Writers: Fine Tune your Characters' Friendships

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small.
We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time.
Georgia O'Keeffe
Friendship, I think it's safe to say, is an issue in most if not all children's books. Now that my MG mystery is finished and in the hands of editors, I realize a subconscious exploration of friendship had been going on during the writing, some good, some bad.
Friendships are important - if not crucial - for our well-being.

An Aha Moment

The book was done. Fini. Caput. Honest. Time away, in its wisdom, has continued to fine-tune unexpected areas that felt complete only days ago. The questions began to rise like the broth in vegetable soup: Did I cover enough ground in my portrayals of my characters' interactions? Can I make their growing friendships more meaningful?
There are four major friendships-in-the-making:
mc + sidekick
mc + grandpa
mc + dog
mc + cat and her kittens
The antagonist isn't having it:

antag - bullies mc
antag - is jealous of mc
antag - is mean and cruel - a bully
antag - her egotism blocks any hope of friendship unless she changes
The antagonist's problem? The eleven-year-old mc and her sidekick compliment each other. Friendship blooms. She doesn't know how to be friends.
Nothing can replace the value of a close friendship.

Example of a friendship-in-the-making:

Sidekick:                                                                     mc:

not in tune with subtleties of others                           empathetic to the extreme

athletic                                                                        not athletic at first

cautious, not wanting to get in trouble                       is willing to take chances, curious,                                                                                         adventuresome

entrenched in her immediate surroundings                 thinks outside of the box

outdoors type                                                              artistic, prone to indoor activities

By the end of the book, the characters learn from each other and share their qualities. The master plan is to expand this book into a series. The characters will grow. Their friendships will deepen. That's the goal.

Develop Positive Traits of Friendship

As I wade through this partial list of how my characters can become better at being friends, think of the portrayal of your characters' friendships. Do they need fine tuning?

Making and retaining friendships isn't easy.

Choose your friends wisely.

Believe in yourself.

Be introduced.

Be loyal.

Be positive.

Be reliable.

Be respectful.

Be trustworthy.

Be careful not to be hurtful.

Be a good listener.

Be truthful.

Be confident but not egotistical.

Have fun.

Have the shoulder a friend can cry on.

Keep in touch.

Make eye contact and smile.

Remember birthdays and special occasions.

Show interest.

For more information, check out the entire articles that contributed to this article:
Photo: By Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.

The Internet and Your Privacy

Congress is taking the first steps to overturn the internet privacy rules that were

Negotiations begin in the House tomorrow. Comcast and other broadband providers are trying to have the internet privacy rules blocked.

These rules were only passed in October 2016 and haven't even been put into effect yet.

If the privacy block is passed, it means every bit of your information (business and personal) is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

This information includes your browsing history, your geolocation data, app usage, and even your health data.

Not sure how true it is, but I also read that this information will include the text in your emails.

An article at The New York Times stated, "The Federal Trade Commission, the consumer protection agency, is barred from overseeing broadband providers, so without the F.C.C. privacy rules, the federal government will be a weaker watchdog over internet privacy.

I don't understand what's happening to commonsense. If everything about money? What happened to integrity, ethics, honesty, and our rights?

Pretty scary stuff.

If you want to read more about this, visit:

What do you think about this?

Writing Tips on How to Spell a Word You Don't Know

It's probably happened to everyone at one time or another. You're writing and decide to use a word you're not familiar with - you don't know how to spell it. Well, the folks at Hubspot came up with some useful tips on how to figure out the spelling and they put those tips in an infograph.

Since this site is for writers and authors, I thought it'd be helpful.


Was this helpful? We'd sure appreciate knowing.


Two Ways to Format Your Manuscript
Think Your Way to Writing Success with Daily Affirmations
Getting Rid of Tattletale Words in Your Resume

Use this Simple Promotion Idea with Your Reviews

By W. Terry Whalin

Several times a week, someone will email and ask me to read their book and write a review. It is a good strategy to approach well-known reviewers. Normally their request mentions a book that I have read and reviewed, then pitches their book. 

