Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fabulous Five Lessons I Learned at the School of Hard Knocks -- By Anna Simpson

Today, I'm privileged to be a part of Anna Simpson's White Light Blog Tour.  In today's post, Anna shares some of her more embarrassing mistakes as a writer -- mistakes I suspect we've all been guilty of at one time or another.

Take it away, Anna!
Ken, thanks for having me.
I had my fair share of struggles when I decided to put my writing out there. I thought sharing might help others avoid some bumps along the way. So here are the hardest lessons I faced in the beginning of my career.  
1.      Don’t offer up my work to be read until it is properly scrubbed of all errors. I was very unprofessional at first. I lost a lot of support by people that would have helped me a great deal, but after reading me once they never offered again. I look back at some of my earlier work and cringe. And cringe some more at what I put them through.
2.     Be kinder with my critiques. My enthusiasm was limitless and I thought my job was to point out every mistake. Guess what? Some people were looking for praise and I didn’t offer any. Needless to say many ran for the hills when I offered to help them out again. I don’t blame them. Now I use the critique sandwich method. Praise-Constructive Criticism-Praise.
3.     Netiquette. (somewhat the same as number 2, but slightly different) I knew nothing about netiquette and embarrassed myself more than once in forums. It took me awhile not to hear crickets every time I posted a comment. No one could see my face and I hadn’t mastered the emoticon. My sarcastic sense of humor brought chats to a screeching halt. I suggest caution and only wished someone had warned me.
4.     Acceptance doesn’t mean I’ve made it. After having several shorts accepted I was shocked when I received a rejection. I thought I was done. That sting put me in my place and I’ve been cautious to keep my feet on the ground ever since.
5.     Not so hard but very helpful. Reaching out, networking, and blogging were the best things I could have done. Sure I fell on my face and was forced to rebuild bridges. I’ve grown and become wiser. There are so many more people in my life now and I’m truly grateful.

So tell me: what have you discovered that was obvious to everyone else but you? Anything? Come on, don’t be shy. 


White Light
Anna Simpson

Three Worlds Press

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it’s haunted with guilt?


Purchase Links:

All Romance Books

real face of emaginette

About the Author:

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.

She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

White Light is Officially on Sale

Two weeks ago, Anna Simpson revealed the cover for her new book, White Light. As of today, it is now available for purchase.  If you're at all into cozy mysteries, then I suggest you check it out.  And don't forget to enter the Raftercopter giveaway at the end of the post.

Congratulations, Anna!



White Light
Anna Simpson

Three Worlds Press



About The Book:

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it’s haunted with guilt?


Purchase Links:

All Romance Books


To stay free, I perform a ritual every morning. It begins with stepping outside, where dawn streams through the leafy branches of my maple tree, landing, shifting, and dancing on the flowerbeds at my bare feet. A steaming cup of coffee warms my hands. The fragrant air fills my lungs. I sip, leaving the liquid on my tongue to capture a moment of rich goodness.

My name is Emma, and I need to stay grounded and calm. It’s important for my health, so I walk along the fence and let the cool blades of grass tickle my toes and dewdrops cling to my skin. For fun, I kick a ball of dandelion fluff. Little parachutes take flight catching the same breeze moving the leaves above my head. The seeds float up, and up, over the fence to land on Mrs. Perkins’ perfectly tended lawn. Not a dandelion or mat of moss to be seen.

In a half acre of green sits one flowerbed, brimming with Lily of the Valley. I remember the first time I saw them over fifteen years ago. The delicate white bells could only be fairy hats. Today, the round base of cemented river stone is still full of waxy green spear tips. I don’t see fairy hats anymore. No, now I enjoy the effects of nature—its simple perfection.

Mrs. Perkins does it best. In fact, everything around Mrs. Perkins is perfectly cared for—her home, her yard, her car—all perfect.

But not today. A dark line sits between the jamb and the edge of the door.

A few inches of shadow drives my calm away and prickles the long blonde hairs at the nape of my neck. Butterflies in my stomach tell, no scratch that, demand I find my phone and go next door.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not a snoop.

Mrs. Perkins, a wiry old bird, did everything herself. I’m not sure if it is because she’s the independent sort or if she has no one else to help her. Either way, when she suggested we watch out for one another, I agreed.

I’m also alone. It doesn’t bother me unless I catch the flu or something. Then I wonder if I will die and no one will notice. It’s a thought, or fear, I can’t shake. Mrs. Perkins’ house has my full attention, and within it sits the same worry. I’ll check on her because she would do the same for me.

