Sunday, March 7, 2021

Book Review || On Being A Writer


Book Review || On Being A Writer by Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig,
reviewed by Deborah Lyn Stanley

From time to time, we search for a particular writing coach who says the things that inspire us to keep moving forward. It’s not just teaching it’s something more, which resonates and calls us onward. I found Ann Kroeker online a couple of years ago and joined her mailing list. She became the writing coach I had been looking for. One of her posts included a note about “On Being a Writer” she and Charity Singleton Craig co-authored. They are an impressive team, and I highly recommend the book.

“On Being a Writer” is 12 chapters with 164 pages of powerful inspiration for the writer’s life. Its intent is to equip writers for a sustainable life of productivity and publication. And, along the way to help us understand ourselves better, learn to set limits and find rest.

Each chapter topic presents a habit of the writing life. The chapters start with a story, opportunities to consider, a journal prompt, a writing prompt, a bonus and a few questions for personal reflection or for group discussion.

I did as suggested; I used the book as my personal writing coach, encouraging me to make tangible progress in practical ways. It’s a powerful and helpful book that I am set to re-read.

I recommend this book. It is refreshing with insights to embrace for the journey.

Thank you Ann & Charity!


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer



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Thursday, March 4, 2021

On Time Magazine, Women Authors and Equality


Trust Time Magazine for Ruining my Day!
Women’s Collectible Books Selling for Pennies on the Dollar from Men’s

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

As crappy as Time magazine sometimes makes me feel, I admit I love them for it. I have been subscribing for decades without a single year missed and admit they may have spoiled me by fostering expectations of journalistic excellence.

Still, one of their stories made me wonder. Could this piece published on April 1 be an April’s Fool joke? I am hoping so, but I’m gullible (read that trusting!) enough of their quality to believe an impossible truth.

It seems “American Writer A. N. Devers was at a rare-book fair when she noticed an old Joan Didion title selling for $25.” She also “noticed a Cormac McCarthy novel was selling for $600.” Ahem. McCarthy is a contemporary writer just like Didion. Both are recognizable names by large segments of the population. (Just in case you didn’t notice, McCarthy is a guy and, well, Didion is not!)

I am not pretending this is a scientific comparison, study, treatise, dissertation, or anything else that shouts “intelligent” or “trusted resource.” I don’t need to do that to let you know I was immediately disgusted. Honestly, I was ticked with Time, too. The headline read, “A bookstore that’s turning a page for women in literature.” Good news indeed, but it seemed a tad too mild under the circumstances.  

Of course, I was glad to hear that the experience inspired Devers to open her own bookstore. It’s called the Second Shelf and is “tucked away in a quiet courtyard off the busy streets of London’s Soho.” Another slight? It sounds tired. It sounds lonesome. It sounds anything but high-powered. And the supposition is, women (and the owners) should be satisfied with that. I mean, it isn’t as highly trafficked as any retailer or feminist might like, but it carries women’s work—almost exclusively. I’m trying not to be “hysterical” here. Devers is “trying to correct a historical imbalance that has allowed women’s literary achievements to be eclipsed.” Devers says that, like other artistic and news media, this history of literature is similar—that the men who lead most any industry “focus on themselves.”

What Devers says is true. But it doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t rant a bit—or a lot! Am I the only one who cares? Am I the only one who thinks on new bookstore dedicated to women’s work isn’t enough. Time reports that titles by women published in 2018 are priced 45% lower than books by men.  

To take this one step further, I am a constant consumer of a certain kind of media that should be the most likely to do more on this topic, but I haven’t heard a peep from NBC, National Geographic, Smithsonian…sigh!

That is in spite of the fact the Women’s History Month made March a time to project the idea that greater attention should be paid to women in literature (and other arenas) with the likes of reading lists focused on women, etc.  

Well, yeah!

The lessons here? Never get lax about equality. Discrimination won't just go away on its own. Maybe even, "Keep taking baby steps. They'll eventually add up."  

PS: It is amazing that Time published obituaries on the opposite page from this article on a women’s bookstore. W.S. Merwine, a renowned poet, was featured, and Birch Bayh, a politician I remember from long ago were eulogized on that page (no women!). Time did mention that Bayh called for gender equality even back then. See, that’s one of the reasons that I keep forgiving Time. It’s not much, but it’s a gesture. And…like everyone else, I have been trained to be grateful for even the gentlest nod . . .


