Sharpen your Skills: Write Articles and Short Stories

"If you want to write, write. Talent is simply not enough."
                                                                                 Jane Yolen

During my elementary teaching career, I recommended to parents of budding student authors as young as second grade, to encourage their children to write, even become editor, of their student newspaper. The idea came to me after reading up on Stephen King. King, as editor of his high school newspaper,  learned the basics about writing, which jump-started his career.

Some parents who knew of their young children’s propensity for the written word told me that they thought more in terms of fostering learning how to write much later, such as when it's time to prepare for college. Why wait? The Pathways to Reading and Writing program in the Loudoun County school district where I taught in Northern Virginia prepares students in the process of writing beginning in Kindergarten. In addition to the intensive reading segment of the program, students learn how to write independently.

Independent Writing:

Students engage in the writing process and produce pieces of writing in many genres, including narrative, informational, and opinion. They apply what they have learned during mini-lessons and strategy lessons. The teacher confers with each student on a regular basis to check in on his/her progress, offer feedback, and set new writing goals.                                                

Speaking from the experience of not knowing how to write when I first started some thirty years ago prior to teaching in Virginia, I didn’t let that stop me. My children were going to Catholic school at the time. I mentioned to a nun that I wanted to write but didn’t know how. She said you went to college, didn’t you? I said yes. She said, then you know how to write. But even if college isn’t in an author’s background, the desire to write can be. The desire to write that I felt in my heart and soul was stronger than my lack of knowledge. I decided to teach myself how to write, and I started with nonfiction—writing articles.

If you have a burning desire to write and want to find a place to begin, here is a road map you can follow:

  • First and foremost, know that nonfiction is easier to sell and publish than fiction. Editors receive fewer articles than stories and welcome nonfiction writers.
  • Get your hands on “how-to” books.
  • Make a list of subjects you know something about.
  • Think of publications you can write for. Start by reading several issues. Some examples:

        Church newsletter

        Free local publications found about town in grocery stores, book stores, gas stations, etc.

        Magazines: Research local and national magazines for submission guidelines on Google and at the library.

                Brochures: The sky’s the limit on companies that use brochures.

                Newsletters: Many local and national organizations publish newsletters. That’s one way I continue to keep my skills as sharp as possible. I’ve been writing a monthly post for Writers on the Move since 2013, and also became editor of two newsletters of organizations I belong to. For the first newsletter a few years ago, one of the members trained me and helped me learn Microsoft Publisher. The other newsletter is more current and has benefited from my experience.

                Online: Blogs are another way to break in. 

Lessons Learned

The two most important lessons I've learned seem simple, but realizing that this is what it takes took many years of experience. 

Desire: The writing bug bit me during a pause I took in my teaching career. That’s when I collected “how-to” books, made a list of subjects I thought I could write about, and published my first article in our local newspaper. Back in those days in the early ‘90s, newspapers paid correspondents for articles. My husband chipped in and took the photograph that went with the article. We've laughed about it ever since. He got paid more for his photo that took, say, a minute to take, and less than five minutes to upload, than I was paid for the article. You can guess how long it took me to interview the subject, transcribe my notes, and write the article. After getting my fill of writing articles, I went back to teaching. As soon as I left to retire, the bug bit me again, only harder this time. Now I see that the desire and need to write dwells deep inside and it won’t let go.

Persevere, Don’t Quit: Many editors lament about talented authors who give up too easily. Don’t let that be you. And when you land a good job, stick with it. One of the best jobs I had was being a stable writer for the library journal Biography Today. Assignments were of such personalities as Stephen King, Troy Aikman, and William Shatner, written with the help of a research assistant; unfortunately, not with interviews. My two children were still in Catholic school then. I was so thrilled with the writing job that I made the mistake of thinking I could take on more than one assignment while being a girl scout leader, volunteering at the children's school, etc. Trying to balance it all quickly became overwhelming. I missed a deadline and was asked to leave the journal. I have since realized that if I had taken on only one assignment at a time I’d probably still be writing for them.

