The Enchantment Show with New Mexico's SCBWI Chapter

"Up on the Roof," by Eddie Edwards
This year marks the Sixth Annual Enchantment Show for the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. Illustrators who signed up are given a deadline to complete an illustration of their choice, in their choice of medium. Participating writers are then randomly matched with an illustration, and must create a one-page story to accompany their illustration. This year’s theme is “Serenity.” The stories and illustrations are displayed at a local library in Albuquerque for the month of June, and a reception held to celebrate our members’ creations.

Last year, as a nonparticipant, I attended the reception to enjoy the show and also to see, frankly, if I would be up to the challenge. This year, I am happy I took the leap. Not only was it a challenge to think up a story that would give my terrific illustration justice, but it awakened the desire to create more. The biggest benefit was meeting more SCBWI members, and especially the artist, Eddie Edwards, my illustrator. I had spent many hours dreaming about her illustration not knowing who had created it. To finally get to meet her was a thrill.

So, without further delay, I present:

Stars and Dreams Forever
by Linda Wilson

Hunter pressed his hands over his ears. Luna, his little sister, wouldn’t stop wailing. His dad paced back and forth across the living room, jiggling her in his arms. It didn’t help. And no one had turned down the TV. There had to be a better place to find some peace and quiet than under this coffee table. 
He slid open the patio door and stood by the porch railing. On the streets below, sirens screamed and drivers honked, the sounds tunneling up between apartment buildings. All this noise hammered into his brain. This wouldn’t do, either.

A pot bubbled on the stove. Mmm. Mom’s spaghetti sauce. He slipped into the kitchen. His mom and Mrs. Martinez, their neighbor from the apartment next door, were busy talking and laughing. Supper would be a while. Time enough to escape to his room.

Sitting on his bed, Hunter glanced at the Star Wars posters plastered on his walls. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth Vader stared back at him from “Return to the Jedi.” The saying at the top, “Return to a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .” took him lightyears away, to suns and moons and planets . . . to infinity . . . places beyond his own imaginings. If only he, little speck-on-the-Earth-Hunter, could travel as long and as far as it took to get to other galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy, maybe? But how could he ever do that?

His eyes shot up to the ceiling. The plain white paint gave him a blank canvas, as an artist would use, to think and dream up his next creation. An idea came to him. He found his dad, now holding Luna fast asleep in his arms, and whispered, “Dad, can I go in the hallway and check out the stairs?”
“Why, whatever for?”

“I want to see how far up they go,” Hunter said.

His dad thought a minute. Hunter held his breath. Then his dad said, “All right, go ahead. I’ll catch up as soon as I put your sister to bed.”

“Thanks!” Hunter climbed the stairs and swung open the door at the top. A cool breeze ruffled his hair. He’d found his building’s roof. It’d been here the whole time, a place on top of the world!
Above, a crescent moon shone, and constellations of stars sprinkled across the nighttime sky, sparkling like jewels. Below, life had quieted down some, the only sounds soft music, soft voices and TVs turned down. Even the traffic had slowed. In a spot that looked just right, he lay back. The door opened. He said, “Hi, Dad.” At that moment, a shooting star streaked across the sky. A spectacle that he and his dad could share, and it didn’t make a sound.
Illustration: I'd like to thank Eddie Edwards for sharing her illustration for this post.
Watch for Secret in the Stars,
soon to be published. Don't worry:
Readers of WOTM will be
the first to know!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Create a Strategy that Delivers Great Content

What does it take to promote your writing, be it articles, stories or books? Indeed, the answer is much more than Sales Pitches and Events. 


How do you tell your readers or a prospective publisher what you are about? How does your promotion offer benefit the reader? The answers are: your Author Platform, your Branding, and your Website.  It’s the way you inform and engage your audience. This week we’ll talk about Great Content, and developing a Strategic Plan.

