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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Buzz Your Book -- Easy Marketing Ideas for Books

I spent a week in New York City recently attending ThrillerFest 2011. While there, I went to several workshops and my favorite was on “Buzzing Your Book”. The presenters were very professional and full of knowledge. After providing an introduction, they asked for volunteers to stand up and tell everyone what their book was about in one sentence, then the presenter was asked a few questions, and afterward the workshop instructors brainstormed FREE ideas to market their book. I’d like to share a few with you here now.M.J. Rose, one of the instructors, told us of how she got a new puppy and started frequenting an online forum for the breed of dog she had. At the end of every post, she would put in a simple tag line (M.J. Rose, author of Lip Service). She posted a lot and after about six months time, someone on the board finally asked her what Lip Service was. When she responded, 400 books were sold overnight. Wow! That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Posting to forums is a tried and true method of getting the word out; however, don’t go in there with the intent to advertise straight out. Do it subtly, in a small signature line.

Another idea, as pertains to fiction, is to create short stories centered around each of your characters. People will get more involved with the overall book if other stories use those characters. Popular books and movies do it all the time with their fan fiction. Readers love to see their favorite characters in other settings outside the original one.

Once you have tried that, or even if you prefer not to, then let’s move on. Try picking five things from your book that catch your eye. For example, in my upcoming novel Behind the Masque, I might choose the following: University of Michigan, The Whitney Restaurant, Society of Former Special Agents of the F.B.I., Alcoholics Anonymous, art history majors. Then do a search online using those terms. Find places, organizations, forums, etc. where interest might lie in those subjects and get involved, once again subtly advertising your book.

Books don’t get sold by themselves and most of us probably can’t afford an expensive advertising budget or to hire a PR firm, so we have to find easy and cheap ways of getting the word out ourselves. It’s not as hard as one would think. If you can write, you can come up with new and exciting ways to market yourself. Good luck!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Behind the Masque

They say curiosity killed the cat; nosy reporter Angelique learns that the danger applies to her as well when she stumbles upon rich socialite Kyle Abernathy's murderous cult. She's protected by Matthew Knight, alcoholic ex-FBI agent – but will Knight's past catch up to him before he can stop the evil and powerful Abernathy?


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Face-To-Face...

How do you survive meeting an agent face-to-face? Many authors strive for representation, but normally, they do it by sending their manuscripts to unknown faces; however, I recently had the opportunity at ThrillerFest in New York to actually meet several agents across a small table. Oh my God, I thought I would die, or at least faint, before the day was through. Here are some tips that might help, if you ever find yourself in that situation.

1. Relax. An agent is just another person you want to befriend so that you can share your wonderful novel with them.

2. Know your characters and novel inside out. Be ready to wow them with knowledge of your story. If you are an expert in a field related to your book, tell them. For instance, I blew it big time when I made my main female lead an art history major. One agent asked if I had experience in art history. He assumed I maybe taught art or had some sort of degree in it. I felt foolish saying I didn't know the first thing about art. The lesson here? Write what you know. If you give your character a job or hobby and you aren't an expert in it, research it fully so that you can gain some expertise in the subject.

3. This shouldn't be an interview. I went in there pretending it was like a job interview, which had me more nervous by the second. The questions they ask should all pertain to your manuscript so you better darn well know the material beforehand. Be ready to answer any questions they might have. What's the story about? How did your character(s) get to that point? Why should I want to represent this particular book? There are hundreds of novels like yours, so have a good answer why this agent should pick yours.

4. Practice, practice, practice. Spend a great deal of time perfecting your pitch and then practice it as much as possible, weeks before you ever meet face-to-face.

Good luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Narcissistic Are You?

Narcissism is defined as excessive love or admiration for oneself. I took Dr. Drew's Narcissism Test at http://www.0eb.com/ and this is what I got. Go ahead and take it yourself and feel free to post your score here. Have fun!