I crash into my kitchen, slopping my coffee onto the counter as I slam the mug down. My phone could be anywhere. My gaze travels from the pine tabletop to the gray marble counter. It’s not here. I push through the swinging door to the living area, run my fingertips between the couch and chair cushions, scan the smoked-glass coffee table through my veil of long blonde hair, and sneak a peek under my overturned book on the throw rug. Desperate, I check around the bowl by the door where I toss my keys as I pass the spiral staircase to the loft. Still nothing.

Down the short hallway, I rush to my bedroom. I tug the midnight blue duvet off the bed and shake it. My pulse speeds up as something thuds on to the carpet. I pick up my smartphone and check the battery. Half power.

Excellent. I dash through my front door, across the lawn and unlatch Mrs. Perkins’ white picket gate. Her shiny yellow front door looks as solid as stone. I follow her path to the back wondering if danger lurks.

I gasp as I near the door. It’s like living a moment in a crime drama. I mimic what I have watched on television and bring up my phone to take a picture. Inching forward, heart pounding, I wonder if poor Mrs. Perkins is sprawled out on the bathroom floor, from a stroke, heart attack, or a butcher knife.

Don’t worry, Mrs. Perkins. I’m coming.

I pull my cotton sleeve over my hand and push the door wider. Her kitchen looks untouched as if it’s sterilized or newly installed. Tiles cool my bare feet with each step. Fear scratches at my nerves, “Mrs. Perkins? It’s Emma from next door. Are you okay?”


I raise the phone to call for help.

A small sound carries from deeper in the house. I should stop, leave, and make the call.

Following the sound might be dangerous or, worse, plain stupid. And I’m scared. So scared, my breathing is all I hear over the pounding of my heart.

I’d look stupid if I’m wrong. Ravenglass Lake is so small-townsville, and Benny the bully is like no cop I’ve ever met. He would be no help. Worst of all, they’d call me crazy for sure. I slip the phone back into my denim pocket, quietly open her knife drawer, and pull out a meat cleaver. Armed, I creep forward.

Thank goodness Mrs. Perkins likes an open airy room. Evil housebreakers have nowhere to hide in the dining room.

A small thump like a cat landing on carpet makes me jump. But Mrs. Perkins doesn’t have a cat…or carpet—only allergies.

I tighten my grip on the cleaver as I stick my head into the living room. All is quiet and undisturbed. I enter the corridor to the front door. To my right are stairs to the upper floor. Farther ahead is a hall closet and nook where she keeps a desk and a small bookcase. Nothing seems touched.

I glance up at the glittery ceiling, swallow, and pull my phone from my pocket. The sensible thing is to dial 911. I sidestep for the front door, but in my mind’s eye Mrs. Perkins, wiry but frail, shakes her head. Her arm outstretched urging me not to leave.

Thump, I freeze. The noise is right beside me coming from the hall closet.
Without thinking, I open the door and find Mrs. Perkins tied up with duct tape across her lips. Her green eyes, round and unblinking, grow wide, and her usual perfect curls are mussed. I drop the cleaver. It clatters on the floor, and I pull the tape free.

About the Author:

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.

She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 106

It turns out that today is my last day at work.  I have a new job all lined up, but I won't be starting it until January, which means I'll have a whole two weeks I can dedicate to writing.  Of course, if this vacation is anything like my other vacations, I'll be lucky if I manage to get more than a day or two of writing accomplished.  But I can still dream, can't I?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


How to Know Your Book’s Cover Needs a Redesign

Cover Design on a Budget

Things to Know When Working With a Printer

Tick--Tick--Tension: Setting the Clock

How to Use Book Trailers for Successful Book Marketing

How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel

The Critical Importance of Crafting a Strong Opening

Friday, December 11, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 105

I don't know if it's because of the time of the year, but my writing progress has slowed to a crawl. And I have little hope  this weekend will be any better.  Frustrating, to say the least.

At least the weather is cooperating here in southern Michigan.  It's supposed to hit 53 today.  Can't complain about that.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links.


5 Scams that Target New Writers and How to Spot Them

How to decide what to include in your synopsis

Show Me the Money: Royalties in Anthology Contracts

The Dreaded Synopsis, and How I Learned to Love It

Tips for Writing Your Author Acknowledgements

4 Ways to Use Subplots

Control and the Self-Published Writer

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Movies Make Me A Better Writer -- Sometimes

My family and I saw the final Hunger Games movie this weekend, and I’ll admit I was rather underwhelmed. It didn’t flow well, everything that happened was fairly predictable, many of the “surprises” were telegraphed so far in advance there wasn’t much surprise left, and I won’t even discuss the logic flaws. Cinema Sins is going to have a field day with this one. I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea if this was the book’s fault or the director’s, but in the end it didn’t really matter. We stuffed ourselves with popcorn and Raisinettes, we drank a week’s supply of high fructose corn syrup, and we entertained ourselves on the drive home with a discussion of the movie’s problems. All was good.