Points for brainstorming your strategic plan to deliver great content:
1.    The WHAT: Writing a series of five, six or ten articles focused on one theme
2.    The HOW of delivery is via quality information in text, graphics, video and audio. We are not entitled to our reader’s attention. Deliver content that grabs their interest early, and make it good for the quick-look reader.
3.    Change up the presentation by offering an article in text with audio as well.
4.    Make it original, relevant and valuable while staying focused on your theme.
5.    Also, make it substantial and in-depth even when it requires 1000 words or more.
6.    The WHY: Connecting with your audience which leads to engagement and sharing
7.    WHEN you build Connection, readers are more likely to follow by taking Action
8.    Build an archive of your content articles in preparation for creating a good online course. An organized file archive is enormously helpful in repurposing your best articles for additional opportunities.

Use proven structures essential for effective SEO:
1.    Headlines, and sub-headlines, that command attention
2.    Focused introductory sentences
3.    Provide information that solves a problem
4.    Limit the message to one central point
5.    Stand out with lists or listicles, for quick reads
6.    Use relevant links, and test them

Great Content = Successful Marketing
Be the best in your niche!

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:

Write clear & concise, personable yet professional.
Know your reader.

Work Your Simple Plan

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From time to time, I’ve had author envy.  I look at someone’s twitter following with thousands of people or the thousands of subscribers to their blog or newsletter and I wish it could happen to me. Or I read about a bestselling book and wonder why my books haven’t achieved such a level of success. Envy sprouts into my mind and heart and I begin to grow jealous of another author’s success. Then I pull myself up short. I’ve interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors. Repeatedly I’ve learned there are few overnight success stories. Most authors who spring to the top of the bestseller list have been in the trenches for years growing their presence in the marketplace.

Every author has to take action and begin building their presence in the market. I do not believe there is a magic formula, but there are tried and true methods when used consistently will help you.  Recently I was listening to the audio version of Jack Canfield’s bestselling book, The Success Principles, How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The book is full of insight. Success Principle #13 is Take Action. He writes, “Most people are familiar with the phrase, ‘Ready, aim, fire!’ The problem is that too many people spend their whole life aiming and never firing. They are always getting ready, getting it perfect. The quickest way to hit a target is to fire, see where the bullet landed, and then adjust your aim accordingly. If the hit was 2 inches above the target, lower your aim a little. Fire again. See where it is now. Keep firing and readjusting. Soon you are hitting the bull’s-eye.” (Page 103)

Recently I was meeting with an unpublished author who had written about a 400-page Christian fantasy. He gave me a copy of his novel to read and recognized that he is an unknown writer. Like many people they wonder what steps to take to enter the publishing business and change from being unknown to being known. These steps are not a quick fix and will take on-going time and effort. The good news is with the Internet and regular effort it can be done with a minimal financial investment. Here are ten simple steps.

1.  Pick a good domain name—a dot com. How do you want to be known? Pick that for your domain name. What is your area of expertise? If you write Christian fantasy, select something you can brand and promote. 
2. Get a Hostgator account. Most writers can get along for with a small monthly fee. This system is powerful and inexpensive.
3. On your Hostgator account, start a Word Press blog (not a free one but one you set up). The tools are free and because you are hosting it, you don’t have the restrictions of the free Word Press account. Then post several times a week on your topic that you want to brand.
4.  Start a Twitter account with your brand name and post only on that topic—link to articles about it and other things to draw readers. 
5.  Also post to your Facebook about this topic—automatically repeat your tweets.
6.  Join forums on this topic. At first, watch, and then participate with solid content about the topic at hand—and emphasizing your topic. You will become known as a thoughtful expert.
7.  Eventually begin a newsletter with your blog posts—repurpose them into a newsletter and encourage people to subscribe to it.
8.  Repurpose your blog posts to Internet articles and post to the free articles sites (there are many of them). As you repurpose your material in this way, you will become known as an expert in your particular area of the market..
9.  Get a free copy of my 43-page Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. Read this book and take action.
10.  Take action over and over—consistently and regularly to build your brand. It will pay off and you will build your presence and become known.

