Thursday, February 11, 2016

Famous Love Story Endings - Spoiler Alert

We have a new friend over at and they have a great infographic on Famous Love Story Endings. With love in the February air, check it out. Just be aware it's kind of a 'spoiler' if you haven't read the book yet!

Famous Love Stories Endings

This infographic is attributed to

Please let us know what you think of this infographic!

Thanks for sharing with us, Unplag.


Self-Publishing – 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
5 Ways NOT to Attract Editors
The Magic of Word-Count Graphs

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Ways to get Unstuck

It happens to everyone, whether you are a working writer or someone who writes for their business. You get stuck!

There is little more frustrating than being on deadline and at literal loss for words. The trick: find something else to write and prime your engine. Think of it like writing warm ups. You'll be writing what you need to in no time.

Here are 5 quick things you can do to get the writing engine going.

1. Write a Review. Did you just have a terrible experience at a store or restaurant? Or a particularly awesome one? Take five minutes and write a review Whether or not you post it or send it to the establishment is up to you. But usually if you are passionate about something - and have something to say - the words just flow.

2. Make a List. This can be a grocery list, plot points, future article topics. Anything. 
Just start writing. Lists are so easy. You can even make a list of types of lists to make when you get stuck in the future.

3. Rant. Is someone or something bugging you? Did your neighbor do something incredibly rude? Is a client being extremely difficult? Get it out of your head and onto paper. You may be stuck from being preoccupied. The sooner you release that energy, the more likely you will refocus and get writing.

4. Rave. If you are having a bad day, it takes a little extra effort to look at the bright side. So, go ahead and look ... even it requires squinting. Think about something that makes you happy (or something for which you are grateful) and write about it. It will put you in a better mood and help change your perspective on your "stuck" project.

5. Write a Letter. This can be a real live snail mail letter or a quick email reply. Writing is writing. Do a few have-tos or want-tos to get in writing-mode.

If you need or have more than 5 minutes to get unstuck, try these bonus tips.

Bonus Tip #1: Journal. Kind of like ranting and raving, get the extra thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It will help you clear your mind, so you can be more productive. Journal for 5 minutes or 15. Whatever it takes to get out of your head and back into writing.

Bonus Tip #2: Take a Break. Walk around the block. Or walk around your home. Meditate. Exercise. Do something to give yourself a jolt and refocus.

Bonus Tip #3: Work on Something Else. I generally recommend people have more than one project to work on simultaneously. That way, when you get stuck on one, you can move forward on the other. Put some effort into another project. Once you are motivated to work on one, allow that momentum to move your other project forward.

The most important thing to remember when you get stuck is you are not alone. Take a breath. Shake it off. And move forward. You can do it!

How do you get unstuck? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Randomness to Spark Creativity

A while back I was playing with an online story idea generator. It puts random things together and gets ideas like this:

What if Marco Polo fought Lewis Carroll?
What if Columbus had access to robotics?
What if Montezuma was indirectly responsible for the Klondike Gold Rush?
What if the destruction of the Hindenburg involved witch-hunters?

So I had to laugh when I got to this one:
What if the fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden involved forbidden knowledge?

It reminded me of the theory that a room full of monkeys tapping at keyboards for an infinite time period will eventually type Hamlet.

As a writer, I'm full of ideas, but sometimes none of them are the right idea for the moment, or they're just not gelling.  When I need inspiration, sometimes the randomness of these generators will spark an idea that my imagination then builds a fire with.  

You'll find all sorts of generators online: completely random but sometimes intriguing nonsense like above, customizable back-cover blurbs created from information you input, alien world generators, etc.  Obviously, your own imagination should do most of this for you, but taking a few minutes to laugh at the randomness will prime your creative pump if you find you're stuck in a rut.

Here's Seventh Sanctum's What-if-inator, where I got the above what ifs.

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

So, Can't Anyone Give Me Some Details for Writing a Great Pitch?

People tell authors to pitch to the media; they even tell us how to write a pitch. But only sort of. Don't you wish they would occasionally tell you how to do that? And do it effectively? 

Here are seven things your pitch can do to keep a gatekeeper interested long enough to book you:
1.   A headline or first sentence must capture the reader. Here are ideas for doing that? 

