How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever with Jack Canfield

With 2017 winding down quickly, I came across a great 5 minute video by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) that tells how you can make 2018 a great year. There are simple steps that will make a difference - it's worth watching.

Here's a breakdown of what I got from the video. See if you get the same thing. If not, please let me know your take on it in the comments!

1. Review 2017 - it will give you a map of your ups and downs and what needs improvement. Use a journal - what were the biggest accomplishments. What were your ups, downs, obstacles.

2. What was the overall recurring theme of 2017.

3. Don't make New Year resolutions. Set goals instead. A resolution is a promise you keep indefinitely. A goal is an objective that's achieved by a certain date. It's a measurable achievement.

4 Create a breakthrough goal for the year. It must quantify something and have a deadline. Write a book. Lose 35 pounds. Eliminate a medication. A breakthrough goal has the power to change your life. It's powerful.

5. Your goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.



Writers - 4 Powerful Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

Habits are pretty much who you are.

Are you a positive thinker? Are you ambitious? Do you work hard at your writing? Are you a compulsive cleaner? Do you procrastinate? Do you fear jumping in?

Some of the items above are traits, but they are also habits created – they reflect your actions and reactions. They are part of the things you do each and every day, consciously or subconsciously.

Have a habit you don’t like? Or, one that is getting in the way of your writing success?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to WebMD, you can break bad habits in three easy steps.

1. Analyze the habit you’d like (need) to break.

Maybe, you spend too much time on social media, even if it’s to work it. If you’re not getting the ROI on your efforts, you need to change things.

Maybe, you don’t get enough writing in.

That story that’s been on the back burner is still there. You keep saying you’re going to get to it, but you keep procrastinating.

Or, maybe you need to write two articles a week for your blog, but barely manage to write one. Not for a real lack of time, more because you’re not prioritizing your work.

Maybe, you’re not using video as much as you should in your content marketing, simply because it’s easier not to.

Figure out what it is – put it in front of you. This strategy may help you change things for the better.

2. Write it down.

Actually writing things down adds another element or layer to the consciousness of the habit.

Psychologist James Claiborn, PhD, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, explains, “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it. Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place."

This is similar to number 1, in that it allows you to analyze the habit.

3. Put a temp in.

Once you realize the’ whens and whys’ of a habit you want to break, try substituting another action in its place.

Suppose you drink two cans of soda day. Substitute one of the cans for a cup of water or naturally flavored seltzer. Once that’s working well, substitute the other can of soda with something healthier.

Or, suppose you spend 2 hours a day on social media. Time yourself. Stop at one hour. Then jump into writing something, whether it's your story or a blog post.

4. Realize it may take a bit of time to break a habit.
This one isn’t from WebMD, but it’s powerful.

According to Mark Twain, "A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."

I love this quote. In one sentence, it lets you know that habits can be broken, but it won’t be overnight. You need to persevere.

All of us have some habits we know we should overcome. Try these four tips and see if you can’t break at least one of your bad habits.

Make it a New Year's Resolution to break those bad habits!


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and ghostwriter. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW:

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:


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Do Not Give Up: Seek Inspiration

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another
with no loss of enthusiasm." Winston Churchill
All writers experience it: low times. A low time can rear its ugly head after a particularly painful rejection, a bad case of writer's block, or in my current challenge, a serious case of lack of writing time. At times like these there is only one thing to do: Seek inspiration.

So before you make those New Year's resolutions, spend a little time filling your well with inspiration. Jot down inspirational sayings and thoughts that speak to you—tack them onto your bulletin board and read them periodically throughout the New Year.

Read the Tea Leaves

During a recent visit with one of my daughters, I delighted in sharing a quiet moment with her sipping a cup of tea at the end of the day. Our favorite? Yogi Bedtime Tea (Yogi tea in its many varieties is sold at most major grocery and natural food stores). My daughter would read her saying to me and ask me what mine said, and we would revel in the simple yet profound sayings before taking our first sip.

