Tips From A Psychologist On Handling These Trying Times

Everyone is struggling through shelter-ins, isolation, social distancing, loss of income, and an array of other frightening and unusual events, like being unable to find toilet tissue, disinfectant wipes, masks, and so on.

For me, being in a hot spot definitely adds to the worry. Everyday I hear about more and more people I know or know of who have it. And, it's definitely not just seniors! So, everyone please be careful.

To help with this craziness, Dr. Valerie Allen offers some great advice and tips on how to handle the stress we're all under.

Dr. Allen was a guest contributor on Writers on the Move multiple times as an author, but I didn't know she was also a psychologist.

As I subscribe to her mailing list, she sent along a PDF on how we can help ourselves and has graciously allowed me to share it:


You can find out more about Dr. Allen at:

Write, Publish, Sell! 2 Ed
Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony

I hope this helps you and PLEASE SHARE!

Karen Cioffi


Spring Cleaning at One SCBWI Chapter

"Hide and Seek," by Alan F. Stacy
Our New Mexico Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI-NM, chapter held its first “Write & Sketch” monthly meeting in early March 2020, pre-pandemic. We are currently looking into ways to continue meeting online for now. But in the future, for SCBWI chapters and other writing organizations looking for a way to meet and still get some work done, this post is for you.

Prior to “Write & Sketch,” our monthly meetings were called “ShopTalk.” Our facilitator would organize the evenings based on themes members were interested in. For example, a panel of four presented an evening’s discussion on “Diversity,” which I described in my November 27, 2019 post Diversity: Is Research Enough?; and turned out to be one of our last themed get-together's.

Our new facilitator decided to try something different. She took a look at what other SCBWI chapters are doing, gave us some examples, and opened up for discussion. How did we want to reshape our monthly get-together's, if at all, as some chapters don’t hold monthly meetings? In a nutshell, here are a few examples of what she found:

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Region hosts six events:

  • Writer’s Day March: A one-day conference featuring speakers, intensives, writing contests and awards.
  • B-I-C Retreat April (even years): A three-day, two-night retreat featuring your butt in a chair working on your craft.
  • Critiquenic June: Free, informal critiquing sessions for writers and illustrators, held after a picnic lunch.
  • Working Writer’s Retreat Sept/Oct: A three-day, two-night retreat featuring editors, speakers, and intensive critiquing.
  • Illustrator’s Day Oct (odd years): A one-day conference featuring speakers, juried art competition, contests, and portfolio reviews/display.
  • SCBWI-Los Angeles’ members host smaller events throughout the year called LitMingles. LitMingles are informal get-togethers, often held monthly, where general topics are chosen for group discussion.

New England: Alternate every other month between free ShopTalk meetings and paid presentations.

New York-Manhattan Metro: Write & Sketch; Roundtable discussions every other month on social and equity topics in children literature; and 3-4 times/year formal paid workshops.

Oregon: Write Directions social hours at a coffee shop to network for 45 minutes-1 hour.

Others: Only conferences and no monthly meetings.

SCBWI-NM Takeaway
One of our concerns is to reach out to beginning authors, as well as PAL authors—those who have traditionally published books, and indie or self-published authors. Out of the other chapters’ ideas, we came up with three ways we might meet our members’ needs.

  • Write & Sketch
  • Periodic field trips for inspiration
  • Periodic low-fee workshops presented by our members and others in the community, such as local authors, editors, agents, and librarians.
  • Conference and retreat: In addition, our chapter holds a fall conference each year, Handsprings, and every other year a writer’s retreat at the Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Our Write & Sketch Maiden Evening
Our first experiment with Write & Sketch was a great success. Our Chapter Regional Advisor arrived early and arranged the tables and chairs in the room in groups. The meeting began by members sharing their news. When it came time to work, our facilitator set her watch for an hour, and left time afterwards to talk about how we did.

