Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Crimson Tower

By: Alex Marshall
Damnation Books

This review is based on a review copy provided by Kim Richards of Damnation Books in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

The Crimson Tower by Alex Marshall is a thirty-three page science fiction short story. This is Mr. Marshall’s first published work, but I suspect we’ll be seeing more from him in the future. This is a well-written futuristic novel with well developed characters and a believable plot. The reader can easily envision the world Mr. Marshall has created where the sun is in its final throes, and the world as we know it is coming to an end.

Centuries of war have created an atmosphere that is unsuitable for life. People are reduced to wearing full mechanized armor and life supporting helmets. No one dares go outdoors. There is no green grass or blue sky.

How did Earth get to this point? The main character, Lord Limbold finds the answer when he uses ancient technology to interrogate a prisoner, one of the dreaded Hattooshan. The long held belief that they were an alien race is also a closely guarded lie. Lord Limbold is an aged weapons master, and yet when called upon to create the ultimate weapon to destroy the Hattooshan, he finds he cannot do this. Instead, he works to create a weapon to save humanity and right the wrongs that have brought Earth to the devastation he sees outside his Crimson Tower.

Although the council of war lords and the Vice Chancellor have entrusted Lord Limbold with creating the weapon to save them, Lord Limbold rebels. Read The Crimson Tower to learn what secret has been hidden away and if Lord Limbold is successful in his attempt to save the Earth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Interview with author Yvonne Perry

Today my blog guest is author, Yvonne Perry. Yvonne, please tell us a bit about yourself and your writing career.

1. How long have you been writing and what made you decide to become a writer?

I have loved to write for as long as I can remember, but I never thought about being a writer until I was working a corporate job that I hated. In fact, actually calling myself a writer took about a year because I had never seen myself in that role before 2002. That’s when I became close friends with Bernice Burns; we were co-workers at the time. She and I devised a plan whereby we would both escape the 9-to-5 rat race. We set our goals to leave our full-time jobs within one year. We were both attending college classes at the time, and I was writing a book and taking online writing classes. Bernice was taking courses in accounting and studying to get her real estate license. She knew what she wanted to do, but I kind of got pushed into making up something—anything—as my “get-out-of-jail” plan. I loved writing, so I said, “I’ll start a freelance writing business!” Bernice held me to it. Each week, we held accountability meetings that included pep talks and butt kicking—whichever was called for to keep us on track. Our goal-setting venture did not stop with establishing ourselves in new careers. To this day, Bernice and I still meet, email, or call one another at least once per week to discuss our short- and long-term goals and what we did to try to reach them.

2. Are you a full-time or part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a full-time ghostwriter, editor, proofreader, and book marketer. I still work 9 to 5—many days much longer than eight hours—but I’m doing what I love and feel called to. I write my weekly goals in my planner and refuse to leave my office until I have accomplished 90 to 95 percent of everything I have on my docket that day.

3. What is your writing process?

Baby steps make milestones. If you have a big writing project, break it down into manageable parts so you can see some progress daily without being overwhelmed. Procrastinating will not bring the results you desire. Daily mini feats will assure you reach your goal.

4. What prompted you to write about your grandson?

I began writing The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children (ISBN: 9780982572207) as I spent time with my grandson when he was very young. It was mainly for me to remember some of the cute things he said, but he was also manifesting a strong spiritual intellect. I soon found myself learning some profound spiritual lessons from this little boy who called himself an “old soul.” I decided to publish the stories to share these profound messages with other children and parents.

5. I understand that Sid has some “special” gifts; could you tell me about them?

Sid was able to communicate with me telepathically from the time he was born. He exhibited the gift of premonition at about age nine months; he channeled his higher self at age three; he related his ability to see spirits and used a magic potion to heal a crippled dog at age four. When he would spend the night at my house, he would wake up with nightmares. From the descriptions he gave me, and from what my inner guidance was telling me, I was aware that his astral spirit was traveling to dark realms. Rather than discourage him from his astral travel, we created a mantra that we repeated before he went to bed: “Thank you, angels and guides for letting my spirit visit only the realms of highest light and love and travel only to safe places filled with loving beings who love and care about me.” Sid will be nine years old in February. He is now able to bi-locate. His spirit makes visits to his parents’ room while his body is fast asleep in his bed. We might not have known this if Sid’s mom weren’t so open to his gifts or if she weren’t able to see spirits. Sidney is still very much in touch with his inner guidance, but he now receives most of his messages through dreams. He related one of his dreams to me when I interviewed him on my podcast.