The real point of this post, however, is that whenever I drive home from a movie, my mind is usually running about 100 miles per hour. I’m thinking about how the movie followed story structure. I’m recalling all the clever bits of dialogue and how the director got by with so little words. And most of all, I’m thinking how I can use the experience to make my own stories better.

Going to movies always gets my writing juices going.

For about a half hour after a movie, all I want to do is rush back home and work on my story. If my family would let me, I’d bring my laptop to the theater and begin working on my manuscript as soon as the lights came back on. It’s the same feeling I get after a writer’s group meeting or a writer’s conference. The subtleties of writing suddenly make sense to me.

That is, until I sit down in front of the computer and run head first into that brick wall again. What the hell? Everything made so much sense when I was watching the damn movie, why can’t I tap into that frame of mind now? Arg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do movies affect you in the same way?


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

White Light Cover Reveal

Today I'm pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for White Light, a new book by Anna Simpson.  Be sure to stop by her blog and congratulate her on being a faster writer than I am.

White Light by Anna Simpson
Publisher: Three Worlds Press
Genre: Cozy
Release Date: December 22/2015

About The Book:

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car. What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers. Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it's haunted with guilt?

Author Links:

About the Author:

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she's lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn't able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown. She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word -- emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you'll see what I mean. :-)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- volume 104

NaNo is over.  December's IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) bloghop is finished.  And best of all, I managed to finish my latest scene for submission to my local writer's group.  So now I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend of sleeping late and stringing lights outside in the cold. What more can a writer ask for?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links.


Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day

Some Thoughts on the International Market

When an Agent Asks for a Revision, Take Your Time!

You've Finished NaNoWriMo: Now What?

The Making of an Indie Audiobook: A How-To Guide

Actions vs Choices: Crafting Better Plots

Working with Public Libraries: A Guide for Authors

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Insecure Writer and the End of The Year

Today is December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because  it’s December and it’s pretty obvious I’m not going to meet my goal of finishing my story by Christmas

It’s not even going to be close.

I’ll admit I had high hopes for this year. I learned so much about writing in 2014, I was positive that if I dedicated myself to the task there was no way I could fail to meet my goal. I concentrated on not letting myself veer off on writing-related tangents. I forced myself to submit something at (almost) every writer’s group meeting I attended this year. Just put my nose to the grindstone and write. Turns out that wasn’t enough.

Part of the problem had to do with structural issues within my story. As my storytelling skills developed, it became clear many of my chapters needed to be scrapped and/or rearranged to keep the pace going, and as is typical for me, that process took far more time than I would have liked. But ultimately it all came down to the simple fact that although I thought everything I’ve learned about writing would make me a faster writer, all it’s done is make me a better writer. I’m happier with my scenes and chapters than I’ve ever been, but it still takes just as long to write them. Sigh.

Oh well, I suppose quality is better than quantity.

At least I do have some good news to share.  The new book in M. Pax's Rifter series is now out.  If you want to help support another insecure writer, then pop on over to M. Pax's blog and pester congratulate her.

With the rift closed for the season and no more monsters to fight, Daelin Long gets bored as librarian in the podunk town of Settler, Oregon. A job interview and her brother’s arrival present a tempting opportunity to escape, until her brother and her best friend, a ghost, disappear.
While Daelin searches for them, more mysteries pile up: dead people coming back to life, portraits of the town founders replaced with strange white trees, and people on the other side of the rift returning. It’s impossible. The portal that allows monsters from other universes to come to Earth is sealed until next summer.
The Rifters, a secret group protecting our world, believe the troubles are nothing more than the tantrums of an offended ghost. Daelin disagrees. If she’s right, the evil hell-bent on destroying Earth has new technology making the rift more deadly.
Before the monster summons the next apocalypse, Daelin must find it and destroy it.

AmazonUK / AUS / CA / DE / FR / ES / IT / NL / JP / BR / MX / IN
iBook / Nook / GooglePlay / Kobo / Smashwords / inktera / Scribd

Need to catch up? You can read books 1 & 2 in the Rifter series for free by becoming an M. Pax Reader.

M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide and has a cat with a crush on Mr. Spock. Learn more at

Friday, November 27, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- volume 103

I survived Thanksgiving.  Barely.  So I almost didn't get around to uploading today's writing links until the last minute. For those of you still braving NaNo, don't worry, it's almost over.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the links!


