Writing Contests for Summer of 2017

This post is short and sweet and is about entering writing contests. These contests are a great way to move your writing career forward and boost your visibility. The link below has a list of contests for the summer of 2017.

Check out the free guide and see which ones will be a good fit for you:

Free - Guide to Writing Contests for Summer 2017


One Last Edit? Rethink Before Submitting
Are You Living the Writer’s Life?
Self-Publishing – The Pros

What it Takes for your Character to Overcome a Bully

Try to look at your weakness
and convert it into your strength.
That's success.
Zig Ziglar
Upstanders unite! An upstander, as described in Bullying: Prevention and Intervention--Protecting Children and Teens from Physical, Emotional, and Online Bullying, by Cindy Miller, LCSW and Cynthia Lowen, in May's post, Bullying 101, is the person who is willing to stand up to the bully. Targets are kids who don't take action, and who are afraid of the bully and can't hide their fears. Often targets don't fit in with their peers.

Through Thin to Thick
Overcoming bullying boils down to developing a thick skin. So, strategies the character in your story needs to build to overcome his tormenters may include:
  • Knowing he's an equal to others.
  • Doesn't accept negative comments without sticking up for himself.
  • Doesn't yell, swear or lecture, but stays calm; and an excellent line of defense is to ask questions.
  • Doesn't accept what the bully says or does.
  • In real life, if everything else fails the target needs to seek help from an adult. But in stories, your character must figure it out for himself.
A Hero is Born
How does your character develop these strategies in the first place? Knowing them are important so you'll know how to show how your character is weak in the beginning of your story, discussed last month, and how your character discovers how to build strengths by the end of your story.

The secret? Self-confidence! Here are some ways you can show how your character builds self-confidence in order to fend off the bully. He needs to:
  • Feel good about something in his life.
  • Feel worthy and loved by others.
  • Know how to ask for what he wants and become an advocate for others, too (so he's not just thinking of himself).
  • Make eye contact when speaking to others.
  • Respect other people, applaud their similarities and differences.
  • Remain positive with others and supportive, never tearing anyone down.
  • Have a built-in value system so that he is not easily swayed by someone trying to take advantage of him.
  • Confront his fears, which helps him develop self-confidence and courage.
My Personal Caveat
The bullying my poor character endured was laced with humor. In the beginning of the story, she was a tad reluctant to engage in physical exercise, looked for the easy way out of things, and lacked flexibility. The bully tried to put her down, but because of the confidence she gained through trial and error (in authorese, the struggle she went through in order to grow), she never bent to the bully's wishes and the bully surrendered like a plucked weed. In the end, the strengths my character developed resulted in the admiration of the other characters, even her bully.

Clipart courtesy of: http://clipart-library.com/
Source: Bullying: Prevention and Intervention--Protecting Children and Teens from Physical, Emotional, and Online Bullying, by Cindy Miller, LCSW and Cynthia Lowen, and personal experience.

The drafts of my first book
make a good elbow rest! 
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.

Explore – Dream - Discover

We all experience growing pains as we push to reach our goals.  The good part is that we are growing, but the path also includes struggle and frustration from time to time. 

I have sailed away from my safe harbor and launched into creative writing.  Story writing is a whole new journey with struggles against stormy seas, but wonderful when I catch the trade winds in my sails.  I don’t want to be disappointed that I did not stay the course.

I like this quote by Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.       Mark Twain

Disappointment is one side of the coin.  Moving forward productively is the other side.  What can we do each day to step closer to our goals? 
·         Write every day, even if it’s just a little.
·         Start journaling from where you are right now. You may find a springboard into an article, an essay or a story to explore.
·         Explore new ideas for your business, your website or your blog.  When you land on an idea you like, consider writing a series of pieces.
·         You set goals over different lengths of time, you break them down into doable steps; now add some dreams to inspire your path.
·         Enjoy the discoveries you make as you go.

How about you?  Have you sailed away from your safe harbor?  Don’t be disappointed; catch the trade winds in your sails.  We applaud you, your direction and your endeavors!