Your score is

Maximum is 40. Average for Americans is 15. Highest tested celebrity is Robin Quivers, with 34.

Your score for Authority is LOW

Your score for Self-sufficiency is LOW

Your score for Superiority is LOW

Your score for Exhibitionism is LOW

Your score for Exploitativeness is LOW

Your score for Vanity is LOW

Your score for Entitlement is MEDIUM

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Okay, our first amendment provides for the FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Folks get offended way too much. I'm tired of hearing celebrities voice their opinion and then have to apologize because some idiots took offense. Get a life, people! Not everyone will be for your beliefs. We all have our own thoughts and voices. Speak out, good folks.

Well, guess what? I get highly offended hearing people use the big "F" word, but is anyone apologizing to me? I'd like an apology from Hollywood for allowing such language to be on the big screen. I'd like those morons who use that sort of language in public to stop doing it. I work with a woman who constantly uses that word and it angers me so much. One of these days, I just might hit her. Apologies? Well, I'm still waiting...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twitter Buzz by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Buzz About Twitter
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers
(Retailers are writers--think of all that blogging and advertising copy!
Writers are retailers--think of all those books we must sell!)

We think of spring as a time when tweeting is in the air. These days it's a year-round occurrence. Last I checked there were some 70,000 apps for Twitter. But I believe in making it easy. So let's cut some of the background chirping and go straight for Twitter essentials. Here are some tips from my Sharing with Writers newsletter (Subscribe using the sign-up form at the top of the column on the right.). There are enough tips here to get newbies started and give old-timers some new ideas.

Note: The stars denote an application or tips that I consider essential or use all the time.
Sign up (easily) at www.twitter.com.

Twitter Tip: To find appropriate people to follow on Twitter account, use http://search.twitter.com. It's as important to use Twitter to learn new things as well as to get your message out so try to be inclusive in who you follow.

Twitter Tip:  Wow! Here's a way to make your tweets do double duty, encourage you to keep your tweets focused, and refresh your e-mail signature as often as you tweet.  Use Wise Stamp Signature (http://www.wisestamp.com/email-ie ) to automatically feed your latest tweet into your latest e-mail signature.

Twitter Tip: Evaluate how you're doing on Twitter and how others are doing but do be careful 'cause stats can be misinterpreted. Try www.twittercounter.com .

Twitter Tip: Here's a great new Twitter aid. It will help you personalize your Twitter backgrounds or wallpaper: www.freetwitterdesigner.com

Twitter Tip: You can clean out your nonfollowers from your Twitter account with www.mycleenr.com --but only if you have 700 or fewer. They're working on more. My current favorite for unfollowing is www.justunfollow.com because it's easy to use—i. e., frugal of time.

*Emergency Tip: One of the major drawbacks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter is that your account can be suspended. After all that work building them! And sometimes through no fault of you own. Here's an article on what to do if it happens to your Twitter account: www.susangilbert.com/your-account-has-been-suspended/

Tweet Tip: Regarding HashTags at http://www.hashtags.org:Did you know that by using the # (hashtag) sign before a word, you can tag your tweets? This site tracks the most popular hashtags. As an example, I use a hashtag #Tweeps4Writers which indicates that the tweeter I'm recommending is a resource for writers. If you look that hashtag up right now, you'll find many authors, book marketers, and even some agents I've recommended in the past.

*Twitter Tip: -Put your shortened link in your tweet first so that when the tweet gets retweeted, part of the link doesn't get lost.

Tweet Help from author and marketing guru Tony Eldridge: Create an AddThis Button (Social Bookmarking) to your website or blog This one is fun because it's an easy-to-follow video! http://MarketingTipsForAuthors.com/ArchivedTips/3169/tipaddthis.html

Tweet Help: Here's another video from Tony Eldridge on TweetLater and other Tweet Scheduling Tools. http://MarketingTipsForAuthors.com/ArchivedTips/5189/TwitterScheduleTweetVideo/tipsscheduletweets.html

Twitter Tip: To find out who's following you, go to: http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/

Twitter Tip: Take a poll on Twitter: http://twtpoll.com/new.php

Fun Only Twitter Tip:  Have you seen this fun Twitter application? http://sxoop.com/twitter/  Wahhhh, I want a computer mat with my followers' faces on it!

