Design an eBook Cover Webinar

Writers on the Move has its next FREE webinar set up: 

Design Your Own eBook Cover in 10 Easy Steps Using Microsoft Office 2010

Title: Design Your Own eBook Cover in 10 Easy Steps
Date: June 22, 2012
Time: 7 PM - 7: 45 EST (U.S.) - May run a bit longer
Presenter:Karen Cioffi
Cost: Free
Format: Live Webinar
Handout: YES (after workshop)

We will be recording the workshop. Any handouts and the recording link to the workshop will be provided after the event. Attendees will be added to A Writer's World ezine for updates on Writers on the Move upcoming webinars, along with writing and marketing information.


What author today hasn’t thought of self-publishing a book through Kindle? If a poll were taken, the results would probably be close to 100 percent. Most will have either considered or are considering this new wave of publishing freedom.

In fact, ebook authors and marketers, such as Jim Edwards, consider traditional publishing as a weak link in your writing armor, especially in regard to information ebooks.

Whether you want to publish with Kindle or you prefer selling your ebooks from your own website, you’ll need a cover. But, not just any cover, you’ll need a unique and appealing cover. A cover that may very well be the determining factor as to whether a potential customer clicks on the BUY button.

You might be thinking that you’re not tech savvy and don’t have any special programs for the job. Well, if you have Microsoft Word 2010, you don’t need anything else. Most of this is possible with MS 2007, and possibly MS 2003. You’ll have to test it out.

And, aside from creating great book covers, you can create amazing business logo designs with the same process.

Join Karen for step-by-step instructions as she actually creates an ebook cover on this screen-sharing webinar.
To register for the webinars email Karen at karenrcfv - A T - yahoo

Please put "Design an eBook Cover" in the Subject box.

Details and the actual REGISTRATION to attend the LIVE WEBINAR will be provided upon your sign-up request.

You won't want to miss this. To register, email Karen at:
karenrcfv - at *yahoo* dot *com*

Want even more information in an in depth ebook? Check out:

If you get the ebook, you can attend the webinar to see the information in action!

For more on marketing check out:

Websites That Work: 7 Key Factors (Part 1)
Book Promotion: The Foundation

To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars - signup for A Writer's World Newsletter on the right top sidebar!

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer

Find Karen’s eBooks on writing and marketing at:


Writing for Theme-Based Contests

Writers draw inspiration from many sources, including words, phrases and pictures--and many contests require you to do just that. Writing about the same "theme" as other writers can be challenging but can also push you to greater levels of creativity in search of the unexpected angle.

As with any other type of writing contest, it's important to stick to the guidelines. Stay within the proscribed word count, use the required formatting, and DO NOT miss the deadline.

In order to succeed in theme-based contests, you have to look beyond the obvious responses and surprise the judges. You might even surprise yourself.

One of my earliest wins as a writer was in a poetry contest that wanted humorous takes on love. Rather than go for outright humor in every line, I set up a typically romantic scenario before delivery the final deadpan line.

red rose
valentine gift
treasured keepsake 
symbolic of our love
pressed flat

The judges got the joke, and I got first prize.

The first time I ran a contest, I asked entrants to write about "the first time." The phrase might bring to mind memories of first love or first sex, but I wanted to see something more. What I got was an eclectic mix of stories, including tales of skydiving, wartime, jail, and a woman's first encounter with her grandchild who had Down's Syndrome.

Whether you're writing for theme-based contests or simply looking for inspiration for your next project, keep an open mind. Details don't change, only your perceptions.

Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid of the "strange" ideas that pop into your head. Don't listen to the little voice that whispers, "You can't write that." If you hear that voice, get the "strange" ideas on paper as fast as possible. You're probably onto something good.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.



Today is Memorial Day here in the United States.  I am spending some time writing before I visit my father's grave site in the Delaware Veteran's Memorial Cemetery.  I invite you to honor yourself today by capturing your life's most precious memories on paper.  Writing your life story is a powerful exercise that will lead you directly to your own truth.  What are the most pivotal moments in your personal history? What are the patterns that keep repeating in your life?  What have you learned from these life lessons?  How can you utilize what you learned to help others?  Write your life story and be prepared to uncover your purpose in a powerful way. If you are having trouble writing about your own life, write about the life of someone who has inspired you greatly.  Once you get your creative juices flowing, you will likely find it easy to delve into your own story and truth. Here is an example of a life story that demonstrates a powerful purpose. I wrote this story in honor of my father, John McCabe.