Please share your sailing adventure in the comment section below.  Thank you, deborah

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves the artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: DeborahLyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. 
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Five Good reasons to Secure Your Site

1. The SSL  (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate shows that your site is using strong encryption to keep its users and their information safe. Obviously if you are collecting sensitive data like credit cards, this is vital. But it is also vital if you are collecting email addresses  for any reason at all--newsletters, freebies, building a list. Under EU law, you are bound to keep your site and its data secure. It could be argued that even  a reader making comments is revealing some sensitive information, perhaps a photograph or a linked website.

2. The certificate is also important to authenticate you as the responsible owner of the site. With scams pouring across the Internet, and cloned websites becoming almost commonplace, readers need the security of knowing that they are landing on a reputable site. You may feel  it's going overboard to protect a personal site to such an extent but if you value your following, think about acting soon.

3. Information sent across the Internet can pass from computer to computer before reaching the server. Without strong encryption, any one of these could steal user names, passwords, all the information they need to start targeting you and your list with phishing attacks and sending you to insecure sites riddled with malware.

4. With the rise in publicity for the SSL certificate fostered by Google demands, more and more sites are offering certificates at greatly reduced rates. It will no longer cost you a fortune annually to secure your site. You may even be eligible for a shared certificate which will cost you nothing. But beware--check the credentials of your chosen provider carefully. Some certificates have already been rejected by Google as not providing the advanced layer of trust needed for users.

5. Do you really want a Google warning notice pointing out that your site could be untrustworthy or put its readers at risk? We all work hard to make our blogs the best they can be, to help and inspire the readers that drop by.

Having said all that, I have not yet got round to providing a certificate for any of my sites. Probably for the one domain I have shared with my Internet Service provider, I shall go for the free certificate. So if you have a site that ends with the name of your web host, check to see if there is a free certificate available.

However, if it is your own domain name, choose carefully. You can go with several websites which allow you to set up the certificates for yourself, pointing your website to their servers--Cloudflare, Let's Encrypt are two most often mentioned.

But if you're not very tech-minded, pay a little extra and get your host to set everything up for you.  It has to be worth it for peace of mind.

Image of padlock courtesy of Stuart Miles
 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : http://www.authorsupport.net .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears  in The Working Writer's Club .

Get Your Book Reviewed

By W. Terry Whalin

Often I see books launch into the market with zero reviews or only a few reviews. With over 4500 new books entering the marketplace every day, it is a challenge for any author to find readers—and to find readers who will write a few sentences of honest review and post it on Amazon and Goodreads and other sites.

In this article, I want to encourage authors to take an active role at getting book reviews and give you some resources and insights.

First, take your own responsibility for getting book reviews. Whether your book is brand new or has been out for a while, continually work at getting reviews. When you get a review—especially a positive one—promote or tout that review on your social media connections (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). Go to this article from Tim Grahl about Amazon reviews, scroll down to the bottom and get his free download because of the tools you will get to help you gather reviews.
Second, study this article from Jim Cox, editor-in-chief at Midwest Book Review. Notice the article is 16 pages of information and I encourage you to print it and study it. I am on Jim's email list and found this interview with Shelby Londyn-Heath was filled with insights. Jim has been in his position for 40 years and provides an amazing free service to help people discover books. I want to make several points from this article:

* They receive an average of 2,000 titles a month to review and select 600 to 700 a month to actually review.

* Books are rejected for possible review for several reasons including not following their submission guidelines, poor covers and serious production problems.

*Midwest Book Review emphasizes self-published books and books from small presses. Cox explains his reasons in this article. He also encourages authors to produce excellent books—edited and designed well. These foundational elements are missing in many books and some of the reasons for books not to be reviewed (rejected in this process).

Third, learn about how to get book reviews. I interviewed Dana Lynn Smith on this topic and have a free teleseminar teaching authors about how to get book reviews.

With the sheer volume of books entering the marketplace every day, it is a challenge for authors to get book reviews. Write a great book. Produce a great book (design and production is important) then finally take action to get your book reviewed. I've seen a number of books that have well-done production, great endorsements and zero or few reviews. The details are important and I encourage you to take an active role on this process of getting book reviews.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and the author of more than 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Book Proposals That Sell. He has over 200,000 followers on Twitter and lives in Colorado.