*Twitter Tip: You can assure your tweets get more attention if you research the recent trends on
Twitter at www.twopular.com, then design a tweet or two accordingly and use hashmarks (#) to tag them.

Twitter Tip: Poets can treat their fans to Haiku on Twitter? It's a focused way for poets to focus and still connect with followers. Use www.makeliterature.com/twihaiku/twitter-poetry. It also provides reviews, critiques and opportunities for your work to get retweeted by others.

 *Social Network Tip: Check the biography on your social network sites. They say 82% of unsuccessful twitter accounts have no bio. Even if you use Facebook, as an example, for your personal friends only, it is only a courtesy to introduce yourself. You'd do that at a party, right?

*Twitter Tip: To delete people not following you go to:http://friendorfollow.com/frugalbookpromo/following/ Why would you want to do that? 

Generally you don't want to follow people who aren't interested in a two-way conversation and you certainly don't want your stats to show you following hundreds of people more than follow you!

*Twitter Tip: If you think your tweet might be worthy of a retweet, keep it to 120 characters. That leaves room for the retweeter's own @username in it. Your followers are more likely to retweet if they don't have to work too hard at it.

Twitter Tip: Learn where a tweeter lives by using real-time tweets at www.twittervision.com. It's valuable for author or retailer events confined to a specific area. Watch it for a minute to find people in your area or to find twitterpals in other places in the world.

Twitter Idea: Did you know that Twitter is increasingly being used in ways related to search engine research? If not, turn to CNN for just one evening's news and you'll get it. How can you turn this into something that will help position you as an expert?

Tweet Tip: This Twitter tip is for those trying to reach folks in other parts of the world. It's a twitter translation tool. http://www.tweettranslate.com/

Twitter Retweet Tip: One of the tricks to getting wide exposure on Twitter is to get other people to retweet your tweets. Here are two articles that will tell you how to do it: How to Get Retweeted by @GuyKawasaki: http://blogs.openforum.com/2009/02/18/how-to-get-retweeted and The Science of Retweets by Dan Zarella: http://mashable.com/2009/02/17/twitter-retweets  .My favorite method is to give information that people are likely to want and need. The other is to occasionally ask to be retweeted.

*Social NetworkTip: Tell your friends and/or followers about the success someone had because of a service you offer or information in your book. An example would be, "Sharing with Writers subscriber (www.howtodoitfrugally.com) received a working computer from a fellow subscriber when she was out of work after surgery."

 TIP: For a really big list of Twitter aids go to John Kremer's Twitter Tools page: www.bookmarket.com/twitter-tools.htm

Twitter Tip: Find who is mentioning you or your book's title on Twitter by going to www.tweetvolume.com. Also, www.twittterholic.com .

Twitter Tip: Add you blog to Twitter by using Twitterfeed.com.

Twitter Tip: Don't add your Tweets to Facebook using RSS feeds if you tweet frequently. Your Facebook pals may get tired of you when ten tweets a day appear on your Facebook page!

For the last two: You can use the lists links or by tweeting Jennifer Tribe (http://twitter.com/jennifertribe) with your title and expertise.

*Twitter Tip: TweetBeep (http://tweetbeep.com )is a service that alerts you anytime your name, book title, product, or company is mentioned or Tweeted about!

Twitter Tip: Extend the reach of your Twitter efforts at www.Twellow.com  Put yourself in all relevant categories. It may just be "Authors and Writers" but you may fit other places, too, depending on your area of expertise. Like "Teaching." Or, in my case, "Marketing" and "Publishing." You can categorize yourself in up to ten of them.  

