Monday, June 18, 2018

Reading Loud and Proud

If you’re trying to get the right rhythm for your writing and make it seem completely natural for the reader, one of the best things you can do is to read it out loud. This might seem a daunting and time-consuming prospect at first, but it really can work wonders by helping you see where you’re getting it right and pinpointing any weak spots.

A key benefit is helping you identify overlong sentences, which can drain the reader’s energy and make reading seem like a chore. We often don’t realise we’re elaborating at too much length when we’re concerned with getting all our ideas down, but if you read the material out loud and find yourself running out of breath, it’s a sure sign that you need to break that sentence up somehow.

A simple benefit of reading out loud is that it will reveal where your syntax may be clunky and need smoothing out. It may not be immediately obvious when reading it in black and white, but if you end up tripping over the words when reading it out, you’ll know that area is slightly weaker and can make notes for where revisions are due.

In addition, brevity is something you should always be aiming for in your work, as a rule of thumb. Less is more – just give the audience what they want to know. If you’re reading a certain section and it becomes tiresome and repetitive to do so, you’ll know some trimming is in order.

Let’s look at some of the various approaches to reading your work out loud…

·        Simply read a few paragraphs to yourself to get a feel for the flow.

·        Record your reading, perhaps on your phone or using a speech recording device online. Some options include Online Voice Recorder, which allows you to record your voice as an MP3, and you can also edit the files. Vocaroo and Clyp are simple tools that record and play back your voice instantly, and all of the above are free to use. While some find it an odd experience to listen to their own voice, hopefully you can move past that to focus on how the material is coming across. The good thing about this approach is that you can pause and listen to key sections several times, making notes on how certain sentences could be improved.

·       Use a speech reader that comes with your computer. May be the way to go if you can’t get over the cringe factor!

·       An excellent tip is to read your work to an audience. It doesn’t have to be a large group, which can definitely be intimidating for many people. A close friend or family member, who you can trust to be honest in their appraisal of your performance, is ideal. A key benefit of all this is that it prepares you for public readings in front of a larger audience.

·       Another option for reaching an audience without actually being “in front of” people is to set up a YouTube channel. Read snippets from your books or even exclusive flash fiction pieces. Ask for feedback via comments.

I haven’t actually done too much of this myself yet, but I hear it works wonders for many people. What about you? Do you read your work out loud, how do you go about that, and has it helped you refine your work?

The next #IWSGPit is Thursday, July 19, 2018! 
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time 

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 19, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction

Monday, June 11, 2018

10 Great Places to Promote Your Book Online

Hi, everyone! Chrys Fey, here.

A while ago on my blog, Write with Fey, I had an open call for followers to submit questions about writing/publishing/marketing, etc. One of the questions I received was from Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of IWSG.

He asked: Where else can I go to promote my books online?

There are countless sites online for promoting books/eBooks, free eBooks, discount eBooks, and just about everything in-between.

Here are my top 10 favorite places to promote:

1. Manic Readers
Manic Readers has a great feature for authors looking for reviews called Review Depot. After you upload your book and your book’s info, all you have to do is click “Request Review.” A new page will appear with a list of review sites. Next to each entry is a box you can check. You can choose several or all by clicking “Check All.”
They also offer paid service and promo. You can even be a guest blogger.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

2. Authorgraph
Authorgraph is a neat site that allows readers to ask you to sign your eBook. If a reader requests your autograph, you will have to log in to Authorgraph and use your mouse or finger (depending on your device) to sign your name. When you approve your signature, it’s sent to the reader as a pdf. When they open the file they get, they can watch your signature appear on a blank page opposite the cover art for your book.
First, you have to “add your books” to their site, which really just means your book’s info and cover art. Then you can select a widget to put on your website or blog. The widget will only show one eBook, but all of the eBooks you upload will be there for readers to choose from. All they have to do is click on the widget to be taken to the site to request as many autographs of yours as they want. And when they get them, they can even save them to their Kindle (or any device) and start a collection.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

3. Reader’s Favorite
Reader’s Favorite is the first place I submit a (free) review request when I have a new book coming out. I’ve always had luck with a reviewer selecting my books, and when a review comes in, I like to take a quote from it to add to my book’s Amazon Page under the Editorial Reviews section. Their reviews are detailed and usually have a few great lines perfect to quote. Also, if you get a 5-Star review, they give you an image of a sticker, a seal to show off your accomplishment. You can use the image on your website or even order stickers to put on your books.
This site also runs an annual contest. Each year their contest entry period ends on April 1st. They don’t have strict rules, either, which is nice. You can submit unpublished and published books, recently published as well as books published years ago.

