Order Your Books for Holiday Giving Now--Especially for Those Who Deserve Your Thanks

I thought VBT subscribers and visitors might want a reminder that books! Yep, books! Make great holiday gifts. This is one that multi award-winning author Mary Green recommends. Gift yourself or the author in your life who has helped spread word of mouth. Amazon promised delivery by December 25th.

The Frugal Book Promoter
Second edition, expanded and updated
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
416 pages
ISBN: 9781463743291
Available in paperback or for Kindle
Also available as an e-book at http://createspace.com/3656422

Author's Web site: http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wanted to know about book promoting and much
much more., September 25, 2011
Reviewed by
originally for Amazon

This review is from: The Frugal Book Promoter: Second Edition: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher. (Paperback)
When I saw the Table of Contents for this promoting bible, I was hooked. There was a chapter on everything I wanted or needed to know. I have written three "How To" books and have had a number of reviews and awards, but I am looking to go to the next level with some fresh new ideas. In other words, I had reached a plateau and did not want to repeat the same old methods.

When I first started reading the book I immediately liked the tone. It was as though the author was in my living room saying: Mary, why don't you try this and maybe you don't want to do this." Her books, like mine, are based on her personal experience. She has done book fairs; she has taught classes and consulted with authors; she has written award-winning books. She is an expert. That is what makes the book so powerful. I have read books that make me feel guilty if I haven't done ten things for my book that day.

Yesterday, I exhibited at a book festival and most of the authors were complaining that they had few sales. I looked up the topic in my new book. The author says "Book festivals are for readers." I knew intuitively that she was right. She goes on to say that these are really networking opportunities for the writers and not that many books are sold. That shift made me feel encouraged rather than discouraged at the book festival's results. Even though I did not sell tons of books, I did meet a lot of people: readers, writers and bookstore owners. I got a few tips and gave a few tips. I reconnected with people I had seen at previous events and got some recommendations for the best venues for future events. The author was spot on.

I also checked the chapter on book awards. I have won a total of 28 book awards for my three books and thought I knew all there was to know about awards and have spoken on the subject. However, after reading that section on book awards, I realized that I was not doing enough publicizing after I won the book awards and I am going to remedy that situation. Another tip I picked up. I am now going to say Mary Greenwood, multi-award winning author, instead of award-winning author.

Of course, I wished I had seen this book when my first book came out, but I can see that this book is useful for all authors, those working on their first book and authors who already have published several books and need some new ideas. I know I will go back and reread a chapter when I am starting a new task such as a press release or am thinking about doing a new blog or sprucing up my website.

I am just starting on my new book about "How to Negotiate With Your Dog" (hint: you don't.) I am going to use The Frugal Book Promoter Second Edition, the whole way. I can't wait to get started!
~Reviewer Green is author of How to Interview Like A Pro: Forty-Three Rules for Getting Your Next Job

Group Management Strategies and Thank You to the Members

Writers on the Move has been around since October 21, 2008, and is an interactive group of wonderful and talented authors and writers, and I value the members' input, ideas and suggestions, and feedback - we're a team. 

The group has seen a couple of name changes, a logo and site theme change, and marketing strategy changes. Through it all there are members here since it began and others who have been with the group for a long while, and I thank them for all their support and effort in making the group work, and for putting up with me.

What I've noticed Sunday, is that I at times act on impulse, rather than reflecting on what I do, I jump in. I'm not sure if it's because I try to do too much, or it's just in my nature - it's probably a combination of both though.

Since I scramble to find time to do all there is to do, when I see something, or think there's something the group needs to be informed about, or there are changes they need to know about, I jump on it. An example is this past Sunday.

In our group, we have member folders. We used them for storing information for our virtual tours. Since we abandoned the tours for an informational content based marketing strategy, there didn't seem to be a need for them. So, without looking forward, I let the group in on my thoughts of deleting the folders.

While this is a good thing, keeping the group in the loop and listening to feedback, taking the time to fully think something through will usually alleviate confusion and needless work. But, I sent a Special Message to our new members not to add any content to their member folders.

Was this unnecessary? YES.
Was it a waste of time and energy? YES.
Did it add more needless email to the members inbox? YES.

I've also realized I tend to post a number of messages for the group all in one day, as I'm evaluating what's going on or changes - they may not hear from me in a week or so, and then BAM.

Reflecting, this may not be the best way to handle it. Maybe a message a day? In my defense, I can't add too many notes to one message, no one wants to read a long message, but I'll be asking the group for different ways I can present information, so it doesn't feel like a bombardment.

I'm going to make a conscious effort to stop and think before acting.

I'm sure some of you readers may be wondering why am I'm sharing this information with you.