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor including awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. The newest in the series, How to Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically, was launched as part of a promotional program to more than 20,000 new readers. All are available in print or as e-book. Learn more at .

Monday, March 1, 2021

Self-Publishing a Children’s Book - 4 Realities

I self-published a children’s picture book back in 2008 when self-publishing wasn’t like it is today. And, as a newbie to self-publishing, I made a couple of mistakes. The first of which was that I didn’t hire an illustrator – I did the illustrations and cover for the book myself. 

I can hear all the gasps. It's okay though, I did correct this super-major error about four years later. 

But I didn’t self-publish to become rich or famous as some new authors aspire to. My book was created from a lullaby I wrote when my first child wouldn’t sleep. I’d walk the hallway every night with my daughter in my arms and sing the lullaby … and pray for her to go to sleep. 

 It became a family lullaby and my children thought it’d be a great idea to make it into a bedtime story. At the time, I thought self-publishing was the way to go. 

Back then, I used Booksurge which became CreateSpace which is now Amazon, and I was very pleased with the support and results. 

Then a few years ago, I self-published a nonfiction book on writing for children: Fiction Writing for Children. Although I knew a lot more than I did when I self-published my first book, but I still made a few of mistakes: 

1. I hired someone from to format and upload my book to Kindle and Createspace. And, I hit the ‘publish’ button without previewing the book first. The margins were off. 

 2. I wasn't crazy about the title I created, but used it anyway. 

 3. I wasn't crazy about the book cover, but used it anyway. I used someone on Fiverr for that also. 

 4. I didn’t give it to Beta readers or an editor before publishing. 

But, again, my purpose for the book wasn’t to make money. It was to provide answers to questions I keep getting about writing for children. It ended up being over 170 pages of all information – no illustrations – no fluff. 

This year, I took the time to revise, update, and add more content to the original book and titled it How to Write a Fiction Children's Book. I also made sure to avoid the same mistakes.

So, let’s go back to the title question: Is self-publishing a young children’s book the way to go? 

 Well, based on an information-packed article at Jane Friedman’s site, you should think twice and even three times before deciding to jump in. 

Why Self-Publishing a Children’s Book May Not Be Right For You

 It seems everyone is self-publishing today. And, there’s nothing wrong with that if your expectations are in check. 

Here are a 4 reality-check reasons you may want to stop and think before self-publishing: 

1. The stigma. 

While it’s better than before, there is still some stigma attached to self-published books. The reason for this is there are NO gatekeepers for self-publishing. If you have an idea, write it down, get a book cover, and get it formatted for publishing, you have a book.

- Don’t know how to write? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with editing or proofing? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother with a professional cover? Doesn’t matter.
- Didn’t bother to hire a good illustrator? Doesn't matter.

Self-publishing does open the arena to everyone and makes the playing field more even, but it also allows for a lot of less than professional and less than quality books. This is why there’s still a stigma attached to self-published books.

2. You’ve got to do it right.

As mentioned in #1, anyone can self-publish a book.

But YOU don’t want to be anyone; you want to do it right and that takes work especially if you’re publishing a book for young children.

- Do you know that the story must be told from one point-of-view?    
- Do you know that there should be only one protagonist?
- Do you know the proper format and punctuation for dialogue?
- Do you know about present tense and past tense?
- Do you know about showing vs. telling?
- More and more and more.

If you don’t want to learn how to write for children, then you definitely shouldn’t be self-publishing a children’s book. Or, you should hire a children’s ghostwriter to do it for you.

In the article at Jane Friedman's site, Brent Hartinger noted that “the Gold Rush is definitely over. There is now an absolute deluge of content, and the market has become extremely competitive. Your idea needs to be really, really marketable, or your book needs to be really, really good, and preferably both.” 

3. It can be very expensive.

Illustrations - If you’re self-publishing a children’s picture book (or even a chapter book with illustrations), you’ll need to hire an illustrator. If you want a good one, s/he won’t come cheap.

One of my clients hired someone for over $12,000 USD a book. This included is the interior illustrations, design, text layout, front cover, and back cover. And, this client did a six-book series.

Another client hired a subsidiary self-publishing company of a major publishing house. He paid $10,000 for illustrations and to have it designed and formatted for published. AND, at least half the illustrations stunk! He had the service do them over and over.