Cutting my teeth on the many nonfiction articles I wrote laid the groundwork for the fiction I write today, first by publishing short stories, and now by writing and publishing books. However, the learning curve for writing fiction was steep. It’s taken many years to learn how to write fiction, and like all writers discover, there is always more to learn. 

  I suppose some authors can jump right in and become a success without going through a similar process as me. But for most, as Brian Cranston wrote in his memoir, A Life in Parts, we must “do the work.”

Introductory image: 

Linda's picture
book, illustrated by
Nancy Batra, is
 available on

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is available on Amazon. Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; PocketsHopscotch; and an article for Highlights for ChildrenSecret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. Tall Boots, Linda’s second picture book, will be published soon. Follow Linda on

Client Relationships - How to Develop Them

All too often, freelance writers, authors, and coaches create a website, do a few things to promote their site, and then expect people to visit their site and buy their products and services.

But this isn’t the way online sales are typically made.

In general, most potential clients and customers must get to know, like, and trust you before they will purchase anything from you at your website or blog.

For that reason, you need to create ways to develop a relationship (a professional relationship, of sorts, you don’t have to become best friends, although you might) with these people over time.

Ways for Developing Client Relationships

There are many ways to create a good relationship with potential clients and customers.

The most obvious way is by -

• Creating a Regular Newsletter that provides information your target market values and looks forward to receiving.

For example, I send out The Morning Nudge to my subscribers every weekday morning, and it has been an excellent way for me to develop relationships with readers and many of them become my coaching clients.

Another way is with…

• Regular E-mail Campaigns you create that are generally more focused on one topic than a newsletter and sent out in several e-mail messages over a short period of time (several days to several weeks).

For example, create a free e-course or free content (that your clients can use) that you can deliver in just a few e-mails.

Another way is to…

• Make Your Blog as Interactive as Possible, so your readers get a chance to communicate back and forth with you there.

For example, start a week or month long challenge for your readers and each day (for that week or month) post something for readers to do to take part in the challenge and encourage them to leave a comment each day with an update about how well they are doing with the challenge.

• Being active on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram will also help potential clients and customers get to know you better, so they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

Each time you post to your blog, announce it (with a link to the post) on your social media sites.

Today, take a look at the ways you currently have in place for your potential clients and customers to get to know, like, and trust you.

You may already have several ways you are doing this.

But keep adding to the mix.

The more ways you provide for your site visitors to get to know, like, and trust you, the more sales, writing assignments, and other opportunities you can expect to get.

Try it!

For more writing tips, be sure to visit and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge. Once you're a subscriber, you'll also have access to a Private Resource Library for Writers.