6. One review site I saw referred to The Sid Series as a “book for spiritually gifted children.” How do you feel non-spiritual children and their parents will relate to the book?

The stories are for any child because they all deal with the similar issues regardless of whether or not they exhibit psychic gifts. For example, any child who has lost a pet will relate to “Puppy Love.” Those who have been “bumped” by a new baby will gain understanding from “Making Room for Brother.” Any child who is afraid of thunder and lightning will appreciate “A Stormy Adventure.” There’s also a story about accepting and appreciating diversity, another about recycling, and a story about telling the truth. The purpose of this unique collection of stories is to teach life lessons, expand our awareness, and tell us something about ourselves.

7. Why did you choose to self-publish these stories and did you try to have them published through a traditional publisher?

I did not try to have them published. I wanted them published right away rather than query, wait, and be rejected. I knew I would have to do most of the marketing no matter how I published, so I decided to publish them myself and not have to share a large percentage of the profits with a publisher.

8. What is your marketing plan for The Sid Series?

I have just completed a 30-day virtual book tour in which I visited more than 25 blogs. The tour schedule ( has links to all the places where I shared unique content on a variety of topics related to The Sid Series.

Since these 12 stories deal with topics that children and many adults have a difficult time understanding and believing, I have launched a community project—an art and talent showcase—that allows children to share life lessons. Children are encouraged to write their own story or create artwork that demonstrates what they have learned by reading The Sid Series. Every participant will get a free copy of the e-book comprised of the art and stories created by the children.

The art showcase is NOT a contest! Children will not be judged or rejected for their heart-felt creativity. Instead, every story, artwork, and audio will be recognized and everyone's talent will be included in a community e-book that can be shared with family and friends. Each participant will get a free copy of the e-book comprised of the art and stories created by participating children. See art showcase guidelines.

9. What other types of writing do you do?

I am a freelance writer and editor. I am the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services based in Nashville, Tennessee. My team and I have written/edited more than forty books for a variety of clients on many different topics. We also write articles, Web text, biographical sketches, resumes, book proposals, query letters, marketing copy, and business documents. I have written several books and e-books under my own name. Those are available at

10. Where can people find out more about you and your work? or I’m also on Twitter @writersinthesky.

11. Any tips for new writers who want to write for children? We have just brought on a new team member, Rachelle Burk. She has tons of experience in critiquing children’s manuscripts. Her critiques include feedback on formatting, choice of title, target age length, opening paragraph and conclusion, dialogue, believability, character development, voice, rhyme and meter (if applicable), illustrations (if applicable), as well as line by line comments within the text. Authors get advice about grammar, word choices, sentence length, and structure. I highly recommend her Also, Suzanne Lieurance has a radio show with lots of advice for children’s writers. See for more details and to learn about the National Writing for Children Center.

Thank you, Yvonne, for being my guest today and for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers.

It was my pleasure, Penny. Thank you for having me on your blog today and for the wonderful review you wrote for The Sid Series.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review The Sid Series

A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children
By: Yvonne Perry
Published by: Write ON!
ISBN: 9780982572207

The Sid Series is a collection of twelve short stories for children written by author, Yvonne Perry. The model for Sid is Yvonne’s own grandson, Sidney. These are his stories and span about 5 years of Sid’s life. Yvonne, Von-Von in the stories, is the one who helps Sid by answering his questions. Each of the stories was written to help parents and children deal with issues children encounter in their lives.

“A Ghost in My Closet” is about communicating with angels. Sid sees something in his closet. Upon inspection, he thinks he sees something alive. It seems friendly, but was it? Von-Von comes at Sidney’s call. Read the story with your child to see what Von-Von tells Sid about his mysterious visitor.

