Monday, May 10, 2021

7 Ways to Be Healthier Right Now

After a very long 14 months of isolation, things are finally starting to open up. Depending on where you live and what you do, you'll have a different level of change. 

But remember this: no matter what your level of active out-of-the-house lifestyle, any change is stressful. This means that prioritizing self-care ... and renewed attention to your health!

Here are 7 health goals you can set for this spring, summer, and beyond: 

1. Commit to Work Boundaries. When the topic of self-care comes up, this is always my first recommendation. Set a time to stop working every day ... and then set a cutoff for looking at your email ... come on, we all do it. While you're at it, schedule time for lunch, breaks throughout the day, and time off on the weekends. When you are fully present 

2 Eat Healthier. This can mean different things for everyone. For some, eat healthier equates to adding a vegetable to your meal ... or eating healthier snacks ... or fewer snacks. Others may want to set a goal to do more cooking and get less prepared foods. Whatever your food-prep habits, there should be something you can do to up the "healthy" on your eating.

5. Find a Workout You Like. You are without a doubt more likely to exercise if you enjoy the exercise you are doing. Now that nearly everything is online these days, you can sample different types of workouts. You can try kickboxing one week, Zumba the next. Or just do some good old-fashioned walking, running, or biking. Set a reasonable workout schedule ... and follow it!

4. Drink More Water. This one always gets me. Hydration is super-important. And I always mean to drink more water, but sometimes get distracted from my water-drinking goals. Set water reminders on your smartwatch, or in your calendar. Or just drink a glass before each meal, and also mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and throughout the day. Figure out what a good water-drinking habit is for you ... and do it!

5. Start Meditating. Take up a Hobby. Or Both. Find a fun, healthy activity for your downtime.

6. Remember to Breathe. Are you stressing out? STOP. Feels better, right? When I get stressed out, I allow myself two minutes to feel it,  then it's back to business as usual. That may not work for everyone, but you know how your body functions, so see what works for you.

7. Get Good Sleep. A good night's sleep sets any day up for success, so stop burning the midnight oil. Turn off the devices while you are winding down at night - the National Sleep Foundation says 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Maybe treat yourself to a new pillow, as a reward for shutting down early. And get some good zzzzs.

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No matter what you do or where you work (from home, office, or hybrid), good health is always in style. Take care of your body ... and your body will take care of you.

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What's your best healthy-living tip? What are your health goals? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, founder of Write On Online, Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Writing Inspiration - Get a Club


There are authors and writers who feel the need to wait for writing inspiration to come knocking at their door in order to produce creative work.

Unfortunately, you may have a very long wait.

Writers who write all the time know that as Jack London put it, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Juggling multiple children’s ghostwriting clients all the time, I don’t have the luxury of waiting until some kind of inspiration takes hold of me to get the creative juices flowing. I have to create sound fiction stories that are engaging and publishable.

To get things done, I sit with my laptop and write.

To be creative, to be inspired, you need to get the words down. You need to WRITE.

You need to allow the process to unfold as you’re writing whether you’re an outliner or a pantser.

Another aspect of writing, if you’re not a skilled writer or don’t have the time, is to at least get your story ideas down.

Once you have your idea down, try to write an outline.

- Where do you want the story to go?
- How do you picture your characters, especially your main character?
- How do you want your story to end?

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even ‘good’ writing. It’s about getting your ideas out there.

So, instead of waiting for inspiration, just WRITE!

And if you have an idea, an outline, or a simple draft and don’t know how or where to go from there, you can email me or give me a call. I can help. Find out more at: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

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

You can follow Karen at:

 Check out her books' page: 



The Lazy Way to Be a Great Writer

Setting Self-Care Goals

Writing Book Reviews Can be a Great Marketing Tool

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

How to Write a Chase Scene that Works


On Writing Chase Scenes


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of The Frugal Editor, the winningest in her award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
This article is excerpted from some editing I did for a writer of experimental fiction when I was on a Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS) panel. No matter what genre you prefer, you can apply these suggestions to the chase, getaway, or high action scene in your script or manuscript. Do it before you send it to an agent or publisher or, better still, while you are writing the first draft.

