Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

Writers just starting out might wonder: Can I call myself a writer, say, if I’m not published? If all I write are my thoughts, wishes and dreams in a journal? If letters, texts, and emails are all I write?

Well, I have the answer. I heard it once from an editor (so it’s got to be true). You can call yourself a writer if you enjoy looking up words in the dictionary. There you have it. It's that simple. So, are you a writer?

Not only do I like, no relish, looking up words in the dictionary, I also enjoy finding just the right word to use to express an action, emotion or to jazz up dialogue, in my thesaurus. Also, I’m sure every serious writer has Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style at their elbow. It’s a big help, though not with every rule. I’ll get to that in a minute.

And what would I do without my Chicago Manual of Style? My “Chi Man” looks like a bird on a cold winter morning who has fluffed up its feathers to stay warm. That’s because I’ve had to look up so many rules, the same ones, mind you, so many times that I finally labelled my most troublesome rules on Post-it page markers for easy access. There are twenty-two of them. I just counted them. Guess what the biggest one is: Punctuation.

It’s okay, though. I once learned from yet another editor that writers can’t possibly remember every grammar rule and have to look up many. So, although some might think it’s tedious if they’re told “go look that up,” genuine writers like you and me know they’re not writers and we are.

Take Lay
Lay is one of the trickiest irregular verbs. The word is categorized simply as "Lay" in Elements of Style, and is explained in this way:
A transitive verb. Except in slang (“Let it lay), do not misuse it for the intransitive verb lie. The hen, or the play, lays an egg; the llama lies down. The playwright went home and lay down.

Lie; lay; lain; lying (I made a note in my book here: Past tense of lie is lay)
Lay; laid; laid; laying

As much as this explanation is helpful, I still ponder the correct usage and have four different explanations for Lie and Lay in a Grammar file I keep on my computer. I finally found the most helpful explanation for Lie and Lay at Professor Malcolm Gibson’s website, “The Wonderful World of Words.” This site is fun for anyone who loves words.

The principal parts (most-common verb forms) of lie are:

lie (present,) lay (past) and lain (past participle).
     The principal parts of lay are:
lay (present), laid (past) and laid (past participle).
     As an aid in choosing the correct verb forms, remember that lie means to recline, whereas lay means to place something, to put something on something.

Correct Usage:
Present tense: I lie down on my bed to rest my weary bones.
Past tense: Yesterday, I lay there thinking about what I had to do during the day.
Past participle: But I remembered that I had lain there all morning one day last week.
Present tense: As I walk past, I lay the tools on the workbench.
Past tense: As I walked past, I laid the tools on the workbench. And: I laid an egg in class when I tried to tell that joke.
Past participle: . . . I had laid the tools on the workbench.

The professor has discovered an easy way to remember the rule so that it is used correctly every time. He has named it after one of his students who invented her own way to remember the rule. He calls it The Michiko Sato Rule.
Write these six words and then try them out:
                                Lie         Lay         Lain
                                Lay        Laid        Laid

Sometimes when I'm stuck on correct usage of a word, after I've researched and chosen what I think is correct, I go to Google, type in my sentence and see what comes up. Oftentimes I see the same passage in other works and feel assured that I'm using the word correctly.

Don't get me started on swim, swam, swum. Swum just doesn't sound right to me. Normally, I avoid it by tiptoeing around it. There are other ways to describe your characters while they're swimming than using the word swum, right?

Do you have a method for keeping track of word usage that you'd like to share? Please leave a comment and tell us about it. After all, anyone who reads this post must care about words and therefore is qualified to call himself or herself a writer.

Clipart courtesy of:
Photo: by Linda Wilson

We writers need to put
all our ducks in a row.
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

Write for Magazine Publication (1)

Writing for Magazine Publication is a great way to monetize your writing and to test out the marketability of various topics. This is the first of a series of posts investigating the components of writing essays and articles for magazines. See your work in print or live online in just a few months.