Without the author's effort, it is often a challenge to get book reviews. Use these insights and resources.  (ClickToTweet)
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How to Avoid Overwhelm This Week

If you're a freelance writer and/or an author, it's easy to get overwhelmed.

There are so many things you need to do each day to get a little writing done AND promote your writing career or your writing business.

So here's a tip.

To avoid "overwhelm" each day choose just one thing you can do that will move your writing and/or your career forward.

Don't know what that one thing might be?

Here is a list of 12 possible actions to choose from:

1. Write a blog post.

2. Make a helpful comment on someone else's blog (that has the same target audience as your blog does).

If you do this consistently, over time you'll increase your list of followers.

3. Write another chapter of your novel or other work-in-progress.

If you don't have time to write an entire chapter in a day, just write part of a chapter.

4. Send out a query to a magazine or other publication - be sure to follow their writer's guidelines, of course.

5. Write a guest post for another blog (you'll find other blogs wanting guest posts at bloggerlinkup.com).

6. Find a new affiliate program to join (one that has products and services that will appeal to your target market, of course).

If you haven't joined any affiliate programs yet, start with amazon.com or clickbank.com.

7. Respond to one online job ad for writers each day.

8. If you don't have one yet, set up an opt-in form on your blog so you can start building a mailing list of potential clients and/or customers.

9. Make a video to post on your blog.

10. Start a new podcast that will appeal to your target audience.

11. Look for interview opportunities both online and offline.

12. Find someone to write a guest post for your blog (you'll find other bloggers wanting to write guest posts at bloggerlinkup.com).

Each of these actions can help move you closer to your goals.

And if you choose just one action each day, you won't get overwhelmed as you start taking consistent action.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing from Suzanne, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

How to Prepare & Promote a Facebook Live Broadcast

Last week, I did a freebie book day for Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog. I submitted it to several book sites, emailed people who I used as examples in my book, and sent it to a few different writer forums. I shared it on all of my social media profiles leading up to it, and inside different Facebook groups the day of my promotion.

As I prepared for giveaway day, I realized I wanted to do something a little bit different. So I also scheduled a Facebook Live, to talk about blogging and answer questions from my community. Video is hot right now, and gets a lot of visibility in the Facebook feed. I determined that the primary goal was to share information via video, the bonus (or by the way) was the book giveaway.

Here's a peek into the process and a checklist of how to prepare and promote a Live video broadcast.

1. Set a day, time, and topic for your Facebook Live.

2. Create an event for the broadcast through your business page, and schedule it.

3. Invite people who you know will attend. Also message good friends to give them a heads up and make sure you have a base audience at that time.

4. Post reminders in the event discussion the days leading up to the event.

5. Share on all of your social profiles, not just Facebook. Add graphics to make them stand out. Also, add the event to your newsletter and do an email blast.

6. Plan what you will say. Don't necessarily write a script. Instead, create an outline with key points you will cover.

7. If you are doing a live Q&A, source questions ahead of time, so you are sure to have something to talk about.

8. Set up and test your camera ahead of time. Set your audience to "Only Me" to run a test.

9. Message the people on your event that you will go Live on your Facebook business page. Then, go Live. And ave fun.

10. After the event, share the replay on your personal profile, write a blog post and embed it, and share on your platforms yet again.
Bonus:  Repeat ... when inspired or regularly.

Live video is a wonderful way to get who you are in front of your fans. When you film yourself, and interact with people in real time, it enables to form a connection. And as people get to know you, they are more likely to become your clients and customers. 

What do you think? Have you gone Live on Facebook? How have you promoted it?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.

Pen Names

Image from Bookcovercafe.com
Recently I was doing an author interview and the question came up whether I'd ever considered using a pen name.  

It's a tricky topic.  I write in several genres, and I've heard other authors recommend that you use pseudonyms for the different types of work you do.  One reason is that you don't want to confuse your readers.  Let's say that you write sweet historical romance and then write a steamy paranormal romantic thriller.  If your original readers pick it up without realizing and then read it expecting what they're used to, they may be disappointed or even feel betrayed.  

