Tips on Revision: Do a Verb and Word Check

No revision is complete without a thorough check of the verbs in your manuscript. You want to make your verbs clean. You want to make your verbs sparkle. And if you love words, as I do, it won't be a chore to highlight each one, take a moment to decide if it works or not, and then either keep it or change it. My quest to make my verbs sizzle and pop has blossomed into contemplating nouns, ridding my manuscript of most adjectives and all no-no adverbs, and what's been the most fun: rephrasing many parts of sentences, indeed, often changing entire sentences. I've even found inaccuracies I've somehow missed. This is after a thorough sweep of my project by more than one expert editor! Lesson learned: the buck stops at the author. No one else can fine-tune your work the way you can and no one cares as much as you do.

Use the "Find" Function in Word
I'm on the Rs. That's right, almost done. My process:

  • Click on the "Find" function in Word
  • Type in the word in question
  • Click on "Find in"
  • Click Main document
  • Word will give you the number of this word that you have used
  • Click Highlight All
  • Go through the text and decide whether to keep or change the word
  • Use your own and online dictionary and thesaurus 

I split the screen in two, one side a tally of the words I am working on, and the other, my manuscript. My tally sheet is eight pages long: the words are listed in one long column in order to use the "alphabetize" function. My goal is a minimum of three to avoid too much repetition, unless the word is repeated for characterization purposes or simply works best.

The List
The list I've compiled for this post consists of the most troublesome repeats: the first number is the repeats first found, the second is the whittled-down version. The latter number shows the actual number of those words used now. Some words, such as ran and sat, are part of bigger words and don't count as being repetitive, and are listed in the first number, but not the second.

down 146:15 (Yikes!)
dropped  24:5
fell  19:8
glanced  31:4
grabbed  28:3
headed  12:3
holding  14:3
hurried  7:6
just  49:6
kept  20:4
let/let’s/letting  89:11
look/looked/looking 46:5
minute  24:8
moved  21:7
peered  12:3
picked up  17:5
pointed  28:2
pulled  33:7
ran  95:10
reached  27:8
rose  13:7
sat  35:10
stood  53: Eek!
took  55: Help!

A Few Examples

  • Too many "slips": A boy slipped in next to the woman. v A boy peeked out from behind the woman. 
  • Too many "slids": He ignored them, continued to the next hive, removed that frame,--v slid that frame out,--and inspected it. 
  •  . . . and placed (v slid) the silhouettes in the back seat. 
  • Too many "lowereds": While dabbing at the inky black hair sticking out from under her hair band, sunglasses still lowered, she eyed Jess. v While dabbing at the inky black hair sticking out from under her headband, sunglasses now hovering somewhere around the groove between her nostrils and her upper lip, she eyed Jess.

Whittling Down the Words
How did whittling down these words change my manuscript?

  • The wording often changed, and often the word in question was deleted altogether.
  • I found the most delicious verbs and alternate thought patterns that feel fresher than my original wording.
  • Some changes came in the form of adding more actions by the characters and showing more emotions. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is the main resource I'm using, though Google searches are a big help, too. 
  • Zeroing in on a sentence or phrase allowed me to find ways of using alliteration and figurative language more.
  • Found opportunities for more feedback from characters to each other and to the main character.
  • Weeded out superfluous words.
  • I believe my language is much more colorful now.
  • Has helped to tighten scenes.
  • Caveat: It has gotten more difficult to find fresher words as I draw closer to Y (no Zs, yet anyway).

The Finish Line
This pursuit has become a game: How many interesting words can I collect and jot down for The List? When I'm finished, I plan to print the pages, cut them so only the column of words is showing, and tape the columns together on fewer pages for easy access for future projects. Funny how collecting words like this hasn't struck me until now after many years of writing. But I've got the bug now and I can see the writing on The List: it will keep growing and growing and growing! 

Image courtesy of:

My writing partners and me in the
mountains gathering inspiration.
 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 has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at

Tips for Writer's Block

I imagine every writer feels blocked or stalled at some time.  Are we intimidated because our goal is too big? Writing in short bursts, a paragraph or one scene at a time could well bring the flow back. We need to make a friend of adjusting our goals to doable levels. It’s not a failure; it’s smart. 