Sometimes even the most fascinating, interesting and irresistible detail can slow down the forward movement of your story. So as much as writers are told that detail is important, purge as much as you can from your action scenes and put it somewhere else or dribble it into narrative in other places in your manuscript. In the process, ask yourself if your reader really needs to know the color of the protagonist’s eyes. As important as detail is, some is better left to the imagination of the reader. I can imagine where eye color might be very important--even in that moment--but, on average, it probably isn’t necessary. It more likely it will take your reader out of the moment, maybe even make her laugh when you want her to be tense. Here are some quick suggestions:

1.    Remove some of the detail entirely. Double check. Make it meet the test!

2.    Use stronger verbs—especially verbs of movement. Use a Thesaurus to explore related words.

3.    Use shorter sentences. By doing so, the rhythm could emulate a fast-beating heart and the pulse of danger. Note that clauses slow copy as surely as passive voice (or tense).

4.    In the interest of a faster pace, try dropping into present tense and moving out of it when the run or danger is past. Write the scene that way and wait a day or two before rereading it. By doing so, you’ll be able to honestly compare the effects of the two and adjust the tense change so it doesn’t feel obtrusive.

5.    If you are trying to achieve a truly heart-beating moment, consider using fragments. Even one-word fragments.

6.    Commas can slow the pace. Sometimes you must follow grammar rules for commas for clarity. Often that comma slows things down for the reader. Does the comma indicate a pause where the reader wouldn’t normally pause or does it reinforce a natural pause? Does it really help with clarity? Would you achieve this clarity better if you made your long sentence into short ones. Don’t assume that because grammar rules would indicate a pause in normal prose, this isn’t normal. Pausing probably isn’t in the picture if one is running for his life. This is a style choice you get to make. You are looking for the times readers will never notice a comma is absent. You may choose to discard some of them even if it breaks a rule.

7.    Consider saving the description of your protagonist for a time when life doesn’t depend on his or her speed. His “bright face of youth” doesn’t meet that test. Is there a way to work the major description into this narrative using smaller bites or to arrange to have it come before or after the chase?

8.    Though I love sensory detail, be careful not to overdo that, especially in an action-moment. The writer of the action scene I was critiquing had the protagonist leaning against a strut for a moment’s rest. The strut’s sensory role in this passage should probably be the emotional reassurance it offered, not how it felt to the touch. Further, this kind of thing might best be left to your reader who will draw that conclusion anyway.

9.    At the risk of being repetitious, the sense of danger shouldn’t be interrupted unless it is necessary for understanding. Sometimes that isn’t speed (like a chase). Sometimes it is. Regardless, you—the author—want to keep the momentum going for the reader.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade, she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist and she loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres. Learn more and find tons of free resources on her website at or on her Amazon profile page: While you’re there, click on the follow button and then make sure your own Amazon profile page is up-to-date. If you need help with that, check out my The Frugal Book Promoter, 3rd Edition, published by Modern History Press.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Book Marketing Your Way to Visibilty and Book Sales


I used to write a lot about book marketing and content marketing but a few years ago I gravitated more toward writing.

The thing is, while writing has a beginning, middle, and end, marketing and selling your book is never-ending … if you want to sell books.

This is why knowing about book marketing is crucial to every author.

When I read Neil Patel’s article on his content marketing formula, I knew I had to share it.

Before I dive in, let me explain these terms.

Book Marketing

This marketing strategy is ‘everything’ you do to bring visibility to your book and actually sell it.

While there are some authors who just want to have a book written and don’t really care about selling it, most authors want to sell their books.

This is especially true of authors who spend money to self-publish their books where costs can be from under $1000 to well over $1000.

A few of my clients have spent well over $10,000 for just ONE book.

Recouping the money invested in your book is a big deal to most.

And, it’s just as important if you’re traditionally published. Your publisher will definitely want you to help sell your book/s.

In fact, it you and another author both submitted great manuscripts to a publisher, a determining factor on who gets the contract could be who has a better book marketing platform.

So, here are a few elements to know about before and after your book is available for sale:

1. Create a book worthy of publishing and learn about pricing it effectively
2. Create and maintain an author website
3. Write articles and post them on your website’s blog
4. Be active on social media and share your blog posts and those of other users
5. Get an email list going and maintain it
6. Look into guest blogging and interviews
7. While doing all this and more, start on your next book

Once your book is available for sale, you’ll also need to get book reviews and create an Amazon Author Page.

