Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What's Advertising??

Sorry for the late IWSG post--I'm in the process of moving and still don't have internet hooked up, ugh! But I think you'll find this post was worth it...

Advertising: It's torture! It's annoying to watch and painful to produce. But some special ads are fun to watch and/or memorable--the unicorns: Mayhem, "Where's the Beef?" "Tastes Great. Less Filling" "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" and jingles that get stuck in your head. Advertising is the best way to sell things, and it's the basis of how entertainment is paid for--including books!

For an author, advertising can be a daunting task. Many of us don't know where to begin. So I've compiled a list of Advertising Tips from a few experienced professionals (see links below). We can use these techniques to reach the right audience and sell books.

Tips for Effective Advertising:
  1. Know Your Audience - This is on every list--must be important! You may think you know your audience, but here are some ways to REALLY know you know them.
    • Research - what other books does your audience read? which book could you say "If you like ____, you'll love my book!"
    • Make your book appealing - Can you say your book is a mashup of which two popular books/movies?
    • Optimize for searches - choose great key words that will make your book appear before your readers on Google!
    • Get personal - share, relate, be accessible, answer questions
  2. Be Creative - Authors know all about being creative. Yes, you do. You have created worlds, in-depth personalities, and complex plots. Don't sell yourself short. Now use your creativity in a different way--Author hisses as she steps out into sun to peddle books...
    • Have a Hook! Condense your book into one tantalizing sentence, no details, just a twisty, tasty tease!
    • Stand out - What makes your book different than the rest of the books on the same shelf??
    • Inspire action - Once you read the first chapter, you won't be able to put it down!
    • Your ads need to be Memorable, Short, Relevant
  3. More Intense Targeting - repeat customers and fans are the goal... 
    • These key points are from World Stream
      • Behavior and interest targeting: These are the people interested in your stuff.
      • Remarketing: These are the people who have recently checked our your stuff.
      • Demographic targeting: These are the people who can afford to buy your stuff.
    • Geo-fencing targets more specifically by location (Blue Fountain Media
  4. Visual Stimulation - still or video, an ad has to be eye-catching
    • Image association/Branding - your images must convey the mood of your book and possibly go deeper to show your "brand"
    • Great graphics - you get what you pay for - don't be just another pic that gets passed by
    • Videos need to portray message with or without sound - many people watch videos without turning on the volume (I am one) Talk about "Show Don't Tell!"
  5. Variety of Media - social is the way to go, but be smart and spend wisely. Here's some advice on who, how, and why or why not...
    • Facebook - good for small business, but some say not. Personally, I've tried these and they give feedback. Not sure if it helps, but I think exposure is helpful.
    • Twitter - better to tweet with key words tailored to your audience than tweet "engagements"
    • More--Medium, Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, Linked In--some I know, some I don't, but I'm going to look into these further
    • Test your ads - ask friends, relatives, blog/newsletter readers, etc for their first impressions of your ad
  6. Have a Consistent Message - Know what you want to say. What's your theme?
    • Why should people read your book?
    • Testimonials of reviewers and readers work
So, when you're ready to publish, keep these tips in mind for ways to advertise your book. And keep writing--once you hook readers, they will want more!

Source articles: Blue Fountain Media, Target Public, All Business, World Stream, Entrepreneur

With my moving still in progress, I may or may not get another post out this month... Hope all is well with you and yours this holiday season--peace and love to you!



Monday, November 19, 2018

Try Something New - #Writers do more than write

I write adventure stories. I like action, suspense, and surprises. I encourage people to go out and do, to make life an adventure!

I also say: "the way to get noticed is to put yourself out there," which I know most of us hate doing.

So here's my advice, Take Baby Steps.
Trying new things might seem intimidating. So dip your toes in and test the water to see if you like it. Then, gradually go deeper... Or dive right in and make a splash. It's up to you!