Periods of heightened stress and anxiety exhaust our energy and disrupt creativity. Take a break, visit a museum, arboretum, or kick back at a coffee shop—overheard conversations may spark ideas,.
Tip Suggestions:
  • Set aside more time to read; read a lot, read what you like and what inspires you.
  • For a few weeks write a little every day but for you only—forget production, just write and love it.
  • Instead of “blocked” think “stuck”. Stuck is fixable. Refer to “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves pages 142-148. Judy wrote about boxing ourselves into a corner, caught rehashing the same things over, and over, and drained of ideas. She makes suggestions for the way out. It’s fixable.
  • Plan projects in bite size pieces and write whether you want to or not.
  • Consider switching to write, to outline or to research one of your other projects.
  • Try free writing.
  • Listen to music. Create a play-list for writing—classics for background, movie themes for high action, or sentimental songs for story.
  • Exercise—get moving. 
  • Reset by playing a video in your genre or one of your favorites.
  • Ask yourself “What If” questions and note your answers.
  • Do some people watching at the park or coffee shop far enough away that you can’t hear their conversation. Interpret their body language and write that scene.
  • Make a list of the reasons you write.

Many of you have a favorite “unstuck” method. Please share with us in the comments section. Thanks

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 each 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 - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. 

“Explore, Dream, Discover”

Move Around Your Writing Barriers

By W. Terry Whalin

Not long ago, I was driving into downtown Denver for breakfast with a Morgan James author. There are many one-way streets in this section of the city. Suddenly the street where I was going was blocked off and had a detour. Without even a second thought, I turned and followed the detour and soon was back on track heading toward my meeting place. I did not let the detour throw me off from my destination. I did not get put off and quit and return home but found the way forward. My response comes from years of driving experience and understanding that sometimes roads are blocked and you have to locate the way around the roadblock.

Just like driving and finding roadblocks to get around, the writing world often has roadblocks and detours. Maybe you pitch an editor who requested your manuscript and you don't get a response. I've been working with an author who has a children's book and she has been promising to send it to me. It has never come. A few weeks ago when I saw this author in person, she asked me if I had received it. My conversation with her was the first I had known she had even finished it and tried to send it. No, I had not received it. She promised to resend it—and that still has not happened. We depend on things like email when sometimes even email breaks down and doesn't reach the intended editor.

From my years in publishing, I find every step of the process has pitfalls and potential breaks in communication. Editors don't respond to your magazine pitches or a program which you use often isn't working or someone promises to review your book and doesn't follow through. These types of roadblocks happen all the time.

How do you respond to a roadblock? Do you stop and say to yourself, “Guess no one wanted that idea.” “Or “it wasn't meant to be.”  Or do you persevere and look for another way to move around the roadblock?  The writers who succeed (and that measure of success is different for each of us)—find their way around the barriers.

Earlier this year, I wrote about listening to Lauren Graham's memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can. She sat next to best-selling author, James Patterson and ask him, “How do you do it?”

Patterson responded, “Keep going, keep going, keep going.” As writers, each of us get rejected. Our plans get interrupted and changed.  My encouragement is to continue looking and find the path forward. If you are struggling with an area, then create a new habit or new system to help with this area. Your goals and dreams as a writer are important.

The stories of persistent and perseverance in the face of challenges are often a theme in different biographies and how-to books that I've heard recently (check my list of books here). In Robert Greene's Mastery, he told the story of Henry Ford and his early failures and persistence to ultimately form the Ford Motor Corporation. Admiral William H. McRaven told about his persistence in his Navy seal training in Make Your Bed. Historian David McCullough told about the early failures of Harry S. Truman in Truman. While he had no college education, Truman became the 33rd  President of the United States. I learned valuable lessons from each of these successful people. Persistence and perseverance is an important quality for every writer.

In the comments below, tell me about the actions you take to continue and move forward with your writing.


Hit a roadblock with your writing? Get ideas here how to keep moving forward.  (ClickToTweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for more than 50 magazines and published more than 60 books for traditional publishers including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. Terry is active on Twitter and lives in Colorado.
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Use Internet Radio Shows and Podcasts to Create a Buzz about Your Book

If you've written a book, even before your book is released you need to start getting the word out about it.

One great way to create a "buzz" about your book is by landing a guest spot on a popular Internet radio show or podcast.

And today that is easier than ever because there are all sorts of Internet radio shows and podcasts available for most any type of audience (and any type of book).

Here are a few tips for using these types of broadcasts to promote your book:

1. Always send the show host a review copy of your book several weeks ahead of your scheduled interview.

This gives the host time to read your book or at least become familiar with it.

