.

1. First things first, take a deep breath. Now, take another one. Before you can move forward, it's essential to acknowledge that bump in the road. It's more than likely it came from outside sources and, hence, is not your fault. Allow yourself ample time to get your head back on straight, and do whatever rituals you need to refocus. That could mean extra me-time, meditation, binge tv-watching, exercise, or taking up a hobby. Do something that makes you feel good and productive, as that will help to get your engine going.

2. Once you are settled out, regroup mentally. Remember your mission: what do you do and why do you do it? By the way, if you need to, now would be a great time to revamp your mission. 

Next, think of what you can do to get back on track. Make a list of at least 10 things.

Here are some project ideas to get you excited about your work.
- Refresh your LinkedIn profile
- Revamp your website
- Play with visuals: take photos or design graphics you can use for social media and blog posts
- Design and get new business cards
- Start a new blog post, book, or marketing campaign

There are also ongoing items you can do, as well, to reignite your visibility.
- Send "Hi, how are you?" messages to current and past clients and prospects
- Post helpful tips and resources on social media 
- Find events and attend them
- Reconnect with old friends
- Check HARO (, and respond to  queries related to your expertise.

3. Jump in with both feet. Check your list. Pick a big-picture item to work on. Plus, do at least one of your ongoing items each day..

Whether you work for yourself or someone else, use this as a guide to get out of a rut and get back on track. If you work on your reboot consistently, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can get things going again.

What do you do when you have to refocus and reboot? Please share your experience and any tips in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Are You a Writer, a Freelancer, or an Entrepreneur?

I read a great article in a newsletter from AWAI and it made me think. I know I'm a writer and freelancer, but, am I an entrepreneur?

Not according to this article. Find out if you are.

The Very Best Label for Where You Are Now as a Writer
By Mindy McHorse, Six-Figure Copywriter and Executive Editor of Barefoot Writer

Do you consider yourself a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

Or both?

And do you openly call yourself a writer? What about in public?

Those three terms — writer, freelancer, and entrepreneur — get tossed around a lot in our world. I do it myself in the copy I write for biz-opp clients, merging and massaging those labels as if they're interchangeable.

But they're not. While they are certainly related, each title comes with a sort of hard-won victory over your own self-esteem. (Speaking of titles, now you can have the title of VerifiedTM when it comes to writing the most in-demand projects clients ask for these days. You can find out more here.)

A victory that pushes you forward to reaching your writer's life dream. So, let's look at each step and see how they relate to your writing career.

Step #1: Calling yourself a writer is the first step. If you're like every writer I know (including me), you had to overcome self-doubt before you could look a stranger in the eye and declare, "I'm a writer."

Step #2: The next step is officially becoming a freelancer. You can't call yourself a freelancer till you have clients who pay you. Finding those clients and landing writing jobs they'll pay for adds a couple more rungs to the self-esteem ladder.

Step #3: Once you're on that ladder, doing writing work you love, getting paid for it, then you're an entrepreneur.

After all, you're creating your own destiny. You're working hard to make money on your own without anybody telling you what to do or how to do it. You're a free thinker. Your skills are bankable. Your writing is a valuable resource worth paying for.

And since all those things fall under the umbrella term of entrepreneur, that's what you are. Right?

Well, not necessarily, says marketing guru Seth Godin.

Seth did an interview a few years ago where he talked about the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur. In his view, freelancers get paid for their work. Meaning, they only get paid when they work.

But, according to Seth, entrepreneurs build businesses bigger than just themselves so they can get paid when they sleep.

Seth sees freelancing as an essential step in the journey to entrepreneurism.

I see it as … negotiable. For writers like us, anyway.

Take the great Bob Bly, for example. He still freelances for clients (and charges hefty professional fees for doing it). But he also runs his own email newsletter and e-book empire that makes money for him while he sleeps.

Same with our beloved Nick Usborne. He freelances for big-name clients, and he's got his Money-Making Website on the side pulling in money at all hours of the day. To date, he's made over $350,000 working only 1-3 hours a week on his "hobby."

I don't think it has to be an either-or thing. If entrepreneurship were the end game, I'd be beating myself up right now for only being a freelancer for the last 10 years. When the truth is, I've made great money and great friendships working solely for clients.