My Table
I sat with two artists and two other writers. During our hour it was gratifying to look up and see the concentrated expressions on everyone’s faces, and all the work we were getting done. Most surprising and delightful were our table's results:
  • Debbie, one of the artists, experimented with colors with her portable paint set and her water brush, to decide on the hair color and other features of characters she was working on. Debbie says water brushes come in a range of sizes; the smallest brushes can make a mark as delicate as a pen stroke, but her brush was a bit larger than that. 
  • Alan, the other artist, drew in his sketchbook from a prompt provided for the evening: to create a character and then have him hide or hangout somewhere. Alan ran with the prompt and came up with the illustration he named, “Hide & Seek;” which he thought was fun and which he has graciously shared with us.
  • The writers edited and revised our current writing projects; such as a book about a therapy dog and my mystery/ghost series.
A Bright Future
Plans to visit a Jim Henson Muppet exhibit at an Albuquerque museum and other activities, of course, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). But once the danger passes, I think our members are excited about our new plans and look forward to sharing social and work time with new ways to be excited and inspired . . . together.
Enjoying a sunny day in Alamo Canyon
Alamogordo, New Mexico

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. Website coming soon.

Descriptive Writing - Make it Realistic

All our writing; be it stories, blog posts, essays, articles, or books are strengthened as we use descriptive details to engage our readers.


Our need and aim is to grow our observation skills in general and specific ways. These skills could be the most essential task for writers and is true for narrative pieces and stories. Further, it creates relatable writing. For this, we must build our descriptive muscles.

Tips for writing descriptively:
1.    Use sense words: sight, smell, sound, texture and taste, and paint a picture for the readers’ imagination. As the sensory detail flows, the reader forms a mental picture and is attracted to the piece.

2.    Brainstorm specific pictorial ideas using post-it notes or a whiteboard.

3.    Build a collage of photos from magazines or sketches.

4.    Use description to make your writing vibrant, essential and focused.

5.    Spend 10-15 minutes playing the scene in your own imagination and then write it.

6.    Descriptions of physical features and appearance will support the story.

7.    Boost interest by using comparisons, metaphors, and simile.

8.    Use detail to express items of importance: the big picture, a specific purpose, or significant points.

9.    Stay focused on the topic to avoid confusing the reader with non-essential wordiness.

10.    Writing descriptively doesn’t require writing more, but often less.

11.    Too many descriptions can slow down the story, use it with the purpose of slowing the piece or avoid it.

Quick checklist for description in a piece:
1.    Do we “see” a mental picture or impression?
2.    Do the words engage the senses, describe shape, or time?
3.    Does it form a larger picture for the story or narrative?

Rebecca McClanahan is the author of “Word Painting, The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively”.  This is my current read and her masterful use of descriptive writing is astounding. It’s worth checking out.

Descriptive Word lists help to recognize just the right word for the piece.
Helpful links:

Wishing you all Wellness always! 
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 writer’s website at:  
Her caregiver’s website at:
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer

Share on LinkedIn
And via the icon bar below:

Listen to Bestselling Books (For Free)

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Many libraries have temporarily closed (including the one down the street from me). The good news is their online feature are still open and accessible if you have a library card. I continue to check out and listen to books from my library--and you can too. 

Recently I listened to the new memoir by actress Demi Moore  called Inside Out. About the time I finished listening to the book, the hardcover print memoir was #1 on the nonfiction bestseller list from Publishers Weekly.  

While Inside Out was unusual listening for me, it wasn't the first time I heard a current bestseller about the time of its release. In fact, it happens to me often. I read or listen to many bestselling books. In this article, I want to show you how you too can listen to the latest books about the time of their release and when people are talking about them and you are reading about them in the news.

1. Read about forthcoming books and use free online publications like Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, newspaper or magazines. As you read, be watching for the information about forthcoming books and then take action. The action that I'm encouraging you to take is to sign up to get the book coming your direction (free).

2.  If you see something of interest, search for it at your local library on Overdrive and get on hold list for the book. You will have to learn how to use the search tool of Overdrive then get on the waiting list for the book. The beauty of this process is to find the book, put a hold on it, then get in line for when the book is available. Using the hold process, when the book is ready for you to check out, it will automatically be checked out to you and you will receive an email that the audiobook is ready for you to download on your phone. I love the Overdrive process because it is free, easy and I carry the books everywhere on my phone. It allows me to listen when I'm in my car for a few minutes or a longer drive. I can listen to an audiobook when I exercise or even when I travel on an airplane—because the audiobook is on my phone. After 21 days the book “expires” and returns to the library. This expiration process is automatic and does not involve physically returning the book since it is all done electronically.

