Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10 Tips for Starting a Writing Career Later in Life

Can you start a writing career if you’re aged 50 or older?


In fact, since you have lived for several decades now, you probably have plenty of things you can write about based on your life experiences.

However, if you’re serious about writing and want to actually get published and make money as a writer, there are some things you need to know.

Here are 10 tips to help you become a professional writer, no matter what your age.

1. Start writing regularly.

If you’re still working a regular job during the day, create a writing schedule around your workday. Write for an hour before you go to work, for example, or an hour or two every evening, or for several hours on the weekend. The only way to get really good at writing is to write, write, write, so start writing on a regular basis right now. Write every day if you can, but if you can’t, at least create some sort of consistent writing schedule and stick with it.

2. Explore different genres to see which one(s) appeal to you.

First, read widely in many different genres to learn which ones appeal to you as a reader. Chances are, you’ll also enjoy writing the kinds of things you like to read. Once you’ve figured out the genre(s) that appeals to you as a reader, choose one or two genres to explore as a writer.

3. Next, take at least one class or workshop in the genre(s) you wish to write.

You need to learn as much as you can about your preferred genre(s). You’ll already be familiar with the genre if you’ve read widely within this genre, but there will be aspects of writing for this genre that you may be unaware of. You’ll learn the “tricks of the trade” for this genre from taking a workshop or class about this specific genre.

4. Join a local writer’s group so you get to know other writers and so you can start sharing your work with them.

One other suggestion here before you join a local writer’s group – be sure the group you want to join includes at least one writer who has been traditionally published in the genre you wish to write. Anyone can self-publish these days, and, unfortunately, many people who do self-publish never take the time (or make the investment needed) to learn what it takes to write a marketable manuscript in any genre. You need to be able to learn from someone who understands what traditional publishers look for in manuscripts for your genre even if you intend to self-publish. When a writer’s group is made up only of unpublished writers or self-published writers, it is often a bit like “the blind leading the blind.” You’ll make progress as a writer much faster if you can learn from other traditionally published writers. You can learn from self-published writers, too, of course, but it’s best if your group includes at least one or two traditionally published authors in your genre.

5. Join a professional writer’s organization for your genre.

For example, if you write for children, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you write romance, join Romance Writers of America. These organizations have all sorts of resources that will help you learn more about your genre and also more about publishers, editors, book marketing, etc. To find a professional writer’s organization for your genre, just google your genre, plus the words, “writer’s organization” such as “science fiction writer’s organization.”

6. Take an active part in the professional writer’s organization you decide to join.

If you simply join a professional writer’s organization but don’t take an active part in it, you’ll be missing out on many opportunities or potential opportunities. Many of these organizations have local chapters that are lead by volunteers, so volunteer to lead or help out with your local chapter. This is a great way for publishers, editors, and others in the world of publishing to become aware of you as a writer (Note: I got my first book contract this way).

7. Write lots of shorter pieces before you start writing a book.

You can write shorter pieces faster than you can write a book. This will give you more pieces to submit. As a result, you can gain more publication credits faster. You also won’t be “putting all your eggs in one basket” when you write many shorter pieces instead of devoting all your time and efforts to a book right at the beginning. As a result, you’ll be setting yourself up for more opportunities for success (more publication credits).

8. Study the markets and start submitting your work.

Before you submit any of your shorter pieces for publication, study appropriate markets. In fact, study various markets that publish work in your chosen genre before you start writing shorter pieces and try writing according to the writer’s guidelines for one or two of these publications. You’ll soon realize that publishing is a business and in order to get published you need to give editors what they want and need, not just send them what you want them to publish.

Once you get published in a few markets, this will give you some experience working with editors and experience writing according to writer’s guidelines. It will also give you some publication credits, which will build your credibility (and visibility) as a writer, and maybe even result in a little income.

9. Start a blog.

A blog is a great way to practice your writing skills. It will also help build your credibility and visibility as a writer. If you don’t know what to blog about, maybe start a blog that focuses on the genre you wish to write, then review popular books in this genre for your blog. To get started, go back and look at some of the many books you read in your chosen genre (for tip #2) and create reviews for some of these books you’ve already read and post these reviews to your blog.

