Writers: Be a Good Communicator

A Round Tuit

My family has a mini knickknack box that we hang on the wall. It’s a display of teeny Native American pots filled with tiny flowers, and glass, porcelain and metal replicas of iddy-biddy animals. And a little round “tuit.” What's a "tuit?" Any job that you don’t complete---no worries, you'll finish as soon as you get a round “tuit.”

That’s the way some people approach communication. You know this person: he owes you an answer to an email, a request for help or even just a call-back, then gets lost. You might hear from him, you might not.

What kind of communicator are you?
Here are some tips to keeping close ties with your associates:
  • Get organized: Often when someone doesn’t respond to you quickly you learn that they’re unorganized. And, of course, you can forgive them. When I first got organized I realized that it’s a separate function from creating. It took a "time-out" and the first "time-out" took days. Once done, though, a routine can be established and you will find that you have become amazingly more productive.
  • Prioritize: Keep one calendar and in it make a long-term to-do list and a daily list, and accomplish the items by the most important first, one by one, in other words: prioritize. Before you know it, a new habit is formed and you've left the old way of operating behind and forgotten.
  • Replace #1 with #2: This should come easy to writers--when I first started writing one of the first lessons I learned: decide who your audience is and offer some kind of help to anyone who reads your work. It was an early wake-up call, that to write successfully you must put your reader first.
  • Be a good listener: Have you ever talked to someone who asks you a question? You feel flattered and enjoy answering. As soon as you're finished speaking, however, the person launches into their own story: the one they've been dying to tell you. You talk to enough people like this and you can see in their body language that they're just waiting for you to finish. So, I cut my answer short to let them speak. But if their story goes on too long then I find an excuse to leave or even interrupt them. These are not good listeners. A good listener remains silent and doesn't speak right away when you've finished. When they respond it's usually NOT a story about themselves, but is an actual response to what you've said, often enlightening you with new information that is helpful to you. In my travels, I have found this quality rare, indeed.
  • Be a friend: This is the bottom line and I do believe people sense this if you're sincere. If you can't add to the conversation, remain silent. I may be preaching to the choir here, but we can learn so much when we let others talk. We as writers can develop this skill and I've found people respond to it. They may never learn anything about me in the process, which often happens, but I figure if they want to get to know me they can read my work! Then maybe they'll listen to what I have to say!
It's Not all about You
This point is made in the article, "10 Ways to be a Better Communicator." For more tips, please refer to the article at http://www.success.com/article/10-ways-to-be-a-better-communicator.

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.

Tips - Blog Content Worth Reading

Outlining our message is a good way to prep a post; creating a strong structure and focus for what we want to say. It enables us to cut the excess and to stay on point more readily—just what we need to keep readers on our page rather than moving on to another website.

Second, write an introduction that grabs the readers’ interest.  Are you addressing a question or problem a reader brought to your attention?  Is there a story or antidote to tell? Offer a strong lead-in to simplify, empower and support.

The what, why, where, when, who, and how formula is a guide that never grows old. Keep content relevant and meaningful. Consider making your posts 300-450 words for a quick read.

By using these tips, we craft a well thought-out post, podcast, or video. Add links to your social media pages driving folks to your blog for the rest of the article and more.

Can this message be the first blog post of a series? How can we test an idea for a series of articles? I have listed a few points—please add to the list via comments.
·        Is it evergreen or is it trendy?
·        Is it relevant to what the reader needs/wants?
·        Do you have enough to say on a subject to write several articles?
If not, consider one piece and a sequel, or a mini-series of three articles.
·        Which graphics help support what you are presenting?

Let’s break out our writing journal and explore the series, dream, and discover what works and what doesn’t work.

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: Deborah Lyn Stanley - WritersBlog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines.  
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”


June and AudioBooks

By W. Terry Whalin

June is AudioBook Month. This area of publishing continues to expand and explode from everything that I read online and in print, in consumer magazines and in trade magazines. 

For example, I encourage you to read this article from the recent Book Expo America and mega-bestselling author, James Patterson. “Patterson (Crazy House, Hachette Audio) opened his presentation with a declaration: “Listening to an audio is reading. A lot of gatekeepers don't buy into that, but I do.” Noting the audiobook “is only scratching the surface of its potential importance and its audience,” he offered a pair of recommendations. “The first suggestion is that some audiobook people have to go out to Silicon Valley. We need to redesign audiobooks so they can be sold at a better price.” He also advocated for offering an irresistible audiobook package, which “could include, just for example, a John Grisham, a Patterson, Hillbilly Elegy, a Wimpy Kid novel, Alan's new book,” to automobile makers at close to cost if they would agree to put it in every new car they sell.” I found this idea interesting and will be watching the publishing world to see if someone takes James Patterson up on such an idea.