Simple. 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.' 'A stitch in time, saves nine.' Try not to do what I tend to do. Always think before you act - in all aspects of your life.

This post can also help other group managers, or those thinking of forming and managing a group, to step back and think before acting. Everyone is so busy today, as a manager don't add to the busyness of your group members. Once you've thought it fully through, say only what really needs to be said as briefly as possible.

A strategy I may start using is to list the things that need to be addressed, whether new information, changes, or other, in a Word doc. Then, review it, maybe even waiting a day, and then decide what's absolutely necessary and how to present it.

If you Writers on the Move members are reading this, let me know when I go astray. :)

Until next time,
Karen Cioffi

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

The Benefits of Belonging to a Writing Group

Do you belong to a writing group? If you do then you may know the benefits of being part of a group of people with the same goals as yourself. If you haven't thought about the need to become a member of a group you might consider these benefits.
  • Writing is a solitary activity and belonging to a group forces you to relate to real people rather than the characters in your mind. Whether it is in person, by an online web cam, or within an online group who email back and forth, it will help keep your mind and your writing fresh.  You will gain feedback from a real person and return your opinions in an exchange that will help you improve as a writer. It will give you  a sense of belonging to these members and help you to be accountable for your writing and your goals.
  • An active writing group can offer critiques and suggestions when your manuscript seems to stall. An outsider can give an objective view of what is taking place in the story and shed light on making your characters come alive.
  • Being in an active and positive writing group is a way to network, find writing connections, and share contacts in the publishing world.
  • A writing group can help market your work and in return you will do the same. It is a win win for all active members and can lead to collaboration on future projects.
Making the most of a writing group is a big responsibility but well worth the effort. Be active, do your part to critique and participate in a timely manner, be respectful of the other members and their work, and share in promoting and networking. Keep communication open. Be honest if you cannot uphold your responsibility for a period of time and be dependable. Your commitment will ensure the success for all group members and that can only improve your chances for writing success.

Terri Forehand- Author of The Cancer Prayer Book (http://www.dreamwordspublishing.com/ )

Up to my Eyeballs with Eyeball.

By Kevin McNamee

Fall is here and Halloween is on its way.  So now is a perfect time for me to talk about a poetry collection I’m involved with titled, An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems .  I have been very busy promoting this collection recently, since it is a seasonal book.

This poetry collection was put together by me and thirteen other terrifyingly talented poets. It contains everything from the humorous, to the creepy, to the absolutely sinister, this collection is designed to tickle your funny bone and then perhaps, gnaw right through it.

So before the trick or treaters arrive, you may want to introduce yourself to some ghoulish delights like the monster in Winking Wot Warning, or to try a dish off the Mummy’s Menu, or to really find out Where Nightmares Dwell, if you dare.  You’ll be glad you did.

Please visit An Eyeball In My Garden website for Halloween craft ideas, fun and spooky interviews, and cats wrapped in tin foil.

What Others are Saying

Horn Book (Spring 2011): "This compilation of new poems covers scary as well as silly Halloween territory. For every truly chilling ghost train, there's a witch's shopping list or a monster that turns out to be the speaker's own reflection. Easily flowing meter in most of the pieces makes for smooth read-alouds. Black-and-white ink illustrations are appropriately spooky."

Publishers Weekly August 9, 2010- Gr 4-7— Readers should be prepared to shiver and shake through these 44 poems about ghosts, gargoyles, and more. Olander adorns each page with ominous ink images of spiders, monsters, and other terrors, while the verses temper horror (Craig W. Steele’s “Where Nightmares Dwell”: “I know too well/ What creatures lurk/ Where nightmares live and grow.../ The shadows found me years ago!”) with humor (Stella Michel’s “Mummy’s Menu” includes “Blackened pudding filled with flies,/ Crispy scarab beetle pies”). Whether it’s Halloween or not, this creepy collection will please readers with a taste for the supernatural.

This book is available from Marshall Cavendish, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or ask your local book store. 

Be sure to check out my poems, Our Neighborhood and The Gargoyle

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, N.Y.  He is the author of several children’s books and is a contributing author to this poetry collection.

To find out more about Kevin, please visit his website at http://www.kevinmcnamee.com/ or his blog at http://www.kevinmcnameechildrensauthor.blogspot.com/.

Creating Characters

As writers, we know story is important. Readers want to know what happens next. But while story is important, it alone, will not sustain a reader to the end. To keep the reader going, a book requires characters, colorful characters that surprise, intrigue and keep your readers guessing what they will do next. 

E.L. Doctorow said, "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." Yes, I hear voices. Usually they are tiny ones that speak with accents or have unusual phrasing. Sometimes they come up with thoughts that are brilliant. Sometimes they make me laugh. No matter, these voices cause me to sit in my hammock and listen more closely to the story they tell. 