A Hero’s Journey to Purpose
 He sits in a tattered blue reclining chair, his eyes shining with mischief and exhaustion.  His day began promptly at five thirty this morning, just as it has every other morning for the past sixty three years.  From the moment his feet hit the floor they are in perpetual motion, each step dedicated to helping others.  Selflessly, he devotes the majority of his day to assisting other people with their activities of daily living.  No small feat for a survivor of a tragic childhood, five brain tumors, and a tour in Vietnam.  Although he conceals it well, some days it is difficult for him to get out of bed. The tumor in his brain wreaks havoc with his balance and hearing. He is completely deaf in his left ear. Frequently, he stumbles into walls and is plagued with seizures and nausea. His head bears faded torturous scars from the three brain surgeries he has endured. There are tiny blue tattoos sprinkled across his forehead which are souvenirs from two bouts of radiation therapy.  Rarely does he speak of his illness, only if he feels by sharing his story it will benefit another.  The tasks he undertakes may seem mundane to the average person. However, these important gifts he freely bestows upon others are priceless. His list of good deeds is endless and clandestine.   He does not believe in tooting his own horn, but rather quietly performs these tasks with no expectation of gratitude or appreciation. His list of daily contributions to others is infinite.   It includes fixing toilets for widows, mowing  the lawn for the wife of an imprisoned man, teaching new immigrants the idiosyncrasies  of American culture, repairing the broken bicycle of a fatherless child, fixing a strangers flat tire, helping a lost, drunken man find his way home, and tutoring a failing student in chemistry.   On the days when he is too ill to move about, he contributes by lending a listening ear and compassionate words to those in need. He completes all of these activities with an altruistic joy that permeates his whole being.  He takes pride in making someone else’s day and is constantly on the look out of a person in need.
 This joyous saint of a man in this chair is my father. Ironically, twenty years ago my father was convinced his life was without meaning or purpose.  As a well-educated and accomplished genius in the pharmaceutical industry, my father once derived his identity from his career.  Much of his time was spent on business trips and tending to the needs of his company.  After his second brain surgery, my father became too ill to work.  The surgery and subsequent radiation had impaired his short term memory and ability to concentrate and focus. With a heavy heart, he reluctantly resigned his position after being deemed permanently and totally disabled by a panel of medical experts.  The first few years after he stopped working were extremely difficult for him. He sat listlessly in that big blue chair, wondering what the next day would bring.   He had loved being productive but sadly his body and mind were no longer what they used to be.  His liquid brown eyes were full of pain and anguish.   I think some days he was just waiting to die.  Well-meaning friends and family, including myself, would ask him what he was planning to do with his time, as if he were on some sort of extended vacation.   These questions served only to increase his anxiety and depression.  Limited by his medical condition and disability, he lamented why he was on his earth.
I do not recall any single incident that arouse my father from the slumber of his depression and hopelessness.  Rather, it was an insidious series of events that made him clearly see the path of his life’s journey.   Perhaps it began when my father received a teary late night telephone call from a former colleague whose seventeen year old daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Without a moment’s hesitation, my father went to this young girl’s bedside to offer her words of comfort and inspiration but most importantly, truth.  My father became like a man on a beach with a metal detector in pursuit of buried treasures.  Everywhere he went, he sought out to identify a human need and fulfill it.  It seemed as if disadvantaged people were placed directly in front of him by a force of divine intervention. An elderly man standing in the middle of the road bleeding.  A single mother with a dead battery in the parking lot of a convenience store.  My father’s eye once gain became bright pools of light and inspiration.  He discovered something that is available to us all if only we can silence our minds to hear the divine calling.
As his sits in the recliner the pearls of wisdom roll of his tongue.  “I spent a long time wondering why I was here and why I have survived.” He murmurs deliberately “Now I know that I am here to help others on their journey.”   And from his a small offering of words I learn a vast lesson.  Do not spend the majority of your time and energy contemplating your life’s mission and purpose.  Your purpose on earth is more readily discovered when you increase your awareness about what is going on around you and seek to help others.  Put simply, just be, do what it placed in front of you and turn the rest over to God.

Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin Books and released in December 2008. Aileen is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. She has worked for over fifteen years as a licensed psychotherapist and registered nurse providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. Aileen  is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and writing her third book.

Get your completely free Inner Peace Diet ECourse by visiting

Deep Wells - Understanding Your Writing Moods

                       Deep Wells 

    Understanding Your Writing Moods

Writers feel deeply and think deeply. They draw from a deep well of experience, observance, and expression. How wonderful when we are drawing fresh, clear thinking from that well! Thing is, that deep well can also bring up some silt in the form of muddy, cluttered thinking, too. Feelings of negativity or failure can ensue. 

Some of my best writing has actually come from when I’ve been feeling blue. It seems I am more in tune with myself and my surroundings. Some of the greatest composers and artists suffered with moods and even depression. 

But the downside is those feelings can work against me, leaving me feeling discouraged, rejected, and finally, a failure. Feelings are fickle and they are not always accurate, truthful, or dependable.

It’s important to know yourself. Feelings may work for you and produce a creative writing streak, but it may not work for you if you bottom out and give up.

Don’t get me wrong. I love those writing streaks! But I occasionally still grapple with feelings that end up making me feel like a loser. That is when I go with it until it’s over, otherwise, I may make decisions that I will regret later – like giving up.

Once and awhile, someone rains on our parade. Sometimes, a surprise spring snowfall threatens your long awaited spring flowers. There are times when your writing isn’t producing. You want to give up. Don’t. Because just as quickly as that low season came it will leave. Remember that when those times intrude upon you, they can leave just as quickly.

Here are some further ideas to help: 
  • Join a writer's group. If there isn't one in your area, find one online. Here is where you will find encouragement. We all need this!
  • When you're feeling discouraged because of writer's block, rejection letters, or if you've gotten off track, don't give up. Ride it out.
  • Believe that you have a unique voice that people want to read. If you give up, someone will lose out!
  • When those times of discouragement come, go with it. Take a break. There is nothing written in stone that you have to produce everyday.
  • Be yourself. Comparing ourselves with other writers and authors only stunts our growth. Be confident! Learn all you can about your craft but at the end of the day - you are you.

Kathleen Moulton is a freelance writer and nature lover. She is married, has 8 children, ages 10-28, and has been homeschooling for 25 years. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at

The Many Faces of Murders

Murder can come in many forms. It can be done with a gun, a knife, or poison. The victim can be pushed down the stairs or off a cliff or building. Then, of course, there is drowning or overdose.

The way the murder occurs can determine how your story progresses. The twists and turns of the story are what keep your readers interested. The murder scene is a very important part of your story and must be crafted carefully. I prefer to write my murder scene first and then build the story the rest of the story around it. This does not work for every writer, so the writer should find what works for her/him.

There are several murder types. There is the felony murder, which is committed during a crime such as a robbery or arson. An example of an argument-motivated murder would be a domestic dispute. The unknown motive murder is one that has no clear motive. Mass murders are broken down into two categories:  The family mass murder, which is the killing of four or more members of the same family by another family member; and there is the classic mass murder, which is the killing of flour or more non-family member in a single location at one time. An example of this would be the killer who goes to a university campus and starts shooting everyone and anyone in his pathway.

Unlike mass murderers, serial killers hunt their victims. Each murder they commit is in a different location and over a period of time. The murderer can be male or female and may have a motive or not.

There are sex murderers, pedophiles, cult-related murders, rapists who murder their victims. There are murders committed because of anger, sadism, and because of a desire to have power over their victim. These can often include raping the victim before killing them. Some pedophiles will kill their victims after assaulting them. Not all do.

Then there is organized crime. At one time in the history of organized crime any mobster could kill anyone for any reason. But as this entity became more organized in the 1930's, the contract policy came into being. Basically this was murder for hire. The victim was usually someone within the Syndicate, a rival criminal or someone who was a client of an organized crime family. Then came Murder, Inc. The victim was looked upon as a bum who would not pay his debts and had to be made an example. The modern mobster is better educated and more businesslike, emerging into society La Cosa Nostra.