As you work this simple plan, you will be surprised with the results just like the  bestselling author who took 20 years to become an overnight success. A seemingly innocent event set off the unplanned chain of events propelled the author to recognition. You are the best person to promote yourself but you have to take action. Work your simple plan and it can happen. I’ve seen it over and over.

How are you working your simple plan? Let me know in the comments below.
W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Check out his free Ebook, Straight Talk From the Editor. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn


3 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

As a writer, sometimes I just don’t feel like writing.

It’s as if all creativity has drained from my brain, and I can’t seem to get a single word on paper.

When that happens, I know it’s time to do something totally different from writing, yet something I enjoy.

Here are 3 ways I spark my creativity when I need new ideas.

These fun activities should work to spark your creativity, too.
1. Turn on some inspiring music and relax.

I happen to love the theme music from the movie The Duchess (you can listen to it on youtube).

It evokes all sorts of emotions that help me relax, and when I relax I am much more creative.

You don’t have to do anything while you listen to the music.

Sit and stare out the window or lie down and daydream.

Feel your body unwind and your mind start to wander—both of these things are good for creativity.

But, if you like, choose one of these other activites to do while you listen to some inspiring music.
2. Paint, color, or draw.

If you’re a visual artist, as well as a writer, you already draw or sketch or paint all the time.

But many writers never try to paint or color, or sketch, and they are missing out.

It isn’t the end product (you don’t need to produce a lovely painting or drawing) that matters here.

It’s the process of letting go, relaxing, and just allowing your imagination to take over.

If you can’t draw a straight line, start with a coloring book for adults and simply color in one of the pages.

I love to use colored pencils and colored markers for this.

But watercolors also work well (if you are careful not to use too much water, so the colors don't run).

If you feel a little braver as far as drawing something on your own, next try doodling.

Get a special notebook to devote to just your doodles.

Then, check out some of the doodling boards on Pinterest for some fun doodling tutorials, and then doodle away.

Again, I like to use fine-tipped Sharpie markers for my doodling.

I use black ones to create the doodles, then fill them in with colored markers.
3. Create a decorated journal.

I find this to be really fun and relaxing.

And, once I have completely decorated a journal, I can use it for writing.

To create a decorated journal, buy a plain spiral notebook or just a plain lined journal.

Get some colorful stickers that are designed for planners.

I usually get some of the Create 365 series at Michael’s and start with those.

But I also use other stickers that I find at Dollar Tree, Target, and Hobby Lobby.

Start decorating your journal by putting several stickers on each page, leaving room for other stuff on the page later.

Note: It takes a while to design each page the way you like it, so don’t try to decorate an entire journal in a few minutes. Give yourself several sessions to do this.

I schedule a few minutes for at least one of these activities every day—even just a few minutes is good—to spark my creativity and just have fun.

You should, too.

Try it!

And for more tips for awakening your creativity, click here!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books, a writing coach, and editor at

Looking for more ways to spark your creativity?

Join her Facebook Group for Creative Writers!

The Social Media Shuffle

You know how, try as you might, you can't do everything? The same applies to social media. Last month, I wrote about the power of saying no. This month, I'll share how you can say yes to stress-free social media.

A balanced social media strategy is like a going to a dance. You have a main partner - "the one who brung ya" - but you should also spend time with others. You want to hang out with your BFF of course, and then visit with friends and acquaintances whose company you enjoy.

The one must social media platform that everyone should be on - that one "partner" - is LinkedIn. 

Here's why:

- Great First Contact. Since it's a professional business network, when you meet new people, that's usually the first place they want to connect. 

- Made for Intros. If you want to get into a certain company - whether you are applying for a job or a want to submit business proposal - you can look to your contacts and get either a direct or secondary connection intro.

- Less Noise. Since fewer professionals are using LinkedIn to share their expertise, it's more likely others will see your posts and engage with you. Try posting several times a week, and you'll see what I mean.