Content Marketing

This strategy is about writing and sharing content to your specific target audience.

 According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To clarify a bit, it’s about bringing visibility to you and your product/s through content (things you write and share, usually online). It’s about building a brand (what you want people to think of when they see your name or logo).

The marketing world is driven on content.

Below are a few strategies of content marketing:

1. Blogging
2. Video
3. Podcasts
4. Infographics
5. Sales pages on your website
6. Books

There are many other elements that go into these marketing strategies, but this should give you a basic understanding of both these terms.

And more importantly, it’s important to understand that pretty much everything you do to sell your book is a form of content marketing.

Now on to content marketing expert Neil Patel’s tips.

1. Optimize your headline.

Everything you write, whether a blog post or a description on social media, starts with a headline.

An example of this is the title of this article.

There are thousands and thousands of tidbits of information online, why would someone click on your bit of information?

The very first reason would be the headline. It’s what will initially grab the reader’s attention.

2. Add three internal links.

Internal links is when you link from one page on your website to another.

It allows you to bring the reader at your website to other of your website pages and/or blog posts through clickable links.

You can check out this article to learn more about internal or inbound links:

3. Share your content on social media.

Once you put up a blog post, use sharing tools, like Shareaholic and WP Social Sharing Plugins, and share it to your social networks.

4. Message everyone you link out to.

This tip pertains to external links also called outbound links. Links from your website (usually from your blog post) to other websites.

Patel recommends that you contact the site you’re linking out to and let them know that you’ve linked to their site from your blog post or webpage.

Ask the site to stop by and share the article.

5. Email blast your new blog posts.

Email your subscribers every time you post new content.

To learn the basics of email marketing, check out this article:
Email Marketing – 10 Top Reasons to BE Doing It

I know some of this may sound too complicated, but just knowing the basics will be of tremendous benefit to you.

So, give your book every chance at finding readers and making sales.

For a more in depth look at marketing your books, check out my WOW! Women on Writing eclass: Build Your Author-Writer Platform


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

You can follow Karen at:


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Theme: The Heart of Your Story

"If theme is a story's soul, and plot is its mind,
then character is its heart . . . the life force of story."
                                                    K.M. Weiland

The last big snow storm we had in Albuquerque in mid-February brought bitter Arctic winds. I sat hunkered down in my kitchen watching the birds out my window pecking through the drifts of snow that blanketed their feeder. One tiny bird zoomed down from a twig in the old pine tree next door. It had come from a row of more tiny birds, pygmy nuthatches, who huddled together appearing to use each other’s body heat to stay warm. The branch jiggled up and down. I wondered if that was the ferocious wind—abnormally brutal for our normally temperate New Mexico weather—or the tiny birds shivering. 

My friends had trouble making out the image in the photo. The birds were so well camouflaged, and my zoom lens was a bit fuzzy. But the birds were there, and when you could make them out, made a rather stunning photo.

Theme in story is much like the tiny nuthatches. Theme is unobtrusive, even invisible, and when it is crafted right, it becomes the glue that binds the entire story together.

How to Find the Right Theme: Look Within

In an article on the blog writers write, Amanda Patterson gives examples of the themes in well-known children’s books, such as love and friendship between Fern and Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web, and courage as the prominent theme in the Harry Potter series. She names ten recurring themes in children’s stories:

1. Courage.

2. Friendship.

3. Belonging/Identity.

4. Family.

5. Loss/Grief.

6. Growing Up.

7. Anger.

8. Suffering.

9. Jealousy.

10. Love.

Where to begin, though? Look to your own life. What conflicts have you faced? What themes run through your life? Make a list of them. Choose the conflict and theme that stands out the most and pair it with a captivating setting. Think up viable plot ideas and characters, and you’re good, right? That’s a good start. But there is one thing you need to have: a thorough understanding of what story theme is, why you’ve chosen a particular theme, and what that theme means to you.

Strive for a Good Balance

K.M. Weiland, in her book, Writing Your Story’s Theme: The Writer’s Guide to Plotting Stories that Matter, writes, “powerful themes . . . emerge from the conjunction of strong plots and resonant character arcs.” Theme doesn’t just happen in the story, the author intentionally crafts theme as an equal partner to plot and character. She advises, “Craft powerful messages that are shown via plot and character, rather than told to readers.” When done seamlessly, the results are stories with deep meaning and purpose that resonate with the reader long after the book is finished. 