Because I've written almost 700 book reviews on Amazon, I get these requests. To be honest, I look at their books and in most cases I politely decline the offer—for several reasons. Most of them are ebook only books on Kindle and I do not have an Ebook reader. Also when I look at the books, I'm not interested in reading their book so again I decline. Because I've been reading and writing book reviews for many years, I have publicists and publishers often pitching for me to read their books and write about them. I am committed to continuing to read new books and write book reviews about those books. 

I review the book on Amazon but also on Goodreads, where I have 5,000 friends (the limit). Repeatedly I see authors launch their book with no book reviews on Amazon--zero. In fact, during the last week, I've seen two long-time publishing professionals (literary agents) launch new books with no Amazon book reviews. If Amazon is selling 70% of the books (a number that I've seen recently in the publishing press--unsure if true or not), then it is critical for every author to get book reviews. 

One of the best resources for getting reviews for your book is from Tim Grahl but get it and use it: https://booklaunch.com/amazon-reviews/ Scroll down and on the bottom get the free download from him because it has templates for emails and spread sheets and all sorts of valuable tools. It doesn't matter if your book came out last month or last year, you need to be working on these reviews. If someone goes to the page on Amazon and there are no reviews or only one or two reviews, this information affects whether others will buy your book.

Recently I was traveling and met with Charles Billingsleya well-known Christian recording artist. Charles released a new book from Worthy Publishing on March 7th. Charles he gave me a copy of Words on Worship. The book is a well-designed, attractive hardcover. Inside Charles had gathered four pages of great and well-known endorsements. I know that effort took work and is something every author should do for their new book. For my own curiosity, I looked on Amazon on his launch day and he had no book reviews on Amazon. 

To help Charles, I quickly looked at the book, wrote a review and posted it on Amazon--and also Goodreads. I also tweeted about the book a couple of times to my 200,000+ twitter followers. Writing book reviews is a simple way you can support other authors. Also notice my reviews are substantial and at least 120 words often including a quotation from the book to prove that I've read the book cover to cover. I don't believe the review is as effective if only a sentence or two since those reviews don't contain much information.

Here's my simple yet important idea for you when you write book reviews: include a live link to your own book at the end of the review. Within their customer reviews, Amazon allows you to include a link to another product. Why not use this tool to tell readers about your latest book? Now take a closer look at my review for Words on Worship. Now notice at the end of the review, I write: “W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist.”  Because this link is live to my book page on Amazon, a reader interested could go over to the page and purchase my book. To be honest, adding this link does not always work because sometimes (rarely) Amazon doesn't like it and will not post my review. When this happens, I delete my personal line and resubmit it and then my review appears on the site.

As long as I'm writing about book reviews, I have a free teleseminar on this topic. Just follow the link and get the full replay and download the gifts associated with it. Your work to tell people about your book is on-going after it is published. The key from my perspective is to always be looking for new ways and on-going ways to promote your own book--even when helping others with a book review. 

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and the author of more than 60 books including Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success (available exclusively through this website with bonuses even though this book has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews). He blogs about The Writing Life and lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers.

Use this simple promotion idea when you write a book review. (ClickToTweet) 

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10 Reasons to Start Writing Right Now

As a writing coach and a writer, I think I’ve heard every reason in the world for not writing right now.

Each person who wants to be a writer but isn’t writing yet has his own unique rationale for not getting any work done.

But, the thing is, if a person wants to be a writer he must write.

It’s just that simple and there’s no way around it.

Do You Want to Be a Writer?

If you say you want to be a writer, yet you aren’t writing yet, here are 10 reasons to get started right now rather than wait for later (when you have more time, when your kids are grown, when you’re ready to retire, or whatever it is you’re waiting for).

Reasons to Start Writing Right Now

1. It will probably take twice as long as you think it will to reach your writing goals.

Most people think they’re going to sit down one day and write a novel in a few weeks.

The story will simply “come to them” and all they’ll need to do is write it all down.

That may happen, but what simply “comes to you” probably won’t be marketable.