Here's a list of things I encourage writers to try with small starts:
  • Make a Video - Don't worry. You don't have to be a star or an actress.
    • Starting Small - a slide show is easy to convert to a video. Experiment with easy, free movie making apps with captions and transitions, free/royalty free images and music. Before you know it, you have a book trailer! You might enjoy it and move on to bigger things...
    • Film yourself reading an excerpt (TIP: be aware of your background!)
    • Do a book review for a friend
    • Make a scripted advice video
    • More things to try: a Podcast or Vlog
  • Self Publishing - This takes a lot of work and money, but if done right can be very profitable.
    • Starting Small - there are many free publishing venues to try. Short stories and novellas are a great place to start with trying out the process. Two things you should splurge on: Cover and Editing (unless you are friends with an editor and you can trade services) Once you've experimented with a small publication, you can...
    • Try a novel!
    • Collaborate on an Anthology
    • Compile some short stories
  • Book Events - I always encourage authors to get out and represent your books.
    • Starting Small - First, attend an event as a reader and see what it's all about, get ideas, meet authors, and get advice--build up confidence. Then try local libraries, bookstores, and free book fairs. Work your way up to...
    • Bigger Book Festivals
    • Book Conferences
    • Vendor Events
    • Conventions
    • You'll be talking on an author panel before you know it!
So get out there and try stuff! Been there, done that? Share some of your advice!

And here's one of my adventurous friends for my Shout Out of the Week!



Patricia is a Michigander and transplant Yooper––that means she can hold her hands up and point to where she lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan. She's always been creative--starting with wanting to be a dancer, then an artist, and also a musician, in band all through school.

While at Grand Valley State College, she found out being an Art major wasn't for her, but she did learn a ton in her classes and met her hubby in an anime chat room, DragonBall Z. PS, she's a big anime geek.

She loves to cook, makes jewelry and knits--she even sold her wares at local craft shows. And add decorating to her list of talents. But once she tried writing a story she'd been daydreaming about, she never looked back. She even ventured into self-publishing. This woman isn't afraid to try new things!

You can find links to Patricia's books here.

And connect with her...
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AND HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

10 Places Writers Should Go

Writers are explorers.
We go places both physical and psychological. And we take readers along for the ride! Readers depend on authors to transport them to foreign countries, fictional towns, other worlds, back in time or into the future, and even just down the street. So we need to create settings that are as real as possible.

For my IWSG post this month, I challenge writers to go to these ten places, or as many as possible:
  1. Visit another country
  2. Take a trip to a different state/climate
  3. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or other opportunity
  4. Offer to speak at a school
  5. Spend the night in a strange place out of your comfort zone ==> if you live in the city, go to the country and vice versa. Never been camping? Try it.
  6. Try a new mode of transportation
  7. Explore an antique store, or grandma's attic
  8. Dare to try something exciting that you wouldn't normally do--skydiving, spelunking, scuba diving
  9. You can go online to experience some of the above when travel isn't feasible and immerse yourself in facts and photos
  10. Put yourself in someone else's shoes! This is the best thing to do when writing a character, but also in life.

The challenge is to broaden your perspective. The more knowledge you gain, the richer the experience, the deeper your characters, and the better your story will be. Have you already crossed a few of these off? I'd love to hear about it!




I also have a very well-traveled friend for my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK...



Rhonda lives in New Zealand, and I hope to visit her some day. She and her family recently returned home after a 51 day adventure to visit relatives in the US, and then sailed back from LA to Auckland. After spending about a month at home, they leave for 9 weeks to South America. And she documents her journeys with amazing photographs and stories. You really need to check them out! She's truly an inspiration for going out to see the world.

More about Rhonda--
Expat Rhonda Albom takes you on a vicarious adventure as she captures the essence of travel through photography, stories, tips, and humour. Along with her husband and her two teenage daughters, they have collectively visited 54 countries on six continents.

Rhonda is the owner, primary author, and chief travel photographer at the award-winning expat/travel blog AlbomAdventures.com.  Her background includes the journalism school at the University of Missouri, a BS from the University of Illinois,  and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. Rhonda homeschooled her girls, is a crew member of a women’s yacht racing team, and she leads a Girl Guiding Pippins group (ages 5-6). Rhonda is currently editing her first creative non-fiction book, due out in 2018.