I often start my novels with the "bookends." I hear an engaging character's words and listen long enough to figure out how their story ends. Then, (picture me rubbing my hands together evilly), I get to write the in between. This is the space in my novels where the character is tested, molded and finally formed into a different human being. Historians record, while novelists create. For me as a writer, this is what takes my breath away, what makes the experience of being a writer a joy.

With characters being so important to the craft, we must take the time necessary to create them.  Knowing all the details of your character is critical. It is more than just eye and hair color, or what they eat and drink.
Developing a fully formed character means you are able to describe everything about them, including their hand gestures and how they pose. What do they do with their legs while seated? How do they stand? What angles do they create? When building fully formed characters, start at the feet. Describe their toes, and ankles, as well as their choice in shoes. Move from the feet to the legs. Are they defined? How so? What about your character's torso? Do they have "love-handles"? Are they trim and fit? Or somewhere in between? Shoulders, arms and hands are all important. Only after you have a clear image of your character's body is it time to focus on the face. The more you know about your character, the easier it is for your readers to see them.

Dressing your character is also important. Clothes make a statement. Then there are your character's props. What items do they keep handy and what do they use them for? I often use things for unintended purposes. I'm sure this must say something about me. If your character uses a letter-opener for a hole-punch I'm sure it says something about them too. 

What does your character dream about? Dreams often establish our vulnerabilities. Fully formed characters must have flaws if only because flawed characters are more interesting. They seem to be more like ourselves and our readers.

In developing your character, also think about where and what they hide. (Again, see me with my hands rubbing together.) I just love a good secret.

Exercise: Create a character. Describe his or her hiding place. A closet. Their desk. The kitchen drawer. The cupboards in their laundry room. Their garage. What did you find there that most surprised you? Why is it hidden? I'd love to know what you found!

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction. She 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 the author of Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception, her latest book dealing with the subject of death and the afterlife. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.
She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com
Her novels are available in electronic format here, or print format here
You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook
Or you can just contact her at d.jeanquarles@yahoo.com

5 Tips for Researching the Children's Magazine Market


by Donna M. McDine

A writer comes up with what he feels is the perfect storyline for an engaging short story and puts it down on paper. The manuscript is edited and revised several times and the writer is thrilled with the outcome. The next step is to submit the manuscript to their critique group. The feedback includes suggestions and ideas to tighten up the story further. One member asks: Where are you going to submit? Your fingers linger over your keyboard, your mind goes blank. Ugh! You’ve missed a critical step; research of appropriate markets. You respond: “I’ll get back to you on that.” Before a writer even develops a storyline into a short story or article, follow these five crucial steps in researching children’s stories market potential:

1. RESEARCH THE MARKET: Obtain the latest issue of Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers’, published by Writer’s Institute Publications, http://www.writersbookstore.com/, 1-800-443-6078. This resource book is the most comprehensive directory of the children’s writers market. Beyond the scope of the synopsis of each market this valuable book contains information on how-to research the market; preparing manuscript packets; preparing query and cover letters; and outlines.

2. WRITERS’ GUIDELINES: It is essential for a writer to take the time to attain the most recent writers’ guidelines for a particular publication. It is imperative that a writer reads and follows what the editor requests of submissions. You can obtain many writers’ guidelines through their website or write a letter to the publication requesting a copy of their writers’ guidelines. Be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE). If a writer can’t follow the specific guidelines the chance of publication is zero.

3. SAMPLE ISSUES: Beyond reading and studying a particular publications outline in the Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers’, it is equally vital that a writer study past issues at the library or request a sample issue from the publisher. If writing to the publication for writers’ guidelines then would be a good time to request a sample issue. The cost is usually indicated within the outline in the “Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers’. Analysis of past issues will give the writer insight towards subject matter, readership levels, and particular slants of the articles and stories.

4. THEME LISTS: Make sure to find out if a magazine you are interested in submitting to works off a theme list. This is another important point to take into consideration. If you are going to send in an article on dogs for their June issue and the issue is themed around elephants, chances are your manuscript will be returned. Some times it may seem that theme lists would hinder the writer, but you’d be surprised how many ideas cram into a writers’ creative mind when provided with a theme list.

5. HOW MANY PUBLICATIONS: Research at least three possible markets for the manuscript. Keep all notes together. When a response is received from the first publication and if it is a rejection you can easily review the next publication on the list, rather than researching again. Prepare the submission according to their guidelines and mail out.

Once a manuscript is submitted begin a new one. It will keep the mind busy on the new and not focused on the submission out in the mail. Considering, most response times are usually three to four months. Remember with each submission a writer gets closer to acceptance and publication.