*Twitter Tip: Back up your Twitter account and records with www.TweetTake.com .

Carolyn Howard-Johnson collects Twitter tips for her newsletter. She says, "people keep asking me how Twitter can help sell books and other merchandise. Maybe it can't. But it will brand you if you keep your tweets content laden and on target instead of talking about going to bed and what you ate for breakfast. Great branding leads to sales of all kinds. When I hadn't been tweeting long my Twitter Promo record included: Three blog interviews. Two podcasts. And a new friend who helped me to plan my first trip to the New York Stationery Show when I spoke there--frugally! (-: My Twitter address is www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo."

Thanks, Carolyn for a great article and some excellent tips on using Twitter. Please visit Jennifer Gladen's blog at http://jgladen.blogspot.com on June 17th when I talk about writing great dialogue for fiction.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Follow Your Dreams with Heidi M. Thomas

Today we're talking with Heidi M. Thomas, who grew up on a working ranch in Montana. She describes herself as "born with ink in her veins" and went on to follow her dream of writing by receiving a Journalism Degree from the University of Montana.

Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalist award.
Follow the Dream is the second book in the “Dare to Dream” series about strong, independent Montana Women.
Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream are available, autographed, at http://www.heidimthomas.com They are also available as print and e-books through her publisher, Treble Heart Books, http://www.trebleheartbooks.com/SDHeidiThomas.html  Follow the Dream is also out on Kindle.

Refilling Your Well
by Heidi M. Thomas

What do you do when you feel like you are "at the end of your rope," with no more to give? Writer and artist Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way that each of us has a well or a reservoir of energy and creativity that we are continually drawing from in dealing with the stresses and the demands of our lives,

But if we are always taking something out, we will eventually run dry. That's where I was recently. After nine months of intense marketing (and learning about marketing as I went) my book, revising my sequel to submit to the publisher, traveling, taking care of my home, hubby, and two cats, as well as my various writing groups, I suddenly found my well dry. Even though the sun was shining (and that usually gives me lots of energy), I had no energy, no ambition, no creativity and no desire to do anything or go anywhere.

So I took an afternoon off, drove to my favorite beach park nearby and just sat by the water. I watched the seagulls fighting over tidbits, listened to the gentle lapping of the water, gazed at the white-blue cloudless sky and the glittering sea. I read a little, walked some, jotted down a few words in a notebook. I thought a little, but mostly I just "was."

The next day, I awoke with amazement--I had more energy, I could think again, and I was eager to do things again.

I've done this before, and I seem to forget to "stop and smell the roses" when I'm in my busy, frenetic rut. Nature refills my well and helps my creativity.

What do you do to refill your well?


Thanks, Heidi, for a wonderful article. Lots of luck with your writing!

Please visit Jennifer Gladen at http://jgladen.blogspot.com  on May 18th when she talks to Dallas Woodburn.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Next Great American Novel...

I have an article up at http://rjmbookreviews.blogspot.com/ today on basically what is involved in writing. The idea came to me when my dad said he could write a really good book, just like that. It just gets ridiculous sometimes hearing some non-writers think there's nothing to it when it comes to writing and that they, of course, can churn out a really good novel and get published in no time. So thought I'd point out the nitty gritty -- writing takes work and it's a skill.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Facebook Fundraiser

Check this out -- Get a $25 restaurant.com gift card for ONLY $10!!!!


This fundraiser is to help raise the money needed to attend ThrillerFest in New York City in July. Please help out. Thanks.


I have a new interview up at:



Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet Dallas Woodburn, Author and Editor

Give Back by Paying Forward
By Dallas Woodburn

By all rights, I should not be writing this. I should not even be here at all. I was born three months prematurely, weighing a mere two pounds, six ounces. For the first few months of my life, I was in the hospital, kept alive by feeding tubes and a respirator. My harrowing entrance into the world is a daily reminder for me of the fragility of life, and to pursue my dreams with both joy and urgency – dreams are too important to "put off" till tomorrow!