4. The Romance Reviews
This website is for romance authors/books. You can create a profile complete with your website/blog links, your bio, and all of your books. On your profile, your books’ covers will be under the “Books Written” section. If these covers are clicked on, readers can see release date, genre, and summary for your book. There’s also a direct link to your book’s Amazon page. And if you create a profile, they offer you a cute, small badge to put on your website/blog for people to click on it and visit your profile.
The Romance Reviews also offer headline ads. You can earn free credits to put toward your Headline Ads. One credit per month, which means one Headline free every month! All you have to do to get these credits is put their banner on your blog or website. If you go to my blog, Write with Fey, and scroll down, you’ll see their banner.

5. Book Pinning
BookPinning has an interesting concept of pinning your books to their site. It’s free, too! Visit their site and click “Pin Your Book” at the top. Fill in your book’s details, upload the cover art, and submit it. Within 24 hours your book should be “pinned.” Please note, they do not accept books with erotic scenes, extreme violence, or that can be offensive to others. I don’t know how long the pins last, but this would be something good to do for when you have a sale or mark your eBook for free. You can re-pin your books later, but not within 30 days. (Currently inactive - sorry!)

6. Book Daily
BookDaily provides you with a profile featuring your author photo, bio, and a few social media links, but what I really love about this site is what they offer for your books. Under “My Books,” you can easily add a new book by using the ASIN or ISBN for your book. It automatically finds your book and you can approve it. Once you do that, click the gray button that says “continue to step 4.” This is where you can add the cover art, description, and a sample chapter And, yes, you really do want to add the sample chapter. Readers view your sample chapter and then can go to the Amazon page if they’re interested. So, upload all of Chapter One.
A bonus is the fact that you can check your book’s statistics and see how many people have read your book per month. Just a note, the longer it’s up, the less views it’ll get, but most of mine get a few reads a month.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE (Closing July 2018 - sorry!)

7. Book Buzzer
BookBuzzr has many different tools for authors. Add your book using your ASIN or ISBN number and input whatever info and links you want. You can then create widgets by following their instructions, which includes uploading a pdf and selecting how many pages you want to display. These widgets include: BookBuzzer Flipper, Mini Book Widget, Author Page Widget, and more.
They provide a free trail that allows you to test out their widgets. After that, it costs $9.99 a month to keep the widgets active, but you can cancel at any time. However, your profile, with all of your books, will always be there regardless if you subscribe or not.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

8. Wanton Reads
Do you write romantic fiction? Then this is the site for you. When you submit your book’s info and all of the buy links, they also ask you to answer this question: What Inspired You To Write This Book? I like that because it provides additional insight that other promo sites don’t feature.
Aside from submitting your book, you can also do an author interview. And it’s easy, too. All you have to do is fill out the form. They ask you questions about writing and publishing. One of their questions is: Do you listen to or talk to your characters? What’s better? All of this is free!

9. Ask David
Ask David provides a Twitter promo service for a fee. You create a tweet and they send it out to their followers. They also have a free eBook promo. You can also become a member with a fee of $15. The membership lasts for six months, which is ample time to help you decide if this membership works for you or not. Members get many benefits such as a book promotion page, notifications of new reviews, and features on their site. New members also get the eBook Guerrilla Publishing: Revolutionary Book Marketing Strategies by Derek Murphy, Ph.D. for FREE!

10. Awesome Gang
Awesome Gang has a page full of websites that let authors submit their books for free promotion. Here’s the link: HERE Awesome Gang even allows you to submit to their site for free, which is listed as the first option on their page for free promotion.

Here are additional sites for you to check out:
Book Goodies – Submit a free author interview to be posted (forever) on their site. They also offer paid promo services for a small fee for free, permafree, and bargain books.
Book Angel – Submit your free and bargain books. (Submit Amazon UK links since Book Angel is UK based.) No fee!

If you do a Google search, you can find way more sites than these. Explore them and have fun!

For more information like this check out:
Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog Write With Fey for more tips.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June Has Crept Up & #IWSG Has Arrived

June? Already six months into 2018? How does that make you feel? Have you followed through on some of your resolutions if you made any? Are you scratching your head about where those six months have gone?

How about the INSECURITIES? Got some? Well, if so, you've come to the right place. 

Welcome to June's #IWSG First Wednesday of the Month. 
This was Alex Cavanaugh's idea and it has grown each year. 

Our co-hosts this month are the awesome  Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

The Question (optional) is
What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

My answer is TITLES. Sometimes they're quite evident, but most of the time, not so much. The characters kind of name themselves. And they are particular, I can tell you. One even corrected my spelling of her name recently. Of course, she was right. Her name is better starting with a C than with a K. Drat! I hate it when they prove me wrong.