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Literary Classics Seal of Approval Picture Book Early Reader ~ The Golden Pathway.
Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has three more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, and A Sandy Grave. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids, Publicist for the Working Writer’s Club, and owner of Dynamic Media Release Services from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

Learn more about Donna’s writing career at: http://www.donnamcdine.com/, opt-in to her Write What Inspires You Newsletter and receive a FREE e-book copy of “Write What Inspires You! Author Interviews.”

Manuscript Revisions

Manuscript Revisions
by Elysabeth Eldering

How does one go about revising a first draft that is several years old, has been sitting on the back burner for a while?

When working your manuscript to a final draft or completed manuscript, one must revise, revise, revise and then revise some more. Since this author is currently revising her YA paranormal mystery, Finally Home,she thought this article was necessary. (By the time this post is up, Finally Home should be in the final stages of being published.)

Steps for revision:
1. Reread your manuscript before starting any editing or revising.
2. Utilize a critique group or a critique partner - someone you trust that is giving you sage advice. Remember that not all the comments given will be used nor will they be your way of doing things but if the comments are consistent throughout the story and they do help make the story stronger or better, then, by all means, you should use them. If you feel the comments don't have value as that may not be the way you write (your voice) or it will change the meaning of the story, then you are not obligated to use the comments. Just be consistent when reading through the comments and make sure to use the ones you don't feel strongly against.
3. Edit your story - go through looking for missing words, typos or misspelled words, checking grammar along the way (paragraphs are all in place, punctuation is correct, et cetera).
4. Jump in after receiving your edits/critiques/comments from your editor or person with whom you have established a rapport and trust to give you the sage advice needed to polish the manuscript.
5. After finalizing those comments, go back and reread the story to make sure you have a story that flows and makes sense (you want to make sure you didn't delete something or change something in the middle of the story that would affect something later or earlier in the story).
6. Send your manuscript back to friend for copyediting - checking all your words, punctuation, and flow of story.
7. Re-edit/polish.

You can repeat steps 4 through 7 as many times as you feel is necessary to make your story the best piece you can publish, but be careful. If you do those steps too many times, you will lose the content of the story and it will no longer be "your story." Revisions are a necessity when it comes to writing; everyone, fiction and nonfiction writers alike, has to revise their manuscript. Don't skip this very important step.

Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series. Her stories "Train of Clues" (soon to be re-released), "The Proposal" (soon to be released as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (soon to be released as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves" (soon to be released as an ebook) all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and .... themed type contests). Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (soon to be released as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.

Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, write, cross stitch and crochet. When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her state series (JGDS series) and soon to be released YA paranormal mystery, Finally Home.

For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog or the JGDS website. For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog or her website.

Knowing Your Readership

I've recently meet a wonderful author...Camille Matthews. After chatting with her for sometime and learning more about her books and how she came into writing them, I asked if should would be willing to share her thoughts on knowing your readership. 

Then reason I asked Camille to share her thoughts on this is because I have noticed a lot of authors don't always know who their readership is. One important key to a book's successes is knowing who your reader is. This goes beyond knowing who you are writing for: children, teens, women, men, etc. You need to really understand the genre and niche. Who makes up this readership and why your book is perfect for them.
Understanding My Young Readership with Camille Matthews

Though I am new to writing books for children, I have a broad knowledge of child development due to my work as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for many years. This body of knowledge definitely informed my creation of the Quincy the Horse Books, which have a recommended age from 5-9 years of age. 

Two ideas I find most important in understanding child development are that human potential unfolds in stages of development as we grow and children benefit from nurturing relationships based on secure bonds with consistent care-taking figures. Children have the opportunity to develop certain personal strengths in the childhood years and having supportive relationships not only provides a context for growth, it can also result in the formation of secure attachments, which are a basis for all their relationships. Loss and change contribute to growth, but children need support not to become overwhelmed.

Many theorists have offered ideas about stages of human development.  I have always liked the work of psychoanalyst, Erik H. Erikson whose stages of human development are stated directly and without technical terminology. http://www.learningplaceonline.com/stages/organize/Erikson.htm

Erikson was optimistic about growth and was an early believer that humans have an ongoing ability to grow throughout life. He identifies central issues for young children including the need to experience trust, to become autonomous and to develop a feeling of competence and self-esteem. His concern is children experience overwhelming feelings of mistrust, shame, guilt or inferiority. Since primary relationships are the way children tend to experience the world, consistent nurturing becomes an important factor in the child’s growth, hopefully providing a somewhat stable foundation and home base as the child ventures further and further out into the world around him/her.