Interestingly there are women murderers such as the black widows and nurses. Black widows kill husbands, children, relatives, boardinghouse tenants, and employees. Nurses are the angels of mercy or angels of death who kill the ones in their care. Both are considered serial killers. Nowadays, though, these angels of death can come in the form of females or males.

Last but not least are the terrorists. They are the ultimate predator who put terror in the hearts of vicgtims around the world. Their acts are generally performed due to social dissatisfaction, political dissatisfaction, political dissatisfaction, economic deprivation, and personal crises and conflicts.

I'm sure you can add to this list, bu these that I have mentioned here will hopefully give you some ideas for your murder scene. Be innovative and creative and add plenty of suspense. After all, murder should be enjoyed.

Reference: Malicious Intent by Sean Mactire

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                             Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                  Writers on the Move

Logos for Writers

Logos permeate our daily experience and saturate the visual media.
They are known to be the visual synthesis of company’s image and philosophy.

When writers search for a graphic icon that can represent their work, same rule for sophistication and clarity should apply. However, while thinking up the concept of a logo is often easy, executing it properly is an entirely different thing.

In professional terms, logos can be typographical (made up of fonts) or iconic (a stylized graphic).

Even though good logos are easy to spot but hard to make, here are a few competitive points that contribute to a good logo:

• Concept – logo should have one unifying idea or message that is memorable

• Clarity – a logo should convey that message quickly and clearly

• Purpose – a logo should convey that message quickly and clearly to the right niche
• Function – a logo should be applicable across all medias (print & web) in color and black-and-white and it should be visible when it’s reduced to a smaller size.

In terms of graphic execution, there are a lot of subtle elements that a graphic designer employs as part of the underlying grammar of a strong logo. Some of them are:
• Effective placement and treatment of space
• Visual flow
• Visual contrast
• Visual hierarchy
• Color and value accent

Attention grabbing logos are often made up of unexpected combinations between literal objects and metaphors.

Here is an exercise that will help you to come up with intriguing visuals on your own.

1/ On a large sheet of paper, make as many columns as there are words in the name of your company. A column for each word.  Fill these columns with nouns, verbs, adjectives and phrases related to each word.

2/ On a separate sheet of paper draw two columns.
In the first column write down the message you want your logo to convey.

Under the second column you will write down objects and items that portray
that message.

Continue filling these two columns with different messages and words (even colors, shapes, feelings) that describe the messages.

After you’ve established a strong set of words for each column for both sheets, it’s time to look for connections within and between them that spark your imagination.

Perhaps you’ll find a combination between two different nouns that add up to an intriguing visual, or maybe an adjective from one column will lead to an eye-catching image when applied to an object from another.

Remember: you are looking for out-of-the-ordinary solutions. Make abundant notes and thumbnail sketches of potential solutions if you need to.

If you find out that there are major discrepancies between your company name and the message you want to convey perhaps you need to rethink that name.

Keep your notes from this exercise and share them with the graphic designer who will be working on your visuals. I would like to stress the point of working with a professional on your logo.

Designers are trained to simplify rather complex ideas graphically and logo art is more about editing and sacrifice than attempting to communicate everything to all people.

I wish you good luck and happy logo brainstorms!

Fani Nicheva is a graphic designer and author who works and lives in Santa Cruz, CA. She has written one design book "Type Talks" and is presently working on her first novel, "Mental Immigrant". You can view her work and writings at:

How to Write Anniversary Articles

Queen's 80th Birthday
photograph by Michael Gwyther-Jones  on Flickr under CC licence

Here in England. people everywhere are 
preparing for next weekend's celebrations of 
the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

For weeks, newspapers and magazines have 
been full of articles on everything from The 
Day I Met the Queen to How to Make Royal 

Special days and celebrations are ideal 
subjects for the jobbing writer looking for 
publication online, in newspapers or 

Well-targeted anniversary articles are 
excellent too for the short 150 word fillers vital for 
plugging those small page gaps. Fillers are 
always needed and  a good way for new 
writers to break into publication in magazines.

How to Check Out Anniversaries

To check out anniversaries for a 
particular day use Wikipedia with care, 
use a search engine or try newspaper and radio 
websites. Your library may have a copy of 
Chase's Calendar of Events.

The New YorkTimes has an on-this-day feature
And Ottowa Researchers provide a similar service for Canadian birthdays and events

What Happened Today?