I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. When I was in fifth grade, I published my first book, There's a Huge Pimple on My Nose: A Collection of Stories and Poems. It received a glowing review in the Los Angeles Times: "If you simply want to enjoy some remarkable writing, it would be hard to find a book more satisfying." My second book, 3 a.m., has also received high praise and was featured on the national book talk show "Between the Lines" on PBS. I have also published articles and essays in Family Circle, Writer's Digest, The Los Angeles Times, and eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

The night I was born, a doctor who was caring for me told my father, “Your daughter is a fighter.” Still today, I draw strength from those words. My mantra has become “P.A.S.T. – Preemies Are So Tough.” Whenever I feel down or discouraged, I remind myself of my past. Compared to being kept alive by a respirator and feeding tubes, nothing seems insurmountable. 

Being a preemie has not only given me the resilience to overcome disappointment and the courage to pursue my dreams, it has also instilled in me the desire to give to others. I feel boundless gratitude to the doctors and nurses who saved my life. There is no way I can ever repay them. What I can do, however, is “pay forward” in their honor by doing good works and striving to better the lives of others.

In 2001, I created "Write On! For Literacy" to encourage kids to discover confidence, joy, a means of self-expression and connection through reading and writing. I hold writing contests, teach writing camps, and created a website www.writeonbooks.org that features book reviews, author interviews, and more. In the past eight years, my Holiday Book Drive has collected and distributed nearly 12,000 new books to underprivileged children for Christmas. My latest endeavor is starting a publishing company, Write On! Books, that publishes anthologies of stories, poems and essays by young writers for young readers. The first Write On! anthology, Dancing With The Pen, features the work of more than sixty young writers from all across the United States and even abroad, and was released this past February to rave reviews.

Every year on my birthday, I visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the local hospital. I introduce myself to the worried parents of the sickly preemies and tell them how I was once a tiny baby in an incubator myself. You would never know it now. I am five-foot-ten, an honors student, and ran track and cross-country in high school. The parents tell me I give them hope. Visiting the NICU is my most treasured birthday tradition. It reminds me how incredibly blessed I am to be alive and healthy today.

All of us have gone through difficulties in our lives. All of us are indebted to people who have given us so much that there is no way we can ever repay them. Instead of trying to pay back, I urge you to focus on paying forward. Volunteering to help others in honor of someone who has helped you in an extremely rewarding and fulfilling way to live your life.  

Bio: Dallas Woodburn, 23, is the author of two collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: A Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing. A 2009 graduate of the University of Southern California, she is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Fiction Writing at Purdue University, where she serves as Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review. For her volunteer work, Dallas has been nationally honored with a Congressional Award Gold Medal, a Jackie Kennedy Onassis/Jefferson Award, and most recently a “Best of You” Award from Glamour Magazine. Connect with Dallas at http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/ and http://www.writeonbooks.org.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Event of a Lifetime

Hi folks!

I would love to attend ThrillerFest in New York this year; unfortunately, it's not a cheap trip. ThrillerFest begins on a Wednesday with workshops that go on into Thursday. Thursday ends with a two-hour "pitching" event in which aspiring authors have the chance to pitch a novel to different agents. Then on Friday, the actual ThrillerFest begins. R.L. Stine, of Goosebumps fame, will be the ThrillerMaster this year. Ken Follett, New York Times bestseller, will also be in attendance.

This would be a once in a lifetime event for me. To help raise money for this trip, I am participating in two different fundraisers:

Candle Fundraiser & Desserts Fundraiser

If you are interested in helping out or know someone who might like to purchase candles, cookie dough, pumpkin rolls, cinnamon rolls, bar cookies, funnel cakes, churros, soft pretzels, or jalapeno pretzel sticks, please let me know and I'll email you a copy of our brochure.