Being on the platform is not enough. You also need to stand out. For your LinkedIn profile, use a recent picture, a branded background image, and an intro that shows your personality. And make sure your experience sections are filled out, complete with media and links. This will give others an fuller picture of who you are, how you can help, and why you would make a good friend, business partner, or connection.

Choose a Social Media BFF 

On which platform is your audience? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube? Which interface is most appealing to your personality type. If you are not a fan of video, than YouTube should not be your secondary platform choice. 

The more you like a site, the more often you will engage, and others will engage with you. Choose a truly "social" media site to develop a community. And post on it regularly. 

Make Other Social Friends

Regardless of your favorites, you should have a presence on all of the other main social sites. These are "friends" you visit once or twice a week, sharing links, videos, images. You are basically reminding people you exist in case they need you, your product, or your services.

* * *

In this day and age, social's the thing. But to be truly social. you need to enjoy it the way you would a party. Dance with your partner, catch up with your best friend, and have a quick visit with others. You will be happier than if you try to talk to everyone at the same time, while juggling a large plate of food and your dance partner.

* * *

What is your favorite social media platform? Why? 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.  Debra is the author of Your Goal Guide, being released by Mango in January 2020, as well as Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She is host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and the Guided Goals Podcast, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

What To Do When a Book--Any Book--"Fails"

Determining What Went Wrong to Get Future Marketing Right

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Once upon a time, way back in the last decade, author and researcher Lisa Ann Hewlett's publicity predicament illustrated to the world of books what we authors suspected all along: Huge amounts of publicity surrounding a release don't necessarily translate into massive sales figures. I still remember it today and am haunted by it whenever a client tells me that her marketing isn’t working.

When a major publicity coup like Lisa’s turns out to be the most bitter dose of rejection we could expect to encounter, it’s an indicator that it could happen to anyone. That may happen even when the publicity is the stuff of which dreams—in Surround Sound and Technicolor—are made of.

It is reported (variably) that Hewlett’s Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children sold between 8,000 and 10,000 copies. Many authors would be ecstatic with sales figures that look like that, but everything is relative. It is believed that Miramax paid a six-figure advance for this title and projected sales in the 30,000 range for hardcover alone. Considering expectations for the book, the figures do appear dismal.

Therefore, smart people in the publishing industry searched for reasons for its less than stellar performance, especially with the kind of publicity this book received, and I mean biggies like Time Magazine (the cover, no less) and several "New York" magazines. TV shows like "60 Minutes," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," and "NBC Nightly News" lined up behind this book, for heaven's sake. Even Oprah's magic book-sale-wand was not effective.

Hewlett’s book made great news! It warned young career women that they have been mislead by petri dish miracles reported in the press. She pointed out that women have come to believe that they can put conception after career and be reasonably sure they can have still have both. She attempts to exorcise that notion in Quest.

So, just what did go wrong?

Many groused that he title was not scintillating nor was the book’s cover. Those in the know wondered if that influenced book sales. But that’s a huge burden to put on professionally produced book cover or title choice in a book published by an experienced, savvy and BIG publisher. Something else was clearly wrong.

My thirty-seven-year-old-daughter who had just returned to college to embark on a career in anthropology suggested that women don't want to hear the dreadful news. She says, "I just flat out don't want to hear this bad news in the middle of something rewarding, exciting and new! Why would I slap down the price of a book to get depressed?" Another unmarried friend who is also caring for an aging mother said, “I wouldn’t buy it. What am I supposed to do with that kind of information once I have it?” For women like them, delaying childbearing isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity.

All this searching for answers may reap results, may help publicists and publishers and authors determine cause and effect so that this syndrome can be avoided in the future.

The problem lies in the fact that this soul-searching and hullabaloo was misdirected. Even Hewlett says, "I don't know what to make of this absence of huge sales." One can see her shaking her head in disbelief. If someone with her research skills can't figure it out, can anyone? It may be the economy, stupid. Or retailing. Or the book biz.