My first book, Quincy Finds A New Home, begins when Quincy has experienced a loss. The family who owned him has left the farm where he lives, and a neighbor man who meets his basic needs is caring for him. Then he gets a new owner and is taken to a new home. His new home is a busy barn where there are activities that he does not know how to join. People are friendly and welcoming, but he feels sad and different. Finally, he responds to the overture of his stable mate, an old horse named Beau, who has been trying to get to know him. In doing this, he experiences trust and reassurance when he finds out that his new owner will love him for who he is. This is a task of the toddler and preschool years.

In Quincy Moves to the Desert, Quincy and Beau go on a trip across the country. Quincy has doubts about a big change, but Beau makes it an adventure by telling him how amazing the desert will be and teaching him about the states they travel through and all the things horses do in different places. Before he knows it, Quincy is learning about new things and letting his imagination take over! He begins to explore a whole range of possibilities; this is the task of the school experience that begins around 5 years of age.

It is my belief books are one of the ways children (and adults) experience the world and are a profound opportunity for growth. It is my hope the Quincy the Horse Books provide young readers with ways to expand their horizons in various areas including psychological growth, relational development and geographical awareness. 

Some children’s books draw on an exploration of the trauma and danger that are sadly omnipresent in the modern world. I try to place Quincy solidly in the security of supportive and loving relationships and draw on an exploration of his emotions and his amazement at the new things he is learning to engage his readers. 

Camille Matthews, MSW, LCSW is a clinical social worker and writer who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, complex PTSD and attachment disorders. In 2002, she received her certification in the new field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) from the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and established the Pathfinder Program in Farmington, NM where she treated adolescents, children and women victims of domestic violence using EAP.

She teamed with illustrator, Michelle Black to create the Quincy the Horse Books for children ages 5-10. Matthews was born and raised in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky where her father was a law school professor. She was an only child and her favorite thing to do was visit her grandparents and cousins. She is a lifelong equestrian, avid reader and student of politics who blogs and is an op ed contributor.  She relocated to the Reading, PA area from Northwestern New Mexico in 2010.

You can find out more about Camille Matthews’ World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/CamilleMatthews.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Matthews and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

Writers Read

Good writers read good books. There is no getting around it. Of course being a good reader doesn't necessarily equate to being a good writer, otherwise most publishers would be publishing their own bestselling books, however, as a writer it's critical to be able to understand what words are capable of, the limits, and how to stretch those limits.

The giants of English literature--Ulysses, The Sound and The Fury, Great Expectations, The Waves, all take words and torture them, stretch them, use them in new ways, expanding their possibilities to produce new meaning, greater understanding, deeper feeling, epiphany. They turn the cliché on its head, put paid to the caricatures of life we see on television, force their reader to reflect, think, grow, and live differently. Without these books, great modern works like History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, Oscar and Lucinda, The Moor's Last Sigh or Captain Corelli's Mandolin could not have been written. Each writer owes his craft to those who preceded them and changes the world for their readers and those writers who follow them. So reading well is part of the ongoing and permanent apprenticeship for those who wish to write in a way which is more than simply craft.

Writing which makes people cry, think, desire, anger, laugh and carry your characters around with them as part of their permanent memory bank; writing which is Art. If you are a Dr. Frankenstein, wanting to bring your characters and meaning to life, to join the really big authors in making meaning, then you simply have to read. It might be a long apprenticeship. Good books are not always easy. Nor do they generally give you that feeling that 'you can do this' which poor books might, in fact you might end up feeling a little awed.

However, the short term pain is more than offset by the deep pleasure of transportation into an original world, by the long term gains of vocabulary expansion, greater clarity of vision, and a heightened sense of what is possible with words.

So how do you find out about really good books? How do you choose wisely so that your investment of time is worthwhile? After all if you are reading, writing, doing something else to bring in money - since writing well is often not lucrative in the first instance unless you are very lucky - and possibly raising a family and dealing with the daily imperatives of keeping body fed and home clean, juggling time is always an issue. Well, I'm a compulsive. I read anything and everything from cereal boxes to historical tomes, but I also try to discriminate based on the genre I'm reading. If it is going to be a serious read, I'll pick writers who I know are good, based either on recommendations of like-minded readers or past experience, although some of my best finds have been serendipitous so I have to admit that I have on occasion judged a book by the blurb on its cover. I'm lucky though in that I've been reading so long that it is as natural to me as breathing (nearly) and I can start and stop and read in the most extenuating circumstances (in fact reading helps me deal with extenuating circumstances better). If this isn't the case for you, perhaps you need a guide.

Find a good reviewer whose work you trust and let them guide you. There are plenty to choose from on the internet and in print. Some of the more well known review sites are:


To name just a few. And of course there's my own site: www.compulsivereader.com.