“A Powerful Potion” is about the power of imagination. In this tale, Sid’s puppy, Blue Girl hurts her leg. Using his imagination, Sid brews up a magic potion of weeds and water. Read this magical tale to see what magic Sidney works.

“A Stormy Adventure” helps children face their fear of storms. Sid and Von-Von go on a kayaking adventure. Sid learns about manatees and their babies. He sees many different types of water birds, but then the sky gets dark. The group wants to see dolphins and they press on. There is a flash of lightning. Sidney learns about being on the water during a lightning storm and how to be safe. With Von-Von’s guidance he learns to face his fears.

“Always Be Honest” shares Sid’s story of learning to tell the truth. Sid takes his bat and ball outside to play. He accidentally breaks Von-Von’s glass gazing globe. He’s afraid Von-Von will be angry so he tries to fix the globe. Instead, he cuts his finger. When Von-Von finds out what happened, Sidney learns a lesson in honesty.

“Ask Your Body” helps children understand about their body’s needs. It’s time for lunch, but Sid isn’t hungry. Von-Von wants him to eat vegetables, but Sid wants cookies. What will his body tell him? When it’s time for bed, Sid wants one more movie, but his body is tired. What will happen when Von-Von compromises by reading Sid a story?

“Making Room for Brother” is about dealing with changes in the family. When Sid is 8 years old, his mom announces there will be a new baby. His family includes Sid in all the preparations. He goes to the doctor with Mom and learns he will have a brother. He gets to choose which room will be his and helps paint his new room. He even gets to take a class to help him be a big brother.

“My Friend’s Skin” tells a tale of accepting and appreciating diversity. Sidney goes to the beach with Von-Von. He has to put on sunscreen so he doesn’t burn. He doesn’t want to because he wants to be brown like his friend, Bree. Von-Von explains why Bree’s skin is a different color and why Sidney will never be brown like his friend. Sidney hears a mom call her child in Spanish and Von-Von explains about how interesting differences can be. When he meets a Japanese girl in the water, he learns more about languages and differences. Finally, Sid sees a woman wearing a sari. Von-Von explains about variety and how important it is.

“Old Things and New” teaches children about recycling. Sid helps Von-Von clean up trash and they take the glass and newspapers to the recycling center. A garage sale helps Sid to learn more about using recycled items both by buying other people’s and selling his own. He even learns about organ transplants and this unique form of “recycling.”

“Puppy Love” deals with the death of a pet. Von-Von and Ran-Ran’s old dog dies. Sidney helps bury the dog and learns about losing a beloved pet. Soon Von-Von and Sidney find a puppy. They try to find his owners, but when no one claims him, they decide to keep him.

“Sid’s Fairy” is a tale intended to help children learn about inner guidance. Sid and Von-Von sit in the garden in the early evening. Von-Von tells Sid if he’s quiet the fairies will come. When he relaxes and closes his eyes, he learns about meditation. As he opens his eyes, he sees twinkling colors and hears a small voice singing a silly song. Here Sid learns to listen to the tiny voice in his mind and to feel love inside of him.

“The Pirates Treasure” is about finding the treasure within. At the beach, Sid and Von-Von pretend to look for buried treasure, but all they find is sand. When the sun shines through a gazebo and leaves the shadow of an “x” on Sid’s shirt, Von-Von tells Sid the treasure is inside of him. What is the treasure? Read and find out.

“You Can Be!” The last story in this collection is about understanding destiny and making choices. Sidney goes to Von-Von and Ran-Ran’s farm for a visit. While he’s there, he gets to try many new things such as making cookies with farm-fresh ingredients, drawing pictures of Ran-Ran, planting seeds in the garden, and helping care for an injured pet. Each thing Sid does, Von-Von tells him how it relates to something he could be when he grows up.

The Sid Series is a book delightfully illustrated by both Ms. Perry and others. It is a book your young reader could read by himself or you could read to your younger children. It is a collection of stories which beg to be discussed. Pick up your copy at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

7 More Tips from Dawn Colclasure

Once again, I'm sharing a post from Beth Erickson at Filbert Publishing (

Here are seven more tips (and prompts) to ignite your writing this week from Dawn Colclasure's book 365 Tips for Writers

"Just like last time, here's how to do this: Print this article and tuck it in your journal. Now, each day this week, pull it out, read the instructions, get writing, and apply the information to your writing career. It's that simple. :)

"BEAT THE BLOCK TIP: Write about what matters to you.