So, where would you suggest a writer go? And do you know Rhonda? You should!
Happy November!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hot Genres - #Horror Mashups


Tis the season for Horror. But Horror is not my genre--I don't like to be scared. Thrilled--yes. Grossed out or freaked out--no. Mashups put a new twist on the classics. With agents looking for "new & exciting," a great mashup might be the way to go. I can do mashups. Horror/Comedy, like SCREAM. And sometimes I like Horror/Sci Fi, like ALIEN. Horror/Fantasy might be interesting too, does VAN HELSING count for that?

Since I'm not the best at Horror, I'm giving you all over to my Shout Out of the Week...


For me, good horror is always about the unexpected. Taking the mundane and turning it into a horror fest has always been Stephen King's claim to fame. And yes, he's my go-to guy for horror. I'd recommend just about anything he's written! I say just about because I think some of his most recent work is lacking a good editor, but once you've achieved his status...

Halloween with Jamie Curtis, is my all time favorite horror movie. (No remakes please!)

As far as a tip for writing horror or any genre, it's all about the questions.

For instance, I took three pictures for Halloween this month and then spent some time studying them. Then I started asking questions. What is happening in this desolate dark forest... What happens at this cabin in the woods... And how does an individual become a ghost... If you check my posts for October, you'll see the results. Although, I have no rhyme or reason for why the answers came as poetry. Writing just happens that way. Ask your muse (the unconscious mind) the question you need answered, and just be ready for the answer, no matter what that is. Honestly, it's how I work.

About Yolanda Renée...
While living in Alaska, Renée learned to sleep under the midnight sun, fly fish, cross-country ski, and survive the bitter cold. She hiked the Brooks Range and traveled the state from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The tough terrain sent her onto her next adventure--writing. The beautiful state of Alaska is like another character in her mystery trilogy. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska fill each novel, as well as murder and mayhem.

The Detective Quaid mysteries weave a rich tapestry of love, obsession, and murder. She's about to finish and publish, the 5th book in the Detective Quaid Series: Murder, Just Because.

She now lives in Myrtle Beach, SC--a far cry from frigid Alaska--but she's still inspired to write as she researches a noir mystery with Murder Beach in mind (the nickname for Myrtle Beach).


In the end, agents and publishers are looking for a combination of a great story, but more importantly, a great storyteller. You be you. It's a scary business, but worth it!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 15, 2018

7 Fun Ways to Do Research

Ever take your characters to a foreign land? Go back in time for some historical fiction? Want to create new gadgets but want them to sound plausible?

Do the RESEARCH!

I love researching for my stories, so it's always fun! And research isn't just for big stuff, it's for little stuff too--like names (Carrie-Anne is a pro at all things Russian history, especially names!), accurate time zones, the speed of things, proper slang terms, etc. Not to mention how long it takes a body to decompose in certain conditions...

So here are 7 Fun Ways to do Research...
  1. Online - everyone looks online these days. But be careful. No Wikis where people can mess with the data entry. Use trustworthy sites.
  2. Ask a professional - many people would love to talk about their work, especially if it means they'll get a shout out in a book!
  3. Survey your friends - it's always fun and useful to hear what your friends on social media think of a topic or situation, or to have them vote on a name
  4. Phone a friend - friends are also useful if they are actual pros on the subject, a lawyer, a foreign national, a pilot.
  5. Read! - Read non-fiction and fiction on the topic. Read magazine articles and get the latest info.
  6. Take a class - cooking, self-defense, tap-dancing, learning another language, so much to discover!
  7. Take a walk - Go outside, go to a mall, a park, a ball game, an airport... Observe, watch, listen, learn. Research is fun!
How do you research?

And my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK is...


C. Lee is a strong, intelligent woman--I want to be like her when I grow up! She's lived all over the globe, from California to Hong Kong to Laos, Cambodia to New York and back.

Besides reading and writing, she loves two things: hiking and Yoga. Well, three things if you count eating, and that’s why she loves to hike. These are also besides spending time with family and friends. Oh, and growing her own salad. And cats—can't forget the cats!

Lee writes amazing Young Adult novels and wonderful, fun Middle Grade. Plus, she gives awesome writing advice and encouragement. Such a primo example of everything a great author should be. And I'm honored to call her my friend.