If you are wondering about the viability of audiobooks, just look at these recent statistics:

In 2016, Audiobook Sales Up 18.2%, Unit Sales Jump 33.9% Audiobook sales in 2016 rose 18.2%, to $2.1 billion, and unit sales jumped 33.9%, according to the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales and consumer studies, conducted respectively by Management Practice and Edison Research. This marks the third year in a row that audiobooks sales have grown by nearly 20%. The APA attributed audio growth to an expanding listening audience: 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015.” 

“Among other findings:
  • More listeners use smartphones most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before (29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015).
  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.
  • More than a quarter (27% of respondents) said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), followed by in the car (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks, followed by baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The top three reasons people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) they can do other things while listening; 2) audiobooks are portable so people can listen wherever they are; and 3) they enjoy being read to.
  • The most popular genres last year were mysteries/thrillers/suspense, science fiction/fantasy and romance.
  • 19% of all listeners used voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) to listen to an audiobook in the last year, and for frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.”
I hope some of these numbers caught your attention about the importance of audiobooks. I want to finish this article with three ways you can get involved with audiobooks:

1. Listen to audiobooks on a regular basis. The first way for any of us to get active in an area is as a participant. I have written about audiobooks in past articles

2. Use your activity to promote and encourage others to listen to audiobooks. As you complete an audiobook, take a few minutes and write a review. If you examine my Goodreads book list, you will notice a number of these books are audiobooks.

3. Get active creating audiobooks. If you have no idea where to begin, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Richard Rieman's book, The Author's Guide to AudioBook Creation. This little book will help you learn more about the audio book industry and give you resources for launching your own audio products. 

Are you using and creating audio books? Let me know in the comment section.

 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.


Are you taking  advantage of the audiobook boom? Read this article to take action.  (ClickToTweet) 

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What Are Your Writing Strengths and Weaknesses?

Writing is such a unique journey for each and every writer.

Some find it easy to meld their chapters, one into another. Others find it easy to get just the right ending, with some kind of twist or surprise that gives it a great edge.

There are also other authors who find it easy to jump right into a story, writing a grabbing beginning.

No matter what aspect of the story, there will be some writers who can breeze though it effortlessly while others may struggle. That’s the nature of writing.

I find it relatively easy to start a story. I can create a beginning that jumps into the action, which is what most stories, especially children’s stories need.

But…yep, there’s a BUT… I often found it difficult to end my stories. I have no idea why. I can start it, bring it along toward an ending, but, then I fizzled out. My endings were initially weak and definitely lacking.

I first noticed my weak spot when I submitted a chapter book to 4RV Publishing. I pitched the story to the publisher during an online writers’ conference. The publisher allowed me to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters, which was also a bit lacking, but that’s another story.

The editor who read the chapters and synopsis liked the storyline, but was confused about my ending in the synopsis. As I mentioned above I have trouble with my endings. Aside from that, the editor recommended the publisher request the manuscript so they could look it over. They did advise I edit it first and work on the ending. I created an entirely new ending and sent it to a professional editor to be reviewed . . . and edited.

It’s funny, but I think there are at times some form of inspiration that can take us where we don’t usually tread...that helps us overcome our obstacles or mountains and take us beyond what we think we’re capable of.

In the case of my story, Walking Through Walls, I came up with a pretty good ending that tied everything together and afforded a surprise. I worked on this story for around two years and finally when it counted, I found the right path for the story to take.

We writers must pay attention to our writing weak spots and work on them. I was fortunate that an editor and publisher looked beyond my weak points and gave me the opportunity to improve my story. This is not always the case.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, the very basics are simple:

1. Make sure you’re a part of a critique group with new and experienced writers. The critique members may be able to help you over the hurdles. At the very least, they’ll catch a number of mistakes in everything from structure to grammar that you missed.

2. If you have to, write a few different scenarios in the section you’re having trouble with, to help you open up. And, if you’re still having trouble with your story, put it away for at least a week, preferably more, and then go back to it. It’s almost like magic; you’ll see it differently, with a newness and awareness. And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

3. Read a lot of quality books in the genre you’re writing and even copy sections of them word-by-word. Make sure to include recently published books by top publishers. This is a trick to get your brain to think and write ‘good writing.’ Just be sure to only do this for practice purposes. Never, ever use someone’s work as your own – that’s plagiarism.

4. Practice your writing – hone your craft. I’ve gotten better at my endings through working and practice. This is why there’s a saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, if not perfect, at least much better!

5. If nothing else works, hire a developmental editor or ghostwriter to help rewrite the sections you’re having difficulty with.

So, the tip of the day: Pay attention to where your writing weak spots are and work on them. You have options to help you get your story right.

And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

So, back to the title of the post: What are your writing strengths and weaknesses? 