Granted most authors can’t afford these kind of fees, but if you want someone who WON’T make your book look like a total amateur job, then you’re looking at spending around $100 to $200 per interior illustration.

And, you’ll need around 12-14 interior illustrations. The front cover is usually more money unless you use one of the interior illustrations for the cover. And, then there’s the backcover design.

Publishing service – Once you have your story complete, with illustrations and text layout, you’ll need a service to format it and upload it to distributors like BookBaby, 1106 Designs, Smashwords, etc. This is an additional fee.

Some of these companies can be worth their cost, but be super-careful. Most of them will try to sell you everything and anything: editing, rewriting, illustrations, design, layout, formatting, distribution, and marketing.

Keep in mind they make their money from you and only you.

4. You’re one author in an ocean teeming with authors.

The market is swamped. If you’re looking to reach lots of people, become famous, or make a boat load of money, don’t hold your breath.

Most self-published children’s authors don’t recoup their publishing investment.

While there are exceptions to the rule, they are far and few between.

5. You’re not willing to actively market your book.

Okay, even if you know how to write and have the money to hire a pretty good illustrator, if you don’t actively market your book, you most probably won’t sell any.

Before you even get to the publishing decision, create a marketing plan and include an author website in those plans.

With thousands and thousands of books vying for a reader’s attention, you’ll need all the help you can get.

One note here: Most self-publishing services offer marketing as part of a package deal or separately. Don’t waste your money. These companies don’t bother with effective, ongoing marketing.

I’ve seen the results of marketing from these services numerous times. Again, don’t waste your money.

Ask around. Do research. Ask exactly what you'll get for your money. Make sure you're working with a professional company. 

The original title to this article was: Is Self-Publishing a Children’s Book the Way to Go? 4 Realities

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

You can connect with Karen at:


Everyone Starts Small So Get Started

Getting Press

Writing Fiction for Children - 4 Simple Tips



Sunday, February 28, 2021

Indie Authors : Sell your Books Face-to-Face

RJ Mirabal's New Children's Adventure Series

Last year, pre-pandemic, I was gearing up to arrange a book signing, school visits, and gather materials to sell my books in a booth at local events. At the same time, I was working on creating a viable platform that would introduce the world to MOI.

All that changed, of course, but we indie authors are forever optimists. I’m glad I had to wait. Now, another year smarter, I’ve come up with a much better plan than I ever could have had a year ago, one that I think will be attractive enough to interest local librarians, teachers and parents, and online readers.

Find your Platform: Explore your Deepest Desire

If you need to create a plan and a platform on how to present yourself as a tour-de-force author, here is an idea. Explore what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, or a skill you’d like to develop; use it as your focus and expand on it.

My focus has turned out to be puppets—a project I pursued when my two daughters were very young, under five years old. My idea at the time stemmed from my elementary-teaching background. I wanted to enhance my children’s creativity. That, and being involved in my children’s lives, worked. My daughters, now in their 30s, are both very creative.

The reason this idea of focusing on puppets hadn’t occurred to me until now is because my first book project was a mystery/ghost series for 7-10-year-olds. Puppets never occurred to me as perhaps in the back of my mind I must have thought that children that age wouldn't be interested in puppets. Rather, I devised a way to present myself in the classroom and at libraries by doing a science experiment, which would illuminate part of the Secret in the Stars story. The ghost in the story appears to Abi Wunder in a cloud. I would create a cloud. I thought of other types of presentations I could come up with, such as a presentation about honey bees, which is a prominent subject in the story. However, I didn’t have much confidence that these ideas would be attractive enough for me to be invited into schools and libraries.

Enter the realization that the one project, the Abi Wunder mystery trilogy, needed more. More book projects. I looked through my files one day and found several stories suitable for possible picture books. Two of these stories have now turned into completed picture books, currently being illustrated, and planned to be published sometime this year.

Expanding into picture books turned out to be key. I have collected the puppet plays and materials I saved from those past puppet presentations, and am creating a plan to write puppet plays from my picture book stories, create the puppets and materials (without a stage, rather the plan is to keep the presentations simple), and make a short list of the first places I would present these puppet plays, with the hope that requests for more presentations would follow. Of course, the Abi Wunder series would become an integral part of these presentations, both in person and online.

Selling Books Face-to-Face, by RJ Mirabal

RJ Mirabal, an adult and children’s author, and member of our SCBWI chapter in New Mexico, gave a terrific presentation on the ins-and-outs of selling our books locally.