"In one paragraph or on one page, write about what matters to you. Be sure to include the reason why this particular thing matters to you, even if the reason is as obvious as love or obligation. For example, you may write something like: “Reading books for leisure matters to me because it gives me a chance to relax.” Spend as much time as necessary on each one and feel free to include as many reasons as you can think of.

"Tip #15: Always ask, “What if?”

"We all know we’re not supposed to do certain things: Put our hand into the garbage disposal when it’s on, drive a car without insurance or take apart the vacuum cleaner. But writers are missing out on potential story ideas if they don’t ask, “What if?” What if we did put our hand into the garbage disposal when it was on? Aside from getting our hand torn into a million pieces, what else would happen?

"Also, take situations and ask “what if”” with them. What if a graduation ceremony had been cancelled because of a snowstorm? What if a couple facing divorce experience this pending distress for the first time? What if two people deeply in love never met? What if there really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Writers are naturally curious, constantly asking the who, what, where, when, why and how of everything. They should also ask “what if?” to explore a variety of new ideas because those new ideas mean new stories.

"Tip #16: Keep writing even if you get stuck.

"Creativity has a lifespan. The more distractions you allow to enter the picture while you are writing, the shorter that lifespan will be. When you are writing, you are easily pulled into the world of creativity. But when you stop writing because you’re not sure of something you wrote, this is just like taking the exit ramp back into the real world. From this point on, there will be too much traffic to easily get back into the world of creativity and you start wishing you never let that distraction kick you out in the first place. Of course we all want our writing to be accurate and perfect, but we can’t stop what we are doing just because we can’t remember a source’s name, the distance in kilometers or if that was what a person really said. Put a giant, red “X” in the margin next to where you get stuck then keep writing. Or you can try putting “FIX LATER” in capital letters in that space or use arrows. Just keep writing and go back to it later.

"Tip #17: Write first, edit later.

"When you sit down to write something new, the thing you want to do before you pick up your pen is shut your internal editor off. Give it a break, tell it to take a breather or lock the door to its room. Ignore any voices of criticism lurking in your mind as you write and just get everything down onto paper. This is your first draft. It’s not the copy you’re sending to an editor or client. This is where you experiment with different writing styles, get all of your thoughts onto paper and draw out a rough sketch of any characters. You can go back to it later for editing. For now, just let your creativity take over and write.

"Tip #18: Stuck in your writing? Read something similar.

"If you happen to get stuck in your writing, there are a number of solutions you can use to get un-stuck. Writers get stuck because they need information, can’t decide where to go next with their story, have an underdeveloped idea or characters, can’t remember the exact words of something they read or wrote, or they just can’t figure out what they are trying to say. If you write fiction, read other works of fiction similar to yours. If you’re writing a science fiction short story, read other short stories in that genre. If you are writing an article for a major magazine, read as many articles in that particular magazine as you can. You may get inspired as you read, realize just what it is your work is missing or get a better understanding of how their stories or articles are organized. This will help you to get writing again – and get back into the game.

"Tip #19: Consider joining a writing group.

"Writing groups are valuable to a writer. You get critiques by like-minded individuals, support for your endeavors, updates on what’s going on in the literary world, connections with other writers and a chance to read/hear what other writers are writing. An added bonus: They can be found anywhere, in your city and online. Some charge fees, others don’t. By joining a writing group, you’ll get a step closer to being a better writer because people in the group will give you the criticism you’ll need other than blatant comments like, “That story was dumb.” Or “don’t quit your day job.” Or “that was nice – hey, did you catch Fear Factor last night?” An added bonus is that a writing group can give you some company. The writing life can be a lonely one, and getting out to meet with other writers weekly or monthly makes the isolation less apparent.

"Tip #20: Finish what you start writing.