It will require a lot of rewriting, then editing, then proofing, then marketing.

In fact, anyone who is thought of as an “overnight success” usually spent years working to become successful.

If they had sat around and waited for a story to “come to them” they’d probably still be waiting.

Start writing right now and your story will begin to take shape.

2. You never know what the future will bring – all you really have is now.

If you wait to start writing, you may never get the chance.

You don’t know what the future will hold, including how much of a future you have or how long you will be healthy and able to write.

If you wait, it could be too late when you do decide to get started, so start writing right now.

3. You will probably need to write a LOT more before you get very good at it.

Even if you manage to write a novel fairly quickly, you’ll probably need to write at least a few novels (in the same genre) before you reach any significant level of monetary success.

Start now and you could have several novels completed within the next few years.

Do you really want to wait until you're much older to become a successful writer?

I doubt it.

So start writing right now.

4. Fear will ALWAYS be part of your life as a writer.

If you try to wait until you overcome all fear, you’ll never start writing.

The good news is, fear will affect you less and less the more you write.

Don’t let fear stop you dead in your tracks.

Start writing now.

5. You don’t have to be the most talented writer on the planet to be successful.

In fact, there are many people with great writing talent who are not successful.

They don’t write enough.

They aren’t consistent or persistent.

They never, or hardly ever, submit their work for possible publication.

If you write on a consistent basis, you submit your work regularly, and you keep at it, you can be very successful even if you don’t have gobs of talent.

Just start writing.

6. Opportunities will come to you, but you have to be in the game first.

When you start out as a writer, you need to look for opportunities everywhere.

But when you’ve been writing for a while and you’ve become published, opportunities will start coming to you.

Nothing will come to you if you do nothing.

Get in the game now, so opportunities will start coming your way.

7. Your muse will start to show up more regularly once you do the same.

Most people don’t write because they can't decide what to write or they don't know what to write.

They may have an idea for a novel or short story, for example, but the chapters and scenes don’t instantly spring to mind.

They don't know that usually sitting down and getting started is what brings these chapters and scenes to mind.

Writing itself opens the floodgates to creativity.

So just start writing.

8. You can call the shots.

You can become whatever kind of writer you want to be.

You can decide what you will write and who you will write it for.

You can decide what you will charge for your work or which projects you will accept.

But again, you can’t do any of this if you don’t start writing.

9. You can set your own schedule.

If you work at a regular J-O-B, someone will tell you the days and hours you must work.

You will probably also have to do your work from a specific location.

But you can set your own schedule as a writer.

You can write when and where you like!

So why wait?

Start writing.

10. You already have everything you need to get started right now.

You have enough time, enough talent, and enough skill to start writing right now.

Even if you must continue to work another full time job for income, you can still start your writing career.

Write before work.

Write after work.

Write on your lunch hour.

Write on your days off.

Many best-selling authors started their writing careers this way.

Your Future Depends on What You Do Today

So stop putting off your writing career for sometime in the future.

Start writing right now.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of more than 30 published books, a freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature for over 8 years.

Ready to start your writing career right now, but you know you need help?

Get the one-on-one coaching you need: www.quickstartfreelancewriting.com

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Be More Creative

If you’re like me and you occasionally feel stuck creatively, you might be searching for ways to get those juices pumping again. Well, my fellow writing friend, you’ve found some great tips that you can do today.

1.       Infuse Your Diffuser—Are you in on the latest essential oil craze? I’m not here to sell you essential oils, but I can tell you that smells matter. Research has shown that smells stimulate your brain quicker because of the olfactory senses being so close to your brain. That’s why a smell can bring back a memory quicker than anything. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s been research with people who have Alzheimer’s? Anyway, I digress.

My point here is if you use a particular smell in the area where you write and use it consistently, it will trigger your brain to know this is our creative time and if you choose the smells that are associated with more alertness and stimulation, you’ll get a two-for-one deal. I like peppermint and cinnamon. Maybe I’m a foodie at heart. I’m still experimenting with my diffuser but you could use a room freshener. There are some really pretty plug-in’s I’ve seen lately. If you used scents to help you write, please let me know what scent is your favorite. I’d love to hear about it and give it a try myself.