This series will offer tips and ideas for magazine publishing. Such as: standard templates for both essay and article pieces, a list of genres or categories, where we find ideas, research tips, query letters, formatting for submittal, and copyright definitions.

What’s the difference between an essay and an article? The essay is all about the writer. An article is all about the reader. An essay is an analytical or interpretative composition whereas an article is informational non-fiction prose.

Today, let’s consider genres and ideas.

The list of Genres/Categories for magazine writing is huge but here are a few for your consideration:
  • Consumer topics
  • Trends
  • Local news, highlighting merchants or events
  • Interviews with notable people in a field or industry
  • True crime
  • Sports
  • Parenting
  • Trade Journals
  • Health & Safety, Alternative Health
  • Aging, Seniors
  • Retirement
  • Travel
  • Humor
  • How-To
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Food & Cooking
  • Personal Essays
  • Writing to Inspire
  • Business to Business
  • Seasonal and Holiday pieces

Finding Ideas:
Write about topics close to home and away from home.
  • Do you have a notable vacation spot in your area? San Francisco Bay Cruses, Catalina Holiday, Queen Mary Dining, Dana Point Harbor, San Diego Zoo, Bowers Museum, Balboa Island – All are a great places to research and begin an article.
  • Do you like to Travel? Present a little known fact in your piece.
  • Do you have specific or specialized knowledge for a certain topic? Write about it.
  • Are you an Artist? Do you paint, work with textiles, jewelry, or clay? Write How-To technique articles for beginning artists and/or for artists experimenting with a new medium.
  • Are you into car repair and maintenance? Write tips and money saving ideas.
  • Start a clipping file of articles, columns, newspaper/journalistic reports that have captured your attention, interest, or imagination. 

Please add your ideas in the comment section below.
Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. Visit her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life .
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!"

Write A Review and Promote Your Latest Book

By W. Terry Whalin

For years I have supported other writers through reading their books and writing reviews. Writers are readers and I am always reading at least one or two books. As a practice, when I complete a book (or even hearing an audiobook), I write a review of that book on Amazon and Goodreads. In addition, often I will tell others about my review on my various social media connections. If the book is tied to writing (as some of them are), I will also repurpose some of my review on a blog article about the Writing Life.

In this article, I want to show you how to promote your latest book on the bottom of your review. There are several details involved in successfully doing this type of review and promotion. If your review is short (only a sentence or two—as many people write), then this technique will likely not work and you could even be banned from writing reviews on Amazon. Please pay attention to the details of your review.

1. The review has to be of substance or at least 100 words. In your review, you show that you have read the book because of the summary you give about the book—but also I normally include a short sentence or two quotation from the book and I list the specific page for the quotation. It shows the reader that I didn't just flip through the book one night but read it cover to cover.

2. Normally I write my review in a Word file where I can easily count the words and see the length of my review. I craft a headline for my review. Then I cut and paste it into the customer review place on Amazon. Note you do not have to have purchased the book on Amazon to write a review of that book. You do have to have purchased something on Amazon to be able to write reviews. This detail about purchasing something is not normally an issue but it is one of the basic requirements from Amazon to write customer reviews. I've written almost 900 customer reviews on Amazon. Yes that is a lot of reviews and didn't happen overnight but little by little.

3. At the end of my review, I write a separate little paragraph that says, “Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist.” (Notice this link is a live link that takes people directly to the page for my book on Amazon). As a rule, Amazon does not allow you to add working website links on your review. But, they do allow you to add product links within your review. A few times (maybe half a dozen with almost 900 reviews) this technique does not work and my review is rejected. In those few cases, I have my review in a Word file, so I resend it without my little one sentence bio line. Then the review is still posted on Amazon and still helps the other writer.

As an author I know how hard it is to get people to write reviews. Serving and helping other writers is one of the reasons I have consistently reviewed books.  I've written so many reviews and my email is easy to find, that several times a day I get requests from authors to review their books. I do not review ebook only books. I look at the book and normally I answer their email but I politely decline the offer to review their book. In my decline, I also send them to my free teleseminar about reviewing books to give them this resource. If they take me up on my offer, they join my email list in this process.