You could also go by the prize winners, for example The Booker Prize (including the nominees) is almost always a good guide to great fiction, although you would, of course, miss out on all the non-prize winning books that way. Of course there is always bookshop recommendations, from Amazon to the little guy with the great personalized service down the road who probably knows your reading tastes if you visit often enough. However you find great books, enjoy your apprenticeship.

If you love reading enough to do it under any circumstances, in whatever snatches of time you can afford, and write when you aren't reading, you are going to eventually produce something wonderful. A shining gem which will change your readers' perception of the world.

About the author: Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust, and Quark Soup, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book, The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse , She Wore Emerald Then, Imagining the Future, and Deeper Into the Pond. She runs a monthly radio program podcast The Compulsive Reader Talks.  Find out more at http://www.magdalenaball.com

Writing the Second Book: Is it Easier?

Ten years ago, if someone had told me I would have two books published by now, I would’ve laughed—longingly of course. My first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, was released in December 2008, almost ten years after I started writing it. The sequel, Follow the Dream, came out two years later.

People say to me, “The second book must be a lot easier than the first one, right?”
Well, yes and no. I guess I could say that I cheated, in a way. I wrote the two books as one long book to begin with. But when I began researching publishers, I found that the word count for the “western” genre was generally shorter. It just happened that I found a place in about the middle where I thought it could be easily divided. But then I had to make sure the second book could stand alone and fill in some of the back story without resorting to the old “telling” versus “showing.”
Writing a book is never easy. There is always a lot of research to do, whether it is fiction or non-fiction. The self-discipline of writing regularly is easier for some than for others. I wear several hats—writer, teacher, editor and critique group leader, so sometimes my own writing gets put aside.

Of course, once the first draft is put down on paper (and I subscribe to Anne Lamott’s advice to give yourself permission to write a “crappy” first draft), there is revision, revision, revision. This can be done in bits and pieces or going through the entire manuscript several times with a fine-tooth comb. Revision is helped greatly by having an astute critique group to give valuable, constructive feedback.

So, despite the fact that I had the second book “written” when my first book came out, I had to go through several revisions before it was ready to submit to the publisher. The preliminary reader had some further suggestions, as did the editor, and so there were more revisions. Finally, after two years, my second novel was released.

Now the work begins: marketing. Is that easier with the second book? Again, yes and no. I learned as I went with the first book, and I know more now than I did two years ago. But it’s still a matter of hitting the bricks, handselling, and roaring through cyberspace, trying to get your name out there, trying to build up fans.
No, I would say the second book is not easier than the first. And, in working on the third in the series, that fact is reinforced. This saying sums it up quite well: “The more you learn, the less you know.” But that is also what I love about writing—I never stop learning.

Both Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream are based on my grandmother who rode bucking stock in Montana rodeos during the 1920s and ‘30s. The books are written for adults, but also suitable for young adult readers.

Cowgirl Dreams, (an EPIC Award Winner), takes place during the 1920s and features the heroine, Nettie Brady, who dreams of becoming a rodeo star. Social convention, family resistance, floods, broken bones and killer influenza team up to keep Nettie from her dreams.

In Follow the Dream (WILLA Literary Award Winner),Nettie has it all: a rodeo cowboy husband, plans for a busy rodeo season and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rodeo in London with the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe. But life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and unexpected family responsibilities. Nettie must overcome challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams, cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster. Will these challenges break this strong woman?

Heidi M. Thomas’ novels are available on her website, from the publisher Treble Heart Books at and Follow the Dream is also available as an e-book for Kindle.


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

Marketing Strategies - Old or New?

 Old or New?

I want you to know that I am getting older, but over the years I have learned some things.  Take for instance; you have to pay your dues.  What do I mean by that?  I know many young professionals that frankly, haven’t paid their dues.  They depend solely on social networking to market their products.  They haven’t taken the time or put in the hours to volunteer, sit on panels, go door to door and meet face-to-face people in the community, Directors of non-profit agencies, members of the media, etc.  I can’t tell you how many events over the years I have attended; how many talks I have given; how many hours I have volunteered. Yet, it is the people behind these activities that have given me my biggest breaks.  Even today, I have a company looking at my books because I spent some time with a volunteer at a local hospital.  That volunteer has a PhD from Harvard and has contacts I would never know except through her.  Don’t get me wrong; I tweet, I have a Facebook account, I have an iPad, a laptop and an iPhone…..I am socially connected.  But, I haven’t forgotten the old fashioned warmth that comes from looking into someone’s eyes (not on Skype) and sharing a cup of tea.  If I can join the new generation’s e-world, I challenge you to reach out to mine.  A balance between the old and the new promises the best of both worlds.  Until later…..