3 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Chances with an Agent

The Big Reason Why Agents and Editors Often Stop Reading

How To Set Up Your Character's Final Test

7 Tips to Make the Most of Working with a Cover Designer

Disappearing Amazon Reviews: The Facts Behind Amazon’s Review Purges

Nanowrimo: Act II:2 Questions and Prompts
 A bit late considering there's only a few more days left in Nano, but good advice nonetheless.

Strengthening Our Observation Skills

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One Writer's Thanksgiving List

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks for everything I’ve been blessed with in both my personal and writing life.

In terms of my personal life, I’m thankful for:

  • My family, 
  • My health,
  • Having found a new job when my previous one dried up back in September, 
  • My friends
  • All the little things that make me happy. 

As far as my writing life, I’m thankful for:

  • My critique partners, who point out the stuff that never would have occurred to me. I’ve learned so much about writing because of their efforts.
  • My online crit groups, who are often the guinea pigs lucky recipients of my terrible first drafts. 
  • An active imagination which keeps supplying me with new ideas for my stories. 
  • All the supportive writers I’ve met online, especially those belonging to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group
  • My family (again), who has been incredibly supportive of my writing habit, even if they can’t understand why it takes me so long to finish a story. 
  • And finally, I’m thankful for J.K. Rowling, whose stories started me down this path of writing. She turned me from being someone who hated writing into someone who now wishes he could find even more time to write.

So what are you most thankful for?


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are You the Main Character, or Are You Along For the Ride?

I was plowing through my TBR writing links the other day when I came across this post by Randy Ingermanson .

Your reader is reading your fiction because you provide him or her with a powerful emotional experience. If you’re writing a romance, you must create in your reader the illusion that she is falling in love herself. If you’re writing a thriller, you must create in your reader the illusion that he is in mortal danger and has only the tiniest chance of saving his life (and all of humanity). If you’re writing a fantasy, you must create in your reader the illusion that she is actually in another world where all is different and wonderful and magical. And so on for all the other genres. 

 This isn’t the first time I’ve come across the theory that you become the main character when you read a story. Perhaps it's just me, but I never think of myself in that way. I may be right there alongside the main character, perhaps sitting in a comfy armchair inside his/her head, but I never feel as though I’m them. I may be able to relate to what they're going through. I might be able to imagine how I would feel if I were in the same situation, but I never feel like I’m falling in love, or I'm about to die. My job is to root for the character and hope everything turns out okay by the end.

For me, reading is like going to a movie. I live vicariously through the actors. Heck, I might even wish I were them for a little while, but I never think I am them. Since movie actors/story characters rarely do what I would have done in the same situation, there's little chance I could convince myself that we're the same person.

Admittedly, most of the articles I’ve read on the subject seem to match with the way I think, but I’m wondering about the rest of you.

Do you become the character, or are you just along for the ride?  Let me know.



But that's not all!

As a bonus feature, today I'm excited to reveal the cover for The Undead Road, an upcoming book by David Powers King scheduled for release in January.

And there's also a contest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part 1
Publisher: CreateSpace / Dashboard Books
Ebook Release: January 1st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover by Steven Novak


Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Contest Details:

A while ago, David invited the blogosphere to let him turn one unfortunate lucky contestant into a zombie for The Undead Road. The winner was Ilima Todd, who is now the awesome author of Remake. The next installment of My Zombie Summer is underway, and David wants to do this contest again. Want to be in a zombie book? Not only is this your chance, but it is your choice!

Between now and next Wednesday, send an email to dpowersking [at] gmail [dot] com, with the subject line: Zombify Me! Contest. In your email, David wants you to tell him three things:

1: The name you will be identified as (example: your first name).
2: A description of yourself—the more detailed you are, the better.
3: How would you like the survivors to put you out of your misery?

Four casualties contestants will be chosen on Wednesday, November 25th. The most inventive or interesting entry will be zombified! The other three who are unlucky fortunate enough to survive will be given special honors. Winners will be announced on December 2nd on David’s blog.

Prizes? The winner will be zombified in the pages of My Zombie Summer: Part Two, receive a signed proof of the novel (when it’s ready), and a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. The runner ups will receive a free ebook of The Undead Road for their Kindle (other platforms TBA).

Thank you for participating, and good luck!

About the Author:

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- volume 102

Whoops, looks like I missed Wednesday's post. Again. I'm not sure how I did it, but I made it through most of Wednesday without realizing it was Wednesday.  Kind of scary when you  think about it.  I can't blame  it on NaNo stress because I'm not participating in the challenge this year.