4. After I write my review on Amazon and Goodreads, I normally tout my review on social media. If that author has a twitter account, I include their twitter account in my social media post. Some of these authors re high profile people who thank me via social media for my review. Before my review I had no connection to these authors and it has been fun to see their gratitude and responses on social media.  If I originally got the book directly from the author or from a publisher or publicist, I make sure I email this person with the links and results of my review. This final step of follow-up is important because it shows your professionalism and puts you on their radar for future books. As I've written in other places,this follow-up step is necessary. 

I've included the details about this process because I have not seen other authors using this process to promote their latest release. It does take work to read a book then craft a thoughtful review but it is worth it in my view. 

Are you using such a process? If so, let me know in the comments below.  


For a book review, learn the details of how to promote your latest book. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books and his magazine work has appeared in more than 50 publications. Terry lives in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter where he has over 220,000 followers

Other references in this article:

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Plot and Your Story - Four Formats

Plot. As writers we’ve all hear of this literary term. But, what does it mean?

Well, plot is what gives the story a reason to be. It’s the ‘why’ as to the reason the story exists. Plot is what the story is about. And, if the plot is good, it will entertain and engage the reader. It can even change the reader’s life.

In children’s writing, these stories are usually based on external conflict and action.

Think of Superman fighting his nemesis Lex Luther. Or, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. And, the conflict doesn’t have to come in the form a person. It can be battling a flood or a volcanic eruption, climbing Mount Everest, or training a crazy, peeing-all-over-the-place dog.

In his book, “Aspects of a Novel,” F.M. Forster said, “A plot demands intelligence and memory also.”

Examples of plot driven stories include:

- Bovary – through the plot, Emma is driven toward a tragic end.
- Lolita – the plot holds the reader fascinated as Humbert delves helplessly into depravity.
- Great Expectations – through the plot, the reader watches Pip live his life in pursuit of having Estella love him.

These stories hold the reader captive. They drive the reader to turn the pages, to find out what will happen to the characters.

According to Children’s, there are four types of plot structure (1):

1. Dramatic or Progress – think of this format as a pyramid.

a. The protagonist starts out okay or is in the beginning of a dilemma – it may be physical or emotional. This is the setup.

b. The obstacles or conflict rise. As each obstacle is met and overcome, another one arises of increasing severity. This goes on to the climax – the top of the pyramid.

c. The climax is the final conflict and has the protagonist giving his all to achieve his goal. It’s win or lose time.

d. Then comes the closing or wrap up of the story. The story descends the other side of the pyramid to a satisfying conclusion.

This is your typical young children’s story structure.

Keep in mind that the scenarios don’t have to be heart stopping action or doom. They can be as simple as a moral dilemma, of doing right or wrong.

2. Episodic – think of this format as a long obstacle course of usually lower impact ups and downs in chronological order. Usually each chapter or section depicts related incidents and has its own conflict climax. The story is connected through the characters and/or the theme.

According to Story Mastery, episodic formats “work best when the writer wishes to explore the personalities of the characters, the nature of their existence, and the flavor of an era.” (2)

3. Parallel – with this format, there are two or more plots. They can be linked by the characters and/or a common theme.

In a recent upper middle-grade book I ghosted, there were three plots connected through characters and the overall plot.

This format can be used for upper middle-grade and young adult stories.

4. Flashbacks – this format provides the reader with flashbacks throughout the story. It allows the writer to begin with an action scene and fill in the ‘why, what, and how’ in flashbacks.

While plot-driven stories are engaging, it’s the stories that combine a good plot with believable characters that the readers can connect to and ‘feel for’ that become memorable. It’s these stories that have the potential to be great.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

To get monthly writing and book marketing tips, sign up for The Writing World – it’s free!


Point-of-View and Children’s Storytelling
Conflict in Your Story
Where Does Your Story Really Start

The Pomodoro Technique for Getting Your Writing Done

I recently heard of the Pomodoro Technique--something I've done off and on for years, more or less, without having a name for it.