It's surely something completely out of the author's control unless someone had thought to run the idea by a focus group of career women the age of the book’s expected audience. In the publishing industry, the term “beta reader” is often associated with this kind of research, but it must be accompanied by hard questions posed to the readers and that seems to entail some notion of unforeseen exigencies.

That seems like a bit of a conundrum, don’t you think? To do that, a similar trial I might run for my The Frugal Book Promoter might miss the mark for brand new authors because a large percentage still might be operating on decades-old ideas of what big publishers will do in terms of marketing! If that hadn’t occurred to me or my publisher, we wouldn’t have asked the hard question!

But, I think the most valuable lesson that can be learned with the Quest kind of rejection—any kind, really—is that it is not personal, that it pay to search for the lesson even after the fact.

We must keep the faith, keep writing, and keep publicizing, because if we don't, we’ll never know if a book—or a career—was given the best possible chance at success.

Here’s what I know for sure. I now fear publishing less. If my faith should slip a tad, I know it need not be fatal. I know those things thanks to Sylvia Ann Hewlett.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit.

The Frugal Editor ( award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View's Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences.

Her website is

Read as a Writer

Every writer has been told to read, read, read. Read as much as you can to improve your own writing skills.

Well, I read an interesting article at Writer Unboxed that explained why simply reading to improve your writing won’t cut it. 

According to the author, Julianna Baggott Faculty Director of Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing, “I’ve found that some of my most thoroughly read students – the ones who devour and love every book they come across – are some of my hardest to teach. I believe that how one reads is essential. And if you don’t master reading as a writer, sheer quantity will be of little use.”

Baggott broke down reading as a writer into five categories: blueprint reading, territory reading, language reading, portal reading, singular lens reading.

Breaking them down:

1. Blueprint reading.

This goes back to read, read, read. While she kind of said this doesn’t work, she does agree that reading in volume does give you an idea of how a book is written to get published. (assuming you’re reading traditionally published books.)

For my writing, I like this type of reading. Seeing how the author puts the story together, how he builds his characters, how she keeps the conflict rising, how he ties up all loose ends . . .

It is a great tool to learn ‘good’ writing.

2. Territory reading.

This is reading to take ideas away with you. It could be from the topic, a chapter, a scene. At least this is what I think the author is saying.

I’ve done this. I’ll be reading a children’s book and an idea pops up. It may just be something I’m reading that takes me in a new direction. But, it can get the creativity flowing.

3. Language reading.

Reading with language in mind is to see the words that are used.

I do this often. While Baggott uses it for ideas and transitions into topics, I use it for the actual words. I love to see what words authors use to convey an emotion, a sensation, a description, and so on.

I also keep a database of words I find that I might be able to use down the road. So, just like the author of the article, I’ll have words circled or underlined in the books I read.

4. Portal reading.

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what the author is saying for this reading experience. As far as I can tell, it’s reading and through the scene be transported into your own story. The book somehow acts as a muse to give you insights into your story.

This hasn’t happened to me.

5. Singular lens reading.

This one is more about seeing everything through the story you’re writing. You look at book covers, titles, contents and how it relates to your story.

As Baggott puts it, “This reading is how you look at the world around you when you're so deeply involved in a project that everything you encounter gets filtered through that one lens.”

As a ghostwriter, I’m usually working on more than one story at a time plus my own stories. Because of this I don’t really get ‘singular lens’ anything.

But, it’s easy to see how this can happen.

Summing it up.

Being a writer, I notice how I read different than someone who doesn’t write. I see grammar. I see sentence structure, chapter structure, story structure, character building and sometimes all this is at the sake of the story itself. I’ll have to stop myself to actually just read the story.

But, this is what writers do consciously or subconsciously. We can’t help it.

And, now you have five reading styles to help you write your stories. Have you found yourself using any of these?

5 Ways to Read as a Writer

This article was originally published at:

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!

And, you can follow Karen at:


Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform - Be Realistic

An Evening with Publicist Jennifer Abbotts

The Writing Details are Important

Point-of-View and Children’s Storytelling

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...