3. If you can't find it, then make a request for it through your local library. They can possibly buy the book and if you have requested it, you get to be one of the first people to get the book. I've gone through this process a number of times with books and my local library has ordered the book.

4. From looking at the books that I've been reading and writing about on Goodreads or Amazon (follow these links to see the books), I hope you will see the diversity. While I'm a conservative Christian, I do not read or listen to only conservative Christian books. I mix into my reading books from people who are at the opposite political spectrum from me. For example, in recent days, I listened to Susan Rice's memoir called Tough Love. I enjoyed this audiobook and heard it cover to cover (which I don't do with every book). 

Also I vary the types and genres of books that I consume. The diversity builds something intangible but important in my life. It is a pattern I recommend for you as well. Don't be in a reading rut but be open to many different types of books. Because I'm using the library, there is a wide spectrum of available books.

I've given you the steps and ways I learn about forthcoming titles and then listen to them for free. Are you listening to audiobooks? Maybe you do something completely different. Let me know in the comments below.


You can listen to current bestsellers for free. Get the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers 

Cricket Media's New Call

Want to get your mind off a certain virus?  Have extra time in quarantine?  Need a break from the dark, gritty novel you're writing, or that manual on how to survive an apocalypse? 

If you write for kids, or would like to get into it, consider Cricket Media's call for submissions (due June 15) for Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug.  It's a highly competitive market which pays professional rates.  

BABYBUG®: Beep-Beep, Vroom-Vroom! and Breezy Summer
LADYBUG®: Making Make Believe and My Family
SPIDER®: Wordplay and Get a Move On!
CRICKET®: Best Friends Forever? and Tales of the Sea 

Submission details here:
If you want a subscription for your own kids (or your own market research):

Melinda Brasher's fiction and travel writing appear most recently in Hippocampus, Deep Magic, and Twenty-Two Twenty-Eight.  Her newest non-fiction book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports is available on Amazon.    

She loves hiking and taking photographs of nature's small miracles.  

Visit her online at

What Is Keeping You from the Writing Career You Want?

Working with writers as a writing coach for many years, I have discovered that there are several reasons why people who love to write don't turn this passion for writing into a career.

Check out the following statements and see if any of them apply to you.

Obstacles to a Thriving Writing Career

1. You hate the pressure of editor’s deadlines, but you work best when you have a timeline for completing writing projects.

2. You constantly lose your enthusiasm for writing projects before you complete them.

3. You procrastinate when you think about querying editors or looking for new writing clients.

4. You constantly think about how things that happen in your life would make for great articles and stories, yet you don’t turn these events into published materials.

5. You enjoy writing shorter pieces rather than novels and nonfiction books.

6. You don’t enjoy research and aren’t even sure how to effectively research topics you wish to write about.

7. You want to build confidence in your writing ability, but you know you need support and guidance to do so.

8. You want to learn new writing skills as you move closer to figuring out exactly who you want to become as a writer.

If any of these statements describe you, then check out my self-study e-course, Fearless Freelance Writing: Build a Career Writing about What You Know and Love.

It could be the path to a writing career that is just right for you.

Try it!

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

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

5 Things to Do When You Are Stuck Inside

Stuck at Home
House-bound? Whatever reasons you have to stay at home, let it be an opportunity to have fun, be productive, and learn something new.

Here are 5 things you can do when you are stuck inside:

1. Clean Up. Although the start of a season - whether it's spring, summer, winter, or fall - is a great excuse to get organized, you don't actually need an reason to do a refresh on your home. Sort things out, purge what you no longer need, and find lost treasures. Bonus points for doing a physical and digital cleanse of your home office.

2. Learn. Information is everywhere. Embrace it! Choose something you've always wanted to learn, and spend time educating yourself on the topic, whether it's through videos, podcasts, or books. Even as little as 15 minutes to an hour a day will add up. Before you know it, you will master - or at least have a working knowledge of - something new!

3. Cook. Just because you can't go out to eat does not mean your taste buds should suffer. Electronic shopping has made day-of delivery of super-easy; your local store may offer delivery too. Find a recipe you want to try, order ingredients, and get cooking. It's fun, relaxing (usually), and healthier than most of what you buy from out.