Here's what I love about it:  the name.  It comes from those old kitchen timers that look like tomatoes.  Tomato, in Italian, is pomodoro.  So basically, it's a fancified name for a simple but efficient work strategy.

How to use the Pomodoro Technique:

First, get a kitchen timer (or an internet timer or a fancy Pomodoro App on your phone).

Set it for 25 minutes.

Write until the timer beeps.

Take a five minute break:  walk around, play a quick round of a game, get some water, stretch, pet your cat, etc.


It's remarkably effective, and can be used for many tasks, not just writing.  Plus, it's got a great name.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in NousElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

Developing Dialogue

by Valerie Allen

There are no absolute rules about creating good dialogue, but some guidelines help shape a story. Well written dialogue goes unnoticed by the reader because it sounds right. It is not stiff. It is not artificial. It is written to sound as if someone is speaking.

Dialogue has three main functions:

1.  Reveal more about a character
2.  Establish the relationship of one character to another
3.  Move the story forward

Some basic guidelines for using good dialogue include:

•    Create a new, indented paragraph every time a different character speaks.

•    If more than one speaker is involved in the conversation use his name to clarify who is speaking.

•    Use the noun verb form (Valerie said  not said Valerie).

•    If it is a statement the tag is said (“Valerie is here,” she said.).

•    If it is a question, the tag is asked (“Valerie, where are you?” she asked.).

•    Use movement, a gesture, or a tag instead of said/asked (Valerie opened the door. “Here I am.”).

•    Use vocabulary appropriate to the age, education, and culture of the speaker, as well as the context of the story.

•    Write conversation as it is spoken, not structured as standard written English.

•    Dialogue is primarily about what the speaker believes his problems or conflicts to be.

•    Punctuate so it is easily read without confusion (George, the alligator bit me. George, the alligator, bit me.   George! The alligator bit me.).

•    Do not have characters continuously address each other by name.

•    Do not have characters giving each other information they already know; use exposition. (Not: Valerie, I remember on your birthday, May 10th, we went on a picnic. Use: Valerie, I remember last year we went on a picnic for your birthday).

•    Avoid dialects; use just a few telltale words to give the flavor of the dialect and then return to standard English.

•    Contractions make dialogue more natural.

•    Use apostrophes for missing letters (don’t, you’ve, goin’)

•    Incomplete sentences are common in dialogue (“Where are we going?”,“Out”, “Where out?”, “Quiet—l or you’re not going!”)

Good dialogue does not confuse the reader. Good dialogue clarifies what is being said by whom.

Valerie Allen writes fiction, nonfiction, short stories and children's books. ( She assists writers with marketing via Authors For Authors with two major annual events in warm and sunny Florida. Meet the Authors Book Fair in the Fall and the Writers' Conference: Write, Publish, Sell! in the Spring. Valerie loves to hear from readers and writers! Contact her at:  and AuthorsForAuthors.


One Last Edit? Rethink Before Submitting
Write What You Know
The Best Writing Advice - 9 Tips

A Dozen Ways to Build Your Confidence as a Writer

It's tough being a writer, especially if you're just starting out.

Rejection can easily tear down what little self-confidence you have, so here are a dozen ways to build your confidence as a writer.

1. Do Something First Thing Every Morning That Makes You Feel Good About Yourself.

It might even make you feel powerful.

Go for a jog, do some exercises, take a shower and get dressed even if you won't be leaving the house all day.

Clean your office, put flowers on your desk.

Do one small thing that celebrates YOU.

2. Expect to Be Successful.

Once you do, make sure that every thought, statement, and action reflects that expectation all day long.

Another thing to consider: What someone says about you can help you create a totally different and new expectation for yourself - so get a friend to write out a positive statement about you.

Then notice how you strive to LIVE according to that statment every day.

Eliminate the self-doubt and negative thoughts in your head. Also, monitor the statements you make to others.

Avoid statements that begin with:

I can't...