When you send your book, include any information you'd like to promote during your interview—book signings, details about upcoming writers' conferences where you'll be speaking, writing workshops that you offer, etc.

The host wants to be sure the two of you will have plenty to talk about during your interview and will appreciate any information you provide.

2. Help the host attract more listeners for the show by sending a notice to everyone on your mailing list and by telling your friends and family about your interview, at least a week or so before your scheduled appearance.

If you belong to online social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, etc., post a notice to your friends and followers for each of these groups and invite them to listen, or even call in (if possible), to the show the day of your interview.

3. Offer an autographed copy of your book as a giveaway during your scheduled radio or podcast interview.

The host can determine how to give away the book (to the 5th caller that day, for example).

Also, when you get the word out ahead of time about the show, be sure to mention there will be an autographed copy of your book given away to one of the callers during your interview.

This way you'll attract more listeners for your interview. Also, during your on-air interview, invite listeners to visit your website and join your mailing list.

With the popularity of Internet radio and online podcasts, there are now more opportunities than ever to land a guest spot on a regular show.

And hosts of these shows are always on the lookout for interesting guests.

Generally, they welcome the chance to talk to published authors, so start using these shows to create a buzz about your book now!

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

Preparing for Your Book Signing

You have written your book, had it accepted, and you have it in your hands. Now the publisher and the marketing team is ready for your participation in public displays and book signings. You may even have been asked to read your book or a passage or two in front of an audience. Does the thought of speaking in public or actually promoting yourself make your blood run cold? Here are a few tips to help prepare for your first book signing event.

I have had three books published and the first two signings were at church related events because the books fit that audience. However, I have a Picture book out this month and the first signing is coming up. How to prepare isn't something the publisher has explained other than to bring books, prepare to read aloud in front of a camera, and that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Children's hospital. Not much to go on. This is what I have done.

  • I have plenty of business cards ready with my contact information. This way even those who don't purchase a book will take away a tangible way to reach me.
  • I have books ready to sell. The publisher also has back up cases. We may have too many but I like to be prepared. I also have made a simple order blank to pass out with my business card for those who were not prepared to buy today. Many may want to order for a gift, for their school, or at a later date.
  • This particular signing, the publisher is handling all purchases at one station so that all books sold that day from the authors present will get their donation deducted before receiving their commissions. If I were to be there alone, I would need to have a cash box and a way to accept payments and make change. A sign telling buyers who to make the check out to is also helpful and you have covered all bases. Know your tax rate and the laws pertaining to book sales. If tax is included in the price make that known to the buyer.
  • Have a table with a nice cloth or an attractive way to set up your books to grab the buyer. Just like the first paragraph grabs the reader, your initial appearance and impression grabs the buyer. This doesn't have to be elaborate but simple, clean, and attractive.
  • Dress neatly and appropriate for your setting. Wear your best asset which should be your smile and friendly manner at all times. Again, your first impression is your best. You may not have a chance to change the mind of a visitor who gets the wrong first impression and believe me that bad impression will be remembered when you publish again.
  • Have fun. Enjoy the process. Stay in the moment and put your outside concerns away for the day. This is what you  have worked for so truly enjoy the experience. Take mental notes if not written notes of contacts you may need in the future. With luck and hard work you will be in this place again.
These are just a few things that I am concentrating on, but marketing, blogging, and advertising before an event is also a must. What do you do to prepare for a book signing? How do you market yourself and your work that enhances what a marketing team may also be doing?

Feel free to comment and offer your tips to our readers. And check our archives for more articles on marketing  or grab a copy of The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson for more excellent advice on self promotion.

Terri Forehand is a Neonatal Nurse and author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and Pepper's Special Secret. Visit her website at or her blog at

Boring Words Alternatives

As a writer, you know how important words are. You want them to work for you. You want them to convey exactly what you mean. You want them to be powerful.

Here's an infographic that takes boring and overused words and gives words you can replace them with.

28 Boring Words Alternatives - Improve Your Writing Infographic by Jack Milgram

Hope you found this list of  words helpful. You can let us know in the comments.


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Writing with Clarity

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines clarity as lucidity, clearness of thought.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn’t a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear you think you’re conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, you may not be able to see that you’ve missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if your thoughts are crystal clear.

If those crystal-clear thoughts or intent don’t translate onto paper, you’ve missed the mark.

As the author of the piece, you know what you’re thinking, what motives are involved, what you assume the reader should be seeing.