Thank you.

This Day in History — History.com — What Happened Today in History

This Day in History — History.com — What Happened Today in History

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An interview with Heather Paye

Question: How long have you been writing?

Answer: I've been writing for around eight years.

Question: What started you writing for publication?

Answer: After I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (yes, I read the second one before I read the first one) I was simply touched by the story and become absolutely obessed with it. You can bet I went out and bought every book out there that had anything at all to do with it. Which was when I bought "Muggles and Magic" which had a short interview in it with J.K.Rowling. One thing she said was "Anyone can write a book" that was the sentence that changed my life.

Before then, I swear, I didn't know just anyone could write a book, I thought you had to be someone special. That was when I started out writing my first short story. I only managed to write three short stories before I decided that I wanted to write something bigger, something better - a novel. It took me four years, but I managed to write my first full length novel. During those years, I had been studying publishing, how to do it, where to go, what you need. It payed off, I'm signing a contract for my series of nine and I still have yet to get a rejection letter.

Question: Have you ever had writer's block, and if so how do you get rid of it?

Answer: I don't really think there is such a thing as writer's block. I have had a few bouts of mental laziness though.

Question: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?

Answer: Don't rush writing (Rome wasn't built in a day), study, take notes, pay extra attention to your English class, and don't underestimate the power of revision/editing. I used to think I didn't need editing, I just thank goodness I got that out of my mind before it was time for me to edit my first novel.

Question: How do you invent your characters?

Answer: This is a tough question, when I need to create a character I just make him/her up as I go along. I gather up a few ideas - visual appearance, overall aditude - and I go from there. Most of my characters completely fictional and thought up. A couple of times I have tried to model my characters out of people whom I know in real life... but they always seem to take on a style all their own.

Question: I know a few authors who keep records (almost like police records) of
height, weight, background, etc. of their characters, do you keep tabs on
your characters, and if so, what do you usually make note of?

Answer: If I'm writing a series it can be quite helpful to keep character records, and depending on the legnth and complexity of the stand-alone novel I might keep records of the characters. Most of the time, I do keep the records. I usually make note of occupation, height, hair color, eye color, age, name, rank, serial number, LOL! Everything I can think up for the characters, and then some.

Question: Some authors say that they feel as though his or her characters are real, do you feel this way, and what do you think about this?

Answer: I think if you don't feel your characters are real, you're doing something wrong. You know you've done a good think if you can daydream about your characters.

Question: Do you have anything in the works?

Answer: Certainly! Would I be an author if I didn't? I have a werewolf novel about half-way finished, it's the most adult thing I've written to date (it's still in the young adult catagory though). I'm still working on that series of nine "The Artifact Series". I'm also working on a poetry anthology for Mother's Day.

Question: What was your favorite part about writing A Gift From Above?

Answer: I loved how real it turned out. It's very realistic with the siblings fighting and everything, the characters are just really realistic and I love that.

Question: What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?

Answer: There are a lot of hard things about being an author, marketing and editing are definitely two of the hardest. Editing and rewriting thousands and thousands of times on the exact same work gets very daunting and is certainly mentally challenging. Marketing can be time consuming, and if you don't do the right things you won't get any results, so that's pretty harsh too.

Question: Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book, do you think that it’s experience that writes a book or imagination?

Answer: I don't think experience is required at all if you're looking to write something completely fictional, however if you want to write realistic fiction, it certainly helps. If you want to write non-fiction, I don't think you can go without it. Imagination is certianly required no matter what you choose to write.


Please visit Mayra Calvani tomorrow as she talks to Robert Medak:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Topic Rants

Pick one of the topics below and in 100 words or less, talk about it:

1. Turn signals on cars are there to signal your intent to other drivers; however, if you are driving late at night (say around 3 am), there are no other cars on the road, and you are in the right or left turn only lanes, should you still get a ticket for not using your blinker? What if you are on a side street, turning into your driveway, and there are no cars around?