"Imagine picking up a book to read and getting caught up in its story. The plot is exciting, the reading is engaging, the characters are lovable and you just can’t put it down until you find out what happens in the end. Now imagine that there is no end; the writer couldn’t figure out how to end their story or they decided they wanted to go fishing instead. This is what it’s like for our readers when they read an unfinished story. A writer’s responsibility in telling a tale is to finish that tale. Give your readers the sense of satisfaction of reading your entire story from beginning to end. If you get stuck on how to finish it, work your way around this. If you get writer’s block, keep working at it, anyway. By finishing what you start writing, it shows your readers that you are in control over your writing and that you want to give them a great, completed story to read. It will also show your editors that you are a writer who can deliver.

"This has been an excerpt from 365 Tips for Writers. You can pick up all 365 (plus 52 bonus tips including “Beat the Block” tips) that's 52 pages of valuable information and instantly download it for under 15 smackers."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview with author B. D. Tharp

Today, my guest is B.D. Tharp, author of Feisty Family Values.

1. Bonnie, tell me a bit about yourself as a writer.
a. When did you start writing? I started writing seriously in 1999 while I was working full time and going to college nights. I felt compelled to write something other than college papers and business material.

b. What do you enjoy writing? I love to write, going to that special place where the story and characters are vivid and surprising. It isn't always easy, though.

c. What other types of writing do you do? I write feature articles for local (Womens Focus) and regional (Active Aging) magazines about interesting people with extraordinary lives or hobbies.

2. This is a delightful romance, yet deals with serious issues. How did you devise the plot for this story? The plot of Feisty Family Values grew out of my getting to know the characters and their background. As the characters grew, the story grew.

3. What is your experience with the issues raised in the book - domestic violence, child abuse, cancer? This is a tough question. I didn't personally experience the abuse or cancer, but I've known people who have. I also worked with cancer patients for several years with the American Cancer Society.

4. Do the characters in any way reflect you as a person? I think every author puts a little bit of themselves in their stories, when we share our emotions, passions and fears. All women have that bitchy side (like Regina), a sassy side (like Tillie), and a vulnerable side (like Annabelle). So, yes, there are little pieces of me in the characters, too.

5. Food seems to play an integral part of your story. Why is food
important to you? Most families gather together for holidays and celebrate with food. Food is often used to comfort or to console, and we can't live without it.

6. Is this type of story considered "hen lit?" How does hen lit differ
from chick lit? I suppose it falls into the category of hen lit, since the main characters are of a more mature age (50's -60's), whereas, the women in chick lit are usually in their 20's-30's.

7. What is your process for writing a novel? Often times I see scenes and hear dialog between the characters, so I capture them on the page. I do character interviews to learn their background, preferences and experiences, and that usually helps me visualize what they look like. Once I have a feel for the story and several scenes, I outline the basic story line, but it's just a basic framework. The story often diverges as it grows.

8. What is your process for researching a novel? In order to gain insight into what the laws were around domestic violence, senior abuse, and child abuse I spoke with professionals associated with a local women's crisis organization. I also interviewed breast cancer patients about their feelings and experience. If the story takes me somewhere where I have no experience, then I interview experts and where possible, people who have been through a similar situation.

9. How do you develop your characters? I usually know or meet someone whose appearance strikes me as memorable or fits with my idea of a character in the story. For example, one of my professors was the physical inspiration for Regina. She was very regal, wore flowing skirts, and had salt-and-pepper hair. One of my friends was the inspiration for Tillie, she's tough, loving, funny, and small in stature. Annabelle is a culmination of many women all rolled into one, but in my mind she's the consummate grandmother.

10. What is your marketing strategy? My plan is to conduct readings and
signings at bookstores within driving distance of my home in Wichita, Kansas. I have a bdtharp web site and am fairly active on Facebook and Twitter. I plan to speak to women's groups, professional communicators’ organizations, and book clubs. I have an author site on Amazon and will sell my books at book fairs and area writers’ conferences.

11. Do you have an agent? Do you believe authors should get one and why? I do not currently have an agent, but I would appreciate having one. I went with a small independent publisher because they did not require that I have an agent. It is my firm belief that better advances can be negotiated through an agent, and it would've been nice to have help with the contracting process.