Check her out!


And a final PS: Honorable mention is validation in my book!

I recently entered a challenge at Janet Reid's blog (she's a very famous NYC agent who gives advice to writers in her own special, snarky way, in case you didn't know)
And she enjoyed it!

Here it is.

So, go do some research, enter a contest, and check out C. Lee!

And here's the link to my STREET TEAM form, if you're interested--thanks!

Yay for Fall!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It's your party and you can cry if you want to!

Tears are cleansing. Don't let anyone tell you there's no crying in writing. Whoever says that isn't doing it right.

Welcome to October’s Insecure Writers Support Group - we share because we care (Name that Movie, but the share is ‘scare’ in the actual quote)

There’s a time to be strong, but there’s also a time to cry. It’s okay to let it all out. A good cry is cathartic and stress-relieving. I'd say I cry about once a week or so. That might sound like a lot, but I'm going through some major changes lately (2 sons flying the coop and the sweet one turned into a teenage monster overnight, WAH! plus we're trying to sell our house--talk about stressful!) But please do not feel sorry for me! I'm okay with crying a little then I move on. I have tons of high moments too, lots of inspiration and hope. The low times make the high times feel even better, am I right?




So when those rejections hit, and I know they hit hard! go ahead and cry about it. Just don't give up. Keep working and improving. You will connect with the right publishing option at the right time.




Now, for my SHOUT OUT of the Week!


Juneta is super sweet and supportive. She's a big proponent of short stories and the quarterly writing challenge, the Storytime Blog Hop (founded by Holly Lisle) Check it out and give it a try sometime!

More about Juneta - she's Texas born and raised, living in Central Florida--hanging out with pirates and playing with the dolphins. And in her spare time, she makes Magic! A Story Spinner, Tale Weaver, Fate-maker, World Creator, Mythology Bender, Star Mapper, Journey Planner, Fortune Teller.

Fun Fact: Juneta used to be a police/fire/EMT-911 communications dispatch. 

She writes half speculative fiction and half Gothic. She's also a moderator for the Insecure Writer's Support Group Goodreads Book Club. Right now, Juneta is working on her novel in a Ninja Write-Along with Shaunta Grimes founder of Ninja Writers Club. This will be Juneta's first finished novel. She has also written several flash fiction/short stories that you can find on her website.

And here are a couple of quotes by Juneta... (I love quotes!)

"The best thing about being a writer is you don’t have to make excuses for pretending. It’s part of the job." -- Juneta Key

"Life is the mythology of living that creates the stories of our lives and imaginations." -- Juneta Key

How to catch up with Juneta:



And lastly, I'd love to have you join me on my adventures. Sign up for my street team--anyone who volunteers will get early info, freebies, and more!



Thanks for your support and for stopping by! Happy October!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Pros and Cons - Pantser vs Plotter

Are you a pantser or a plotter? Or a plantster - a little of both?

Here are my definitions...

Plotter - have a terrific story idea, plan, outline, know the basic plot, character backstories, conflict, theme, arcs, etc. Then start writing.
Pantser - have a terrific story idea and/or an awesome character and start writing.

from INSIDE OUT, YouTube clip
Pros & Cons...

Purpose. Your characters need to have goals (Plotter), but how they reach or don't reach them is up to you (Pantser).
Flexibility. Having a plan and making an outline is a great way to know the big plot points of your story (Plotter). Unfortunately, your characters may lead you off your path in a new direction. This isn't a bad thing! Don't resist, go with them and see where it leads (Pantser).
Spontaneity. You want to keep your readers guessing to keep them turning pages (Pantser), just make sure surprises make sense in the story (Plotter).
Continuity. When you start writing a new story, it's a fantastic feeling. Like a child chasing a butterfly--Ooo pretty! (Pantser) But when the butterfly leads you into a dark forest and disappears, you are stuck and lost! If you have a path to follow, you can find your way through the rough parts and make it to the end. (Plotter)

That's why I'm a Plantster - have a plan and a rough outline to know where the story is going, then start writing

I like having a plan, then once I start writing, I take breaks for research, naming people and places, and making notes to keep everything straight. My characters always lead the way through the story, I just nudge them in the right, general direction, so it's just as fun for me to write it and discover it as it is for my readers!