After publishing an adult fantasy trilogy, the Rio Grande Parallax Series, a finalist in the NM/AZ Book Awards, in the science fiction category, RJ burst onto the children’s literature scene with the award-winning first book in a series for children, Trixie Finds her People, a story based on his rescue dog. One of five finalists in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, an international contest honoring independent and self-published books, Trixie Finds her People won first place in the Animal/Pets category; and the book was also a finalist in the New Mexico Press Women’s Writing awards, a regional contest. The next Trixie book will be coming out sometime this year.

RJ’s new children’s series, Dragon Train, is about a dragon who makes an unscheduled stop in a small village because this dragon towing a train is dying of exhaustion. A curious young farmer runs down to the tracks to help her, which sets the young man and dragon on an epic adventure to gain freedom and happiness. Learn more about Dragon Train and RJ’s other books:; adult books:; and to order books: 

 Open up for Business in your State 

To open for business in your state, there are certain things you need to do. Here are a few examples from RJ’s presentation:

  • Register your business with the state; you will have to pay gross receipts tax for your sales.
  • You may need to register in your town or city, which might require a business license. RJ registered in Albuquerque, NM. Cost: $35.
  • Register your business as a sole proprietorship; you don’t need to register as an LLC.
  • Report your income on personal tax forms.
  • Create a name for your business. RJ's is RJM Creative Arts.
  • Obtain a PO box, a good idea to use as your professional address.

Create your Display:

  • Purchase a portable table and tablecloth to match the mood of your books.
  • Decide how you want to display your books, author swag, a bowl of candy, etc.
  • Have a full-color poster (11 X 17 is an economical size that can be printed at Staples) made to use as a table display.
  • Have a banner made, a long sheet of plasticized paper, to match the banner on your website.
  • Have pictures from yours books, characters, book covers made to display.

RJ has graciously agreed to provide a PDF from his presentation for anyone interested. You can contact him at Learn more about RJ’s children’s books:; adult books:; and to order books: To see an insightful interview with John Hoffsis at Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town, Albuquerque, NM, go to

Linda's younger daughter in a
puppet show at two years old
Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters, who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Writers - Make Your Blog a Powerful Marketing Tool

Unlike personal blogs that simply convey information about the writer's day, or thoughts about life or certain issues, a blog created to promote your writing and writing services can be a powerful marketing tool.

In that case, the blog doesn't need to be ALL ABOUT YOU.

In fact, the more you post about other writers, writing opportunities, and writing services, the better FOR YOU.

Why is that, you ask?

Well, for one thing, as a writer you want to attract other writers to your blog as well as people who are looking for a writer to write something for them.

Use your blog to show off your writing skills and talents, of course.

But also stop and think about this—How can you best SERVE the people who read your blog?

Many times, you can best serve your readers by directing them to information written by and/or about someone else.

Still your readers will consider you a valuable resource because you provide them with the kinds of information they need, even if you don't write, or directly provide, all of that information yourself.

And that will cause readers to come back to your blog time and time again because they know you'll always have helpful resources and information for them.

Another big plus for you is—since you don't have to write every single post for your blog yourself—you'll actually have more time to do other writing assignments.

The other big payback to you for giving information from, and about, other sites and writers will be that those other sites and writers you direct your readers to will be thankful that you sent traffic to their sites, so they'll likely send traffic to your site(s), too, from time to time.

It's a win-win-win situation.

You win, your readers win, and the other writers you direct your readers to win.

It's just one way to make your blog a powerful marketing tool.

Try it!

Oh, and with all this in mind, since I'm predominately a children's writer, I'd like to share some of my favorite sites for children's writers with you:


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 a Private Resource Library for Writers.

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

Why It's Called The Slush Pile

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Every writer pitches their ideas to literary agents and publishers. I've listened to many of these pitches personally at writers conferences and I've received stacks of these submissions as an editor and agent.