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

Learn Before You Leap into Ads

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Many bestselling authors use advertising on Facebook, BookBub, Amazon, Goodreads and other places to sell books. Any author can sign up and create these ads and with a few online clicks. Each of these companies will gladly take your money. As writers we must learn before we make this leap which is the focus of this article. The little discussed truth is thousands of new books enter the market every day and while publishing may seem simple on the surface, it is a complex business with many twists and turns.
With all of these books entering the market, authors need to understand several key factors:
*they need to be actively promoting their books in various places.
*Readers need to hear about your book at least 8 to 12 times before they purchase your book.
*Bestselling authors advertise to sell books and also to build their readers on their email list.
As an editor at Morgan James Publishing, I've had authors spend $30,000 to $50,000 on marketing and publicity for their books—and not received the earnings or results from such investments. I hate to hear these stories from my authors because these choices are costly on many levels.
While it is helpful to learn bestselling authors advertise on websites, I encourage you to use some common sense about how to apply this information to your own book marketing. From my experience, authors need to learn how to navigate the advertising from authors who are succeeding with it.  One of the bestselling authors who is effective (generating sales) using advertising is Mark Dawson, who lives in the United Kingdom. He is one of the most successful indie authors in the world. In 2020, Mark grossed over $1.5 million in revenue from his novels and he's living the dream of every author. For the past several years, Mark has spent more than a million dollars on Facebook ads, conducted numerous research studies and determined what works best. He's also a great teacher and wants to help others succeed as well. He has created training courses with detailed insights about how to successfully use various book advertising programs. His courses are only open a few times a year and in general you have to get on a waiting list to get information about them.
Dawson's course, Ads for Authors is open now and only for a few weeks. (If you are reading this article later and the course is closed, get on the waiting list for the next opportunity.) I encourage you to watch these short videos to hear what his students say about the course.  Maybe you don't write fiction, this teaching is still for you and follow this link to watch short videos from different types of writers. I've also added an image below and notice the scroll bar on the right-hand side, you can scroll down and see different videos from some of Mark's students.
I'm taking this Ads for Authors course and understand it takes consistent action to watch the instruction, then apply it to your writing life. The key is to add this training into your writing life, learn from someone who is using it successfully then apply the information to your own plans for book marketing and selling.
Have you taken one of Mark Dawson's courses? Tell us about your experiences in the comments. Or maybe you want to tell us about your results using advertising for your books in the comments. I look forward to your comments.

Prolific editor and author recommends writers learn before they leap into using ads for their books. 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).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Growing Your Authorship ID


by Deborah Lyn Stanley

In the world of writing and authorship, success depends upon visibility. Website Platform contains all the ways our work is found using metadata and SEO search tools. We often hear about brand. Brand is who you are, built-up by your words, and the graphics you choose. We aim to communicate with clarity and deliver inspiring content that motivates action.

Every piece you write advances expert status in your field. That’s what leveling up is about. A consistent writing practice, free writing and exploring various forms will expand your experience and stretch your skills. What if you find a style or form that captures your attention and inspires a change of direction—maybe Essays, Literary Journalism, Poetry, Journals or Storytelling. How about book reviews or writing true stories?

The key thing is to understand your creative process, go with it and know for whom you are writing. Do you use mind maps, post-it notes on a whiteboard for brainstorming, an inspiration collage board, music, writing at a coffee shop, or solo in your office? Follow your style. Then be ready to pitch your ideas to readers for feedback. What topics would be of most interest? If you belong to a group on Facebook, setting up a survey is easy. Otherwise send out a survey to your online subscribers, and post it on your website or blog.

Writing for your niche audience is a worthwhile endeavor. The focus becomes a message for their benefit and inspiration. The reader finds value, tells others and returns to see your next article.

A theme that best serves the reader’s needs also applies to writing in a series. Series writing guides the author’s focus, consistently meeting the reader’s expectations.

A great tool for creativity and research is your commonplace book or journal.
Use it for writing your next article, essay or blog post.

Helpful Links:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson: How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically:
How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: on Amazon   

Telling True Stories: Nonfiction Writer’s Guide–Multiple Contributors

Commonplace Books: History & Tips

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 My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love




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7 Ways Authors Can Support Their Author Friends: Kindled Spirits

As authors, we have an advantage in the online world, whether we realize it or not. Fiction. Nonfiction. Screenwriting. Poetry. Essays. Articles. It applies to all. 

In order to connect with our audience, authors must be active on multiple platforms - websites and social media, as well as live and virtual stages. This leads to a plethora of opportunities to collaborate, support, and highlight our author friends. 

When Dr. Meg Haworth (author of Get Well Now; Healing Yourself with Food and The Power of The Mind) interviewed me for her YouTube series earlier this week, I noted how in three months, we will have collaborated five times. 

- We met when we were interviewed for a Meet the Author series
- We both spoke at Alina Fridman's Finding Fabulous Summit
- Meg was a guest on my live show in May 
- I will be a guest on her YouTube series in July
- We are speaking on a self-care goals panel for the Women's National Book Association - San Francisco Chapter Lunch N Learn in July 

As "Kindled Spirits," as Dr Meg called it. we know there is more to come.