I learned my lesson about titles with my first book. I had this "dynamite" title, Bad Ass Attitude, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was perfect. The publisher didn't think so. They said it might be offensive and changed it to Sliding on the Edge. I'm still sure my title was better. Offensive? What do you think?

So tell us a bit about your INSECURITIES today or your NO INSECURITIES if that's the case. Opt in or out of the question, but join in whatever way works for you. 


Whatever you do, don't forget the #IWSGPit. 

8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time 

And, there's more. Here's the next great ANTHOLOGY opportunity for authors. The genre is young adult romance. The theme will be announced September 5. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

To plot or not to plot & coming soon...#IWSGPit

As I was watching a movie the other day, Avengers: Infinity War, it made me really appreciate writers that are plotters and not pantsters.

I am a pantster. I write by the 'seat of my pants' each time I sit down. I have no idea where my story will take me or where it will end up. I just have to keep writing.

Plotters are just what you think they are, writers that plan out a plot. I'm sure they're different layers of plotting, too. From writing down your plot on a cocktail napkin to a full- blown storyboard equipped with photos and swatches, circles and arrows, and possibly even colorful post-it notes.

What must it be like for several directors / writers / producers to be able to keep a plethora of Marvel character story-lines all heading in the direction they want when they have their own paths to take and then so many of them interweave with each other and most times even overlap each other in each movie. What a tangled web it must create.

Although I can appreciate the work that goes into being a plotter, it makes me glad that I'm just a pantster. How about you? Do you write moment to moment or are you all about the index cards and thumbtacks?


The next #IWSGPit is Thursday, July 19, 2018! 
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time 

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 19, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction

Monday, May 21, 2018

GDPR, the IWSG, and YOU!

There's been a lot of confusing information out there about the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The new regulations are intended to improve data privacy for EU citizens. While it's a pain for those of us with newsletters and such, it's actually a good thing in the long run, and chances are it will impact data protection outside the EU at some point.

In order to be fully compliant with the new regulations, we've modified our sign-up process for the newsletter and updated all verbiage. Anyone who didn't sign up directly via the MailChimp sign-up form will have received an email from us today via MailChimp to confirm their subscription preferences. We're also updating our privacy policy, which you'll be able to find on the sidebar.

Anyone who receives the opt-in email from us and does not update their settings to confirm they still want to receive the newsletter will be removed from the list before the May newsletter goes out. Not only do we want to be GDPR compliant, but we don't want to be sending you a newsletter if you don't want it! So keep an eye on your inboxes today. If you are removed, but didn't want to be, the sign-up form can be found under the newsletter tab.

Speaking of wanting to receive the newsletter, as it's via MailChimp, it's easy to opt-out if you don't wish to continue receiving the newsletter. There is always the option to click on unsubscribe from this list at the bottom of your newsletter, or you can email us directly at theIWSG at gmail dot com.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here are some articles I found helpful in navigating this GDPR puzzle as it concerns newsletters:

Yes, the GDPR Will Affect Your US-Based Business (Forbes)
How to Make Your Website GDPR Complaint (Hallam)
New MailChimp Tools to Help With the GDPR (MailChimp)
And more specifically from MailChimp (this one is only for those with a MailChimp newsletter): Collect Consent With GDPR Forms

GDPR goes into effect May 25, so you'll have to have your newsletters and websites GDPR-ready before that date, if you haven't already done it.

Are you ready for the GDPR to go into effect? Have you updated your newsletter and contacted EU members to re-opt-in?

*Confused Panda Clip Art, OCAL,
*Checklist Panda Clip Art, OCAL,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Writing Realistic Antagonists

Every main character in every story ever told has a conflict with an antagonist or an antagonistic part of his/her inner self. The best stories and the most intriguing heroes have great antagonists. But, what makes a great antagonist? And, what kinds of antagonists are there?

Main Character Versus Environment (Nature or Technologically-Ruled Universe).
  In The Martian, an astronaut must survive the harsh elements of an alien landscape. In The Matrix, Neo and his allies must fight against the technological rules of the Matrix world while simultaneously battling a society of evil machines bent on the destruction of human freedom.
To make these kinds of environments into realistic antagonists, the writer must do their homework to either understand how the natural world could kill the main character step by awful step, or to create the world-building setting in a way that feels realistic to the viewer or reader so that the conflict makes “sense.”

Other examples: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, 2012 (movie), and Hatchet.

Main Character(s) Versus Society (Community or Government).
  In The Hunger Games series, Katniss Everdeen must fight for her life and for freedom from an oppressive government. In Elizabeth Seckman’s romance novel, Bella’s Point, Bella struggles to survive socially as a slave-freeing pariah after the Civil War ends.