I keep an envelope with some of my favorite inspirational sayings, many snipped from the strings on my teabags, and am considering using one of the Yogi sayings in the front pages of my WIP book. Enjoy a few from my collection:
  • “Oneness is achieved by recognizing your self.”
  • "Happiness comes from contentment.”
  • “Your intuition is your best friend.”
  • “Love, compassion and kindness are the anchors of life.”
  • “Let things come to you.”
  • “Live from your heart, you will be most effective.”
  • “I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. “ - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) A saying from a Good Earth teabag.
Inspirational sayings Tacked onto My Bulletin Board
  • “I began to wonder if this was why I’m not afraid of the work it takes to write a novel. For me, writing isn’t work. It’s fun. It’s a creative exploration into my characters, their world, the possible points of view the story could be written in, or the possible scenes that could exist. It’s about exploring how wide and deep and wonderful a story can be, rather than seeing it as a straight shot from beginning to end. It’s not time to work on this revision. It’s time to play with this revision. I’m going to open my manuscript and not work, but play.” -  Ingrid’s Notes
  • A note about Ingrid Sundberg:  I’ve been following Ingrid Sundberg’s blog for years and gain a great deal of inspiration from her. She is the author of the YA novel all we left behind, critiques manuscripts, and has recently begun teaching high school. If you don’t know her, I recommend visiting her blog. I think you’ll be glad you did.
  • “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -  Anton Chekhov, known to be one of the greatest short fiction writers in history.
  • “Art can heal anything and everything. Go and give and give and give. And when you give it all, it comes back to you.” -  Ben Vereen  
  • A note about Ben Vereen: Ben Vereen, an “accomplished and versatile” entertainer has appeared on Broadway, performed many one-man shows in the US and abroad, played Chicken George in Roots and Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong, has had many appearances on TV and has accomplished much more. Vereen holds a special place in my heart because of his courage in keeping his terrific attitude after losing his 16-year-old daughter in an auto accident, and suffering critical injuries from three accidents in one day.
  • “You’re dealt a hand of cards. You can choose to play it out—or not. I think the game is worthwhile, I really do.”  Christopher Reeve, the actor who suffered a spinal cord injury after being thrown from a  horse. 
  • Do the work. Do the work. Do the work. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. I’m an audiobook fan and became inspired by Cranston’s story and advice in his autobiography audiobook, read by him,:A Life in Parts.
  • "Learning never exhausts the mind," Leonardo daVinci, heard on CNN Fareed Zakaria's GPS show on Sunday morning.
Benefit from Other Writers’ Wisdom
  • “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up too.” - Isabel Allende, the Chilean-American author of The House of the Spirits.
  • “Kill your darlings. Even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Stephen King. One of the main inspirations I draw from Stephen King, and there are many, is how he gave up on his first book, Carrie, and threw it in the trash. His wife found it and advised him that it was good—keep going. When he finally finished it, it was rejected 30 times!
  • “Start telling the stories that only you can tell.” - Neil Gaiman, celebrated English author of American Gods, Coraline, and Sandman comics.
  • "Be daring, take on anything. Don't labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind." - Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 40 novels, plays and novellas, and many volumes of poetry, short stories, and nonfiction.
As you begin the New Year, take heart. Inspiration can be found in likely places, and hidden in places you might least expect. You will feel renewed and ready to best any battle that should come along.

    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

    Time Management Tips

    First off, I want to wish you a very Joyous Holiday Season from all of us at WOTM ! We appreciate you all and wish you the best!  

    Time Management is a hot topic periodically. Today I want to offer you two ideas to consider if you haven’t already done so. We juggle meetings and deadlines, step-out goal plans, and handle a myriad of correspondence tasks each day. How do we keep track of all of this? It takes experimenting until we find the best system that fits for each of us. Almost every system requires modification to work well. So, we need a flexible system.

    I set up a color highlighted Goal Plan spreadsheet on Excel to list my: 

    •    Year End Completion Goals
    •    Monthly Deadlines
    •    Meeting Commitments
    •    Weekly Progress
    •    Columns for notes

    Does it work well? Yes, as a birds-eye view for the year. I keep it on my desk but only refer to it periodically. But, does it help guide my work day by day? No. I need something more.

    Two writing friends referred me to the Best Self Journal goal and scheduling strategy. (Check it out: ) It’s an interesting and effective way to stay on top of your schedule and increase your efficiency. 

    My schedule has several areas of repetition each day. Because of this, the daily log didn’t work for me. I used a spreadsheet to adapt a weekly schedule.  The graphic above is what I set up to incorporate several areas of the Best Self Journal plan. After a few weeks, I found I wasn’t relying on my plan but rather continued to scratch notes here and there.