The “thematic principle,” according to Weiland, is your story’s “unifying idea.” Take a commonly-held belief, such as wars are evil, or try to disprove wars are a necessary evil. Tackle questions about life, such as why are we here? The concrete idea you’ve chosen for theme is shown in the closing scenes and emulated throughout the story.

Weiland’s book explains how creating story theme is accomplished in detail. This book and her other books, such as Creating Character Arcs, Structuring Your Novel, and Outlining Your Novel are terrific tools for writers’ tool kits. She also has a blog:

A Not-So Invisible Theme

The book that brought the meaning of story theme home to me is The Skull of Truth by Bruce Coville. Not only is Coville’s story entertaining, fun, and magical, but it also contains a serious part about a boy, Gilbert, who has had to shave his head due to cancer. Charlie shows solidarity to Gilbert by shaving his head, too. Coville covered a lot of ground in this story, which I think you can tell, is one of my favorites.

But for a theme, Coville couldn’t have been more blatant. The theme is even in the title: Truth. Because Charlie Eggleston has a problem. You wouldn't want to come right out and call him a liar. But he did have a habit of stretching the truth to fit his purposes. We first find this out on page two during a visit to Tucker's Swamp. He's held a frog, loved the smell of the swamp, loved everything about it; well, maybe not the mosquitoes. So, he told a little white fib about Mark Evans's dad and how he planned to drain the swamp. Charlie told the fib to protect the swamp from being destroyed by development. A little later after Charlie forgot Gramma Ethel would be visiting for dinner (he'd already missed dinner and had to eat cold stew), Charlie very proudly told his uncle that he'd like to learn to tell stories. Gramma Ethel scolded, "You don't do anything but tell stories." Two pages earlier Charlie even wondered if his little sister, Mimi, who was in kindergarten, was fibbing when she said Andy Simmons ate a bug today. "He still hadn't figured out how to tell when Mimi was fibbing." Four chapters have the word "truth" in them. Charlie even meets Truth at the end and follows Truth "home;" and at the end, the reader finds out if Charlie was really a liar or not. Perhaps not so subtle, but by the time you are finished with the book, Coville's message is loud and clear: it's always better to tell the truth. Please note how much and how far-fetched, I might add, Coville played around with, or in educational jargon, explored, truth, which can't help but start the young reader's wheels turning about the meaning of Coville's story long after the book is finished.

Coville made good use of symbols for the theme of truth in his story, such as the skull itself—the skull of truth. Author Jane McBride Choate makes the suggestion to use symbols, and having the word for your symbol appear in the title is an extra-added bonus. In Choate's article, "Theme," she writes, "In one of my books, I used a necklace with a rainbow pendant as a symbol for the heroine's independence and integrity. The publisher liked the idea so much that a drawing of the pendant was included on the spine of the book and a . . . rainbow [appeared] on the cover.”

Just as you think through and plan the other elements of your story, such as the setting, plot, and characters, you can also intentionally plan what your main theme will be, and also plan your other less prominent themes. Then during your editing and revising stage, you can do an analysis by highlighting the places where the theme(s) are shown throughout your story.


Introductory Photo: By Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, available on Amazon. Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; Pockets; Hopscotch; and an article for Highlights for Children. Secret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. A Packrat Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift, and Tall Boots, Linda’s picture books, will be published later this year. Follow Linda on

Sunday, April 25, 2021

10 Tips for Becoming the Writer You Wish to Be

by Suzanne Lieurance

No matter what kind of writer you wish to become, follow these tips and you'll find the road to success is much shorter, so you'll reach your writing goal(s) faster.

Tip #1. With whatever type of writing you want to do, level up your knowledge and skills so you reach your goal faster.

For example, if you want to write a novel, be sure you understand the structure of novels and all the components needed for a marketable novel.

If you want to write for children, be sure you understand how to write a children's story that people (including editors and agents) will want to read and buy.

Tip #2. It’s easier to stay motivated when you have a clear picture of where you want to be at the end of the process.

For that reason, write down no more than 3 major writing goals and be sure these goals are very specific and clearly defined.

Tip #3. It’s okay to have gigantic goals.