And a special side note, MJ Fifield also talked of Pantsing and Plotting this month!

No matter which way you write it, keep at it!

I love writing!

And someone else who loves writing, is my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK:



The brilliant Chrys Fey is full of #SPARKS! She found sparks to inspire her and now shares sparks to inspire others. I know she's a big spark of inspiration for me!

Sparks of 
Inspiration -- Motivation -- Advice
Creativity -- Positivity -- Wisdom
Encouragement -- Empowerment -- Insight
and MAGIC

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer's Support Group, running their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Special Note: Her mother is one of her biggest inspirational sparks with published books of her own!

Living in Florida, Chrys is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four cats and three nephews, both keep her entertained with their antics.

You can find her all over...
 Blog Website Facebook /  Twitter @ChrysFey


How about you--Plotter? Pantser? or Some of both? And go visit Chrys for a Spark!

Monday, September 17, 2018

What's your THING? 4 Steps to Building Your Brand

I love writing. I get a huge thrill when someone reads something I wrote and tells me they liked it--repeat customers who aren't relatives are the BEST!

But I never realized how much work, sacrifice, and embarrassment I would have to go through to promote myself. Selling yourself is awkward. Putting yourself out there is a huge risk. Some of you think rejection from query letters is a knife in the gut. Wait till you go to an event and don't sell a single book. Heart-wrenching! Why can't we just write a phenomenal book and be a big hit over night?? (I know, don't answer that)



I have come to terms with my lot in my writing life. Time management has new meaning after you're published. Since I love the writing and hate the marketing, I'm always looking for ways to make the latter easier so I can do more of the former!

One huge way to help get your books noticed is to Brand Yourself.
Your author name is your brand. Think about your favorite authors--you love reading their stuff and look for new releases by them. You like their style, their stories, their characters, and how they keep you wanting more! You have to make readers want that from YOU!

So here are some suggestions on
How to Brand Yourself:
  • First, Know Yourself - What do you write? Do you like to read your own genre? Where do you live? Do you like to travel? What part of the process are you best at? Worst at? What do you like to do? Do you have a job? On the surface, these questions will help you form a solid AUTHOR BIO. Looking deeper, you will discover more about yourself so you can relate to your readers.
  • Then, Know Your Readers - There's no stereotype for readers. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Readers know what they like, and if they like what you write, you'll gain fans for life! To figure out what your readers like, you have to read the best sellers in your genre. If you read the genre you write, it's easy to do research!
  • Now, Go Get Them! -  Go to Book Events--try to speak on a panel and let readers get to know you. If you write sci-fi/fantasy, try going to some Sci Fi Cons. Romance & YA have conventions and events too. For a younger age group, try speaking at a school or children's book fair. You have to get yourself out there.
  • And Keep writing! - The more books you have out there, the more Your Name is out there and the more your fans will have to read and brag about, getting more people to notice you!
I'm still debating how to head up my blog to capture my brand. Here are a few great examples of Authors who have the right idea...

Stephanie Faris - Adorable Children's Author

Christine Rains - Scintillating Speculative Fiction

Elizabeth Seckman - Hopeless Romantic Writer


And my super cheesy SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK!

Crystal Collier - YA Magical Journeys

I've known Crystal for many moons (ha ha). I love her whimsical posts, her sweet author showcases, and especially the "two truths and a lie" challenges. She's doing extremely well with an adorable houseful of rugrats and a bunch of books out there. Including her wonderful Maiden of Time series!


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, five littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her...
Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest


Hope you are in good spirits no matter what phase of the writing process you're in!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What's a Publisher?

Hello, lovely writers!
I have the honor to be a humble host for the IWSG this month. My fellow Co-Hosts are:

And of course, our fearless leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh! We're all here to listen and learn and know we aren't alone!

The question of inspiration this month is...