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
Visit her at: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi (Sign up for her mailing list and visit her DIY Page.)
Follow Karen at: http://facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarecioffi


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10 Tips for Starting a Writing Career Later in Life

Can you start a writing career if you’re aged 50 or older?


In fact, since you have lived for several decades now, you probably have plenty of things you can write about based on your life experiences.

However, if you’re serious about writing and want to actually get published and make money as a writer, there are some things you need to know.

Here are 10 tips to help you become a professional writer, no matter what your age.

1. Start writing regularly.

If you’re still working a regular job during the day, create a writing schedule around your workday. Write for an hour before you go to work, for example, or an hour or two every evening, or for several hours on the weekend. The only way to get really good at writing is to write, write, write, so start writing on a regular basis right now. Write every day if you can, but if you can’t, at least create some sort of consistent writing schedule and stick with it.

2. Explore different genres to see which one(s) appeal to you.

First, read widely in many different genres to learn which ones appeal to you as a reader. Chances are, you’ll also enjoy writing the kinds of things you like to read. Once you’ve figured out the genre(s) that appeals to you as a reader, choose one or two genres to explore as a writer.

3. Next, take at least one class or workshop in the genre(s) you wish to write.

You need to learn as much as you can about your preferred genre(s). You’ll already be familiar with the genre if you’ve read widely within this genre, but there will be aspects of writing for this genre that you may be unaware of. You’ll learn the “tricks of the trade” for this genre from taking a workshop or class about this specific genre.

4. Join a local writer’s group so you get to know other writers and so you can start sharing your work with them.

One other suggestion here before you join a local writer’s group – be sure the group you want to join includes at least one writer who has been traditionally published in the genre you wish to write. Anyone can self-publish these days, and, unfortunately, many people who do self-publish never take the time (or make the investment needed) to learn what it takes to write a marketable manuscript in any genre. You need to be able to learn from someone who understands what traditional publishers look for in manuscripts for your genre even if you intend to self-publish. When a writer’s group is made up only of unpublished writers or self-published writers, it is often a bit like “the blind leading the blind.” You’ll make progress as a writer much faster if you can learn from other traditionally published writers. You can learn from self-published writers, too, of course, but it’s best if your group includes at least one or two traditionally published authors in your genre.

5. Join a professional writer’s organization for your genre.

For example, if you write for children, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you write romance, join Romance Writers of America. These organizations have all sorts of resources that will help you learn more about your genre and also more about publishers, editors, book marketing, etc. To find a professional writer’s organization for your genre, just google your genre, plus the words, “writer’s organization” such as “science fiction writer’s organization.”

6. Take an active part in the professional writer’s organization you decide to join.

If you simply join a professional writer’s organization but don’t take an active part in it, you’ll be missing out on many opportunities or potential opportunities. Many of these organizations have local chapters that are lead by volunteers, so volunteer to lead or help out with your local chapter. This is a great way for publishers, editors, and others in the world of publishing to become aware of you as a writer (Note: I got my first book contract this way).

7. Write lots of shorter pieces before you start writing a book.

You can write shorter pieces faster than you can write a book. This will give you more pieces to submit. As a result, you can gain more publication credits faster. You also won’t be “putting all your eggs in one basket” when you write many shorter pieces instead of devoting all your time and efforts to a book right at the beginning. As a result, you’ll be setting yourself up for more opportunities for success (more publication credits).

8. Study the markets and start submitting your work.

Before you submit any of your shorter pieces for publication, study appropriate markets. In fact, study various markets that publish work in your chosen genre before you start writing shorter pieces and try writing according to the writer’s guidelines for one or two of these publications. You’ll soon realize that publishing is a business and in order to get published you need to give editors what they want and need, not just send them what you want them to publish.

Once you get published in a few markets, this will give you some experience working with editors and experience writing according to writer’s guidelines. It will also give you some publication credits, which will build your credibility (and visibility) as a writer, and maybe even result in a little income.

9. Start a blog.

A blog is a great way to practice your writing skills. It will also help build your credibility and visibility as a writer. If you don’t know what to blog about, maybe start a blog that focuses on the genre you wish to write, then review popular books in this genre for your blog. To get started, go back and look at some of the many books you read in your chosen genre (for tip #2) and create reviews for some of these books you’ve already read and post these reviews to your blog.

10. Keep writing shorter pieces and submitting them on a regular basis as you start writing a book.

Do this as you’re working on a longer piece (a novel or nonfiction book, for example) and continuing to write for your blog. Before you know it, you’ll have several publication credits (for your shorter pieces) and you’ll have a longer work-in-progress (a book) that you’ll be ready to focus on and complete.

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to building a lucrative and personally fulfilling writing career no matter what your age.

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.