Here are 7 easy ways authors can support each other through collaboration: 

1. Create a Joint Blog. Writers on the Move is a great example of authors coming together to share their knowledge.

2. Trade Book Reviews. On Amazon, Goodreads, or write one on your blog.

3. Do Interview Swaps. This can take place on a blog, live show, video, or podcast.

4. Spread Social Media Love. Make a point to tweet or post about an author-friend at least once a week ... once a day is even better. Share their books, an article, or a photo. You can also take the time to comment on their posts.  

5. Curate Panels and Events. Create events with author friends in mind, so you can ask them to participate.

6. Send Ideas. Do you receive a newsletter that shares podcast interview opportunities? Are you part of a cool networking group or meetup? Share the deets with author friends who would get the most out of it! 

7. Refer and Recommend. When someone asks for a referral - whether it's a speaker for an event, a book for a book club, or an author interview - think of who you know who would be a good fit and make an intro. Keep a list of author friends, along with their specialties. Don't know what that is? Just ask.

* * *

As an author, getting out there is a lot about the power of relationships. Authors' relationships with other authors: priceless!

* * *

How do you support your author friends? What collaboration opportunities get the best results? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Watch the Ladies Take the Lead Meet the Authors Panel: 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, 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; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Commonplace Books: History & Follow up Tips


Writers use journals, notebooks, project file folders or binders to capture brainstorming ideas and plans. In the 1600s, commonplace books came about due to information overload; much like the pace of information flying about us in these days. In addition, it was thought (& later confirmed) that writing things by hand helped fix the teachings more deeply and expand observation skills.

Literary students found commonplace books essential for recording quotes, ideas, and snippets of essays or books they were studying.

Steven Johnson wrote, “Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters—just about anyone with intellectual ambition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was likely to keep a commonplace book. ‘Commonplacing,’ as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations.”

Many throughout history have used commonplace books. Writers read widely and write; we collect our thoughts in journals and notebooks daily. History continues with us!

Here are a few historical figures we can learn from to expand our routine:

Erasmus (1466–1536) is known as the father of modern commonplacing, popularizing the concept in his book De Copia in 1512. He subdivided his book into categories.

John Locke (1632–1704) wrote an entire book about the practice: A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books. Locke was a physician and philosopher who began keeping his first commonplace book during his first year at Oxford, 1652.

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) kept two separate commonplace books: one for legal notes and another for literary ones.

E.M. Forster (1879–1970) used his commonplace book to record quotes, comments on what he was reading at the time, interesting tidbits he overheard, and ideas for future novels.

Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) used a notecard system to record stories and jokes to use in speeches.

There is no rulebook for keeping a commonplace book. Your commonplace book is uniquely yours, a central storehouse of notes, words of wisdom, sayings that have impressed you, and practical how-to’s.

Capture ideas by notes, scribbles, doodles, diagrams, sketches, or pictures. Record quotes to remember and reflect upon later. Let your book become your treasure store resource. In the process, you might discover something of utmost importance to you. Write it your way; outline, diagonal snippets, and vertical standout points, whatever.

Historically, commonplace books were not chronological with a table of contents, etc.
I plan to organize mine by topical sections or categories.

Start with a variety of small or large bound books, binders or folders with loose sheets, or 3x5 cards. Whatever suits you and your style. Experiment and find what you like best, find the most convenient and useful method. It’s your commonplace, your everyday details and notes book: your personal resource of creativity and planning.

The History of Commonplace Books—links of interest:

•  John Locke’s method of indexing

•    Jenny Rallens, a classical schoolteacher, developed a method for teaching commonplace books. Find the Jenny Rallens Method here:  


John Locke 1685 to 1706 

Image Source:$5i
Follow this link for a wonderful record of John Locke’s book via images.     







 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 My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

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Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...