 In 1819, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was 
born  and  Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish astronomer died on this day in 1643.

In 1930, pioneering pilot Amy Johnson became 
the first woman to fly from England to Australia while in 1962  American astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule.

It would have made an ideal article for this 
year being a fiftieth anniversary--editors love 
round dates.

They also like quirky and unusual articles. Everyone will be targeting articles on the main stories. But for a writing magazine, you'd be better tackling today as the first publication date of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

How to Find Submission Dates

Obviously check for submission guidelines or request them by email. Remember that many magazines are working as far as six months or more ahead. In other words you might need to submit Christmas dates in May.

And how do you know what the magazine is planning if it's not in the guidelines? Check out the media kit or advertising calendar. It lists the year's planned covers and main focus for each month--useful if the magazine is one which is not visibly open to submissions. Here's an example from the New Hampshire magazine and another from Eating Well.

May is also Revise Your Work Schedule month (oh dear, I should be doing that) and if you're looking for a recipe for Royal Icing, here's one from the BBC.

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

Writing Retreats

Is there a particular place you like to go to write? It could be a room in your home or somewhere outside.  Perhaps it is in the area you live.  Maybe it’s a distance away, like a vacation destination.

Are there times when you just can’t write for whatever reason? Maybe life was busy (Mine was this month and that’s why this blog post is so short!) and you haven’t had the time or inclination to sit down and write.

I have a special place, it’s a vacation destination, where I can relax and feel inspired.  I can sit by the water or in a park or in an historic inn. I can go for a walk on a trail or through the business district or around residential neighborhoods.

I just returned from a place that I like to visit. I packed my laptop and a tote bag. I filled the bag with some photos I cut out of magazines, a few issues of The Writer magazine, a book that I am reading, and three notebooks. 

I have some other ideas for the next time I do this. I’m going to include some chocolate, perhaps one of my favorite brands of root beer or sparkling grape juice. While on vacation, I purchased a basket that I can use as a travel desk. It’s actually a carrier for casseroles, but I think it would hold writing materials too.

Here is something you can use for inspiration when thinking about a writing retreat. I recently found this website and it’s fun to dream! Check it out!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER: Random Act Of Kindness - Elysabeth Eldering

I'm featured on Susanne Drazic's blog as part of the Random Act Of Kindness blitz.  This was totally unexpected and very much appreciated - Thanks many times over, Susanne.  Stop by and see what the buzz is all about - E :)

PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER: Random Act Of Kindness - Elysabeth Eldering: Elysabeth Eldering is one of two people that I chose to honor for the Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!  If you didn't get a chance to see the ...

How to Select a Writing Journal

 A friend of mine was shopping for a journal. She was debating whether to purchase a school themed notebook or a pretty journal.  My recommendation for writers is to buy both. 

Each August, with the back to school sales, I buy about 20 spiral notebooks.  They are not attractive and are very inexpensive.  They’re great if you do any sort of writing exercises, (e.g.  Julia Cameron’s morning pages).  The cheap price and disposable feel gives me permission to write crap. Fortunately, my inner critic doesn't seem to mind if I write crap in a spiral notebook.   I can write garbage, filled with spelling errors and bad grammar...but it doesn't matter because I write.  Besides, I know that most of what is in these notebooks will never to be seen by anyone but me without major revisions.

I also have some beautiful journals.  Usually, these are on my nightstand.  My special journals give me a completely different feel when I pick them up.  It’s an instant message that something important is about to be written.   I have a floral covered cloth “gratitude” journal.   Its purpose is to remind me of the blessings in my life.  

What does your writing journal look like?  

Is it an old spiral notebook                            or                 is it a beautiful bound book?


It's likely that what it looks like reflects how you approach your writing and what's written inside. 

Happy Writing,
Mary Jo 

Dealing with the First Editor

One of the biggest deterrents to creative writing is the presence of your internal editor. She—or he—loves to interfere with your thought process by pointing out mistakes, typos, missing commas, or errors in your thought process.

"But," you say, "surely this is important? I don't want to produce inferior work."

No, you don't. But the time for editing will come later, once you've finished writing the article or chapter. If you stop to listen to all the suggested corrections of your internal editor, your work will lack creativity and flow and may never get finished.