Choosing the Perfect Writer's Conference

I have been thinking about conferences a lot lately because I will be traveling to Philadelphia for Bookbaby.com’s first #IndieAuthorsCon in November. I have also been updating the flagship book in my multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books, The Frugal Book Promoter, and ran across this excerpt. So naturally, I wanted to pass it along to you. After all, all conferences were not born equal. You want to choose carefully.

Choosing a conference can be tricky. Many conferences are expensive. Even free online conferences can take a lot of time. This is one of those occasions when it pays to be picky.

Determine your goals and choose a conference accordingly. Some focus almost exclusively on craft and often call themselves retreats. Some offer seminars in book marketing. Others tend to be entrées to agents and publishers, and some offer information on publishing like the legalities of copyright law. Some do a little of everything.

Study up on conferences. The library has back issues of Poets & Writers that include reviews of conferences. Use your networks or Google to get opinions and suggestions from writers who have attended. Here are a few more conference-perfecting ideas:
  • Do not choose a conference based on its exotic location unless your first interest is a vacation.
  • If you choose a conference that offers critiques of your work by publishers or agents for an additional fee, spend the extra money to participate. And if you wait until later, you may have to kick in another full conference fee for the privilege.
  • If signing with an agent is what you are really after, wait until your book or proposal is fine-tuned to go to a conference.

Hint: If pitching an agent is your primary goal, be sure agents who specialize in your genre will be there by reviewing the conference Web site. Register for the conference early enough to be assured of an audience with your choice.

  • Determine the thrust of the conference you will be attending. Because of proximity and prestige, UCLA (uclaextension.edu/writers) has access to Hollywood as a resource. This makes their conference one of the best for screenwriters. Other conferences have their own specialties.
  • If you want to find time to concentrate on your writing, you may prefer a writers’ retreat rather than a conference.
  • Examine the credentials of the conference presenters. If you write persona poems, you may want to study with a teacher who has had success writing that specific kind of poetry like UCLA’s Suzanne Lummis. A person who is interested in writing courtroom dramas will benefit from an instructor who has published in that genre.
  • Another bona fide educational institution that offer onsite and Web classes are Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York (writingclasses.com). You may find a good one in your town.
  • Until you’re sure you can utilize an expensive conference to its fullest, select seminars offered by some online conferences like Jo Linsdell’s PromoDay (jolinsdell.com). It is free, though you are encouraged to make a small donation to defray costs. It’s also a good idea to take the same precautions selecting a free online conference you would take choosing an expensive on-site conference. Time is money.

Hint: Bring a small pouch of tools with you to conferences. I use a bag I received with an Estée Lauder gift-with-purchase. Toss into it color-coded pens, snub-nosed scissors (sharp ones may not get you through airport security), a small roll of cellophane tape, your index labels, paperclips, strong see-through packing tape (in case you must ship materials books and other materials back home), ChapStick, hole puncher, breath mints, a tin of aspirin, elastic bands, Band-Aids, and your personal medication. If you are presenting, throw in a hammer, tacks, razor, a small pair of pliers and a mini measuring tape. Mine even has a spool of very fine wire for hanging large posters. Don’t unpack this kit when you get home. You’ll need it in the future for other conferences, book signings, book fairs, and other promotional events.

You can use a conference to promote, too.

Some conferences offer tables where participants can leave promotional handouts for their books or services. Before you leave home, ask your conference coordinator how you might utilize this opportunity.

  • Ask the conference coordinator if they publish a newsletter or journal. If so, send the editor media releases as your career moves along.
  • Take your business cards to the conference.
  •  If you have a published book, take your bookmarks to give to others.
  • If you have an area of expertise that would interest a conference director, introduce yourself. She may be busy, so keep your pitch very short and follow up later.
  • Record the names of fellow conference attendees and presenters who might give you endorsements for your book in the future.

Author conferencesSo, if you are searching for a conference that will hone your marketing skills--in other words, it will help you nudge your book toward stardom, please check out Indie Authors Conference coming to Philadelphia November 3, 4, 5, 2017. Until June 15 they offer an $89 early bird registration fee and it's one of the most frugal conference fees I have ever heard of.  On top of that, if you use my name, "Carolyn," you will get an additional $10 off.  Again, only until June 15.  I hope to see subscribers and visitors to Writers on the Move there!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This Is the Place, won eight awards and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, won three. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies, and review journals. A chapbook of
poetry, Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader’s Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers’ Society of America’s Award of Excellence. Her poem “Endangered Species” won the Franklin Christoph Prize for poetry. She speaks on Utah’s culture, tolerance, book promotion and editing and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

Both The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor are in their second editions and have awards from names like USA Book News, the Irwin Award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award, Readers’ Views Literary Award and Next Generation Indie Book Award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career is the newly released third in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of book for writers.

Active vs. Passive Writing: Energize Your Prose!

 by Suzanne Lieurance Ever feel like your stories and articles are a bit slow-paced and wordy?   If so, that’s probably because you’re using...