I don't...

I'm stressed...

I'll try, but....

I have to...

3. Focus on Others Instead of Yourself.

As a writer, who is your reader?

Who is your customer?

How can you serve this customer and how can you get better and better at serving him?

When you're out of the house - make a point to give a stranger or a friend or relative a compliment.

Focus on them.

Ask them about their day.

When someone asks you how you are or are things are going - immediately say "GREAT" and believe it!

4. Don't Think about Success Too Much.

If you do, you're actually thinking about failure, not success.

Failure is about doubt and worry and stress.

Success is about letting go, going with the flow, feeling vibrant, excited, and full of energy.

When you expect success, you can begin to focus on the actions you must take rather than wallowing in self-doubt over the actions you have already taken.

Just keep taking action.

5. Avoid Living, Thinking, and Working in a Panic Mode.

This is when negative statements creep into your head and your language that do not serve you or others well.

6. Don't Compare Yourself with Others.

You are unique.

It might take you 10 years to accomplish something someone else did in 2 years, but so what?

Maybe you will learn so much more along the way than that other person did.

7. Realize that GOD, the Universe (whatever it is that controls the world) Wants Each of Us to Succeed Because When We Succeed We Serve the World in Greater and Deeper Ways.

Faith is not so much about faith in God as it is faith in the divinity within you.

Trust yourself to be able to handle anything you need to handle, to be able to do anything you need to do when, and if, you need to do it.

But don't spend time worrying or even thinking about this ahead of time.

8. Fake it Till You Make It.

Act confident even if you don't really feel that way at first.

Make it a game.

But haven't you ever noticed that the people who are truly the MOST confident are not arrogant?

In fact, some of the most confident people are the most gentle people you will ever meet.

9. Don't Be Ruled by Your Ego.

If someone does something you don't like, or says something to you that you find insulting, practice relaxing and let it flow right through you.

10. At the End of each Day, Make a List of the Things You Did That Day That You are proud of.

This could be simple things like folding the laundry, making dinner, or writing one scene of your novel.

11. Every Morning, be Grateful for Another Exciting Day Full of Pleasant Possibilities.

12. Be Sure You Hang Around Successful, Positive People.

Use this list today to start building your confidence as a writer.

You can do it.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of 35 published books, and a writing coach.

Visit her blog at

Register for her free newsletter for writers - The Morning Nudge - at

Pick Two Things and Do Them

Do you have a laundry list of writing and marketing things you've had to get done, but just haven't had the time?

Today is the day to start to tackle that list.

Just pick TWO things and WRITE THEM DOWN.

Maybe it's to do a video for your marketing.

Maybe it's to write a new blog post for your author website.

Whatever those two things are that you've picked, take care of them today!

Don't procrastinate.

Before you know it, your to-do list will be manageable.

How to Use a Timer to be More Productive

Want to be more productive? Use a timer.

When you use a timer to keep track of blocked time, you get rid of any and all distractions ... including the need to look at the clock. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Here are five ways to use a timer to increase your productivity.

1. Force Inspiration. Every so often you encounter a project that you can’t quite get into. So instead of spending a bit of time to get it started, you avoid it. This results in stress, not to mention a potential failed project. Set a timer for 15 minutes and force yourself to concentrate on what is perplexing you. Then, when the timer goes off, if you’ve figured it out, start your project. If not, take a breath, move onto something else, and try again the following day. At least the project will be in your head, which will make it easier to tackle when you try again.

2. Avoid Social Media Tangents. Let’s face it. Social media is essential for marketing your business. Yet, it's still a time-suck. You log on in the morning to do a couple of things, you get distracted, and the next thing you know, it’s almost noon. Set a timer for your 15-minute social media appointments, so you receive a reminder to not fall into the social media abyss.

3. Take a Break. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, whether it’s for a walk, a bite to eat, or a water-cooler or online conversation. However, if you are spending your down time checking your watch or the clock on your smartphone, are you actually disengaging from work?