Sometimes it can be as simple as playing music or wearing headphones. Other times you need to be far more drastic. Acknowledge the presence of your inner editor, then deal with her/him.

Cecil Murphey, in his Writer to Writer blog, is polite when he deals with his inner editor. He admits that he talks aloud. “Be patient," he says. "Let me get on with this. When I finish, I’ll let you rip it apart.”

Karen Swim at Words for Hire banishes her inner critic by "physically kicking her out of the room and locking the door. I have found that acknowledging her presence and ordering her to leave is as effective as it would be on a “real” person. She is only allowed back in when I have written the first draft, and then and only then she gets to have her say."

For me, I admit it all depends on how persistent she is. Sometimes I can be firm. "Go away! I'm busy writing!" And no, I'm not polite like Cec. Other times I do what every parent knows you shouldn't do, and say, "Oh for goodness sake here!" and give in to her.

What about you? How do you deal with this nuisance who tries to correct you as you write? Please share with us by adding a comment below.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives in South Africa with her husband Rob, a hyperactive budgie called Sparky, and an ever expanding family of tropical fish. Hundreds of her inspirational and life-enrichment articles have been published internationally. She is contributing author to nine books to date and her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer  is available now for pre-order at or at Barnes & Noble (B& You can contact Shirley through her writing website, her Rise and Soar site for encouraging those on the cancer journey, or follow her on Twitter  

Ethics in writing

Whether writers are writing nonfiction or fiction, they owe it to their readers to double check facts, as well as checking for any errors in consistency, punctuation, grammar, spelling, and typos.

Unless writers are giving their work away free of charge, most readers are spending their money for a product; the writer has an ethical responsibility to their reader. Writers need an EDITOR to make sure that their book is as error free as possible.

This is the reason that self-published books have a less than stellar rating. Reviewers are talking about how bad self-pubs are, also the internet. It is true that anyone can write, but not everyone is a writer. Readers hold writers to a standard ingrained by traditional publishers where they edited, and proofread as part of the publishing process.

Writers should hold themselves to this standard. Some indie authors feel there should be no rules. Whether there are or aren’t any rules is not the point, the point is that authors ethically owe their readers work that is the best in can be, edited, and proofread before the reader receives a copy.

If writers have blogs, delve into social media sites, have a web site, in all instances, they shouldn’t use internet shortcut language, they should be practicing their language and writing skills at all times.

Some authors may disagree, but there must be some basic level of ethics in all writers, that make them strive to turn out the best product for the reader. A product that has been fact checked, edited, and proofread by someone other than the author.

Why someone other than the author, simple, the author is too close to the project to be truly objective when it comes to the blue pencil.

Robert Medak
Writer, Blogger, Editor, Reviewer

MId Year Evaluation

It is almost the middle of 2012 and a time for evaluation of goals, both writing and personal. I do this between mid May and mid June so that July through December can hopefully be productive rather then dwindling into nothingness. Maybe the teacher in me picks this time of year because the school year is coming to a close and summer presents a time for renewal and the formation of a new attitude for fall. Here is how I re-evaluate and make goals for the remainder of the year.

I look at what has worked and what has not to move my writing career forward. For me, I have finished a big project and have only a few smaller gigs to make the monthly paycheck so I need to look for new writing gigs. This means at least three times a week I will look at job boards or send out queries.

I have books to promote, a new picture book to be released in August 2012, and a some ideas for magazines  that I want to query. Keeping a calendar of holidays, magazines and their editors,  topics that need a fresh twist, and marketing ideas is a good way to make the remainder of the year productive. I pick a day a week to look at this list and make my goals for the next week to include tackling something on this list.

I have social media sites to visit. How much an author does with social media is a personal choice but making sure activities on those sites includes moving your writing career forward is a must. I will weed out those areas that are not for writing and add the ones that will help my writing for the rest of 2012. It is a business decision and works to help promote a niche and platform.

I look at what conferences are around and what free or low cost workshops are available and decide which ones I can attend. Currently there are three that I am either attending or will attend online. This is an important step in honing writing skills and keeping current. Conferences and networking, taking workshops and joining critique groups are an important way to learn more about the craft of writing and to get to know other authors, publishers, or editors.