2.       Less is More—Have you heard this? Well, I know it’s a great motto for living and leaving less of a carbon footprint and I’m on board with that, but for creativity, less is not more. You see, when we have nothing around us, no colors, no chachkies with sentimental value, no stuff—well, our brains just aren’t as creative. Our brains need, no crave, stimulation. If you’re in a boring bland empty colorless room, you’re going to get what you put it, nothing. You’ll be staring at a blank page quicker than a tick latches onto a hound dog. Now, I’m no friend of clutter. I grew up with an OCD (that’s obsessive compulsive disorder, for those non-psychology majors) mother who wanted everything in its’ place. I mean there was no clutter anywhere, not even our bedrooms, no closets stuffed with stuff, nothing hidden under our beds. I’ll stop before you start feeling sorry for me. She didn’t really have a disorder, she just didn’t like clutter so you can see why I don’t either. However, my writing office, it’s become, ahem, sorry Mom, cluttered. I have all kinds of article clippings (yes, I still do that) and stuffed shoved on shelves and actually spilling out onto the floor and bags hanging from hooks that are also stuffed with stuff and drawers filled to the brim.

Oh, and I have a problem with collecting pillows. I can’t seem to find just the right one, so I’ve bought quite a few. The guest bed in my writing office has become the holding pen for all the pillows I have rejected. It’s a great place to take a break from writing (which I never do because I’m a writing machine. LOL). But, I also have beautiful French doors that open onto my large porch and overlook our lush tropical backyard and pond brimming with life. This is a place of great inspiration for me; my writing “stuff,” my collection of pillows and the beautiful great outdoors. So, surround yourself with what you love—make it colorful, fun, whimsical is even better, and filled with whatever inspires you. Please share with me what things you like to have around you when you’re writing, I’d love to hear it.

3.       Computer typing or pen-holding writing?—I know we love our computers. I do too. I’m so productive. I can type really fast because I grew up in an age where we were taught typing. So, I don’t have to look at the keyboard and I don’t even think of letters, I think in whole words and my fingers know where to go. I, however, cannot type with my thumbs. We’ll leave that up to the younger generation. Wouldn’t it be funny if we grew extra thumbs to help us type more? Okay, okay, I know--a total digression. However, when you type, there is research that shows, you do not use your most creative part of your brain.

There are two sides to your brain—a right side and a wrong side, I mean left side. Your right side is the creative side and the left is your more rational side. When you type, you are using the left side of your brain. To stimulate the right side of your brain, the creative side, you need to use your hands. Research has shown that when you write, the act of transferring your thoughts to your hands and onto the paper actually stimulates the right side of your brain thus causing you to be more creative. If you haven’t actually hand written something in a while, I dare you to try it. You might just remember why you fell in love with writing in the first place. Please share with me your experience, I’d love to hear how this goes for you.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked at the local Community Mental Health Center, the local Community College, Hospice, and is currently a Guidance Counselor. Her calling in life is to help others be their best selves. She writes magical, whimsical, adventure books that delight and inspire children. She has always loved reading and writing and wrote many books and poems as a child growing up in Missouri. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs.

Follow her blog at Wanda Luthman’s Children’s Books (www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com)


Think Your Way to Writing Success with Daily Affirmations
Getting Rid of Tattletale Words in Your Resume
How to Keep Your Social Media Presence Professional

How to Keep Your Social Media Presence Professional

There are lots of benefits to living and working in the digital age, especially for authors. It's easier to publish, market, and be seen. However, with the power of increased visibility comes responsibility. (And you thought power just related to superheroes.)

When you meet someone for the first time or get a business referral, what is the first thing you do? You do an internet search for them. Guess what? People search for you too. That's why it's so important to keep your digital footprint squeaky clean and professional. This applies to your social media profiles, as well as your interaction on the platforms.