    Talking about the Best Self Journal with another writer brought up her scheduling strategy—The Bullet Journal. She showed me how she was successful in using the Bullet Journal over several months. So, I tried it. I set up my Index, Future Log for the next 6 months, Monthly Log and Daily logs (as a ‘week at a glance’). I liked how it flowed for a month and have continued. It’s working! 

    It is hand written, but I find that setting up my pages at the beginning of each month helps me re-focus and doesn’t take long. I use a dot grid notebook (~5.75” X 8.25”) and insert tabs for the Index and active Month. Check out the Bullet Journal: .

    I’d appreciate hearing about your time management strategies. Please comment. Thanks much.

    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 : My Writer's Life . Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines.

    “Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

    Six Writer Actions For the Holidays

    By W. Terry Whalin

    Each year I can see the shift in publishing communication. This shift arrives right about Thanksgiving and carries through New Year's Day. Emails and submissions do not get answered and it is like your communication with editors and agents comes to a screeching halt. Why does this happen and what can you as a writer do about it? For a few minutes, I want to help you with this topic.

    Admittedly a lot of publishing is slow to communicate. From my experience, it often takes weeks to hear from an editor or agent. This process is even slower during the holidays. Instead of processing submissions, these publishing professionals are focused on holiday shopping, spending time with family and other events. 

    As an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, I'm still processing manuscripts with authors and contracts.  While our publication board meets weekly (instead of the typical once a month) in a long-standing tradition, Morgan James will be closed from the end of business today (December 22nd)  until January 2nd .

    With this silence from the publishing community, how can you be productive with your writing? It is possible for you to be active during this silent period of publishing. About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to drive to Denver and do an in-studio radio interview about my book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist

    Most of these types of interviews are 20 to 30 minutes and I “thought” that was what I was doing. As I settled into my place in the studio, they thanked me for co-hosting the program (which I learned was two hours). I loved the opportunity to talk for two hours about Billy Graham—even if unexpected. You can catch seven minutes of that time on this little video. Use this link to download it and watch.

    Here’s six different ways to make the most of your writing during the holidays:

    1. Rework or update your website.  It has been some time since I reworked my own website and I'm going to use this time to update some of my websites.

    2. Work on building your platform and presence in the marketplace. Use my Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Writer on this topic or something else for some idea starters. Can you take some actions to increase your twitter followers or add to the number of people who are reading your newsletter?

    3. Write a free ebook for a list generator. Can you take a series of blog posts or articles and turn them into a free ebook that you offer to your mailing list? Use this time to create such an ebook.

    4. Create your own event in January. Your new ebook (#3) could be the ethical bribe that you use with this new event. Now is the time to be planning the details of such an event. 

    5. Read a book on marketing such as 5–Minute Book Marketing for Authors or Online Marketing for Busy Authors. Follow the links of those books because I wrote in detail about each of these books. When you read the book, apply some of the lessons to your books and writing.

    6. Begin a new income stream. Writing has multiple paths and income possibilities. During this quiet time, select a path that you are not currently using such as affiliate marketing, then begin to develop a new income stream. I have a list of writing possibilities in the free sample of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Follow this link to get this free resource.

    You may not want to tackle all six of these ideas but hopefully several of them help you. Notice each of them are something you can do without a connection to an editor or agent.
    As a seventh way,I encourage you to polish or create a book proposal. Even if you are going to self publish, you will still need a proposal. The proposal is the blueprint for your book—especially if you are writing nonfiction. If you are writing fiction, you will still need this information for the platform and marketing section. A free resource to learn more insights about proposal creation is at:

    I understand this time of year has many things pulling for your attention. It is a matter of commitment and focus to get these actions for your writing in motion. You can move forward with your writing even during the holidays.

    How do you keep your writing life going during the holidays? Or do you put it on hold for these weeks?  Tell me in the comments.


    Take action on these six or seven ideas to boost your writing life during the holidays.  (ClickToTweet)
    W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and his magazine work has appeared in more than 50 publications. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and always looking for great books to publish. Terry is a book proposal expert and the author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Sucess. He has over 200,000 followers on Twitter.
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    Holiday Cheer

    This is our yearly Season's Greetings video to our subscribers, followers and visitors - in other words, our online family!

    I created this short animation (60 seconds) in 2014. Each year I go back to it to revise, tweak, or change it in some way, but never do. I just love it. So, all I do is change the year. LOL

    Hope you like it!

    Is Your Protagonist Multidimensional?

    Between your characters and the plot, you develop a story. If the mix is right, and the characters are believable, you can create a story worthy of publication.