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why? 
My publishing journey continues... I've been with the small press Curiosity Quills for several years. It started out great! They paid lots of attention to the authors, they edit with us, they create covers, and they get us set up on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. Plus they have a contest and set up some reviews to get us started. Then, like baby birds, we kicked out of the nest to fend for ourselves... Fly, be free! All in all, it's been good. No matter what, I think most writers have to promote themselves and get out and sell, unless they're picked up by the big publishers. Even then, it's readers and word of mouth that determine how well the book will do... Success breeds more success.

I've stuck my toe in the self-publishing pool with my UnPrincess Novellas. That is all DIY, but there are many formatting programs to help with getting your book published pretty easily. You just have to take care of the editing, cover, and again, promotion!

Writing a book is a distinguished accomplishment. Publishing it is a matter of perseverance and finding the right fit. Promoting it is where the REAL WORK begins! Ugh!

I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts on Publishing!



In other news...
You may have heard the latest IWSG Anthology Contest is underway. Well, today they are announcing the judges! To find out who they are, hop over to the IWSG site.

In conjunction with the beginnings of the new IWSG Anthology Contest, we have combined all the previous IWSG Anthologies into one IWSG Anthologies website!


And it just so happens, that my Shout Out of the Week is one of the admins:


She's been writing forever and is very good at it. Multi-talented, she can do all aspects of publishing, and has written a ton of great stories! I'm excited to be working with her at the IWSG Anthology site.

Cherie Reich owns more books than she can ever read and thinks up more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying to complete her goals, even if it means curbing her TV obsession. A library assistant living in Virginia, she writes speculative fiction.


Give me an I! Give me a W! Give me an S! Give me a G!

Go IWSG!!!!

Hey, it's September and that means:
Football Season and Fall! Yay!

Monday, August 27, 2018

8 Ways to Get Kids to Read Your Book

I can't say I'm an expert on selling kids' books, but I do know kids. As a teacher and parent, I've spent a great deal of time with crazy daisies and funny bunnies! I know what they like and what they dislike (probably wouldn't like that I call them crazy daisies and funny bunnies!). No matter the fad of the week or the generation, kids are kids are kids. They love to crow and grow and go.

As an author of MG and YA, kids reading my books is what keeps me going. The feedback I get from my young readers is heartwarming and inspirational. The trouble is, how to get books into those little hands! So here's some advice that works...

How to Get Kids to Read Your Book:

  1. Set up a School Visit - You have to go where kids are. Contact schools and offer a presentation or lesson. Schools are the number one promoters of reading. Go motivate those students! If they like you, they'll want your book.
  2. Do a Library Visit or Reading - Many libraries are happy to host an author. Donate copies of your book. The more visibility you get, the more folks will want to spread the word to read your stuff!
  3. Coordinate a Bookstore Signing with your visits! - Now that you have their interest, tie these visits together with a book signing. The hard part is hoping the kids will remember and persuade their parents to bring them to the signing.
  4. Sign up for a Presentation at a Children’s Book Fair - Many book fairs have a special day or section set up just for kids' presentations and activities. I've done many of these and always sell books from them (suggestions for presentations will be another post coming soon!) 
  5. Be part of a Family-Friendly Vending Event - And have some candy or fun giveaways to attract kids that go with your book, like these fun hand sanitizers:
  6. Host a Signing Party - I try to have my release parties at fun places kids will be: like at an ice cream shop or a kids' boutique. I'm thinking of hosting my next party at a pizza parlor.
  7. Write an MG SERIES - One book is good, but a series will give kids an easy go to for their next read! A series is a great way to keep your name in the front of readers' minds as they look forward to more from you.
  8. Be Funny! - If you can make a kid laugh, you'll capture their heart. They'll see you in a new light. Laughter is a connection. When you make someone laugh, it shows you get them--you know what they like, how they think. And if you can do that, they'll want to laugh some more and read your books!

Bonus - Get to know Children’s Book Reviewers. Reviews are important parts of the publishing and marketing process. Lots of lists are out there, and though many of the book bloggers have extensive reading lists, keep trying!