4. Limit Time-Consuming Tasks. This trick works well for emails and phone calls. Set a specific amount of time for something where time can spiral out of control. When the timer goes off, it’s time to wrap it up and move on.

5. Work on Something Fun! Yes, you can also use a timer to give yourself a creative treat. Let's say you have a great idea for a new story or article, but you really don't have that much spare time to put into it. As a reward for completing an important task or action items, instead of taking a physical break, take a 15-minute creative one. And you'll be amazed at how the little bits of time you put into a bigger project add up!

In the age of technology, just about everyone has a timer at their fingertips, because their mobile phone is usually no further than an arm’s length away. Put your phone on silent, turn off your notifications, hit the start button, and you are ready to go.

What is your favorite productivity tool? How do you use your timer? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and 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 #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Traditional Book Publishing - Contract to Sales to Career

You’ve chosen to write books, possibly children’s books, and you’ve done it right. You did your homework and learned the craft of writing. You created a polished manuscript and submitted it to publishers.

And, knowing it’s not necessarily the best writer who gets published, but the one who perseveres, you were steadfast and didn’t let initial rejections and lapse of time prevent you from moving forward.

Now, it’s finally happened - all your hard work paid off. A publisher accepted your book and you’re on your way.

But, this is far from the end of your writing journey . . . this is just the beginning.

After your book is accepted for publication, there are three steps you will go through on your writing journey . . . if you intend to make writing books a career.

1. The Book Contract

Once you get a publishing contract, you may want to sign it as soon as you can. 


Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. Once you’re sure everything in the contract is okay and you agree with it, sign away.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point editing with the publisher’s editor will begin. This will most likely involve revisions to your manuscript. This is okay. It’s part of the process.

Keep in mind that the publisher wants your book to succeed as much as you do. Everything they do is to make it better.

After the story is revised, edited, and proofed, it’ll be ready to go. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, if it’s a children’s book, the publisher will have illustrations created. Your book will also need a book cover.

From contract to actual release, the publishing process can take around 18-24 months.

2. Book Promotion

Once you’re in the submission phase of your manuscript, even before you have a contract, you should begin creating an author website and platform. This will help you create visibility for you and your book. And, publishers want to know their authors are capable of promoting their own books.

You need to become a ‘blip’ on the internet radar. To create and maintain this ‘blip,’ you’ll need to post content to your site on a regular basis and use a number of other strategies to extend your promotional reach. This will include using social media.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual and real book tours, do radio guest spots (online and off), do school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can do this on your own or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist, if it’s within your book marketing budget.

There’s much involved in book promotion, so if you can afford it make use of professionals. Just be sure to ask around for recommendations. You want to use a service or individual who knows what they’re doing and who will give you value for your money.

TIP: Book promotion generates book sales.

You can check out these articles for book marketing tips:

Book Marketing – The Foundation

What is an Author Platform and How Do You Create It?

3. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your children’s book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). This is super-exciting and the beginning of your writing career.

To have a writing career though, you need to repeat the process. This means you need to write and publish other stories. Ideally, you should have been writing a new story or stories when you were waiting to get a contract for your first manuscript. 

If you haven’t been writing new stories, get started now.

Keep in mind though that it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

You want to write good books. You want to take your time to make sure you create books that will engage the reader. Books that the reader will want to see what happens on the next page.

This will establish you as a good writer.

But, a writing career can also be about more than just book sales. It can open doors and lead to other writing opportunities. These opportunities include: speaking engagements, conducting workshops, teleseminars, webinars, and coaching. 

Summing It Up

Writing books, whether children’s books or other, is about learning the craft. And, if you’re taking the traditional publishing route, it’s about submitting to publishers and getting contracts. Then it’s about book marketing and repeating the process.

Keep your focus on your goal and persevere.

Writers Conferences - Two Awesome Tips on Why to Attend

By Wanda Luthman

Have you ever attended a Writers Conference?