    While there are many articles about creating believable characters, it's an important topic and reminders are always in order since your characters are a crucial aspect of your story.

    So, which is your protagonist?

    1. Is your protagonist flat...lacks any type of emotion and action. Like the simple and safe kiddy rides at a children's amusement park...the carousel horse that goes round and round, but does nothing else? Then you have a one- dimensional character on your hands.

    2. Is your protagonist a little bumpy...he has some quirks, life and emotion, but no real depth of character or history. Like the carousel horse that goes round and round and up and down at a steady easy pace? Then you have a two-dimensional character struggling to break into the world of believability.

    3. Is your protagonist a full-blown amusement park...a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, knowledge, emotion, character, and history? Now you have it—you have a believable three-dimensional character that is strong enough to bring your story through to the end.

    Now the question is: how do you create a wonderful, believable life-like three-dimensional character?

    There are a number of methods you can use that will help create a believable character, here are two:

    1. Create a character sheet or use an index card before you begin.
    On your sheet, list all the characteristics, quirks, moods, mannerisms, physical attributes, artistic get the idea. Keep this sheet handy as you're writing your story. If you tell the reader Pete has blonde hair in the beginning of the story, and then you describe it as black, unless he dyed his hair as part of the storyline, stay true to the character. Readers pick up on errors very quickly.

    The more detail you add to your character sheet the easier it will be to know what your protagonist will do in any given circumstance. This will take the element of wondering out of your writing process and save time...Pete finds a bag of money next to his neighbor's car. Hmm . . . will he keep it or try to find out if it's his neighbor's? Oh, wait a minute, on your character sheet you wrote he's an honest guy! Simple.

    2. Add characteristics and attributes to your protagonist as you write your story.

    Write your protagonist's characteristics, quirks, moods, mannerisms, and so on, on a character sheet as your story evolves.

    There are some writers who use different methods to create a story. Maybe you're using the 'seat-of-the-pants-method' and your character evolves as your story does. With this method, you want to be sure to note each new development in your protagonist's character or being.

    Let's go back to Pete again. Pete scratches a car as with his bicycle. Does he leave a note on the car he damaged? Does he quickly leave the scene? Does he just ignore the incident and goes about his business?

    While he's usually honest, he could have a moment of weakness? Maybe he's worried about the consequences.

    Whichever one of these actions he chooses will establish another element to his character - be sure to make note of it.

    No matter what process you use, remember to add life-like qualities to your character. Readers need to develop a relationship with the protagonist. If they feel Pete is three dimensional and they are drawn to him, they'll be sure to read to the end of your book.

    Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children's ghostwriter. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. Get monthly must-know writing and marketing tips with The Writing World newsletter.

    And, be sure to connect with Karen at:


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    A Few Reasons to Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book

    If you're writing a nonfiction book—or even just thinking of writing a nonfiction book—you're probably trying to decide between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

    Here are just a few reasons why self-publishing might be the better choice for you:

    1. Your book will appeal to a very small niche market.

    If you think your book will only sell a few thousand, or maybe even a few hundred, copies it might be tough to find a traditional publisher.

    But you can create a small print run (or publish through a print-on-demand publisher) and establish yourself as a credible expert among your niche market.

    2. You want or need more control over the finished product.

    With a traditional publisher, the finished book can be quite a bit different from your initial manuscript.

    Many authors prefer the control they have with self-publishing.

    3. You want to publish your book quickly.

    Generally, it takes time to find an agent and/or publisher for your manuscript.

    And, once you find a publisher, it can take a year or longer before the finished book is released.

    But when you self-publish your book can be ready almost immediately.

    4. You want to be able to set your own royalties and make more money per book.

    With self-publishing you can usually set your own royalties and typically earn 20 to 30 percent of the cover price of the book.

    5. You do a lot of paid speaking engagements and you need something for back-of-the-room sales.

    Most speakers will tell you that even when they are paid to speak at special events, the real money is made from back-of-the-room sales.

    But you have to have something to sell.

    A book of your own is perfect for this, which is another reason to get it published quickly if you have many upcoming speaking engagements.

    6. You want to use the success of a self-published book to attract the attention of a traditional publisher.

    This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

    A writer self-publishes and creates a demand for his nonfiction book.

    A traditional publisher gets wind of this through the author’s blog, social media presence, etc. and offers the author a publishing contract, with wider distribution and more extensive marketing than the author can do on his own.