In a matter of seconds, I can tell if something is going to be worth reading and considering. Yes, seconds. Millions of submissions are in circulation at different offices. The editors and agents are actively looking because it is their business to find fresh talent and publish authors.
I've received many unusual submissions. The number and variety of these submissions grew that I started a file in my desk and labeled it, Strange But True. Recently, another one landed in my mail box. Just to be clear, I've worked at Morgan James Publishing for eight years. Our primary mailing address is in New York City. This handwritten letter was addressed:
Manuscript Review Committee
Morgan James Publishing
9457 S. University Blvd, Suite 621
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
It came to my personal address yet it was addressed to the “committee.” OK. I opened it and thankfully it has an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). The letter (typed) began, “Dear Sirs,” Why would you address a single editor to his personal mail box with the plural Dear Sirs?
First paragraph: “If you could hold in your hands, this moment, the most urgent, significant, consequential revelations of the century, a manuscript so meaningful as to rival the Holy Bible of old, a manuscript containing the most sacred and controversial heavenly truths ever bestowed on the eath (she meant earth); would you publish it?”
OK, this paragraph is engaging yet full of exaggeration. It is in many respects over the top.
Second paragraph: “This manuscript exists. _______ is about 900 pages of the most sacred words of the holy angels of God. This is a powerful, dynamic manuscript from a heavenly perspective, not a mortal imagination. These are deep, thought-provoking, intelligent, inspirational words which will invoke an indelible emotion in the reader. Some will tremble in the soul. Eyes will fill with tears as they recognize these are actual truths of angel's wisdom. This is not another “angel book.”
A typical nonfiction book (which this claims to be) is 40 to 80,000 words. The world of books and magazine looks for the word count--not the page count. Estimating 200 words a page, this manuscript is 180,000 words or over 700 pages of a typeset book. That fact alone is enough to get this instantly rejected. The author has no concept of the challenges of book production or the difficulties that such a large book will mean to any publisher--much less thinking about the contents. I'm speaking only of the word count. It is way beyond the normal range.
Whenever as a writer you submit your material to an editor or agent, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. I answered questions about book proposals in a free teleseminar. This teleseminar launched my Write A Book Proposal training program. In 12-weeks, I teach step-by-step how to craft a book proposal and sample chapter which will gather the right sort of interest.
Every writer needs to learn all they can to make the best possible impression on the agent or editor. They are searching for a champion who will move their idea through the publishing process and they will ultimately get their book published and into the marketplace. As for this “submission” to the Manuscript Review Committee, it will only land in my “Strange But True” Manila folder. My hope is my article gives you an explanation why unsolicited submissions are called The Slush Pile. Rarely do you find something golden in there but it is possible and hope springs eternal. 
Are you targeting your submissions to the right editor or literary agent or leaping into their slush pile? Let me know in the comments below.

Wonder why the unsolicited submissions are called The Slush Pile? This prolific editor and author explains what type of submission might be in this pile. Get the details 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. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has  190,000 twitter followers

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Marketing Tips for Writers



Marketing Tips for Writers, by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Promotion is sharing what we find important with people who appreciate hearing about it. Marketing is about the reader; who are they and what are they are looking for? The answers help develop your target market and competition awareness.  

It’s all about getting readers to find your writing.

This path helps guide to best planning. Whatever stage you’re in, it’s always a good time to outline and review our Marketing Plan. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, consider where readers would find books or articles like yours, and make sure they can find yours as well.

Ways to market & promote —
Make the task frequency doable, choose what works for you:
•    Create your web-presence, aka an author’s website—your platform
•    Blog actively & often
•    Collect the best keywords and category designations for search optimization—in bookstores, online searches, and for your web-presence
•    Social Media posting—choose the social media platform that works best for you.
       -LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
       -Post often using images and videos
       -Always link back to your website post/page
•    Create a newsletter and use email blasts each month or at least quarterly
•    Start a Podcast: see link below for details to get started.
•    Publish an audiobook
•    Some suggest blogging daily is the best. I suggest listening to your readership and follow their patterns. I become annoyed receiving daily posts overloading my email and unsubscribed when it occurs. Also, daily blogging doesn’t work with my schedule.

Critical Details for Reader Searching & Finding your book or article:
•    Genre, choose the most applicable genre listing—listen to your readers and where they search
•    Price to fit the market
•    Metadata is also a vehicle for promoting your work. Metadata is information about your book, the title, sub-title, sales description, categories and author bio. Optimize its use.

Find the perfect promo fit. Make marketing work for you consistently.

Book List & Podcast Link:
*Successful Self-Publishing & How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

*The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson 

 Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:
Available on Amazon --- Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love ||

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Book Review || On Being A Writer

  Book Review || On Being A Writer by Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig, reviewed by Deborah Lyn Stanley   From time to time, we sea...