10. Keep writing shorter pieces and submitting them on a regular basis as you start writing a book.

Do this as you’re working on a longer piece (a novel or nonfiction book, for example) and continuing to write for your blog. Before you know it, you’ll have several publication credits (for your shorter pieces) and you’ll have a longer work-in-progress (a book) that you’ll be ready to focus on and complete.

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to building a lucrative and personally fulfilling writing career no matter what your age.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Choosing the Perfect Writer's Conference

I have been thinking about conferences a lot lately because I will be traveling to Philadelphia for’s first #IndieAuthorsCon in November. I have also been updating the flagship book in my multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books, The Frugal Book Promoter, and ran across this excerpt. So naturally, I wanted to pass it along to you. After all, all conferences were not born equal. You want to choose carefully.

Choosing a conference can be tricky. Many conferences are expensive. Even free online conferences can take a lot of time. This is one of those occasions when it pays to be picky.

Determine your goals and choose a conference accordingly. Some focus almost exclusively on craft and often call themselves retreats. Some offer seminars in book marketing. Others tend to be entrées to agents and publishers, and some offer information on publishing like the legalities of copyright law. Some do a little of everything.

Study up on conferences. The library has back issues of Poets & Writers that include reviews of conferences. Use your networks or Google to get opinions and suggestions from writers who have attended. Here are a few more conference-perfecting ideas:
  • Do not choose a conference based on its exotic location unless your first interest is a vacation.
  • If you choose a conference that offers critiques of your work by publishers or agents for an additional fee, spend the extra money to participate. And if you wait until later, you may have to kick in another full conference fee for the privilege.
  • If signing with an agent is what you are really after, wait until your book or proposal is fine-tuned to go to a conference.

Hint: If pitching an agent is your primary goal, be sure agents who specialize in your genre will be there by reviewing the conference Web site. Register for the conference early enough to be assured of an audience with your choice.

  • Determine the thrust of the conference you will be attending. Because of proximity and prestige, UCLA ( has access to Hollywood as a resource. This makes their conference one of the best for screenwriters. Other conferences have their own specialties.
  • If you want to find time to concentrate on your writing, you may prefer a writers’ retreat rather than a conference.
  • Examine the credentials of the conference presenters. If you write persona poems, you may want to study with a teacher who has had success writing that specific kind of poetry like UCLA’s Suzanne Lummis. A person who is interested in writing courtroom dramas will benefit from an instructor who has published in that genre.
  • Another bona fide educational institution that offer onsite and Web classes are Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York ( You may find a good one in your town.
  • Until you’re sure you can utilize an expensive conference to its fullest, select seminars offered by some online conferences like Jo Linsdell’s PromoDay ( It is free, though you are encouraged to make a small donation to defray costs. It’s also a good idea to take the same precautions selecting a free online conference you would take choosing an expensive on-site conference. Time is money.

Hint: Bring a small pouch of tools with you to conferences. I use a bag I received with an Estée Lauder gift-with-purchase. Toss into it color-coded pens, snub-nosed scissors (sharp ones may not get you through airport security), a small roll of cellophane tape, your index labels, paperclips, strong see-through packing tape (in case you must ship materials books and other materials back home), ChapStick, hole puncher, breath mints, a tin of aspirin, elastic bands, Band-Aids, and your personal medication. If you are presenting, throw in a hammer, tacks, razor, a small pair of pliers and a mini measuring tape. Mine even has a spool of very fine wire for hanging large posters. Don’t unpack this kit when you get home. You’ll need it in the future for other conferences, book signings, book fairs, and other promotional events.

You can use a conference to promote, too.

Some conferences offer tables where participants can leave promotional handouts for their books or services. Before you leave home, ask your conference coordinator how you might utilize this opportunity.

  • Ask the conference coordinator if they publish a newsletter or journal. If so, send the editor media releases as your career moves along.
  • Take your business cards to the conference.
  •  If you have a published book, take your bookmarks to give to others.
  • If you have an area of expertise that would interest a conference director, introduce yourself. She may be busy, so keep your pitch very short and follow up later.
  • Record the names of fellow conference attendees and presenters who might give you endorsements for your book in the future.