It’s this very knowledge that may cloud your perception of what you are actually conveying. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what you think you’re saying and what you actually say. This happens because you’re are too close to your own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

You can see it. You write what you see and are sure the reader will get it.

This is what can happen with your story. You can see what’s unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters . . . the intent. But, your vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. You may think it has. You can see it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean it has actually translated onto the paper.

An example of this is a children’s picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one big problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others.

This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story.

While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was a biggie. The author knew what she intended, probably a story of the MC striving and striving and finally succeeding. But, that intent wasn’t what I saw.

And, because the author was so sure of her intent, because she could see it crystal-clear, she couldn’t see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what she intended.

This is not to say that every reader would see what I saw, but do you want to take that chance, especially if you’re writing for children?

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre, will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story.

The critique group is the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.

You can also ask your local librarian to read it. Maybe ask a teacher to read it. Maybe get a family member to read it. You can also get a professional critique.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:


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How to Get a Writing Win

We've all had those days, weeks, and months. Nothing is going right. Articles are getting rejected. Clients are being difficult. Inspiration is waning. You're in a rut and your not sure how to get out of it.

Well, when that happens all you need is a win to set you on the right path. I know, I'm saying this like a "win" is easy. In a way it is. It doesn't need to be a big win. Just something that will boost your confidence and reset your mindset.

Here's what you can do to get a win:

1. Define Your Win. Your win can be as simple as writing a review for a friend's book on Amazon or podcast on iTunes, or a recommendation or testimonial. It will make you feel good and your friend ecstatic. 

You can also complete a task you've been meaning to do, but never seem to find the time. This can mean updating your bio, media, or speaking page on your website or blog; refreshing your LinkedIn profile; or researching a new publication and sending out a pitch or two.

Do you want a slightly larger win? Write an article or guest post, complete a draft of your work in progress, or outline a new one.

Choose something that you can easily accomplishing in a short period of time, so you get back on track. Note: this doesn't even have to be a writing win. If you have a small personal goal, like cleaning your office or start exercising, that works too.

2. Get it Done. Work on your win as soon as you finish reading this post. Not possible? Make an appointment with yourself this week. Don't just schedule time, keep the commitment you made to yourself. And get it done!

3. Celebrate. Reward yourself for your accomplishment. It can be a small or large treat, or some well-deserved me-time. It's all part of the process of getting yourself out of your head and moving forward onto other things.

Your "win" is just the first step. Take the enthusiasm and euphoria, and use it to make progress on your other projects. When you approach your other work from that happy place, the positive energy should translate ... and things should go a lot smoother.

What sort of win will you get this week? Did you accomplish it already? Please share 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 to Get Published – 5 Power Tips

By Karen Cioffi

All writers have one primary focus—to get published. What makes each of us different is our slant or perspective on the story we’re telling, and how we tell it.

It’s true that anyone can write, but writing to get published is another story. To accomplish this, there five steps you need to include in your writing.

1. Write an out-of-the-ballpark beginning

This is the crucial step that will determine whether the agent or editor keeps reading. Your beginning needs to grab the reader; it needs to lead the reader on without him having to think about it.

Here are different slants on a possible beginning:

A. Jan saw blood dripping down the wall. She screamed.

This idea is a beginning that might entice a reader to read on, but the problem is it’s telling not showing. To add showing:

B. Blood dripped down the stark white wall, adding to the puddle already formed on the floor. Jane felt a quiver run down her spine. Reacting before thinking of the consequences, a blood curdling scream issued from the depths of her being.

C. Blood slowly dripped down the stark white wall. A quiver ran throughout Jane’s body. An urgent eruption welled up from the depths of her being and brought forth a blood curdling scream.  

D. Jane stood frozen as blood trickled down the stark white wall, adding to the dark red puddle already formed on the floor. A quiver ran throughout her body. Suddenly, a blood curdling scream welled up from the depths of her being and issued forth.  

Examples B, C and D do a much better job of showing rather than telling. While they can easily be taken apart and reworded for tightness, more description or less description, whatever the author deems necessary, for this article they serve their purpose.

And remember, using descriptive words and adverbs adds to the word count. So, analyze each word you use; be sure they enhance the story and move it along, not weigh it down. In today’s writing world publishers and agents want tight writing.

2. The body of your story

This area needs to fulfill the beginning’s promise. It needs to keep the reader interested in the characters and plot—this will ensure the reader keeps turning the pages. You also need to keep track of everything going on in the story and follow through. Readers don’t want to feel cheated or disappointed.