Every time I see one advertised, I sigh because they cost A LOT of money, plus travel, plus hotel and food. The first one I went to, I knew someone else that was attending and I asked if I could come as their guest just to see what the fuss was all about. She agreed and I was able to attend the first day of the three-day event for a reduced price. (There's your first tip.)

I LOVED it! 

I met wonderful authors who told me fantastic stories about their lives and I heard great speakers. I had caught the conference bug. But, how was I going to be able to afford them?

The answer came in the form of an email. There’s a local group of authors who call themselves Authors for Authors and they put on two book events a year (spring and fall), locally and for a reasonable table price. The spring one had dwindling attendance so I guess the group decided to switch it up and offer a conference instead.

I received their email about a local conference last spring and I didn’t immediately jump on it because the speakers were all people I knew and I thought to myself (not out loud mind you), ‘what can these people teach me?’

I know, I know, that sounds very haughty and I certainly didn’t everything I’m not sure myself why I felt that way other than that bible scripture that says something about a prophet not being recognized as a prophet in their own home town.

Anyway, one of the organizers, Valerie Allen, was persistent and kept asking me to come and I could even have a table to sell my books. Eventually I signed up for both the conference and for a sales table.

Man, was I blown away with the speakers! 

Those local people did know stuff and knew A LOT more than I did and I learned so much. Plus, I sold books! And I was able to network with other authors which is always fun. I had a great time!

So, this year, when the email came around again, I signed up right away but I didn’t get a table. I realized last time that I couldn’t just enjoy visiting while I was manning a table and this year I wanted my freedom to socialize.

The conference was held on Sunday, April 22nd this year and I can tell you it was an equally wonderful experience, if not even better. I absolutely love talking with other authors. We’re a friendly bunch, you know. And we love to help each other out. I learn so much from other people and that means I don’t have to re-create the wheel. I, also, enjoy sharing what tips and tricks I have learned over my 4 years of being a self-published author.

I want to encourage you to attend at least one conference and see if you don’t get the conference-going bug too! And I highly encourage you to check out local ones. (There's your second tip.) At least you won’t have to pay for a hotel or travel. And you just might be surprised, like I was, with the wealth of experience and knowledge in your own backyard.

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 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). 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


The Lazy Way to Be a Great Writer
Publishing Takes More Than Good Intentions
Point-of-View and Children’s Storytelling

Writing - Sometimes It Isn't Smart to Avoid Cuss Words

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Many who know me—personally or as a writer--think of me as that sweet woman with the silver hair (platinum, if you please, but not gray!). However, I can on occasion—and sometimes more frequently—let loose with language you would unfriend me for. So I was thrilled to see an article in AARP: The Magazine titled “In Praise of Cussing.”

It turns out that a few carefully chosen zingers can be “an indicator of intelligence” according a study from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Marist College in New York.


And expletives can help “reduce and endure physical pain” as well. That’s from Keele University in England. Yep. And “forge better teams in the workplace” and “communicate more persuasively.”

One survey even says I am in good company (meaning the majority!). Fifty-seven percent of workers swear on the job. (I do try to avoid doing that! And I also almost never swear when I am driving! So there!)

So, I don’t think you’ll ever find an unsavory expletive in my newsletter, but you are sure to find idioms and colloquialisms everywhere. I do try not to let even my foulest fictional characters cuss beyond what is needed for their character and the situation. And, yes sometimes I use words with lots of syllables, too, especially when they say things better than the short ones (which is rarely).

All this is not to encourage writers to cuss. It is to remind them that if the words they use in dialogue are too. . . mmmm. . .staid, they may render them . . . well, let’s say unnatural? Or stilted?

One of your characters may just be the type who must have a potty mouth if she is to seem real to your reader. And sometimes that character won’t be the tough-talking dude cliché. Those who write humor know that tough-talking character may be a fragile woman with gray. . . er. . . platinum hair.