Author conferencesSo, if you are searching for a conference that will hone your marketing skills--in other words, it will help you nudge your book toward stardom, please check out Indie Authors Conference coming to Philadelphia November 3, 4, 5, 2017. Until June 15 they offer an $89 early bird registration fee and it's one of the most frugal conference fees I have ever heard of.  On top of that, if you use my name, "Carolyn," you will get an additional $10 off.  Again, only until June 15.  I hope to see subscribers and visitors to Writers on the Move there!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This Is the Place, won eight awards and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, won three. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies, and review journals. A chapbook of
poetry, Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader’s Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers’ Society of America’s Award of Excellence. Her poem “Endangered Species” won the Franklin Christoph Prize for poetry. She speaks on Utah’s culture, tolerance, book promotion and editing and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

Both The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor are in their second editions and have awards from names like USA Book News, the Irwin Award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award, Readers’ Views Literary Award and Next Generation Indie Book Award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career is the newly released third in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of book for writers.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

5 Creative Writing Prompts for Summer

Summer time is the perfect opportunity to experiment some creative writing. Want to make it even more fun? Involve your family.

I wrote Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages  as a way to get kids excited about writing. My recommended way to use this book is to get families writing together. 

Have a family writing night every week, have everyone spend a half hour or so writing a fun short story, and then go around the room, reading them out loud. Some of the activities require actual adventures, which you can also do as a family before writing time comes around.

No kids? No problem. You can also play with these on your own. I am actually working on the last one for a new writing project.

Below are five fun and creative prompts from my book.

* Share a Hobby. What are your hobbies? Do you enjoy crafts, play a sport, dance, read, cook? Make a list of all the fun activities you do. Then pick one to write about. Describe how you discovered this particular hobby. Did someone introduce you to it? Or teach you how to do it?

Then, go into detail about what is involved in doing this hobby. If you knit, how do you decide on your next project? If you dance, do you take a class? What kind? Where? Who are the friends who dance with you? If you read, how do you discover good books?

Write about what you enjoy about the hobby, and explain why someone unfamiliar with it should give it a try.

For extra credit take up a new hobby and write about it.

* Read and Write About a Book. What books are you reading this summer? Here’s a fun twist on a book review: write a report or summary of a book you have not yet read. Use the title and back cover copy as a starting point. And then write what you think the book is about and why you did or did not like it. Be as detailed as you want – you can even include character descriptions.

When you have finished reading the book, write another report. Then, read them both, one after the other to see how accurate you were.

* Create a Game. You have probably made up games in the past, whether they are outdoor games, swimming pool games, board games, or make believe. If not, here’s your chance.

Make up a game. Write out at least five rules. How many players? How is it played? How does someone win? If it’s a board game, describe what the box looks like, what the game itself looks like, and what pieces are included. You can even add why your game is the best game ever!

Feel free to combine rules from other games, toys, and activities.

* Give a Speech. Write a short speech - just three to five minutes long - about something or someone you really love. It can be about a game or toy, a family trip or adventure, a class at school, or a person you admire.

Write your speech, and, after you practice it a few times, present it to a friend or a parent.

The ability to communicate well, whether it is on paper or by talking, is a skill you will be able to use throughout your life.

* Write a Sidekick. Superheroes are not the only ones who have sidekicks. Create a fictional best friend. Make sure to include all of the basic details: name, age, family background. What does he or she look like, wear, eat, and do for fun? Is you sidekick smart, funny, quiet, or all of the above? How did you meet? Why did you become friends?

Take an imaginary adventure with your sidekick and then write about it.

Whenever you are writing, whether it’s for work or for fun, remember to enjoy it. You never know when or where you will encounter your next bit of inspiration.

So, did you try out any of these writing prompts? How’d it go? Let me know in the comments.

* * *


Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thomas Mann Quote

Just a little inspiration for today:

Happy writing!

Being an Arizona girl, Melinda Brasher loves glaciers, streams, whales, bald eagles, and real trees with green leaves.  That's why she's in love with Alaska.  If you want to see a bit of Alaska for yourself, check out her latest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.  Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The 3 T's for Launching Your Book

So you’ve written your book. You’ve poured your heart and soul into it. You’ve had it professionally edited it. You have a beautiful cover. You have had it formatted and you’ve uploaded to your favorite publisher. Now, it’s time to plan your Book Launch. The sweat beads up on your forehead, your hands shake, and your mouth goes dry. Panic sets in, right?! What is a little introverted writer supposed to do now?