    These are just a few reasons to self-publish your nonfiction book.

    If one or more of these reasons is right for you, then finish writing your book and self-publish it.

    Try it!

    Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a book coach.

    Visit her website at to learn more about her books and her coaching programs.

    Alpha & Beta Projects for the New Year

    alpha beta projects debra eckerling
    It's goal-setting season! One of my favorite times of year. I do tell my clients and community to look at goals daily (minimum weekly) and review/re-assess them monthly or or quarterly. However, start of a new year is wildly regarded as everyone's fresh slate. Embrace it!

    As you prepare to take on 2018 with full force, set yourself up for success. That means take into account your current responsibilities and time availability, before you over-commit. Brainstorm all of your goals for the year to get a sense of what you want to accomplish (see my article on using journaling to set goals). Then, choose two main projects - an alpha and a beta - for your focus.

    Why Choose Two

    Everyone burns out. Everyone gets stuck at some point. When that happens, you can walk away from your project - meditate, work out, do something else that's creative. Then, if inspiration has not reignited, you can work on your backup. When you have two project goals, you always have something to work on when you need a break from the other. 

    Some projects work in tandem. It's not only fine, it's great when your projects complement each other. For example. if you are looking to publish traditionally, your alpha project may be writing the book, and the beta is working on the book proposal. Want to start a podcast? Promoting in via social media can be your secondary focus. And, for those who want to do more freelancing, consider writing the articles your alpha and querying publications your beta. 

    Note: If you don't have a beta in mind, your second project can be brainstorming ideas for your next project. Keep a running list of ideas: stories, books, articles, promo. Then, when you find something that excites you, it can move into the beta or maybe even alpha position.

    Types of Projects

    This can be an endless list, but here are some ideas for starters:

    Write or publish a:
    Non-fiction book
    Poetry collection
    Series of Articles

    Get a:
    Manager or agent
    Publishing deal
    New venue to publish your stories/essays/articles (newspaper, magazine, website)
    New job

    Start a:
    Video series

    * * *

    While the focus is on writing projects, you can use this philosophy with personal and business projects as well. And clearly you can add more project goals. Just try to keep your main focus to only two or three. Once they are accomplished, you can promote one of your other goals to alpha, beta, or gamma status. 

    Whatever you set your sights on to accomplish in the new year, remember you can do it! Just set yourself up for success and enjoy the process of setting and achieving your goals.

    * * *

    What do you think? What alpha and beta goals are you planning to accomplish in the new year? Please share in the comments.

    Also, set goals and join the conversation on Write On Online: Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

    * * *

    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.

    Great Gifts for the Holidays

    Writers on the Move is made up of authors. And as such, we have books that will make great gifts for other writers, friends, family, and children.

    Please take a moment to check out the great titles below!

    A middle grade fantasy set in ancient China: Wang is 12-years-old and wants to be rich and powerful by becoming an Eternal. Little does he know that working in the wheat fields with his father is a piece-of-cake compared to the grueling apprenticeship he signs up for with the mystical Eternals.

    Author: Karen Cioffi
    Get your copy at:



    Franky the Finicky Flamingo is a handsome flamingo who seems to be a picky eater until he finds the food that is just right for him.

    Author: Wanda Luthman
    Get your copy at:


    THE FRUGAL EDITOR: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation
    and Ensure Success

    Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller. From the HowToDoItFrugallySeries of books for writers

    Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Get your copy at:


    WRITE ON BLOGGING: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog

    Are you ready to start your new blog? Do you want to re-invigorate your old one? Write On Blogging has everything you need to know to visualize and build your blog, plan and write content, and promote your posts. Filled with simple tips, writing exercises, and tons of resources, this book is a road map on how to take what you are passionate about and develop your expertise through your blog.

    Author: Debra Eckerling
    Get your copy at:



    Sarah Langley likes to plan parties but when her uptight boss insists she keep things simple, her job, and her love life are on the line.

    Author: Suzanne Lieurance
    Get your copy at:



    A picture book: Pepper has a secret that makes her different. This cute story helps children to understand what it feels like to be different. Discussion
    questions and activities help parents and teachers share the concept of
    being different.

    Author: Terri Forehand
    Get your copy at:

    Hope you found something you like!


    Needing a Little Validation?