As long as you break those goals into small, achievable steps, they are reachable.

Tip #4. It’s okay to slow down your progress as long as you never stop.

Remember, with writing, slow and steady wins the race.

Some weeks, the writing will go smoothly and you'll get a lot of work done.

Other weeks, the writing will be slow and you will feel that you're not making any progress.

But just keep going.

Even a little progress is better than none, or, worse yet, giving up!

Tip #5. Learn to ignore naysayers.

Once you stop listening to them, your opportunities for growth will skyrocket.

Tip #6. When your work is critiqued (either by your editor, your agent, or your critique group) listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.

Make a few notes about their feedback, then give yourself time to consider what was said about your work.

Tip #7. Practice being be bold and confident as a writer.

The more deeply you feel like a good writer, the more you will become one.

Tip #8. Recognize your writing weaknesses and your writing strengths.

Make the most of your strengths and work to improve your weaknesses.

Tip #9. Sometimes the best writing opportunities are just outside your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance and write something that seems a bit of a stretch for you.

Tip #10. Celebrate your small successes along the way to your ultimate goal.

This is really important because you'll stay more motivated to keep moving towards your long-term writing goals this way.

Okay, so start with just one of these tips today and start moving closer to becoming the writer you wish to be.

Try it!

For more writing tips, be sure to visit and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge. Once you're a subscriber, you'll also have access to our Private Resource Library for Writers, filled with all sorts of helpful materials.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books, a freelance writer, and a writing coach.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Searching for a Magic Bullet

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

With the rapid expansion of self-publishing (1.6 million books last year), you have to be careful in some regards which company you select, but overall, it is easy to make a book. Selling those books to readers is the major issue for every author—whether they verbalize it or not. Everyone is searching for a magic bullet which catapults them to the bestseller list and sells many books.
Are you ready for the hard truth from my decades in publishing? There is no magic bullet or path to become a bestseller. If such a path existed, every book from every publisher would become a bestseller. There are many well-written books, well-designed books which have dismal sales. What will make the difference?
In this article I want to give you a few of these best practices of bestselling authors. I understand there are many others here's a few critical ones:
1. Bestselling authors understand and maintain a relationship with their readers. These authors spend time to cultivate and nurture this relationship. They devote lots of attention to building an active email list.  I've read the articles where people say email is over but this long-term tool is key because each author controls their own email list for things like frequency, tone and building these relatinships through email. There are many tools for building this list like ConvertKit, MailChimp, AWeber and many others. As an author, pick one, learn to use the tool then actively use it repeatedly with your readers.
2. Bestselling authors create multiple paths to their email list. Whether these authors are on a podcast or a radio program or a guest blog post or a teleseminar or ????, they have created a “gift” or a “freebie” which is something attractive to their readers. Their readers can only gain access if they give this author their first name and email address. Some authors collect even more detailed information. These freebies are called lead magnets and take creativity and effort to create, then maintain. Check my link to see some of what I've created and get ideas. Every author needs to be creating these multiple paths of connection which lead to your email list.
3. Bestselling authors understand and use various forms of media like radio and podcasts. They have built relationships with effective publicists who can book these events for them.
4. Bestselling authors build an active presence on various forms of social media. Yes these platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are “rented” and nothing they control. They understand they have to be wise (read careful) about what they post so they don't get cancelled yet they find tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, then use those tools consistently to reach their readers—and guide them back to their email list.
5. Bestselling authors understand the power of advertising and invest in Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, etc. Yet they hire the right people to help them or learn the inside scoop about it before investing into it. For example, bestselling self-published author Mark Dawson has a course which is only open a few times a year (follow this link to see it or at least get on his notification email list) or watch some of these testimonial videos of his students.
6. Bestselling authors are always learning and growing in their craft and various tools to reach new readers. It's something I've built into each of these various aspects.
Instead of searching for a magic bullet, I encourage you to mirror some of these practices for your writing life. Just pick one or two and begin taking action. My brief list is not exhaustive so let me know some other aspects in the comments below.

Instead of searching for a magic bullet, this prolific editor and author gives a series of practices from studying bestselling authors. Get ideas for your writing life here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

7 Ways to Be Healthier Right Now

After a very long 14 months of isolation, things are finally starting to open up. Depending on where you live and what you do, you'll ha...