Plus, while I've been busy raising a family, it's given me the space to let someone else worry about keeping the ball rolling with consistently scheduled emails and a marketing calendar and whatever else my clients do.

As for me? I'm content to just write. For now, anyway. That could change … but the point is, don't let yourself get weighed down by labels. Figure out what it is you're after — what matters to you and fuels you to pursue paid writing — and go after that. Maybe it'll change in the coming years, and maybe it won't.

Either way? Your satisfaction should be the priority, not your title.

Life as a moneymaking writer is hardly static. Which means no single path is the right way and no single destination should be exclusively pursued.

Maybe you can be both — a freelancer and an entrepreneur. Maybe call yourself a solo-preneur.

Maybe don't even worry about a label and just make sure you challenge yourself on a regular basis. If that means reaching out to a bigger client for a project worth more money than you've ever charged, go for it.

If that means venturing out on your own with a Money-Making Website or any of the other writing opportunities AWAI connects us with, then go for that.

Just don't stay stagnant. Don't get hung up on categories. Don't worry about what others have accomplished that you haven't, and don't care for a second if what you want to do with your writing skills has never been done before.

Chances are, that's what will make it — and you — a resounding success story.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit


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The Three Most Important Components for Publishing Ebooks

Three Neglected E-Book Considerations 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

A website owner was asked what the “three most important components are for publishing a professionally produced e-book” and he referred the question to me. As long as I was figuring out the answer to this all-important question, I figured I’d pass it along to you but publishing an e-book is harder than reading one so I thought it better to simplify a bit. I took the liberty of qualifying it with an introductory clause and here it is. 

A self-publisher must be a jack-of-all publishing trades and many readers are still not comfortable with e-books I want to tackle the question with those considerations in mind. I also believe in frugal publishing and e-books are ideal for that. So, the three most important components of publishing an e-book are:

1. The cover. Visuals are powerful tools. A great book cover may be even more important for an e-book (even though it's virtual) than for a paper book. It will probably be the only visual a reader will have to connect the reader to the author's (and publisher's) credibility. Self-published authors can do a pretty good job of producing a decent cover using the free app provided by Createspace/KDP on the website. 

2. Great editing. Too many authors and e-book publishers think that great editing is merely the process of eradicating typos, but it's a lot more. It's grammar. It's the conventions of writing (like punctuating dialogue correctly). It's even the formatting. And it’s knowing about the things that your English teacher may have considered correct, but they’re things that tick publishing professionals like agents and publishers off! If an author can’t afford (or won’t!) spend the money for a full-service editor, read The Frugal Editormake corrections as you go and then get a few extra pairs of eyes to give you additional input. 

3. Formatting. I list this last because most e-book services like Amazon, Createspace, BookBaby etc.  make it clear that formatting is essential and provide guidelines for getting it right.  I included expanded step-by-step instructions for formatting your book for Kindle in the Appendix of my multi award-winning book on editing, The Frugal Editor

Note:You should know that when a reader buys your e-book on Amazon, he or she gets to choose what reader format they prefer for his or her preferred device after clicking the buy button. When you use Createspace/KDP, you reach most everyone short of those who refuse to buy from Amazon and you save accounting time tracking different online e-book distributors. You will also saves time reformatting from a print version to an e-book and get distribution and marketing benefits when you use them exclusively. 

PS: The fourth most important component of e-books is marketing. No e-book—no book!—is truly published if it hasn’t been marketed. It’s part of the publisher’s job no matter how it is published or who the publisher is. And if it is self-published, marketing is as much the author’s job as the writing of the book. Everything you need to know to market your book the way a professional would if you had the money to hire her is in The Frugal Book Promoter 


Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more about her and her books on her Amazon profile page Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor Visit Carolyn at

Colors and the Author Website

Colors are all around us. They inspire us, they sooth us, they motivate us, they can even anger us. They can even be healing.  Colors can be viewed as non-verbal communication.

According to , colors are “a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions.”

So, it’s easy to see that colors are a critical element to an effective website. While it may not influence your search engine optimization, as search engines aren't able to 'see' your color and determine what your site is about or if it has quality content, the color scheme will have a direct influence on those who visit your site.

This is website optimization.

Put this knowledge into action.

The first thing to do is take into account is the purpose of your website.