    When you’re a writer, nothing beats the feeling of being valued for your writing. When you get that first 5 star review with glowing words about your book, you feel a sense of accomplishment. When a reader reaches out to you to let you know that your book meant something to them, wow, that’s what we live for, right? One of the crowning endorsements is winning an award. When we win an award by people who judge writing for a living, we know our work stacks up against other excellent writers. It truly brings you a sense of value and worth.

    Well, that has been my recent experience. I wasn’t the writer who had won things for my writing when I was a teen or had ever been pointed out in college as having written an excellent essay. Until this year, I was still feeling on shaky ground as to whether I could “do” this writing thing.  People said they liked my work and I did have 5 star reviews but still, I wasn’t sure. I decided to enter a contest. It was almost on a whim. I saw an ad to enter and had debated about it for a while and then one day, I just took the leap.

    I entered two of my books in several different categories that I thought they best fit into and then I waited. It was 5 months before they were going to announce the winners. I wrote it on my calendar and said a silent prayer. When that day came, there was no email in my inbox. I was disheartened but I thought I would go check out the winners. I went to the website and started scrolling through the list. There was my book in 2nd place! Later, I read that they didn’t send out emails. I wish I had read that detail earlier.

    Anyway, nothing beats the feeling of seeing my book on the winning list. I was elated! I felt the most validated I had ever felt as a writer. It’s like in Pinocchio when he says, “I’m a real boy.” That’s how I felt, “I’m a real author.” Up until then, I had felt like I was just pretending at this writing thing. The cool thing is they had an Awards Ceremony and placed medals around your neck up on stage. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Well, I hope not, but it was truly magical. I have never been so proud and felt so accomplished in my whole life.

    So, I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this to encourage you to enter contests. You might have felt like me, afraid to put your work out there. But, as a writer, your writing is being judged every day by your readers. Some contests even provide feedback. That would be invaluable too. Even if you don’t win, you get information to help you improve your writing so possibly you can win next time. So, enter contests and maybe you’ll be writing in to tell me about it too. I’ll be jumping up and down with you to celebrate!

    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

    Turning Jealousy into Success: Did Someone Beat You to It?

    Turning Jealousy into Success
    Or What You Can Do To Be the Featured Expert

    By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Someone Beat You To It, Huh?

    Maybe we all have a tendency to feel disgruntled when our local newspaper quotes an expert who isn’t (really, he isn't!) as expert as we are! 

    We feel even worse when when CNN features a talking head on the subject of their book and they disagree with us! 

    Seems we have some choices. We can grumble to ourselves and lose sleep. We can write to whoever was remiss and complain. Or we can take positive action.

    Here are your dos and don'ts: 

    ·     Whatever you do, do not complain on a social network or to the producer/talk show host or other media person about their lack of foresight (and appreciation of your brilliance).
    ·     Use your Googling skills to contact whoever was in charge (or to blame!) for this lack of foresight. Give yourself enough time to cool off and put your tactful hat on. Then, and only then, do you approach them. And you use a tactful approach: Something like, "Perhaps next time [subject x] comes up, you would like a different perspective on the topic. I also can offer expertise on related topics like xx and xx." 
    ·     Now it's time to use your query letter skills. Introduce yourself. Be very clear about your credentials. Unless you are famous, use your credential upfront--before your name per the advice of master PR Person Raleigh Pinsky. She gave me permission to use her script/template for how to approach reporters and others responsible for stories to put in the Appendix of The Frugal Book Promoter, second edition.  She explains that name-after-credentials plan. 
    ·       Send a product sample or a copy of your book with your media kit along with your query letter.
    ·      Repeat the process again when something similar hits the news. Your goal is to be remembered--or, better yet, be there when your editor or contact needs you.  Expand your campaign to include others who might cover the same kind of story.

    Here's the number one biggest mistake you can make:
    Don’t assume that because you write fiction, you can’t be an expert. Or because you are self-published, your expertise doesn't count. 
    Of course your voice counts!  I am an expert on tolerance, polygamy, and a host of related subjects based on the theme and setting of my novel This Is the Place (  And yes, an author's expertise may rely at least in part on her profession outside the publishing industry.   All you have to do is examine the subjects of your fiction and see how it relates to what’s in the news. And be ready next time that subject come up in the news.  
    Not all missed opportunities are missed forever. They can inspire us to do better next time around. 
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of #HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade, she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist and she loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres.

    Considering Both the Downsides and Upsides of Writing Reviews

    Dear Writers on the Move Readers,   I am busily rewriting my  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically  for a second edition fro...