12. What would you like to see your readers take away from this novel? It is my hope that readers will see a little bit of themselves in the characters in Feisty Family Values. Many of us come from feisty women of strength who love and show us how to deal with what life throws us.

13. Where can people learn more about you and your writing? Please visit my web site at

14. What tips do you have for new authors wanting to write a novel? Start writing, find a writing group and learn everything you can about the craft and the industry. Writing is not only a creative endeavor, it is also a business. The work of writing is solitary, and being in a group of other writers is vital. The most important thing is to never give up your dreams.

Thanks, Bonnie, for being my guest and sharing your thoughts with me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review Feisty Family Values

Feisty Family Values
By: B. D. Tharp
Five Star Publishing, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-59414-849-1

This review is based on a review copy provided by B. D. Tharp in
exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee
or assumption of liking or disliking.

Feisty Family Values is a refreshing change of pace for contemporary
women's literature. The three main characters have gray, blue and
salt-and-pepper hair. They are flawed in numerous ways. All three have
issues which make them realistic and human. One is a snob, another has
low self-esteem, while the third fears getting close to the man who
loves her.

While the book deals with intense emotional issues of domestic violence,
child abuse and breast cancer, it does so with empathy and a light touch of humor. The humor does not detract from the seriousness of these issues, but allows the reader to more easily identify with the characters.

Regina inherited her Grandmere's lovely home and her mother's bias
against people beneath her - especially her poor relations. She lives
with her dear friend, Matilda. Regina enjoys her quiet life, her fine
things, and her personal space.

Enter her cousin, Annabelle. Annabelle's mother married an abusive man
and following in her mother's footsteps, Annabelle is forced into a
similar marriage. Unfortunately, her daughter inherits her father's
temper and control issues. After living with her daughter and
grandchildren, Annabelle is forced out and into the unwilling arms of
her cousin, Regina.

Matilda (Tillie) is Regina's best friend and room mate. While battling
her own demon, cancer, she attempts to bring peace between the cousins.
When a handsome man moves in across the street, sparks fly between him
and Tillie and romance ensues.

Adding to the mix and tension are Annabelle's three grandchildren who
are dumped on Regina's door step just as Regina is getting used to the
idea of having Annabelle living in her home. Meanwhile, the ghost of
Regina's mother constantly harasses Regina in an attempt to turn her
away from the problems of her cousins.

This is a story of friendship, of finding strength within oneself, and
of three women coming to terms with their feelings for each other and
for the men in their lives. I found this to be a quick read with the
pacing designed to keep the reader turning the pages. Each of the
characters grows as the story comes to a climax and each finds peace as
she does so.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

365 Tips for Writers by Dawn Colclasure

Beth's Erickson’s Hot Pick of the Week

Recently, I came across this post by Beth Erickson of Filbert Publishing ( I thought it worthwhile to share and requested Beth's permission to quote her.

"If your resolution is to write more, but you dislike facing that blank, white page, you need to check out 365 Tips for Writers.

"The Well Fed Writer, Peter Bowerman says, “This book is nothing but tips – ideas disguised as tips, really. And we writers just love ideas. Ideas are our lifeblood – the engine beneath our creativity. And the scope of these tips are…well, formidable.”
Now you can snag your copy as an instant download and get writing within minutes. These tips will expand your mind, work out your creativity, and exercise your writing muscles.

"Best of all, you'll have fun. Tons of it. Details here:

"With over 365 tips (journal writers... that’s more than one per day for a whole year) Dawn Colclasure has created a truly unique book that’s an essential addition to every writer’s library.

"Filled with inspiration, brimming with writing prompts and "Beat the Block" tips, this seemingly little book will revolutionize the way you approach the craft of writing.

"With her incredible uncommon "common" sense, Colclasure has created what may well become the book you’ll turn to again and again whenever you need inspiration, encouragement, and a sense that you’re not alone in this crazy profession called "writing".

"Plus, you'll receive not one, but two downloads. We're throwing in Dawn's bonus material including 52 pages of bonus tips, beat the block tips, an assignment form, character sketch form and more.