2. My house keys always end up at the bottom of my purse, no matter what I do. Do you have the same problem? Is this annoying? What other items always end up at the bottom of a purse, back pack, bag, etc. for you?

3. I don't like to let people borrow things anymore because usually they either take forever to return it, it gets lost, or it ends up damaged. Do you loan things out? What would you do in this case?

4. America is supposed to be a free country, but it seems we have less and less freedom all the time. We can't go flying without going through a rigorous screening process these days, we might have to all pay for health insurance whether or not we can afford it, and everyone needs to wear a seat belt (it's the law). Now they want to tell us what we can and can't eat. What do you think?

5. Television used to be more family-oriented. Years ago, you could put on a good comedy show and the entire family could sit through it. Now, TV has changed -- a lot more sex, violence, and swearing. Is it possible to tone it down again, or will it only get worse?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

C. Hope Clark: Finding a Job as a Writer

C. Hope Clark: Finding a Job as a Writer: "When people unsubscribe from one of my newsletters, I ask in a block for their reason for leaving. Some state they didn't find anything that..."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pen Names

Here's an interesting post about pen names:

To Pen or Not to Pen

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Rejections, Rejections, and More Rejections!

Okay, folks! I am curious to know how you deal with rejections. How many is too many? Should you ever give up? Do you ever have those days, after receiving so many rejections, that you say, "I must be a horrible writer if no one wants to publish me," and you just want to throw in the towel? Let me hear your thoughts on this. What's the best/worst rejection letter you ever received?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Discounted Titles

Okay, so I'm trying to sell enough books to make money to attend Thrillerfest this year in New York City. If you order via Createspace, you can get $5.00 off using this code:


When Angels Sing, supernatural thriller
Retail price: $14.99
Discounted Price: $9.99

The Fear Within, short horror/sci fi story collection
Retail Price: $13.99
Discounted Price: $8.99

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meet Fellow Writer Robert Medak

Hi, folks! Robert Medak is visiting with us today. Robert is a freelance writer, editor, book reviewer, aspiring marketer, and aspiring author. He spent 37 years in Telecommunications, upon retiring he decided to follow his dream of being a writer. Robert has written or ghost written over 350 articles and 80 book reviews. Welcome, Robert.

You can visit him online at:





He can also be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and he has created a social network for freelance writers at http://freelancewriters.spruz.com/Default.asp?

Upon visiting his blog, Robert has written a wonderful article I'd like to share with you:

Can You Make a Living as a Full-Time Writer?

This is a simple yet complex question, with an answer to match.

Unless your name is Bob Bly or someone as well known, please don’t quit your day job.

It takes time, effort, marketing, quality work, and referrals to become a go to person for writing. It isn’t going to happen overnight no matter how often some people tell you. They will probably try to sell you some course, program, or get you involved with PLR articles or books that you can rebrand to call your own. Others will try to get you involved with affiliates.

I don’t do any of that since I offer 100 percent original work and test it with Copyscape for and possible plagiarism questions. I have also signed an ethics pledge.

I have gone so far as to turn down work due to ethical concerns. I realize individuals will make their own decision, but you still have to face yourself in the mirror each morning and have to live with your modus operandi of business; for writing is a business, have no fear about that.

If you choose to enter the realm of freelance writing, you will need to price your services and believe that you are an entrepreneur, because you are.

When the economy slows down so do writing jobs. With the diminishing number of magazines and newspapers, the number of places that would normally take a chance of new writers also diminishes. Along with this, many companies are looking to outsource to other countries where labor is cheaper than the United States.

It is still possible to make a living as a writer depending on how hard you are willing to work at finding jobs.

The best way to find jobs is to start out locally. Check in with your local Chamber of Commerce, Church, and Civic Groups.