In my case, I've decided that my travel writing and my fiction are so different that I don't think I'll confuse my readers if I use the same name. They won't likely pick up Cruising Alaska on a Budget and assume it's a YA fantasy like Far-Knowing.  

I've also published contemporary and sci fi short stories, all under my name.  I haven't quite decided if that's a good move or not.  On one hand, my work may seem a bit scattered--various target ages, various genres.  Some readers don't like reading outside of a certain type of fiction, so it may be harder to build a solid following.  On the other hand, I know authors who write in different genres or for different age levels and I seek out all their writing.  Plus, using the same name streamlines the marketing and allows all my work to build on itself.  

It would be interesting to hear more thoughts on the topic, so leave your comments and experiences below.  

Some of my different work, all under the same name:

Far-Knowing, a YA Fantasy
Leaving Home, a collection of flash fiction, short stories, and travel essays across various genres

Being an Arizona girl, Melinda Brasher loves glaciers, streams, whales, bald eagles, and real trees with green leaves.  That's why she's in love with Alaska.  If you want to see a bit of Alaska for yourself, check out her latest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.  Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Press This! Part 2

In Part 1, I describe the Pro's of using a Press to publish your book. This post contains the Con's. The big Con for me is that they don’t do any marketing. I didn’t realize marketing was such a HUGE part of having a book for sale. I know, gullible me. Create it and they will come. Not! Anyway, I paid them an extra $300 for a Press Release that got me only scam-type phone calls and emails. And another $300 to take my book to the New York Book Expo. They said I would get the poster that was used at the Expo to use for my own events. I never got the poster. I’m not sure there ever was a poster. 

In addition, as part of my package, they had sent me wonderful sample letters with addresses and even names of who to contact at major bookstores for me to send my books to request to be placed in their stores. Only Barnes & Noble replied and said they couldn’t take my book because it didn’t have the title on the spine. I almost spit nails! Why would this Press not tell me that the book is too small for a title on the spine and send me names of places to request my book be placed when there’s no way that it would be accepted? I was really devastated. 

Also, their minimum order of books was 250 for me to purchase upfront and sell at local events. The cost for that order was $1200. You can quickly add up how much I’m in this for--$4300! You can guess that I haven’t made that money back yet.

So, I was gullible yes, but they did deliver on a quality product that I could not have done on my own. I had no connections to other authors, no local groups, no online groups. I needed help and help they did give. Had I stuck with the original plan of $1776 with no additional add-on’s, except editing but they should edit your book for $1776, just saying, and if there was no minimum order so I could have ordered maybe 50 books, this would have been a more affordable option. I would have been in for under $2000. Still expensive but not break the bank, expensive.

However, once I had that book in my hand and I began networking, I found all sorts of helpful authors and groups and can now bring a professional book to market for under $1000, sometimes under $500 (depending on how much editing and formatting I do on my own). 

So, in conclusion, the con’s are that it is very expensive (especially when there’s another way to do the same thing) and if you’re not careful, you can be taken for even more expenses than are necessary. And please, do NOT ever pay a Press to market your book. They don’t really care about marketing your book. They only want what's in your pocketbook!

I don't want to leave you thinking all Presses are bad; they most certainly are not. Some local small presses can be wonderful. They tend to have more reasonable prices and they are people you can see and meet with which makes them much more accountable to you. Also, they do care about your book sales because if your book does well, so do they. 

So, in the end, it's really about finding the right people to do all the different parts of bringing a book to life such as creating a professional cover, professional editing/proof-reading, and formatting. Or, of course, you can learn to do some of these things yourself. I know a few authors who create their own covers and do their own formatting. It is recommended to have a professional edit your manuscript, so I wouldn't try to get along on my own with that. 

Bringing a book from your mind to real life is a wonderful process and now with all the access to self-publishing, it's easier than ever to make that happen. Think through your options, network locally, do your research, and make the choice that is right for you to publish the book that is in your heart!