Carolyn has been a proud contributor to Writers on the Move since its inception. Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and founder and owner of a retail chain 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 Promoterand her multi award-winning The Frugal Editorwon awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her newest book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. Her Web site is


Tips on Polishing Your Novel
How to Catch an Acquisition Editor's Attention
Pros and Cons of Outlining Your Novel

SEO and the Author Part7 - Your Landing Page

The landing page - we’ve all heard this term numerous times. Some people have an idea of what it is and others have no clue.

Interestingly, the landing page isn’t what most people think it is. Most think it’s the first page a visitor sees when randomly clicking onto your website.

This is not the case.

According to Kissmetrics, the landing page is a “specially-designed” page that leads visitors to a specific page - in the exact direction you want to take them. (1)

Okay, so what does this mean?

Well, rather than having a visitor randomly land on your home page and then have to navigate for himself to the important information you want to share, you direct that visitor’s steps from the moment he clicks on your link.

Let me add here that your home page has it's own purpose. It's to attract the visitor and motivate her to dig deeper into your site. Just to keep things clear - every page on your website should have a purpose.

So, How Do You Direct a Visitor’s Steps?

This is simple. You lead them through your content and the clickable URL you provide.

When you’re writing your marketing content, you will include a link to the page you want to bring the visitor.

Here’s an example of this strategy in action:


Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 170+ page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent and marketing your books.

Notice that I have “Writing Fiction for Children” linked to my landing page or sales page. I add this blurb as an ending to some of my blog posts.

Also, note that I have an image of the product included. If you’re using WordPress or another CMS that offers image optimization, you can link that image to another page on your website or to your Amazon Sales Page.

Unfortunately, Blogger doesn’t have an image optimization feature.

Aside from that though, it’s pretty easy to understand, right?

But, What Exactly Is the Purpose of a Landing Page?

The sole purpose of these pages is to convert visitors. In other words, you want the visitor on that page to take an action you want her to take.

You may want that visitor to:

- Sign up for your mailing list
- Buy your book (as in my example above)
- Take advantage of your services
- Register for a class or workshop you’re offering
- Download a free chapter of your book
- Buy your product/s

If your page is well-designed, it will convert visitors. It will motivate them to take the action you want them to take.

In order to do this, you need to have a clear focus for your page . . . a clear goal for the page.

Now for the SEO question:

How Can You Optimize Your Landing Page?

1. The visitor must immediately know what the page is about and what she can do on the page.

2. Your most important information – the WIIFM information - must be quickly visible.

Why should the visitor take action? Why should she buy your book rather than someone else’s? Or, why should she sign up for your mailing list?

Here’s the link to The Writing World as an example of a newsletter (subscriber list) landing page:

3. Have a clear and easy to understand CTA (call-to-action).

4. Give the information before asking the visitor to take action. Put the CTA (call-to-action) below the reasons why she should say YES to your request.

There are exceptions to this rule though as with The Writing World. Visitors to that page know they’re there to sign up for a newsletter (a mailing list) so I give them the option to skip the ‘promo’ content.

5. The entire page should work together.

Kissmetrics states that the CTA is “possibly the single most important part of any landing page . . . and should be supported by everything else on your landing page, from headline and body copy to images and overall layout.” (1)

6. Keep it simple and uncluttered – don’t have multiple boxes to click on. Don’t offer too many choices.

Again, the page should have a clear focus. Don’t dilute that focus.

7. Keep the page updated. If you’ve made any changes to your product or other, update your landing page.

8. Keep the page friendly and easy to read.

According to Marketing Experiments, “People don't buy from websites, they buy from people." (2)

As an author, part of your job is to create and maintain an effective author/writer platform. Paying attention to marketing trends and current SEO tips is a good way to do this.

It’s also important to remember that search engine optimization isn’t just for search engines, it’s for people (searchers’) too. Having your website and landing pages visitor friendly is as critical as having it search engine friendly.

Hope this helps you on your writing and book marketing journey.




Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

If you need help with your author platform, check out Karen's e-class through WOW:

Tips for Creating Subplots in Middle Grade Novels

by Suzanne Lieurance   If you’re writing a middle grade novel, you want to include at least one or two subplots. Subplots in fiction are sec...