Anyway, I'm trying to squeeze in as much writing as I can these days, because Fall is still my best writing season, and Fall doesn't last too long here in Michigan.  In fact, I'm surprised the weather has stayed as nice as it has.  I don't want to waste a single moment of the wonderful weather.

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend!


Starting a Scene: Two Important Questions

Hagrid & Haymitch: 10 Traits of the Mentor Character Archetype

5 Ideas for Promoting Your Ebook Price Promo on Social Media

Revealing a Character's Past Without Falling Into Backstory

Understanding Copyrights for Anthologies

Nanowrimo, Week 2: Inciting Incident - Call to Adventure 

Suspense: To Be Exciting, You Need To Be A Little Dull

Friday, November 6, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- volume 101

For those of you participating in NaNo this year, congratulations for taking the plunge. Although I considered entering, I couldn't justify starting yet another story when I haven't finished the other two I'm working on right now. Still, I miss the excitement of NaNo.

Have a great NaNo weekend and enjoy the links.


Publishing a Sequel: 8 Book Marketing Tips You Need to Know

How to Set Up Pre-orders for Self-published E-Books

Move Over Barnes & Noble, Hello Amazon Brick-and-Mortar—Bringing Back the Bookstore Only Better

Nanowrimo: Act I questions and prompts Perhaps many of you are past Act I of your NaNo story by now, but I think this is still good information to have.

Amazon Lowers Kindle Unlimited Payouts

The Evolution of Your Hero

Five Ways for Self-published Authors to Use Video to Promote Self-Published Books

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Insecure Writer and Social Media

Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I'll never be a social media maven--or even vaguely competent at it.

It's no secret that to be a commercially successful writer you have to be discoverable, because if readers don't know you exist, they won't know you have a book for sale. And one of the best ways to let them know you exist is through social media.

Unfortunately, I'm enough of an introvert that I'll never be completely comfortable with social media. I have gotten better at it over the past year, but I'm still only a dabbler on Twitter and I rarely remember to post on Facebook, even when I have something worthy of posting. My one and only success is this website, but how many readers find writers through their websites?  It's not that I don't care about social media.  I've collected so many links explaining the proper ways to use all the different varieties, I'll never have time to read them all. There are so many avenues out there—Amazon author pages. Goodreads profiles. Pinterest. Newsletters. Etc.

Perhaps it doesn't make much difference now, since my book isn't done, but sooner or later it will be finished, and then I'll  have to get serious about putting myself out there. But where will the time come from? I don't have enough to write as it is. My daughter has already volunteered to be my social media coordinator, but I suspect this is something I'm going to have to do myself.

How are you handling Social Media?


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My October Writing Hurdles

Photograph Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Over the past year, I’ve been simultaneously working on two different manuscripts . This may not seem like the smartest thing for a slow writer like me to do, but it’s what works for me. Whenever I get stuck on one story, I simply jump to the other for a while and continue on. It’s amazing what a little time away from a story can do to jumpstart the creative juices again.

Unfortunately, I’ve spent much of October being stuck on both stories, and progress has been slow. I’ve kept myself somewhat productive by sprucing up earlier chapters for submission to my critique groups, but that only works for so long. The multitasker in me is suggesting I work on yet a third manuscript that’s sitting at the bottom of my drawer, but I refuse to go there. I’d just be avoiding the issue instead of meeting the challenge head on. I’ve resolved to hammer away at both manuscripts until I make a break-though in at least one of them.

So far, though, that hasn’t happened, which I find doubly annoying since October is my favorite month, the time of year when I’m most charged up to write.

But I still have three more days before the month’s over, so wish me luck.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 99

So there I was last night, frantically driving to my 7:00pm writer's group meeting, listening to my Googlemaps app tell me I was going to arrive at 7:15pm at the earliest.

The question of the week:  Are you the kind of person who thinks of himself as late at 6:45 because you know you're GOING to arrive fifteen minutes late, or are you the kind of person who doesn't think of himself as late until the clock has struck 7:01, even if you still have 15 more minutes to drive?

I tend toward the latter.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links.


How to Win More Fans Through Storytelling

The Spit Shine: Things to Check Before You Submit

The 5 Basic Elements of an Author Website

14 Authors Share Their Advice on the Rocky Road of Publication

A Slow Writer’s Scheme to Win #NaNoWriMo I should probably do this all the time.

Writing Your Author Bio? Here Are 10 Great Examples.