Build a website, blog, guest blog, use social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) to let potential clients know you exist. If potential clients don’t know about you, they will not come to you. Build a portfolio of work that you can show to potential clients. Keep a CV/ Résumé up to date; some clients make ask for one.

Watch out for any signs of frustration that things are not happening according to the way you think they should when jobs do not come easy, you are not the only one trying for them.

Robert Medak

Freelance writer, editor, proofreader, book reviewer, marketer

Website: http://stormywriter.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RJ_Medak

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Robert-Medak-Writing-More/253442777522

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobmedak

** Please visit The Dark Phantom Review tomorrow, February 22, for Mayra Calvani's talk with Martha Swirzinski. **

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy V Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

1. What is your ultimate "dreamy" valentines day or gift?

2. If anything could go wrong on Valentines Day, or if you had the worst V Day ever (this year or in the past), what would it be or what happened?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Japan from the USA

Go to Google Maps and click on Get Directions. 2. Write USA as your start point. 3. Write Japan as your destination. 4. Go to the 31st point on your route and when you stop laughing, post this as your status on FB so that others can have a laugh, too!! Really funny!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: Gryphon

Book Review: Gryphon

Gryphon: New and Selected Stories by Charles Baxter (Pantheon Books, $27.95, 9780307379214, January 11, 2010)

Even if you're an avid reader of literary fiction, there's at least a chance Charles Baxter is one of those writers whose quiet, underappreciated output you may have missed. With the publication of this volume of 23 stories, seven of them not previously collected, there's no longer any excuse to overlook a body of work that's noteworthy for its keen, often startling, insights into human character, and its consistent craftsmanship.

Most of Gryphon's stories are set in Michigan (especially the fictional town of Five Oaks, the locale of several of his novels) or Minnesota, the two states where Baxter has spent more than three decades teaching. But unlike other modern realists like Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff and Richard Ford, Baxter concentrates on decidedly middle-class characters--teachers, journalists, artists and less-than-prosperous professionals--whose uncertain economic status frequently is matched by evident bewilderment at the disconcerting turns their lives have taken.

There's no false drama and little to titillate or shock here. More than anything, Baxter is a candid, unsparing chronicler of fragile relationships. "Poor Devil," the portrait of a divorcing couple united for a final afternoon of cleaning in the house they're about to abandon, is a painfully observant portrait of aversion and longing in a fractured marriage. In "Surprised by Joy," Baxter traces the poorly matched paths of grief navigated by a husband and wife after the sudden death of their young child. "The Flood Show" depicts one man's enduring passion for the woman who had left him and their young son more than a decade earlier, while a conservative, churchgoing man and his "social progressive" mother grope toward a sort of reconciliation in "Fenstad's Mother."

Baxter seasons these realistic offerings with a generous helping of more unconventional tales. Perhaps the best example is the title story, in which a substitute teacher uses Tarot cards to tell the fortunes of her elementary school charges. In "The Next Building I Plan to Bomb," a "harmless" banker finds a piece of paper containing a drawing with that caption and soon senses his life unraveling. A "fat balding man with horrible yellow-green eyes," who calls himself the "Genie of the Magic Lamp," grants three wishes to a young woman who's involved with an attractive but dangerous lover in "Kiss Away." The urban desolation of modern-day Detroit takes on an apocalyptic tinge in "The Disappeared."

In one penetrating scene after another, Charles Baxter demonstrates his mastery of the nuances of character, plot and language. While there's little that's tidy about the lives depicted in this collection, taken together they offer some revealing pieces of the puzzles that are love and life.--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: A modern master of short fiction offers a generous sample of his collected work along with seven uncollected stories.

Writing Assignment: Abuse of Power

Okay, so I am getting tired of seeing cops go through red lights, turn on red lights when it says no turn on red, and speed without flashers or sirens on. What other abuses of power have you seen -- doesn't have to be from a police officer. Write an essay on the topic and what can be done to protect citizens from these people.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011