"You can pick up this valuable title and instantly download it for only $14.95
7 Tips (and Prompts) to Ignite Your Writing This Week, Dawn Colclasure

"Editor Note: Print this article and tuck it in your journal. Now, each day this week, pull it out, read the instructions, get writing, and apply the information to your writing career. It's that simple. :)

"Tip #8: Keep up-to-date on what’s out there.
A writer has a greater chance of being published by staying on top of what people are reading, buying and publishing. Subscribe to industry magazines such as Publisher’s Weekly, Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Journal, read what’s being published in the major magazines, read the bestsellers to see what kinds of books are selling and study writers’ techniques. By knowing what kind of writing people want now, this will filter through to your own writing and help you focus on what is getting sold.

"Tip #9: You are a writer no matter what or where you have been published.
Forget about the frustrations of not being published in a major newspaper or magazine. You are still a writer. Only an essay, short story or article in an e-zine to your name? You are still a writer. Only an essay published in anthology? You are still a writer. You don’t need to have X amount of work to be published or sold to “officially” be a writer. The very fact that you sit down to write every day makes you a writer. You are a writer no matter what you have sold or where you get published.

"Tip #10: Set aside time to write.
Take a look at your day-to-day business. Notice any unnecessary tasks in there? Things you don’t really need to do? Use this time to get some writing done instead. Today’s lifestyle can be demanding and chaotic. By prioritizing what we do in order to have time to write, more work can get done faster. It may take a series of trial and error, and it may change periodically, but try finding a way to squeeze in that time to write every day.

"Tip #11: Give yourself homework.
Remember going to school and groaning at the mention of homework? We didn’t want to do homework; we wanted to play baseball with our friends or talk on the phone. But homework was the challenge we needed to keep our learning skills sharp. Homework can also be the challenge we need to discipline ourselves to write each day and work on our skill with words. It will keep you from running into a rut and facing writer’s block. Some ideas for homework can be:
• Before you go to bed, write on a plain sheet of paper “I love to write because...” and write the rest of the page tomorrow.
• Assign yourself a query to write for a major magazine (just for practice).
• Describe a character in 500 words.

"Tip #12: You must be confident of yourself and your skill.
A lack of confidence can kill a writer’s chance of succeeding. Confidence is what guides you towards approaching a client, writing a query or submitting your story. You must believe that you are a writer worthy of being published. An editor will admire your confidence and it will also help you face rejection. Writers who are self-confident send the message to editors that they can write something with confidence. If you are not confident with your work, others will perceive this as a sign that just maybe you won’t be able to write something so great. There are a lot of other writers out there with more confidence they may end up turning to instead. No matter the project you face, be confident in yourself and in your ability to write well.

Tip #13
: Stories are everywhere.
Everywhere you go and everything you see is a story. A cafĂ©, bookstore, school, library and courthouse is a story. A woman who eats her food slowly, a child who marches instead of walks, a tree with no branches. All of these are potential stories for you to create, only if you are keen enough to look for them. A colleague at work may have a story to tell. Your parent, spouse or partner may have a story to tell. And even your child’s best friend might have a story to tell. You can get ideas for stories from magazines, newspapers, television, music, books, your dreams, your journals and even your little daily habits. The sky’s the limit when it comes to a writer searching for story ideas and, even then, writers can write about the sky.

"BEAT THE BLOCK TIP: Write about what matters to you.
In one paragraph or on one page, write about what matters to you. Be sure to include the reason why this particular thing matters to you, even if the reason is as obvious as love or obligation. For example, you may write something like: “Reading books for leisure matters to me because it gives me a chance to relax.” Spend as much time as necessary on each one and feel free to include as many reasons as you can think of.

"This has been an excerpt from 365 Tips for Writers. You can pick up all 365 (plus 52 bonus tips including “Beat the Block” tips) that's 52 pages of valuable information and instantly download it for under 15 smackers. Here are the details -"

Beth, thank you for allowing me to share this information. Please check out Dawn's book. It looks like it has some great tips to help us get back into gear when our muse is stalled.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Promotional Opportunities

Do you have a novel or non-fiction book you want to promote, but you're not sure how to do it? There are a lot of sites devoted to marketing ideas. Some of these charge money, others offer advice in the way of free articles or newsletters. You can also try doing a virtual book tour by approaching bloggers who blog in the area relevant to your subject or genre.