Finally, I weed out some of the groups that are not helping me to move forward. This is the most difficult part of my mid year evaluation but it also must be based on the business of writing. What groups are helping you grow as a writer and which are simply another form of socializing that takes you away from the writing? Stick with the ones where you are still learning and step back for a few months from the ones that keep you away from your writing goals.

Evaluation is never easy and neither is making the decisions it takes to succeed. The important thing is to take positive actions so you can become the author you know you can be. Just remember to make friends along the way and enjoy the process.

10,000 Hours

The guacamole was amazing. So was the atmosphere. Somewhere off in another part of the restaurant a Mariachi band played music.

We had just ordered dinner when the musicians found their way to our table. I couldn't help but notice one young man, a guitarist, who seemed to find my dinner companion irresistible. She giggled a bit and blushed. Moving closer to me, she mentioned that he looked familiar.

Only when the song was finished did he approach us. "Hello," he said to my friend. "I do not know if you recognize me . . . "

"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed. She introduced him to me. A friend from school. Someone she hadn't seen since forever. "What are you doing now?" she asked.

His answer, "I'm getting in my 10,000 hours."

She was baffled. I smiled. "Good for you," I acknowledged.

Ten thousand hours is all you need to become an expert at any skill. His 10,000 hours were going to make him an expert musician. His practice, persistence and passion would set him apart.

Artists, athletes, musicians and yes, writers, all benefit from 10,000 hours rules. Putting in time helps to hone your skills.

Practice: Sit down every day and write something even if it's only a bit of dialog.

Persistence: Write when it is difficult, when the muse is elusive and the right words do not seem to come.

Passion. Having passion for writing is what makes the practice and persistence doable. Without passion the writing becomes work instead of a pleasure.

Commit to becoming an expert today and finish your 10,000 hours.  
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and Young Adult Science Fiction. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with her coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.
D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. 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
Her novels are available in electronic format here, or print format here
You can also follower her at or on Facebook

“Writing Down Goals and Objectives Can Keep You Focused,” by Mayra Calvani

I have kids, a husband, pets, a house, and many errands to run on a weekly basis. So how do I find the time to write? Well, first of all, I donfind it. I make it. You know why? Because if you wait for the perfect time to write, itll never come: there never is a perfect time to write.

One method that has worked for me is to, first of all, 1) be clear about my goals and objectives and 2) write down my goals and objectives each day before I start working. I learned this powerful trick from Suzanne Lieurance, founder of The Working Writers Club.

After my kids are off to school and my hubby off to work, I go to my office with Amigo, my adorable golden retriever, and I sit down at the computer. Before I start working, however, I open my spiral notebook and write my schedule for the day. I use Google calendar for all my weekly and monthly goals and objectives, but I also like to keep this spiral notebook for my daily schedule. There is something extremely powerful about writing your goals and objectives each day before you sit down to write.

First, I write my 3 major yearly goals at the top of the page. Then I write down the objectives that I can take today in order to bring me closer to those 3 major goals. My goals are usually very broad, and my objectives very specific.

For example, if one of my 3 major goals is “to establish myself as an author,” then one of my objectives is:

9:00-11:00 AM  work on my novel.

Unless something unexpected comes up, Ill usually keep this objective from Monday to Friday month after month until I have a complete manuscript that is ready to be submitted. If, for whatever reason, I cant write that morning, Ill try to allocate those two hours in the afternoon or at nightthough not often, as my mind is fresher in the mornings.

A typical writing day will include one objective for each major goal, for a total of 3 objectives. Each objective must be related to its goal. If it isnt, then I discard it. This is extremely helpful to help keep you focused and prevent bright shiny objects to stir you away from whats really important.

Of course I already know what my goals and objectives are, but the secret lies in writingthem down each day before I start working. This really helps keep me focused and productive. I love to tick items off as I complete them, so at the end of the day I usually feel like Ive really accomplish something and that all my projects are progressing and getting somewhere. I started using this system this January and the results have been excellent.

If youre feeling unfocused, unproductive and unmotivated, I encourage you to try this method!

About the Author:  Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer,Writer’s JournalMulticultural Review, andBloomsbury Review, among many others. A reviewer for over a decade, she now offers online reviewing workshops. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Visit her website at, join her mailing list, and automatically receive the free ebooks, Reviewers Talk about Their Craft and the first lesson from my Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Workshop.

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...