Anita Tieman

Another Way to Improve Your Writing – Book Reviews

Writer's read a lot, or at least we should, and we should read critically. But how many of us do this? Part of reading is escapism. When we want to relax we sit down with a book and lose ourselves in the other world. This is great, but does it improve our writing?

During the past year, I have been doing book reviews for several publishers, and it has changed the way I read. Now I'm looking for how the writer opens the novel. Does it grab me, or do I have to fight my way through the first fifty pages? Is there too much, or too little dialog? Does the author use description to enhance the story, or does she get lost in the beauty of her own words? When you really think about these things and critically evaluate them in someone else's work, it makes you more aware of what you're doing in your own writing.

Another advantage of doing book reviews is that you have to write down what you've observed. For me this is a critical step. If I write it down, I have to think about it. I have to make sure my views make sense and that they're fair to the other author. It adds another step to thinking critically about writing, and when I've written it down, I remember it.

You don't have to go into book reviewing as a career. I have to admit that sometimes it becomes a bit hectic keeping up with all the books, but you can review books in your personal library, review books for friends, or review books you buy. I think you'll be surprised at how much you gain from it.  

Remember Ads in Yearbooks? Authors Can Do the Same!

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including the expanded and updated editon of The Frugal Book Promoter

Many of our books—especially free  promotional booklets and e-books—are perfect for paid ads and ads in barter if they are focused on the book’s target audience. Now the LA Times reports Amazon will put ads in some Kindle readers and that they will then sell those Kindle units at 18% less than the ad-free device ($114.00). To make it even a better deal, some of those ads offer coupons and discounts to reads. That means ads will help Amazon’s profit margin and help subsidize the cost of the Kindle, too!

So, you’re not convinced this marketing/publishing scheme would work for you? Consider this. Very fine literary journals have been putting ads in the backmatter of their paperback journals for years. Some of them advertise back issues of their own journal but some advertise products that will interest their reads. Think about your high school yearbook. Remember that ads in those and how appreciative you were of those businesses who supported your school? What about the ads in theater programs or programs for charity events.

So, you’ve decided to put ads into your books, right? How would you do it? What are the guidelines.

~Though there is no rule that says you couldn’t drop ads into the body of your book, it seems more decorous to put them in the backmatter of your book.
~Accept only professionally produced ads.
~Accept only ads that would interest your target audience. Be prepared to refuse some with the “not quite right” phrase that literary journals use to pass on submissions.
~Limit the number of adds to just a few.
~Encourage ads that give discounts or freebies so that the ads are seen as an added value by your readers. When I offered ads for the second edition of the Frugal Book Promoter:
How to get nearly free publicity on your own or partnering with your publisher, I offered only five and encouraged those who were interested by offering a discount on the ad if they offered a freebie or a discount to my readers.

When you use ads this way, your reader will benefit. They learn about new resources and special discounts may even help pay for the book  your reader just bought. That would be your book!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. She shares knowledge and experience she has accrued in other industries (like journalism, retailing, and public relations) in her books and with her clients. Because she is also an award-winning novelist and poet she knows that—contrary to accepted wisdom—authors of literary work can promote their books very nearly as easily as those of nonfiction books can. Learn more about her at www.howtodoitfrugally.com and check out her the new updated and expanded second edition of her Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo).

Write for Money - You Can Do It

Write for Money - You Can Do It

It’s amazing how the road to ‘making money’ for writers has opened. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it, or maybe you’ve even tried your hand at writing to earn an income or simply to supplement your income, but just haven’t seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, take a step back, look around, and take a new stab at it, because now’s the time to write for money.

You might be wondering what it means to ‘write for money.’ The answer to that is simple: any form of writing that provides payment is writing for money. You may ghostwrite articles or books, maybe you write your own articles and books and submit them to publishers, or maybe you write white papers, e-books, newsletters, landing pages, greeting cards, or other content, if you get paid for writing it, it’s writing for money.

Write for Money – Create Content

But, it does go a bit beyond that simple answer. Along with actually being paid for the content you produce, you can also write a 300 - 400 word post for your monetized blogsite or website. While you’re not actually paid for the post content itself, the content will bring you traffic from which you have the potential to earn money. The relevancy of the content to the product you’re offering is an important factor for conversion, as is the quality of the content, so keep that in mind. Another important factor is to post your content on a regular basis.

Conversion is when a visitor to your site actually buys what you’re offering, so you will need to create a webpage that motivates visitors to click on the BUY button.

But, back to how you can write for money.