  • Use a statistic that is so off-the-wall that it’s hard to believe (but it’s true).
  • Make an outrageous statement. 
  • Be so clever with rhyme, alliteration, or pun that the gatekeeper just plain wants to read some more. 
  • Make it be about something that is somehow so closely related to the media gatekeepers' demographic (meaning their reader or audience) that it will be immediately obvious how it will fit into their own plans or business needs. Make it even better by letting them know you know it does relate because you read their magazine or column or blog.

2.   Throw in adjectives. No, not “awesome” or “great.” That’s up to them to decide if your story idea is awesome or great.  Words like “award-winning,” “multi award-winning,” “bestselling” or “two decades of experience” do work, though.
3.   Actually be about something more than “I published a book.” Substance. Concrete. Useful. Powerful. Think “benefits” when you write this sentence or paragraph.
4.   Offer exclusivity.  Maybe offer exclusivity with a deadline. You can make that offer to someone else when that deadline passes. 
5.   Let the media know that you are equipped to handle their needs. With experience in radio (or whatever) as an example. With Toastmaster experience. As a team leader and speaker in the business world.
6.   Close with a sentence that makes it clear you’d like to provide them with anything that would make their job easier.
7.   Don’t ask questions. It’s your job to make it so clear they won’t have to ask any.

So, what sells? If you can angle your pitch around current new, sex, money, kids, celebrity, better health, travel or sports, go for it. You’ll be ahead of the game. Just make sure you send your pitch to the right editors/gatekeepers for each topic. Celebrity? Entertainment or politics. Money? The business section of your newspaper. Kids? Some women’s magazines. You get the idea.

Bonus Tip:  Know how to write killer query letters. You can get tips right from the mouths of agents who share their pet peeves with The Frugal Editor.  And, step-by-step guidelines for all your PR sales tools with The Frugal Book Promoter

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the PlaceHarkening: A Collection of Stories RememberedTracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisherThe multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Self-Publishing - 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’ (What’s a ‘Wannabe’ Author to Do?)

By Karen Cioffi

Self-publishing is a ship everyone wants to sail on. And, for good reason. This publishing avenue is quick and cheap.

Yes, self-publishing is fast. There’s no more submitting to a publisher or multiple publishers and waiting for (possibly) months for a response. Will they accept your manuscript that you’ve been working on for months, maybe years? Or, will they send you a generic standard rejection letter? Either way, the time waiting for an acceptance or rejection isn’t fun. With self-publishing, as soon as your manuscript is ready to go, it goes.

There are lots and lots of places to publish an ebook. And, you can publish with more than one service. And, you can sell that ebook right from your own site. That’s pretty convenient.

In addition to being a quick process, ebooks are cheap to create and publish. If you do everything yourself (aside from editing), it will cost nothing. In the event you need help, services like Fiverr have people who will help you for a very, very reasonable price.

But . . .

While it’s obvious to see the benefits to self-publishing, these benefits have one drawback in particular: everyone thinks they can write a book and self-publish it, whether or not they have the skills to write a book and whether or not it’s a quality product.

Part of the problem, possibly the main problem, is the 'I want it now' syndrome that self-publishing lends itself to. New authors don't want to take the longer 'proven' road of learning the craft of writing and having their manuscript edited before publishing.

This ‘problem’ does all authors a disservice. It lessens the validity of self-published books as a whole. Readers (buyers) never know if the book they’re buying was done professionally or if it was carelessly slapped together.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, there are three basic strategies to use when thinking of writing a book and self-publishing:

1. Learn the craft of writing.

The first thing a ‘wannabe’ author needs to do is learn the craft of writing. This isn’t to say you must get a MFA, but you should take writing courses and belong to writing groups.

2. Join a critique group.

The second thing is for the author to join a genre appropriate critique group. Having your manuscript critiqued by others helps with grammar, clarity, storyline, characters . . . you get the idea. Critique groups help you write your book. Those extra eyes will catch things in your manuscript that you glaze over.

3. Hire an editor.

The third thing the author should do, after the manuscript is as ‘good’ as she can get it, is to find a reputable editor and have it edited. It’s easy for an author to think she’s found all the errors in her manuscript, but in actuality, this is almost impossible to do. As the author, you’re much too close to the work to see it fresh and with unbiased eyes.