I recently launched my third children’s book, Gloria and the Unicorn, on May 13, 2017. Each time that I’ve done a book launch, I’ve done it a little differently. Here’s some things that I’ve learned.

Here are my 3 T’s to launching your book…

You’ve probably heard this term before or if not, you have now. It’s all about your tribe which are the people that love you and support you and your work. You may not have many when you first start out. It may just be your Mom and maybe your sister or brother or spouse, but that’s okay. Start where you can start.

Ask these people to promote you to whomever they talk to—if they are on social media, they can share and talk about you and your book on all their accounts and channels. If they aren’t, they can talk to the grocery store clerk, the bank clerk, and their friends. You might even want to pay a PA/VA to help you promote and build excitement.

Join every group you can on Facebook and promote there, although only to 5 or 6 groups/day otherwise you’ll be thrown into Facebook jail. Nobody wants that!

Spreading the word and getting people excited about you is key! I believe it’s important to start local. So, tell everyone you know as well in person and on your own social media.

You build your tribe by asking people to support you. You won’t have a tribe, if you don’t ask. So, this is an important part of building your tribe.

Once you’ve done a book launch and have had people purchase your book, your tribe will grow and next time, it’ll be even bigger.

No doubt once you set a release date, the universe conspires to create chaos for that particular date to actually work out for you. I jest, but things happen as you head towards the deadline of a release date and so you have to build in time in order to handle these.

The first launch I did was for A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, I had watched a webinar and it told me to ask people to share what I post on Facebook. I had 4 sweet friends that I asked and bless their hearts, they never did share anything I posted. Go figure! This time, I didn’t encumber my friends, I paid two VA’s.

I was barreling towards the release date when someone said they had read my book. Whoops! No, they hadn’t because it wasn’t out yet. You guessed it, there was another book with a very similar name (it was originally called Tad, The Turtle). I knew this wasn’t good and I should have done my research so now I had to come up with another name and FAST! I did and changed it but forgot to change the book name on the back cover write up. Whoops! I didn’t realize that until after I had already order 50 books.

This time with my unicorn book, I was 2 weeks out from my launch date when a reviewer found some grammatical errors in the manuscript. I about gagged! I had paid a professional editor and everything. I quickly worked with my book formatter to get these fixed without having to re-format the whole book and we got it uploaded in time. You talk about stress!

Anyway, I would suggest giving yourself 6-8 weeks lead time for the launch of your book because trust me, things come up and you want to fix them BEFORE you release your book to the world.

By table, I mean keep a list. It may be an excel spreadsheet or a paper and pencil list (that’s me, I’m old school). It’s really important to stay organized because there are a lot of moving parts. It’s almost like planning a wedding. Well, it’s almost as meaningful anyway. Ha!

Truthfully though, there are different aspects to launching a book and you want to have everything you need to get done in one place with “suggested” deadlines so that you stay on track.

For instance, I started out 8 weeks in advance. I had my VA make some graphics and got started promoting on Facebook and Twitter. I also had her make a Book Trailer and got that uploaded to YouTube and Good reads.

Then, I had her create bookmarks and uploaded to my favorite printing company. Guess what? I have yet to get those in the mail!! See what I mean?

Lastly, I like to have my book made into an Audiobook. You have to upload it and listen to auditions. This takes a while. I wanted my Audiobook to be available on the same day as the paperback and Ebook but the lady I chose from all the auditions was clearly well-liked by others so she was backed up. I settled for whenever she could get it done because I really wanted her to do it.

In conclusion, do your very best in all of these areas and your book launch will be successful! Ask people to be part of your tribe. Give yourself some room for unanticipated mistakes and issues to pop up along the way. Don’t panic (okay, try not to panic) if something goes wrong. Work through the problem and it will be fine. Follow your list as closely to your deadlines as possible. Then, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. You birthed a book into the world!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at and follow her on Facebook at

Friday, June 2, 2017

Balance in Fiction Writing - The Major Elements

There are five major elements to a fiction story and it’s the combination of these elements that make the story complete, interesting, and considered good writing.  Too much of one or not enough of another can affect the readers ability to connect with the story. So, what are the major elements of a story?

The Major Elements of a Story

1.    Protagonist
2.    Setting
3.    Plot
4.    Point of view
5.    Theme

Let’s break them down:

The Protagonist: Introduce the main character. Using your imagination you can make him unique. He can have particular mannerisms or quirks, or even distinct physical attributes. You can also make him likeable or unsavory, but remember you will need the reader to be able to create a connection to him. It’s this connection that will prompt the reader to continue reading on. Your protagonist needs to be real…believable.