Write for Money – Create an eBook

One content format that is taking off is writing and self-publishing e-books. Due to the ease of creation and easy access to self-publishing services such as Amazon’s Kindle, and other sites such as Smashwords.com and Lulu.com, writers now have a platform to publish e-books with absolutely NO out-of-pocket costs.

No more endless submissions and rejections, now you can just write and self-publish in e-book format. And, most of the selling price goes to you - the self-publishing services do take a small percentage of your sales.

While being able to self-publish with ease and no cost is great for writers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make money. If your intent is to write to make money you will want to produce informational e-books. Information is the most effective type of content for earning money.

Informational content can be in the form of a simple three - five page report or a 100+ page e-book. Whatever the word or page count is you will need to make sure the information you provide is something online searchers are looking for, and it needs to be valuable and polished.

How do you determine what people are looking for?

To find what online searchers are looking for you will need to do keyword searches.

For example: I wrote an e-book on marketing books. I came up with a few titles and then did a keyword search using http://googlekeywordtool.com. I found that adding “How to” at the beginning of one of my titles was within my target number of searches, so I titled it How to Attract Customers With Informational Marketing.

You should be cautioned though that marketing information is an ever-changing topic. What’s relevant and savvy today maybe useless six months from now – marketing technology is constantly evolving and therefore marketing strategies are often changing. While some basic marketing information is steadfast, it may be wiser to go with an evergreen topic, like writing, health and fitness, gardening, etc.

Whichever write for money strategy you use be sure your content is polished. This means self-editing and proofing your work before you publish it. Just because self-publishing is easy to do and no one is monitoring your writing, your content is still a reflection of your writing ability and your professionalism.


Related Articles:

How to Create an Ebook: 5 Simple Steps
Outsourcing Articles: Is it Right for You?
Selling eBooks – Reach Your Market Through Free Services

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance Writer

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kcioffiventrice

Creating, Promoting, and Selling in the Writing World

I recently attended a teleconference presented by David Riklan, a well-known marketing expert and the founder of SelfGrowth.com. The focus of the topic was creating a successful online business from scratch.

According to Riklan, the first two ‘core’ ways to establish a successful online business, one that generates income is to:

1.Create your own product to sell.
2.Create a service to sell.

Please understand that when you create a product or service, it should be a quality product or service. It needs to address the potential customer’s problem, need, or want.

What are some of the products and services you can create and sell online?

1. Books
2. eBooks
3. Podcasts
4. Workshops
5. Teleclasses
6. Webinars
7. White papers
8. Your writing skills as a ghostwriter, freelance writer, or copywriter
9. Speaking engagements
10. Coaching

You can see there are a number of things you can create and sell. And, when you create one product, you can always turn it into a number of others.

For example, if you present a live chat workshop be sure to have it copied. You can later create a report from the transcript and/or create a podcast. You can also create an e-book from the content you prepared for the workshop.

The same can be done for any of the products or services mentioned above. Rework the original content into as many other products you want.

But, take note that just having a business or a product to sell won’t necessarily generate an income. You need to attract potential clients and/or customers to your website and opt-in box, kind of like a magnet.

Why is it so important to attract visitors/potential clients to your site?

The answer is simple: Attracting visitors to your site gives you the opportunity to turn that visitor into a subscriber on your mailing list. This in turn helps you develop a relationship with the individual.

Statistics show that a first time visitor will not buy what you’re offering. But, if you have that person on your mailing list, you will be able to try again, and to promote other products or services you have for sale.

Along with your products and services, you can become an affiliate marketer to other products and/or services you feel are of value. This creates a win-win-win situation. The product creator gets a sale, you get an affiliate fee, and the customer gets what he wants or needs.

So, the key is to offer something the visitor will feel is worth his valuable email address.

What is the most effective strategy to use to motivate someone to give their email address, thereby increasing your subscriber list?

The number one way to do this is by offering a FREEBIE. The visitor subscribes to your mailing list and then gets the freebie. This is known as an ethical bribe.

Obviously, the freebie must be something people want or need. If you have a health site focused on allergies, visitors will want information on allergies, maybe a report on the latest allergy statistics or alternative strategies for alleviating allergy symptoms will prompt visitors to click on your opt-in.

You need to provide a freebie that is geared toward your target market, something that offers a solution to their problem or need, or provides something they want, and one that will help establish you as an expert in that niche and trustworthy.


Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos - Photographer: Salvatore Vuono

Related Articles:

How to Create an Ebook: 5 Simple Steps
How to Drive Traffic With Informational Content
Book Promotion: The Foundation

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance Writer

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kcioffiventrice

Considering Both the Downsides and Upsides of Writing Reviews

Dear Writers on the Move Readers,   I am busily rewriting my  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically  for a second edition fro...