Seven Ways to Jump Start Your Book Cover Design

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Falling Behind As A Writer

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I’ve previously highlighted some of the struggles my daughter is going through in high school. I’m happy to say she seems to have weathered the worst of it, but now she’s faced with the daunting prospect of making up all those assignments she missed. She’s feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment, and even though my wife and I are doing everything we can to support her, it’s going to be an long uphill battle for her. Unfortunately, she’s creeping toward the mindset that if she ignores the situation long enough, it will somehow all just go away.

In some ways, I know what she’s going through. Although I’ve finally settled into my new job, I haven’t really settled into a routine, which means my writing related projects are falling behind schedule. I’m struggling to keep up with my monthly submissions to my two local crit groups. I haven’t sent anything to my crit partner for months. (Sorry Sher!) I haven’t logged into my online crit group for over a month, partly because I’m afraid of how many crits are stacked up in my inbox. I haven’t written a promised book review for a book I finished at the beginning of summer. And at the moment I’m desperately trying to finish beta-reading another author’s book by the end of this week. Heck, even this post was written at the last minute.

I keep telling my daughter that if she just keeps chipping away at the pile of work, it will eventually get done. True enough, but as I’m learning firsthand, it’s a lot easier said than done. Hopefully, I can be a good role model for her.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 98

Other than settling into my new job, nothing much happened this week.  My writing is getting back on track, but I'm still stunned by how long it takes me to finish a scene.  Perhaps "annoyed" would be a better description.  Oh well, we all have our crosses to bear.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!

Talking Heads Avoidance Device

Nanowrimo Prep: The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid

How to Find and Select a Cover Designer

Preparing Images for Your e-Book

Is Your Manuscript a Monster?  Perfect for Halloween!

Because Agents Are Human Too – Part 3

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter

And a special bonus link this week
Hogwarts Arises -- A fun video for Hogwarts fans

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why Do Writers Write?

Why do writers write?

I suspect there are as many answers to that question as there are writers. Everyone has their own reasons. Me? I write for the same reason I read books and watch movies--it allows me to visit imaginary worlds I wouldn’t be able to reach any other way.

For example, my daughter loves dragons. She wishes they were real. Sometimes, she wishes she could be one. She’s even come up with a pretty good idea for a story about dragons. I keep telling her to write these ideas down. Perhaps she’ll never get around to writing the story, but putting the ideas on paper might make her dragon populated world seem more real to her. At least that’s how it works for me. I write because it makes my imaginary worlds seem real.

This mindset is what got me started on my writing journey in the first place. The Goblet of Fire (the fourth story in the Harry Potter pantheon) movie reminded me so much of my college years that I longed to return to those days, but the only way that was going to happen was if I sat down and wrote a story about it myself. In the process, I discovered how much I love writing fantasy, and things just kind of took off from there.

Some people consider writing to be therapeutic. I think of it as an alternative way to visit foreign lands/worlds/universes. Not only is it cheaper than flying/disapparating/teleporting, but I don’t have to pack any suitcases either.

Why do you write?


Friday, October 9, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 97

It's been one heck of a week around here.  The new job is great, but a bunch of other family issues reared their heads and my week began to resemble a sit-com.  All seems to be quieting down now.  I'll be replacing a couple of graphics cards tonight so the kids can play Minecraft, but other than that I think I'm actually going to do some writing tonight!  Woohoo!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


6 Tips for Finding a Cover Artist

12 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Book Cover Designer

Summarizing Your Novel: The Query Trenches Part Two

The Unspoken Pinch Point: Your Climax

Take The Test: What’s Your Self-Editing Score?

Should You Go Wide or Join KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited?

Promoting A Pre-order

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Insecure Writer and Life

Today is October's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I have such little control over life.

As writers, we’re used to a lack of control. Maybe our obligations don’t allow us enough time to write. Maybe the words don’t come when we sit down in front of the computer. Maybe no agent will respond to our queries. Maybe no one will buy our book once it’s published. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been f thinking about how little control we have over our non-writing lives.

Three weeks ago I learned my project at work was ending, which meant everyone in my group would have to find new positions within the company (not an easy feat) or be cut loose. Needless to say, all my energies were focused on finding a new job. Fortunately, I found a position elsewhere within the company, but for a couple of weeks, the future was pretty dark and scary. It’s one thing if no one wants to buy your book, but it’s another if no one wants to hire you. (Unless you’re a full time writer, of course, where the two options are one and the same.)

If that wasn’t enough, my daughter has been going through some tough times at school. After being bullied at the end of last year, the idea of returning to school bothered her all summer. Making it through a whole day of school is an ordeal for her, and she’s already missed several days due to anxiety. She’s slowly fighting her way through it, and I’m proud of her for not giving up, but there’s only so much I can do to help and that’s hard for a parent to deal with.