Today, my middle grade paranormal mystery, Ghost for Rent, is spotlighted at Christine Verstraete's blog: Christine periodically offers authors an opportunity to post a short snyopsis, cover art, and the first few paragraphs of your book. This is a great way to promote your work at no cost to you. Christine may also get some new readers on her blog as you send people there to check out your first paragaraphs.

Try signing up for Penny Sansevieri's newsletter at her web site to get some great marketing ideas.

J. Aday Kennnedy, offers authors an opportunity for promotion on her blog. She adds a twist to the usual review and interview by offering marketing ideas. She requests that you donate a book to a library in exchange for her suggestions, but it isn't obligatory. Check out her blog at She did a great job on suggesting ways I can promote my book, Ghost for Rent.

Look for other ways to get your name out there. Blog Talk Radio hosts are always looking for new talent to spotlight. Many hosts specialize in one specific type of writing, such as children's or romance, but others will be more general. Listen to a few shows to find a good fit, then contact the host.

Carolyn Howard Johnson also offers a free newsletter geared specifically to frugal book promotion. Check out her web site at and sign up for her newsletter.

With a little research, you can find other ways to promote yourself. Do you have any good ideas for marketing or newsletters that have helped you with your promotion? Please feel free to share.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to Normal

Here it is, January 11th, and the final touches are being added to our floor refinishing project. On Friday, I was able to get back into my office, however lingering odors from the wood trim stain, made my stay short. I was able to steal a few moments on my husband's computer last week to access emails, but that was it. It was an interesting time without the computer. I had to have the right mindset to make it through the withdrawal period. I imagined I was off on an exotic vacation (well maybe not exotic), and there wasn't any internet. It worked. I made it through the week.

What did I accomplish, work-wise? Actually, quite a bit. I finished a novel I was reading for review here on my blog. I edited my lasted picture book manuscript. I got half-way through editing my collection of writing articles. All in all, the week wasn't wasted. I actually thought I would have more time to devote to editing manuscripts, but somehow the days slipped by and less was accomplished than I thought. I never got to the Ghost for Dinner edits, and I had planned to do some craft projects which also didn't get done. I did manage a couple of crochet patterns,though, so that was good.

Over the weekend, we had company and our granddaughter was here for a visit. No more excuses, now, however, and reality has hit. It's time to get busy and get back to writing and editing.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What To Do Without a Computer

For at least four or five days I will be without access to my computer. We are having our floors refinished, and we've been told we can't walk on them. Of course, there's also the problem of odor from the finishing products. Bottom line, I won't be able to get into my office or on my computer while the refinishing is taking place.

Here's what I've decided I can do to keep tabs on my writing projects.

1. My WIP, Ghost for Dinner - I've printed out the manuscript as far as I've gotten with it. I will take this time to go over it with a highlighter and red pen. I can also add to it in pen and transcribe this later into the computer.

2. My 2nd WIP, A Writer's Primer - I've printed out this manuscript as well. It is ready for editing. As with GFD, I will take my highlighter and red pen and edit. This second is comprised of previously published writing tips, but many of them are years old. I will need to update URLs and change references to publishers no longer in business. I will also consider other topics for inclusion in the completed work.

3. My 3rd WIP, Silly Poppy - I've printed out this picture book manuscript and will work on it, using my red and blue pens and yellow highlighter.

4. I have two reference books, geared toward children's authors. I plan to spend some time reading these books. I've intended to do more research in this area for some time, but always get side-tracked.

5. I have a blank notebook and a supply of pens. While my handwriting isn't the greatest, I still know how to write. When those creative urges strike, I will be ready to jot down my thoughts. These may take the form of notes, rather than completed works, but I will be ready.

What would you do if you were without your computer for a week? Internet goes down. Your computer crashes. Life happens. Tell me your thoughts and how you would handle a similar situation.

I'm hoping I can sneak in a few minutes here and there on my husband's computer. His office is on the floor we've already finished. Mine, however, is now on the targeted floor. I will be away from my computer for a week, so if your comments are not posted right away, do know they will be when I return. See you in a week.