If you’re lucky, you’ll get an awesome video review like this one from my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK:


Tonja is AWESOME, isn't she? She's also brilliant! She spent some time in Europe not only devouring chocolate, cheese and wine, but also worked as a freelance translator and a summary writer for a German television station. How lucky am I that she was able to help me translate some German phrases in my latest Beast World novel, WINDY HOLLOW?? She's amazing!

Currently, Tonja resides somewhere in the back woods of the Ozarks and writes away while tending to chickens, cows and her family of six. Her stories have been published in several collections and magazines. A GLOWWORM was published by Black and White Publishing Company (2017). She's an avid book reader, professional children's book reviewer, outdoor addict and always in search of a new adventure (based in reality, the imagination, or otherwise).

But the best part - I happened to catch her right as she's about to be published! Her debut novel MUSIC BOXES is a slightly dark middle grade urban fantasy about a girl and her ballet dreams with hints toward Hansel and Gretel (just as dash) as well as Coraline. It's scheduled to be released on February 5th, 2019 with Dancing Lemur Press!

Congratulations, Tonja!


Summer's been a blast (of hot air!) Hope you all are ready for Fall. I sure am!

Monday, August 13, 2018

What's a Street Team??

First, I want to thank you all for the positive comments and vibes from my last "woe-is-me" post. On the financial front, we are moving on up--actually, downsizing to save mucho money and afford the latest college addition. Plus I'm ready to go back to work at my own pace. Things are working out, as they usually do! I also found some fabulous writing prompts that inspired some new stories! (Like the new IWSG Anthology Contest - Check it out!)

And I came up with a new outlook on life...

Life is like a favorite t-shirt--It starts out bright and clean but eventually gets worn out and stained. It also gets more comfortable and refreshed with every wash!

Next, I wanted to talk about "Street Teams" - What the heck are they? Have you heard of them? Do you have one? Does it work?

Well, I researched it and here's what I found:
  • Street Teams have been around forever--they started out as marketing for new artists - Probably because they're cheap, relatively easy, and effective (article 1)
  • A Street Team is a group of people actively going out and talking to your potential audience to help sell your product. They create BUZZ - How awesome is that?!
Authors could always use some help with marketing. It's a hard job to do on your own. So here are some thoughts and advice I compiled for creating and managing a Street Team: (article 2)
  • RECRUIT! Doesn't hurt to ask. So ask. You have fans. You have followers. Create a form and offer it to them. Many will be happy to give your new book a shout out or tweet at the very least! Hopefully, you'll get some regular reviewers. Mentioning it on Goodreads is also a good place to recruit (article 3)
  • PREP - Put together a rap sheet that includes expectations, volunteer duties, and room for suggestions. Let your Street Team pick and choose the best way they can help. Your Street Team will mostly be called upon to help with new releases, but can also be there for between-release-events as needed.
  • INCENTIVES - your Street Team deserves a little something for their hard work. Give them a special name, too. And maybe offer a bonus trinket for recruiting more members to join in the fun!
  • A SPECIAL PLACE - You need a way to communicate with your Street Team. Now, you can do a group email or even a group message, but for a broader method of notification and fast feedback, a Facebook Page might be more efficient. (article 4)
I know many people (like me) don't like to solicit help. But a Street Team is a voluntary group who shares your passion and love for your work. They want to promote and help you succeed. Then they are guaranteed that more of your books will be published!

I hope this was helpful. I'm going to start recruiting a Street Team soon for my next release: WINDY HOLLOW - which has a release date - January 19, 2019! Let me know if you'd like to read and review an ARC.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Street Teams - Do you have one?

Thirdly, here are the results of my latest survey - interesting info on WRITERS CAREER GOALS:






Of those who have an agent, no one was sure if she was helping them, yet...

Do you have tips for making a living from writing?
  • Diversify - be a speaker as well as a writer.
  • Know how to market yourself well!
  • Write a lot of books!
  • No. Though I've found when I pursue something, it eludes me. When I stop chasing it, it comes to me. Like a cat.
  • Not really. It's a personal thing with me.
  • Nope
  • Nope, just learning, watching and listening while taking notes and practicing.
  • I wish I knew how to make money from writing!