Some authors use character and event cards or sheets to keep track of each character’s qualities and the details to each event. This will guarantee continuity and help prevent loose ends.

3. Your ending

The ending must tie everything together and tie-up all loose ends. If you wrote a paragraph or chapter about John and Jane contemplating marriage then segue into something else, let the reader know how it ends up.

It’s also a plus if you can come up with a twist at the end, something the reader won’t expect.
But, keep in mind it’s essential that you leave the reader satisfied.

4. Submitting your work
You’ll never know if you’ve written the next best seller if you don’t submit your work. Research publishers and/or agents who work in the genre you write. Choose the ones that you think are the best fit and study their guidelines. Then, follow the guidelines and submit your work. Don’t let fear or uncertainty keep you from moving forward—nothing ventured, nothing gained.

5. Attend conferences

If you’re able to, attend writing / pitching conferences, like the one Writer’s Digest has. A client of mine got nibbles from 10 out of 14 agents and publishers. Big enough nibbles that they requested 25-50 pages of her story. And, one requested the entire manuscript.

This is the power of pitching at a conference.

Along with this, it’s important to network as much as you can – conferences are a great place to do this.

Reprinted from:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact Karen at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:


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Books to Movies

I was pondering the best movies I've seen so far this year, and I realized that they all have a few things in common.  See if you can figure it out:

Bridge of Spies
Hidden Figures
The Zookeeper's Wife
A United Kingdom

Things I found in common:
-All take place in the recent past
-All are based on true stories
-All feature some sort of prejudice/segregation/class inequality and the fighting of it
-All are based on books.

Yay for books!

Bridge of Spies is based partly on Strangers on a Bridge by James Donovan.  The part I found most interesting was the ethical dilemmas centering around the rights of a foreign spy during the height of the Cold War.

Hidden Figures is based on Hidden Figures:  The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who Helped Win the Space Race by  Margot Lee Shetterly.  I'd never heard about this corps of African-American women in NASA, and we all should have known.

The Zookeeper's Wife is based on The Zookeeper's Wife; A War Story by Diane Ackerman.  It's not hard to make Poland in WWII emotional, but this does an exceptional job.

A United Kingdom is based on Colour Bar;  The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation by Susan Williams.  Another story I'd never heard, but a great inspiration in the fight against segregation and inequality.

Lion is based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose.  It's a unique story I heard about first through an interview with the little boy in the story, now a man.  The movie didn't disappoint.

So if you're wondering about your next writing project...take some inspiration from these important and enduring themes or from the world around you.

Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at

Writing - Feel Like Giving Up?

I have found that just when I feel like giving up, something great happens. I had written, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, as my first book that I didn’t necessarily feel inspired to write. I just sat myself down and wrote it. My first book came easily—it flowed from my pen faster than I could write. But, I had thought, ‘if I’m going to be a real author, I’m going to need to just sit down and write.’ I wrote that book and then set it aside and told myself that I’m not a writer. I sat on that story for nearly 10 years. Then, after I had published my first book, The Lilac Princess, I decided I would re-read the turtle book. I decided it wasn’t that bad. I sent it off to an editor and surprisingly, it didn’t need much editing. And guess what? It has been a best seller for me!

Life is crazy like that. Then, earlier this year, I was at a kids’ event and had sold maybe 10 books which barely covered the cost to be at the event. I was disheartened. I hadn’t had much success on Amazon but books sold at in-person events so I had decided that would be where I made my money. But, if all I ever did is cover the cost of the event, I wouldn’t actually be making money. I was about to give up. I really was down for a couple of months.

Not to be outdone, I decided I needed to figure out another way but I didn’t know what. And then something absolutely wonderful happened. I read an author’s book (we’ll call her CeeCee) and reached out to her about it as it was her personal story. CeeCee enjoyed talking with me so much that she asked me to meet her for lunch. We met and she told me about someone (we’ll call her Deborah) that could help my book get some visibility. Later, CeeCee connected me with Deborah. And here’s the really crazy part. I had wanted to go to Deborah’s speaking engagement but couldn’t make it on the day she was speaking, but fell in love with the venue she was speaking at. It was a retreat kind of place—spiritual seminars, massages, etc. I booked a massage there and my sister-in-law went with me. Since it was nearly a 2 ½ hour drive, we went the night before. The venue was having a seminar on forgiveness that night. My first book, The Lilac Princess, is about forgiveness, so that’s a topic near and dear to my heart. We went and as I was signing in, I saw that the speaker was Deborah, the lady I had wanted to meet!! I had no idea she was the speaker that night.