Yes, you can set a certain level of privacy with your online profiles, but sometimes things get out. Much better to project a professional presence at all times.

Here are five things you can do to keep your social media presence professional.

1. Use a Recent Picture. Your profile photo is some people's first look at you. So, first of all it really should be of you (not an icon, logo, or picture of your dog). And although nothing beats a professional photo, a clean, recent image will also do the trick. That way, when someone meets you in real life for the first time, they already feel like they know you.

2. Less is More. There is so much over-emoting on social media. People sharing information that is way too personal or ranting and raving about this and that. If you have something to say, say it. Be informative, entertaining, or educational. And (my recommendation) be concise, unless a certain of detail will enhance your story. We are, after all, writers. Ooh, and unless your platform is talking about hot-button topics, you may want to stay away from them to avoid offending potential clients.

3. Watch your Language. This point is two-fold. Remember to check for typos and grammatical errors before you publish anything on social media. Run it through spellcheck on a word-processing document first if necessary. And watch the curse words. I know some people swear on social media for effect and others do it as part of their brand. If it's the latter, that's a professional choice. If it's for effect, there are much better and more powerful words you can use to get your point across.

4. No Upload Overload. Be mindful of what pictures you post. While you can certainly post pics of you having fun at events, don't share anything that you would not want a future client, an employer, or older relative to see.

5. Be Careful What You Post. One of my mom's favorite phrases is "there are no secrets." If you had a bad experience with someone (like an agent, a magazine, or a publisher), don't take to the forums and Facebook groups (even private ones) to bad-mouth them. There's no doubt what you say will get to them, and also get back to - and reflect poorly on - you.  

You only get once chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

What do you think? What guidelines do you have for your social profiles? Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Writing Hint from Ray Bradbury

If you want to write, "You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads."

-Ray Bradbury

Melinda Brasher's next book comes out soon!  Cruising Alaska on a Budget is a guide for people who want the trip of a lifetime, but don't want to spend their entire life savings.  See more, or sign up for the mailing list at cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com

Help Finance Your Book (Without Guilt!)

Run Ads to Help Finance Your Electronic or Self-Published Books

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I hate the word “monetize.”

I especially don’t like it when this word (it’s really ugly, isn’t it?) is mentioned in the same breath with books. But I’m going to talk about it anyway because, if authors do it right, using ads in their books or other promotional materials can subsidize the cost of publishing a book, costs like great editing, great cover design and great indexing they often scrimp on.

Most every author is self publishing something these days. If not their books, then e-books or white papers that help them promote their work. Many of these books are perfect for paid ads and ads in barter. Think about trading an ad for another service you need like a blog tour, bookcover art, or printing.

Ads like these are becoming more accepted if they are focused on the book’s target audience. The LA Times reports Amazon will put ads in some Kindle readers and that they then sell those readers at 18% less than the ad-free same device without ads that retails for about $114.00. 

Ads in disguise have been used in literary journals and other books for years. They usually come as an order page or a list (subtle or not-so-subtle) of related books that might interest a reader.  Some of the ads Amazon is using will not only give you a discounted Kindle, they may give you other money-saving resources.  So, if you decide to put ads into your books, how would you do it?

~Put the ads 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 you use ads this way, your reader benefits. They learn about new resources and special discounts and the discounts they get may even help pay for the book (yours!) that your reader just bought.

If you are uncomfortable with this idea, start small. Start with your promotional e-books. Then move on. Eventually your readers may benefit from ads in your full-fledged, honest-to-goodness paperback or hardcover book!

PS: Anyone with a product (yes, books are products!) or a service that would appeal to readers of The Frugal Book Promoter may e-mail me (HoJoNews@aol.com) for details of how we might partner on something like this for one of my new releases. Spaces are limited.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a novelist, poet, and the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers (http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com). That site includes a huge section of Resources for Writers. She also blogs writers’ resources at Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites pick www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com. Her newest book in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Using Personality Typologies to Build Your Characters

  Contributed by Margot Conor People often have asked me how I build such varied and interesting character profiles. I’m fond of going into ...