Finally, the best for last. My SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK:


I'm so lucky to know this sweet woman in person! Liz and I live close enough to do book events together, at least one a year, sometimes more. We both raised boys, so we have lots to commiserate and relate with each other about--and we both have loads of advice, stories, and some recipes to share on our joint venture website: The Really Real Housewives of America. She's supportive, loves her family, and always sees the bright side!

Originally from Ohio, Elizabeth was moved to West Virginia and so was dubbed "Grit" as a child. She grew up in a tiny town with no red lights and no fast food where everyone knows everybody--oh the gossip! Thankfully she escaped to Marshall University then began a family of her own. (I'd say writing is her escape!) Liz is a daydreamer, a football mom, and an author of Women's Fiction & Romance.

"I have boys, books, and a dirty house. It's all good."



By the way, since I'm in the process of moving, my posts will be a little scattered. But you know how life goes!

Got any advice or more info on Street Teams? Or how to make a living as a writer? Do tell!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So You're not going to be a #Bestseller

WARNING! Deep Thoughts Ahead
for the Insecure Writing Support Group.
No more stress, I'm done!

As some of you may know, I've been stuck in a funk for a couple of months because of several negative circumstances in a row. Plus I'm about to move, my kids are changing schools, and you don't even want to know about the Wild One. I'm completely stressed! Though some good has been sprinkled among the bad, with all that's going on I've been questioning my future as a writer. I never expected to be a best seller, but now I'm wondering what I did expect...

When I started writing, I just wanted to be published. Then I found a publisher - Woo Hoo! And I kept going. Next, I wanted to be profitable and hoped to contribute to the family income. A bestseller was never my goal, just a seller

Now, here I am with book #6 about to be published, and I'm deeper in debt. With the smaller events not producing, it seems like I'd have to spend more money to take a chance on bigger ones, and go farther away, so also pay for hotels. I'm not afraid of work, but I don't like wasting my time (and $$!) if it's not going to pan out. So, I'm at a crossroads. Should I keep investing or should I stop?

My writing isn't just a hobby, but according to the IRS, after no profit for so long it is. That means no more writing it off.

Needless to say, I'm not going to stop writing. I'm just struggling with how to make money from it. My financial obligations are such a nuisance! But supporting my family has to come first. And that leaves less time to devote to my passion. Maybe this is just a severe plot twist...

So, I'm curious - What do you expect from your writing? Is it a career goal? Are you profitable? Do you invest much money in it? Do you have an agent? Does it help? And do you have tips for making a living from writing? (I smell a survey!)

Yup. Here it is. Your Writing Career Goals - A Survey!
I love collecting and analyzing data.



And here's my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK:


Alex J. Cavanaugh!

Alex is a remarkable person - he's a brilliant sci-fi writer, a talented rock guitarist, and a true friend. I feel very fortunate to know him and work with him sometimes, if only through the wide wonderful web. And he's an elusive ninja--no pictures while he stealthily visits thousands of blogs! Besides authoring the popular sci-fi epic Cassa Series, he also founded the Insecure Writers Support Group which has grown into its own website, published anthologies, and continues to grow with Instagram challenges and more! A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. He's also a great reviewer!


Lastly, the RESULTS from the Down and Desperate Survey:

Do you like to read stories full of heavy, dark drama?



Do you write tales of woe - where the main character never seems to get a break?
Why do you think people like to read such dark and desperate stories?


Why do you read dark and desperate novels?
  • I only enjoy them if the good guys eventually triumph. I know which authors to trust.
  • It churns up a lot of emotions, but only if the characters are realistic.
  • I like to have my heartstrings pulled.
  • I'll read just about anything!
  • They're cathartic and fascinating.
  • Because real life is often more like a Grimms' fairytale than a Disney fairytale.
  • Not a lot, but I do like dark urban fantasy with a strong female lead.
  • I don't really read that many. I'm cued into family sagas-with some heartache, mysteries, and the occasional bleak story if the writing captures insights that make the protagonist grow... Even bleakness can be worthwhile if it rings true. I dislike dystopia for the sake of dystopia, because it seems to sell.


A ton of info today. Thanks for stopping by.
Hope your August is full of inspired beginnings!