Self-publishing is an amazing opportunity for authors, but it needs to be done responsibly. Authors need to take the readers and the industry into consideration when venturing into it.

4. Bonus Tip: Hire a professional illustrator or graphic designer for the cover.

What’s the first thing a reader will see when looking at your book? Yep, the cover. The cover can be the determining factor as to whether that person will pick the book up to look at the back cover and/or buy it.

There’s almost nothing worse in self-publishing than having an amateurish, cheap looking book cover. If you have to cut corners, do it elsewhere - invest in a quality cover.

Summing it Up

Instead of being one of the “I want it now” authors, be one of the ‘I want it, but am willing to work toward it’ authors.

And, keep in mind that for content marketing this is even more important. While writing your own book or ebook is a savvy marketing strategy, you will need to create a quality product if it's to do its job of building your authority and credibility. Always do it right.


What is Social Media Proof? Is It Important? How Do You Get It?
Self-Promoters Take a Page from Taylor Swift’s Book
Deliberate Practice and the Writer

 Want more followers? Want more subscribers? Want more sales?

Then you have to check out my new BLOGGING SMART VIDEO WORKSHOP through the Working Writers Club.

This hour long workshop will show you how to get more website visitors, more authority, and more sales. And, there are 3 bonus lessons . . . and, it's only $20. You can't go wrong.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

When Writing is NOT a Career

This girl has spent a lifetime chasing rainbows
Hobby? Job? Pastime? What is writing to you? Most writers say when asked that they've been writing FOR-R-EVER. Stories in grade school. Or keeping a diary/journal. In my early childhood, I recorded everything that happened to me in my diaries, perhaps displaying the first hints of a natural-born reporter. Later during my years as an elementary teacher, a fellow teacher once told me she started out as a newspaper reporter. All starry-eyed, wishing I'd done the same, I said, why in the world did you quit and become a teacher? She said, "I like to eat."

Career Hints can Start Early
A woman I once interviewed for an article told me that astute observers can identify a child's interests and talents as early as four years old. At four, asking people questions came naturally to her son. So she went out and bought him a toy microphone. Unleashed was a blossoming reporter, who carried his microphone with him everywhere, asking people, "What do you do?" and, "Do you have a
favorite pet?"

When it came time for college she offered to help pay for it, but she struck out. He wasn't interested. What he did do was put himself through broadcasting school and upon completion, got a job as a disc jockey. Later, he went on to become a popular sportscaster. He told her he loved his career so much that he wanted to be buried with his microphone (a real one this time). She concluded the interview by saying, all this because I recognized his interest early-on, and directed him toward it during his early, most formative years.

No matter what interests young children have, if writing doesn't come naturally as it does for some of us, learning how to write then, becomes an essential tool. During parent-teacher conferences, my advice to parents of eight-to-twelve year olds was to encourage their children to write, draw or take photos for the school newspaper (naturally, encouraging reading was a given). Children who have a keen interest can be directed to publishing stories, articles and artwork in publications like Stone Soup, a magazine that is written by and for kids; and publications listed with The Children's Book Guild, which offers resources on how-to and where-to publish children's work, and includes such publications as Highlights for Children and Cicada, a magazine in the Cricket group. Really keen students can shoot for the top: become editor of their school newspaper, as Stephen King so successfully did.

A note about reading: When my children were in elementary school, I observed a classmate's mother carry around a reading resource, such as The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children, by Eden Ross Lipson; with the books she made available to her children to read checked off, one-by-one. It was an impressive way to supplement what her children were reading in school with her own choices of good literature.

Seeking the "Creative Life"
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, writes that she "happens to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.  . . The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover these jewels--
that's creative living." She speaks broadly of "creative living," not that a person needs to "pursue a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts." But a "life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear." While the paths of a creative life vary wildly from person to person, it is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a  . . . lot more interesting."