The Setting: This will establish the time and place the story takes place. The setting can create a feeling and mood – if you’re writing about swashbuckling pirates, your reader will be in a certain mind set. The same holds true for any other setting you choose. It will be intrinsic to the plot/conflict and will help establish vivid imagery for the reader.

The Plot: This is the meat of the story – the forward movement, the conflict or struggle that drives the protagonist toward his goal. This involves any danger, suspense, romance, or other reader grabbing occurrence. The conflict can be emotional (an internal struggle – a tormented soul) or physical (from an external/outside force – good against evil).

Point of View: This establishes whose point of view the story is being told. It’s important to make this clear. Even if you have two main characters, there needs to be one who is primary in order to keep clarity within the story.

The Theme: This establishes what is important to the story. It usually evolves along with the story and the protagonist’s progression. If Jesus is your protagonist, establishing and promoting Christianity might be the theme. It might be the story’s view on life and the people/characters the protagonist encounters. It is the idea the author wants the reader to take away with him/her.

Utilizing each of these elements can create a unique, fascinating, and memorable story.

Just like the ingredients in a cooking recipe, writing has its own set of ingredients that produce a wonderful end product. A pinch here, a dab there – you hold the unique recipe to your story.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
Visit her at: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi (Sign up for her mailing list.)
Follow Karen at:

 This article is was originally published HERE.


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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Email Marketing and the Book Marketer

So, you've got a book done and you now need to get your book marketing going. Congratulations.

But, now it's time to get involved in a number of marketing strategies, one of which is email marketing.

Simply put, email marketing is a permission-based means of obtaining email addresses from potential customers.

You get a person's permission to be put on your mailing list by offering a 'freebie' (ethical bride or lead magnet) in exchange for the email address.

Once these email addresses are acquired, you send information your subscribers need or want – information you initially told them you’d provide. This information is usually done through a newsletter or basic email on a scheduled basis.

The idea is to develop a relationship with your subscribers. Along with sending needed information, you can also send promotions for your books, other products, or services. This is the real purpose of email marketing.

But, do you need an email marketing service to obtain subscriber emails, organize them into useful data, and send out emails?

Yes, you do.

Email marketing is big business. It’s considered one of the top marketing tools. And, there are rules and regulations.

So, if you’re just starting out on your book marketing journey, and your budget is limited, you should consider joining one of the free emails marketing services, like MailChimp.

These free services offer great features, such as:

- An opt-in box code to input on your website.
- The organization of your subscriber list.
- The ability to create multiple campaigns. This means you can create different groups of subscribers and send them specific emails targeting different niches. It’s a great tool.
- Email automation.
- Email address credibility.
- Professional newsletter templates.
- The ability to preschedule emails.
- Easy use.
- Compliance with national and international rules for sending commercial emails.
- Analytics

Just be aware that once you reach a certain number of emails sent per month or subscribers, the service will require you to pay a monthly fee. But, if your list is growing, you won’t mind the expense. It’s a worthwhile investment in your business.

If you’re on the fence about the need for an email marketing service, here are two questions to ask yourself:

1.    Will this outside service increase my business?

The answer here is, most likely YES.

The email list is considered ‘golden’ because of the potential for sales. People buy from those they trust – the relationship you create with your subscribers leads to trust.

But, while the service will help by providing opt-in box code, automatic mailings, autoresponders, analytics, and other goodies, your business will only increase if you actually work at it.

You need to provide something your reader needs. It's the book marketing strategies you use and the value you provide that will entice your reader to click on that subscribe button and open your emails..

2.    Can I start out doing my own email campaigns?

The answer is, it’s not advisable. While you can create a spreadsheet and keep track of a few email addresses, the rest can be problematic.

Keep in mind there are rules to using someone’s email address for marketing. The FTC, in their CAN-SPAM Act, established rules and requirements for commercial email. If you’re in violation their guidelines, there could be tough penalties.

Since you can take advantage of free email marketing services, there’s no reason not to start your business out on the right foot.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online platform instructor. Get must-know writing and marketing tips at

And, check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! Women on Writing:


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