As a result, I haven’t spent much time writing, or keeping up with this blog, or keeping up with everyone else’s blog. I expect that to change somewhat now that my job situation is headed back toward stability again, but it’s darned scary to know how quickly life can overwhelm you.

Maybe Alex should start an Insecure Person Support Group too. It's not like you have to be a writer to be insecure.

What non-writing insecurities are you dealing with?


Friday, October 2, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 96

So what can I say?  Another Wednesday come and gone with no post.

Hangs head in shame.

And I haven't been keeping up with visiting your blogs either.

Hangs head lower.

My only excuse is that the last couple of weeks have been quite unusual, very busy, and at times, traumatic.  I expect everything to get back to normal by next week (crosses fingers), but in the meantime, I apologize for my lack of activity.  On the bright side, however, I now have plenty to talk about in Wednesday's IWSG post!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


The Trouble with Transitory Actions

Nanowrimo Prep: The Master List

How Ingram Spark Prints Your Print-on-Demand (POD) Book

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Distribution Plan? Part Two

7 Mistakes I Made on the Way to a Publishing Contract

3 things you should be writing about on your author blog

The Big Five’s Secret Shadow War on Amazon and the Indie Marketplace

Friday, September 25, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 95

To all those who stopped by this week to read my Wednesday post, I apologize for the lack of posts. This last week has been a roller coaster ride as far as my personal life goes, so I've had little time for anything writing related.  The good news is that everything has worked itself out and things should go back to normal again.

Thank goodness!  

Have a relaxing weekend.  That's what I plan to do.


Indie Author Marketing Guide: A Primer to Social Media

Audience Building Via Contests & Giveaways

How to Market Your Book to a Niche Audience

So You Want to Publish a Book

How to Edit Fiction: Watch Me Correct My Own Story in Real Time

How to Evaluate a Small Publisher

Criticism & Reviews: How Do You Handle Feedback?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 94

Other than some job related issues, it's been a pretty good week.  Last Saturday, I attended the Michigan Writing Workshop, a one day conference run by Chuck Sambuchino.  I had a great time and learned a lot.  Now all I need to do is to put that information to use.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links.


Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis

Does Paid Marketing Work for Authors?

Explore the Layers of Conflict in Your Story

I swear every word of this is true Short, but funny!

TV Series Binge Watching–A Study in Character Development

Prune those branches: Making the hard cuts in editing

How To Write Your Book Sales Description

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Typical Week In My Writing Life

Today, I thought I’d give you an inside look into my writing routine. This does not include any chapters I’m critiquing or manuscripts I’m beta-reading at the time.

Monday – I wake up ready for a new week of writing, usually depressed over how little writing I managed to accomplish over the weekend. Partway through the day I remember my Wednesday blog post is due in two days. Rats! Now every time I have a chance to work on my story, my mind refuses to focus on anything other than dreaming up a topic for my blog post. If I’m lucky, I’ll come up with a idea quickly enough that I'll be able to spend the rest of the day concentrating on my story.

Tuesday – If I thought up a good blog topic on Monday, I alternate between writing the blog post and working on my story. This can lead to a very productive day of writing. If I haven’t come up with a topic, however, then all work on the story ceases until the blog post is finished. Assuming I finish…

Wednesday – If I finished the post on Tuesday, then I upload it to the blog early in the morning and feel free to spend the rest of the day on my story. Yay! If not, I frantically write it during lunch, which means everyone who has already stopped by my blog to read my scheduled Wednesday post has left in a huff. At least I have the rest of the day to work on my story.

Thursday – Assuming I don’t obsess too much over the gathering of writing links for Friday’s blog post, or how late my Wednesday post was, I work exclusively on my story. Thursday is often my most productive writing day of the week.

Friday – Oops! The writing links aren’t done yet, so I scramble to gather them together and post them. I’ll work some on my story, but I’m often so relieved that my next blog post won’t be due for another five days, it’s hard to keep my mind on the story. But I don’t let Friday’s lack of progress bother me, because I’m absolutely certain I’ll do a ton of writing over the weekend.

So what’s your writing week like?


Friday, September 11, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 93

It's been doom and gloom around our house this week.  At least as far as the kids are concerned.  School started on Tuesday and they're already wishing it were over.  Me? I'm looking forward to all the extra writing time I'll have now that they're busy with homework.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the writing links!


Why Change Your Book Cover Artwork?