As long as the desire to write is present, the ways to incorporate writing into your life are limitless. One way is to compliment your profession by writing about it.
  • Google "Doctor/writers" and many photos come up of some of the most famous of these, a hint at how many doctors first seek their profession, and then write about it. Dr. David Hellerstein, in his article, "How to Become a Doctor-Writer," said that William Carlos Williams's autobiogrpahy was an inspiration to him as a doctor-writer, though there were  many others. He quotes Williams:
  • "Five minutes, ten minutes, can always be found. I had my typewriter in my office desk. All I needed to do was pull up the leaf to which it was fashioned and I was ready to go. I worked at top speed. If a patient came in at the door while I was in the middle of a sentence, bang would go the machine--I was a physician. When the patient left, up would come the machine. My head developed a technique: something growing inside me demanded reaping. It had to be attended to. Finally, after eleven at night, when the last patient had been put to bed, I could always find the time to bang out ten or twelve pages. In fact, I couldn't rest until I had freed my mind from the obsessions which had been tormenting me all day. Cleansed of that torment, having scribbled, I could rest."
  • The astonishing number of books written by Oliver Sacks, a personal favorite, includes Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, (Knopf, 2007), which helped explain, among other things, how musical pieces play over and over in my mind; and many other books describing  patients' struggles with conditions such as autism and Parkinson's disease.
  • Teacher-writers: Google also displays authors such as Robert Frost, Frank McCourt, Vladimir Nabokov and Julia Cameron, to name a few, seen in a completely different light--as teachers--than the works they are famous for. Teacher-writer dmatriccino, in the blog post, "Thoughts from a Teacher-Writer," writes, "The only reason I’m able to write is because someone taught me how to. I believe in myself because my teachers, in tandem with my parents, made me feel like I could. Teachers didn’t just teach me how to fulfill my dreams; they taught me how to discover those dreams in the first place." 
Watch out: Writing might Sneak up on you and become a Full-Blown Career
The point is that in NOT making writing a career (of course, the exception being successful career authors), we have indeed made writing a career, if nothing more than to live the "creative life." For me, no matter what else is happening in my life, writing remains my loyal companion, is always there, ready to fulfill my deepest longings and desires, and offer me worlds that wouldn't be available if I didn't make the effort. To take "creating something" a step further, I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, creating anything is one of the keys to happiness. Have you ever had someone tell you, "I'm not creative?" Hogwash. Everyone is and can be creative. All they have to do is try.

Photo: From the childhood album of Linda Wilson

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 completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Monday, January 25, 2016

3 Tips to Help New Writers Build Confidence

By now you should have your goals and objectives written down for 2016. The difficult part for some of us may be following through on our commitment. 

We all get off track for a variety of reasons. But if you find yourself continually bombarded with reasons that are really excuses, maybe the problem is you need confidence.

Confidence is a state of mind. It is built through positive experiences. I know I can educate children because I've seen the results. I know I can make a great pot of spaghetti sauce for the same reason. These things make me feel confident.

When you get something published, you will naturally feel more confident. But until that time comes, there is work to do! 

Here are 3 tips to begin building your confidence now: 

#1: Self-talk 

How do you talk to yourself? Do you get discouraged easily? Do you have difficulty following through? Do you believe in yourself? 

Action: make a decision to stop all negativity. Choose to think and speak positively: "I will write this book", "I will get assignments". It may feel awkward at first, but it works. Believe you have something to say and no one can tell it quite like you.

Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success. 
― Charles F. Glassman
#2: Stop Comparing

Any new endeavor will naturally cause us to compare ourselves with those who are experienced and more knowledgeable. Guess what? They started out as a new writer, too. 

Action: if you love to write and know it is what you really want to do, go for it! Soon you will find your niche, get your rhythm, gain momentum, and you will enjoy the writing process.

Comparison is the death of joy.
― Mark Twain

#3: Keeping it Fresh and Fun

Are your writing attempts like walking through mud? Are you bored? Is it drudgery? If you're not enjoying what you are writing, if it's not fun, then you will quit. 

Action: keep writing anyway. It takes time to discover what you really like to write. When you do, it will be easier and enjoyable. If you quit, you'll never find out what your niche is.

There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor
your calling. It's why you were born. And how you
become most truly alive.
-Oprah Winfrey

Place these tips in a spot where you will see them. It will boost your confidence!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

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