We connected and she offered to do a phone conversation with me to discuss a plan. And guess what? I followed her plan this past weekend and I had over 200 downloads of my turtle book. The little book that, after I wrote it, I had thought I just can’t write and on the heels of feeling like I’ll never make any money at this book gig.

So, all of that is to say—don’t give up because just when you feel like giving up, there’s a miracle waiting around the corner. Keep pushing forward, keep doing what you do to the best of your ability and the stars will align for you too!

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 as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at and follow her on Facebook at

How to Handle Book Bigotry

An excerpt from Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

I thought I would share an excerpt from the newest book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books titled How to Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically with Writers-on-the-Move readers. It was launched in a special promotion and it is estimated that it was read by at least 20,000 authors, which makes me practically ecstatic that I can help that many in the its first months as an e-book. It is now available as a paperback, too.

I believe—know—that attitudes toward self- and indie-publishers have become more accepted over the decades. When my first novel was published, any book published by anything other than university presses and New York’s Big Five were derisively called “vanity publishers.” Still, book bigotry or its near cousins hasn’t disappeared entirely.

That sounds discouraging, but it’s a reality. Some—including reviewers—find it convenient to let the name of a press help vet their final choices among hundreds of thousands of books available to them these days. Using the name of a respected press is an easy—though misguided—way to do that.
Brooke Warner, the author of Green Light Your Books and board member of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers of America) says, “I advise authors with [print-on-demand books] never to specify how their books were printed [when they are] talking to book buyers, event hosts, booksellers, conference organizers or librarians . . . .”

Notice that Warner is not suggesting you fib about how the book is published. It seems she is suggesting we just omit that piece of information. But in some cases you can bravely face down book bigotry. That means owning up to however your book is published. My coauthor of the Celebration Series of Chapbooks Magdalena Ball and I list our poetry chapbooks (booklets) in the series as “proudly self-published in the time-honored tradition of poets since before Gutenberg invented the press.”

Honesty is essential. Reviewers and other contacts are not naïve. They know a digitally printed book, micro press, indie publisher or any number of entities now in the publishing business when they see it. But, as writers, we know that words and the way we use them are powerful and we should be willing to use the power to the best of our ability within the boundaries required by ethics.

It is your job—no matter who printed your books—to convince reviewers (and, yes, readers!) that your book is the one they want to spend time with. That your book has value that particular reader or reviewer can use, wants, or desperately needs. We do that:

  •     By publishing or having someone else publish a professional, well edited book. Read more on how to do that in my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor and find more books that will help you with the journey in the Index of that book.Know that the better editor you are, the better partner you make for any editor assigned to you or hired by you.          
  •     By building—and continuing to build—a platform that is respected by others in the publishing industry. (Read more on that in The Frugal Book Promoter).
  •         By approaching reviewers (and other gatekeepers) with whom you have built a relationship and/or those you have researched so you are confident that they will have an interest in your genre. That requires lots of reading and research so you won’t waste sending a book to someone with no clout or who isn’t actually a reviewer. You’ll want to read How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career to learn more on getting and managing those reviews successfully.

Note: By being familiar with the reviewer or other contact and the media she writes for, you limit the chances your book or the content within will be misused. For more on that see the chapter on “Why Book Reviews Aren’t What You Think They Are” in How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

You, the author of your book, are the one who is so passionate about it you will not be daunted by the review-garnering task. Persistence is the key. But here’s The Secret to getting around this to-tell-or-not-to-tell conundrum:

Pretend you are a florist and must put the best blooms in your book bouquet forward. You discard the wilted ones, or at least place them behind the more exquisite blossoms in your inventory.
·       So, you shout it out when it’s your advantage to tell and you do it with pride.
·       When you think your bloom will appear slightly wilted to your contact, you disguise it with the name of a professional publishing company you set up for your own books.
·       And when all else fails, you tactfully omit that information. You won’t fool anyone who finds this information super important, but there is no rule that you must flaunt it, either.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to
the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News. Other awards include Readers’ Views Literary Award, the top marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. And now, ta da! The third:  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

She will appear at's  first-ever #IndieAuthorsCon writers’ conference in Philadelphia Nov. 3-5, 2107 and urges you to use her “Carolyn” code for an additional discount from the already low price for the conference. If you come, please make a point of introducing yourself. 

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...