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 worked at a local Community Mental Health Center for 10 years before transferring to the Public School System as a Guidance Counselor. She’s worked at a High School for the past 18 years. She has also been an Adjunct Professor at the local Community College and worked with teens who had lost a loved one through Hospice. 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 21 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college. You can follow her on her blog at www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com

To read Part1 - the pros of using a Press - click the link:
Self-Publishing – Press This! Part1

PLR for Blogging and Content Marketing

PLR is an acronym for Private Label Rights. What this means is you buy content from a source and use it as your own.

The content you buy can be used for blog posts, articles, ebooks, video scripts, and so on. The pricing is usually minimal and it's a definite time saver.

I know many might be reluctant to buy content, but it's done all the time. And, until Sunday, you can try it for FREE. You can get an over 3,897 word ebook (report) with a cover image and interior images for free. The offer should be good through May 8th. Click the link to try it out:

Increase Your Focus for Better Productivity

Keep in mind you can break this report into bite size pieces, say blog posts. You can also use it as a great lead magnet (freebie for your subscriber list or other CTA). You can use it for multiple purposes.

I'm not an affiliate for this product or company. I got an email from the company (I use them) with this offer and thought it'd be a great way for those of you who were thinking about trying PLR to do so with spending a penny.

Yes, ListMagnets is also selling PLR that you can buy when you click on the link, but don't buy them. Just pick up the free report.

I use PLR occasionally, usually for reports. And, they're a great tool to have if you're too busy to write the content yourself. I think it's a very useful content marketing tool. I did get this freebie.

If you do try it, be sure to proof it before publishing it. This goes for any PLR you may buy.


The Social Media Marketing Smorgasborg
By-Pass Marketing and Book Selling
Series Writing - Chart the Details

Want to take your blogging up a notch or make it a freelance writing skill?

Check out:

Become a Power-Blogger and Content Writer in Just 4 Weeks


Reluctant E-Mail Signatures May Not Be Courteous Signatures

Your E-mail Signature: 
Choosing Courteous and Great Marketing 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson 

In a public e-mail to her clients, someone near and dear to me (an expert) said most people look at the first two lines of an email. That’s it. They aren’t interested in fishing through pages of post-signature blather. People need to have ways to learn about you, not reasons to put up shields.” She advised three or four lines, tops. Boy, did that set me off. So, these people we send mail to are in such a hurry that they’d rather spend time looking up in dozens of places for the information that could just as easily have been in the contact’s e-mail signature?  Here’s my rant—er . . . rebuttal:

 My old friend, I so disagree with this. 

For one thing, there are no fast rules. Much depends on the genre an author writes in. Another depends on the author’s personality. But more than either of those, a complete signature is a courtesy to the person an author is corresponding with. Put that word in caps! COURTESY!

There is nothing more annoying than getting an e-mail from someone who doesn't have proper contact information in it. And the trouble is, depending on what the recipient plans to do with the email, it is difficult for the sender to know exactly what will make the life of that contact easier. Will she need your website address? Will including your Twitter moniker help her in some way? Won't the repeated visual of your book cover to your contacts help your branding? And if your contact has seen your cover before, will it hurt her that much to see it again? Especially considering that old marketing advice based on research that people need to see something seven times before they act on it.
And don't you––as someone whose business it is to help authors--want your authors to sell as many books as possible and to get as much media attention as possible? In the PR world the winner is the person who makes it easiest on the gatekeeper to do her job. It is a busy world. She doesn't need to be searching for information, especially information that could easily go into a signature.

To arbitrarily tell anyone how to sign their emails without any idea of the tone or purpose of the email seems very presumptuous to me.

I hope you will give your authors this alternative view. Many authors are already far too reluctant to get the word about their books out there. Telling them to arbitrarily limit information in their signatures may encourage their reluctance to do right by their books—and their own careers.

Hugs, [Yes, hugs. Even rants are mostly designed to help rather than make enemies!]


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a former journalist, retailer, and marketer who started publishing how-to books for writers for the classes she taught for UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program. Members of the California Legislature named her Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment. Learn more about her how-to books and her creative writing at http://howtodoitfrugally.com  Learn more about book promotion (and avoiding being the reluctant book promoter!) in her The Frugal Book Promoter and the rest of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers at http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo

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...