The Writer Unboxed / BookBub Interview, Pt 1

The Legal Side of Writing for Anthologies (Part 1)

Manuscript to Ebook: A Cleaning Guide

Let Toy Story Show You the Key to Subtle Character

Editing Mistakes: How Forgiving of a Reader Are You?

How to Let Your Characters Move The Story Forward

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Being A Slow Writer in This Day and Age

I’ve whined posted before on the topic of being a slow writer, but lately my plodding ways have left me more and more worried. Not because my goal was to have fifty books under my belt by the time my writing days are over, but because, based on everything I read, my chances of being a successful writer may be compromised.

For almost a year now, I’ve read about the strategies authors should use for maximizing their income. Not everyone agrees on all the details, of course, but one rule seems to stand out. The more books you publish, the better off you’ll be. On the surface, this seems pretty obvious. The more books you have for sale, the more books you can sell. But the rule isn’t about the total number of books you publish; it’s about how quickly you can pump them out.

If a reader tries your book and likes it, then it’s in your best interest to have more books ready for immediate purchase. In fact, some writers will tell you that if you’re writing a series, there’s no point in spending time or money on marketing until you have at least two or three books finished and up for sale. Yowsa! At the rate I write, that’ll be another ten years from now.

Even worse, I hear it’s important to minimize the time between books. One book a year is now considered too slow, because readers who love your current book may forget about you in a year. For this reason, some writers don’t bother publishing any of the books in a series until they’re all written. 

I know my speed will improve with practice, but less than a year for a book? Right now, the only way that’s going to happen is if I lose my day job and my wife lets me write all day. And that’s not a possibility I wish to explore any time soon.

So what’s a slow writer like me to do?

Hmmm... I probably should have saved this topic for my next IWSG post. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll come up with a new insecurity before October rolls around.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 92

It was a surprisingly busy week for me, so my time to write dwindled to only a few minutes here and there. I understand life gets in the way of writing sometimes, but I look at the calendar and all I can see are rapidly approaching (self-imposed) deadlines.  I've already given up hope that I might actually make them and have moved on to just-how-badly-am-I-going-to-miss-them mode.

And as if I don't have enough on my plate, I find myself actually considering entering the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Competition.  I've never written a short story before, and I haven't finished either of my regular length novels yet, so I can only assume I'm going insane.

Or maybe writing is slowly sapping away all my wisdom points.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links


Opinion: What’s the point of an author website?

How I Hit #1 on Wattpad If you're at all interested in finding out how Wattpad might be useful to you, check out this link

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Distribution Plan? Part One

How to Typeset a Novel in Microsoft Word

Your Book-Signing Cheat Sheet (or: How To Stay Sane While Everyone Seems To Ignore You)

Reviewing a Friend’s Book on Amazon?

When Should You Release a New Book?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Insecure Writer and Character Troubles

Today is September's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because of my characters.

Some writers need to know their characters inside and out before they begin writing, but that's not how it works for me. I’m a plot-first kind of guy, which means I’d rather tailor my characters to fit the plot then tailor the plot to fit the characters. So my characters start out as blank slates, their personalities and traits slowly coming to me over the course of the story as I learn which attributes would best accentuate the plot.

But even when I have my characters all figured out, I apparently have a problem portraying them. I received feedback from one of my critique partners this past week, and the thing that surprised me most was how much he disliked one of my main characters. Even though I was trying to portray the character as whimsical and funny, my CP thought the character was mean and a little creepy. Yikes!

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time one of my readers has come back with a perception of my character that was completely opposite of what I intended, and it's beginning to worry me. Part of the problem may be that I don't add enough internal thoughts to help guide the reader. Maybe it has to do with my whimsical writing style. Perhaps I just have no clue what I'm doing.

The very first time a CP didn't like my character (many years ago), I was able to fix the problem by changing only a single word. These days, I think it's going to take more work than that.

Has anyone ever misunderstood one of your characters?


Friday, August 28, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 91

The family and I flew down to Missouri this week to visit my mom, and we stopped in St. Louis to take the tram up to the top of the Arch.  It's a pretty amazing view up there, but what really gets me is how thin and narrow the arch feels when you're at the top looking down.  You get the feeling any sort of strong breeze might be enough to tip it over.  Shudders.

Hope you all had an exciting week too.  Enjoy the links.


Fueling the Muse—How to Mentally Prepare for “The Novel”

How Writers Can Seek and Destroy Banal and Obvious Dialog

Cheap Villain Killin’

Kill Your Darlings—Unless You Can Give Them Goals

Book Covers – Speaking the Language of Color

#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter: An Etiquette Lesson

How to Use Twitter to Find and Engage Book Reviewers