4. Connect. You don't need to leave your home to be social. Spend some quality time engaging with family and friends. Pick up the phone, do a Zoom or Skype chat, or send an email to touch base. You can also check out a new LinkedIn or Facebook group, engage in a Twitter chat, or spend commenting on posts. You never know where and when you will find people with common interests and make new friends. 

5. Write. No commute means you get extra hours added to your day. Dedicate that bonus time to a writing project. Spend time on a draft in progress or revision, or start a new passion project. And have fun with it! No matter what the genre, when you enjoy the stories you are writing, your readers will love them too!

Being at home have doesn't need to feel like you are in lock-up. Embrace the pace. And get things done!

* * *

What do you do when you are stuck at home? Please share in the comments.

* * *
Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Are Interviews What They Are Cracked Up to Be?


Are You Writing Interviews for Bloggers?

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Writing free content related somehow to your genre or title can be a fun way to add to value to your marketing campaign. I recommend bartering your writing skills for free content, especially for new writers. They get to do what they love; they get to write.

They also get bios, bylines, links to their books and even mini pitches for their books. That ups the backlinks to their websites and other online pages and, in turn, that ups their online presence. Not bad for doing what we love.

But caution. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I tell authors: “For a promotion to be successful, you have to promote the promotion.” I’m talking primarily social networking in this case, of course, but if you want more on how to do that, check out the book. That is not what this article is about.  This article is about the readability of interviews.

Today I read an amazing interview in Jim Cox’s newsletter. You probably know that he is Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review. In an interview from poet Carol Smallwood, he tells the story of how he started this project that helped propel the acceptance of self-publishing in the oh-so-staid publishing world, most of which thought nothing of practicing the most horrendous #bookbogotry possible. It is storytelling and it was fascinating. Suffice it to say, it broke all the interviewing rules from those we see in the AARP Magazine to Time Magazine to most blogs on any topic you might find on Wordpress or Blogger.  And certainly different from the “how-to-write-great-interview articles” you see in how-to magazines.

Everything we read about interviews tell us they should be short. They should be pithy. They do better if they are funny. People are in a hurry. People are used to reading “short and pithy.” It’s the Internet age, after all.

So, when are they successful?  Review the keywords in the first sentence, “related somehow to your genre or title.”  Now add “frequent.” You, the interviewer (or prospective interviewer) should be prepared to write a lot of them Then we mentioned promoting the promotion. If you don’t help drive traffic to the interview you write, they will garner very little attention. That’s true even if you access to some star-studded names. Relatively speaking, without a great presence on search engine, your work of art will be seen by few. 

I am in the mood to burst some bubbles here. I love to be interviewed. But I don’t write them for my blogs. And I rarely accept them as guestposts for my blogs! If you’ve read so far, you can see why. My favorite series of interview are in Time Magazine and, I admit, that I like them best when they are snarky but I don’t pay deep attention to them even then. They are good examples for learning more about interviews, though. You’ll find them on the back page of the magazine. What percentage of them would you say are controversial? Current?

Luckily, we--as the interviewers--are also the editors or at least one of the editors. That means we get to edit (shorten) rambling answers.  Interviews that are laid out in visuals that show the question and answers are going to be more easily read. We as the interviewers can make sure that happens, or at least encourage it to happen by submitting to our publisher (blogger, magazine editor, etc.)  in a form that cries out to be left as it is.

As the interviewer, you can ask your publisher for a hands-off policy  if you wish but they may still want to edit your piece to fit their style book. Associated Press, as an example, has a Style Book that tells them exactly what choices must be made and so they won't be eager to give over the editing or formatting job to you!