    Is it an action gaming site?
    Is it a food site?
    It it a writing site?
    Is it a business site offering products – if so what kind of products?
    Do you offer services - if so what kind of services?
    Do you want to evoke action?
    Do you want to evoke trust?
    Do you want to evoke relaxation and calm?

You get the idea. You need to know exactly what the purpose of your site is before you decide on colors.

Another factor to take into account is ‘color’ visibility. Like fonts, computers may not display (read) the colors you’re using as they appear on your website.

Be sure to use colors that are web safe.

Sites like offer a ‘fixed’ color palette that you can browse through.

What colors should you use?

Because of the importance of colors in your website design, it’s essential to know what colors cause what reactions. Below are five basic colors and how they can make a visitor to your site feel.

- Red is an action color. It’s a color that can motivate us to take action.

- Yellow evokes feelings of lightness and cheer. It’s an uplifting color.

- Orange is another uplifting color. It evokes warmth mental energy.

- Green is soothing color that evokes a feeling of balance.

- Blue evokes feelings of trust and loyalty.

Take the time to do some ‘color’ research. It will help you decide which colors will work best for your site.

My website color scheme.

For my children's writing site, I chose orange to brand my services as it supposed to evoke warmth and mental energy. And, it's an uplifting color.

These are emotions I want my visitors to feel when they stop by. And, keep in mind, your website colors and design is the first thing the visitor will see. This will make an instant impression.


This article was first published at: 

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you need help with your author platform, check out Karen's e-class through WOW:


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Writers: How to Handle a Difficult Critique

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation,
 hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell

THE FIRST PAGE. The most important page in your entire book. A recent SCBWI Shop Talk meeting focused on the keys to a successful first page, or rather the necessary keys to the first page of your novel or nonfiction book, that will either interest an editor or agent . . . or not.

The text I took was the first page of my second book, Book Two in a middle grade mystery series. It was the best I could do at the time. Was I in for a shock when my entire attempt got kicked to the curb.

On the ride home, I felt wrung out. I allowed myself to feel this way until the garage door opened. Then I put the meeting's papers to the side and took up an enjoyable pastime to ease the tension. It worked. I had a good sleep. The next day I got to work.

This technique has served me well over the years, learned from one of my writing courses upon receiving a rejection. Of course, you're going to be upset. You can't deny those feelings, so you go with them for fifteen minutes, max. Then you either take a short break like I did, or you get back to work. If you're feeling especially low, get out any praises you've collected from editors, readers, and critiquers, and pour over them. Believe you're a good writer. Then get back to work.
Same could be said for successes. Gloat all you want, but keep it short. There's work to do.

Heed the Advice of the Pros
Even though it didn't seem necessary to me at first, the leader of our meeting ran through how to accept critique of your work:
  • Do not take your critique personally.
  • Separate yourself from the work.
  • Comments made do not need to be followed. Decide whether you agree with them or not before changing anything.
  • Duplicate comments need to be taken into account. If more than one person notices something, it most likely needs to be changed.
  • Give yourself a day or two before working on the comments.
For the critiquer:
  • Stay positive
  • Be respectful
  • Remember: It takes courage for a writer to share her work.
  • Remember: Someone has poured their heart and soul into their work.
Comments Gathered from the Group
The next day when I began work on my first page, the first thing I did was make a list of the comments. I have tacked it up on my bulletin board in an effort to learn from the critiquers and avoid making the same mistakes again. Interspersed are the positive along with the critiqued comments—to stay as positive as possible while restructuring my first page.
  • Has the tone of a mystery, which intrigues!
  • The two voices are very similar.
  • Save backstory for later—keep us in the action.
  • Seems like an info dump.
  • Has a Nancy Drew feel.
  • Dialogue not realistic—too formal for kids.
  • Thank you for sharing!
  • Deceptive beginning.
  • Cannot tell the difference between the two characters.
  • Likes how it starts with a question.
Am I going to allow this critique to stop me? Not by a long shot. Rather, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful for the help. It means the difference between a failed novel and a successful one, I am convinced of that. You can bet, I’ll be coming back for more at the next critique meeting.

Illustration courtesy of :

The quote courtesy of:

Needlepoint that hangs on my wall

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be coming out in September. Currently, she is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at