Note: If you are using interviews written by others—freelance or barter--tactfully let the interviewee know you might need to edit it for purposes of style or length. That way, they aren't surprised when they see copy (the questions or the answers)  that aren't exactly what they submitted. (-: 

Another thing. This comes straight from my  journalism experience. When we're wearing a journalism hat, we aren't required to let an interviewee (or informant) review, check, or otherwise monitor what we have written. We have a free press in the USA. So, unless you want help clarifying or editing or whatever, you aren't obligated to run what you have written by your interviewee.  Having said that, one of the biggest benefits of writing interviews--or reviews--is the opportunity it affords for building relationships. I think that networking is the best reason for writing interviews or giving interviews. Asking for input on your reviews can help you build relationships that can turn into bigger and better exposure for you, maybe in the form of being interviewed.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is the author of how to books for writers including the award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; now in its third edition. Don’t miss the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. The booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal is now in its second edition.  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically helps you take full advantage of magical book reviews to keep your writing career move faster than you have imagined. Carolyn also offers free review services at Explore the opportunities for your book in the tabs at the top of the home page. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

It’s always interesting how writers find ideas when writing a fiction story.

Some may simply come up with an idea, others may see something that triggers a story, and sometimes a story is handed to a writer.

I had never thought of rewriting a folktale until being given a rough outline of an ancient Chinese tale, Taoist Master of the Lao Mountain. This was the inception of middle-grade, fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls.

It was June of 2008, and I belonged to a writing critique group along with a nonfiction writer who had a basic outline of an ancient Chinese tale that he wanted to pass along to a fiction writer. Since writing a fiction story wasn't his cup of tea, he gave me the outline.

After reading the outline, I loved the lessons it could bring to children.

Folktales come from all over the world and usually provide morale messages geared toward doing right, rather than wrong. These tales are a wonderful way to teach children through an engaging and entertaining story.

Since the tale, as with many ancient tales, involved an adult as the protagonist the first step needed was to rewrite it for today’s children’s market. This meant it needed a child protagonist.

As I wanted to stay as close to the original tale as I could, I used some of its flavor, descriptions, and names. That’s how the main character’s name, Wang, was chosen.

Along with keeping the story's flavor, I wanted it to be engaging for today’s child, so I came up with new characters, the dragon, enhanced storyline and plot, and so on.

Having an outline to guide me was a great help; it offered a general direction, like an arrow pointing North. So, as I began to rewrite the tale it was able to take on a life of its own, while still heading North. And, to ensure the story kept its flavor, I made sure to include bits of the original story to keep it as close to the tale’s outline as possible.

Working on the story, I knew it needed to take place in ancient China, so decided to use the 16th century as the backdrop for the story.

To add an element of realism to the story, I researched ancient China, including foods, flowers, dwellings, and clothing. I also contacted the writer who gave me the outline for some additional cultural information.

I worked on the story for well over a year, revising it, having it critiqued numerous times, and revising it some more. I even had it professionally edited before beginning to send it out for submissions.

Fortunately for me, the timing coincided with the 2009 Muse Online Writers Conference and I signed up to have a pitch with 4RV Publishing. As nervous as I was, the pitch went well and the manuscript was accepted.

For the next year, it was more revisions, tweaking, additional elements to the story, and editing to make the middle-grade, fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls, better than before.

Then the story was ready for a cover illustration.

Aidana WillowRaven was assigned to my book and although the dragon in the story was described as “a shimmering golden dragon,” Aidana ‘felt’ the flavor of the story pointed to a more traditional Chinese dragon. We went back and forth a bit about the dragon’s size and shape, but Aidana’s vision of what the dragon should look like was perfect.

Now, the description of the 'golden dragon' in the story needed to be corrected. So, I changed the text to read, “Suddenly a magnificent dragon with shimmering red and silver scales appeared.”

Done. The description of the dragon and the cover matched; we were ready to move forward.

Next came the interior design formatting, which includes the text. After blocking the text it was determined another six pages was needed to make the spine wide enough. So, I had to come up with more content.

As the story was complete, to fill the page count I came up with an Author’s Note page, four pages of Reading Comprehension, an Activities Page, and after more research eight pages of information on the Ming Dynasty time period and the Chinese dragon.

Finally, Walking Through Walls, a middle-grade fantasy adventure, won The Children's Literary Classics 2012 Silver Award.

Writing a fiction story from its inception to publication can take many paths; this is the path Walking Through Walls took.

This story was originally published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and successful children’s ghostwriter/rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and as well as an 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.

You can connect with Karen at LinkedIn:


Don’t Let Your Reader Get Disengaged

One Way to Build Your Freelance Writing Career

5 Ways to Annoy an Editor

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...