Why do these societal antagonists “work?” Because they are founded in realistic expectations of human behavior that we’ve all seen, either in our history textbooks or in our own lives. However, it’s always good to have a reason for the society being the way it is. Why does the government of Panem have the Hunger Games? It’s explained via President Snow, some edited video footage, and the actions of some people in the Capital. Why does Bella have to struggle in the South after the Civil War? It’s shown in the novel, but it’s also in our history books.

Other Examples: Mean Girls (movie), Tara Tyler’s Broken Branch Falls, a MG fantasy novel, and Nick Wilford’s Black & White, a dystopian YA novel.

Main Character Versus the Inner Self.
When the crux of the story hinges on the main character’s inner struggle with self-doubt, depression, mental health, or just plain bad attitude, the main character’s antagonist is within.
Some of the movies in the Marvel Universe do get into the inner conflicts of their main characters, most notably Iron Man. All heroes struggle with their self-doubts, but there are some novels that seem to really get into this as the main conflict including Alex J. Cavanaugh’s CassaStar and Dragon of the Stars, both novels in which the main character must battle with a bad, bad attitude toward others and both novels in which the main character suffers serious self-doubt. Yes, there are space battles and other conflicts, but the drive of these novels is the storm within.
To make the inner self conflict believable, a writer needs to keep the progress of the problem steady. A character might make progress with her/his inner conflict, but then regress slightly, only to struggle again to move forward. A character who has struggled with a bad attitude for his/her whole life does not just have an easy-going personality within a few seconds. Time needs to pass. Growth needs to be shown.

Examples: C. Lee McKenzie’s YA novels, The Princess of Los Pulgas and Double Negative, Corinna Austin’s MG novel Corners, and Diane L. Wolfe’s novel series, Circle of Friends.

Main Character(s) Versus Antagonistic Character(s) aka Man Versus Man.
There are Three Subsets to this Group:

Villains/Bullies/Criminals/Serial Killers - these are the abusive characters, the purposeful criminals, the megalomaniacs who want to rule the world or a small part of it. They seem, at first glance, to be all bad.
But, the best ones have a reason to be who they are. They’ve made choices. They have a past. They have loss. They have suffered. They are just one step away from being heroes (and sometimes they think they are heroes in their own story) and the reason they bother us so much is that if we made bad choices, that could be us. A villain with a backstory is a villain who is remembered.
Villainous Examples: Voldemort, Thanos, Annie Wilkes in Misery.

Frenemies - these are the family members, friends, or peers who stand in the character’s way, usually believing they are in the right or that they are saving the main character from some kind of harm, either social or physical. Sometimes, frenemies turn into friends later on in a story and sometimes they turn into full antagonistic enemies. Peers who are also competitors can also fit into this category; they don’t really have anything against the MC, but they want to win the competition themselves.
Frenemy Examples: Professor X and Magneto from X-men, Woody and Buzz in Toy Story, and some of Hutch’s friends in C. Lee McKenzie’s Double Negative.

Romantic Frenemies - Most romances fit into the old literary conflict area of man vs. man, or actually Woman Versus Man. I’m not a romance expert, but the main character in a romance often fears losing her dreams or her true self if she gives into her love for the “antagonist” – who is actually an ally for life.
Examples: Christine Rain’s 13th Floor novella series and her Totem series.

All of our antagonists need to follow some reasonable set of “rules” within their worlds. If an antagonist isn’t believable, our readers get frustrated or bored. Even if we throw multiple antagonists in the way of our main characters to heighten tension, we need our antagonists to be realistic.

What notable antagonists have you encountered in fiction lately?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Publicity Mistakes that Ruin Book Launches

If you're an author you know writing the book is only part of your job these days. Promotion is a huge chunk of what you have to do. Here's some excellent tips from people in the know. 

Book publicity is one of the most frustrating things for authors both experienced and new. You can write an all-time great novel, design the best book cover in history, and get blurbs from JK Rowling and Barack Obama—but if you don’t publicize your book well enough, you won’t sell any copies.

The simple fact is that people have to know your book exists before they can buy it, and publicity is the best way to get fresh eyeballs on your book.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of good information regarding book publicity available freely. As a result, we see many authors make the same book marketing mistakes over and over again—sabotaging their own campaigns and killing their book sales.

If you want to successfully market your book, you need to be aware of these three marketing mistakes authors of all levels make...

1. Avoiding Large Outlets 
A lot of authors limit themselves by not pitching to larger outlets and publications like The New York Times or NPR. After all, there are so many authors who send their books to those offices every day, what are the chances of getting a reviewer’s eyes on your book? 

While the odds are daunting, they are not impossible. Even self-published books with no professional publicity firm behind them have landed themselves an NYT book review. The key is to do your research:

  • Which editor should you be pitching?
  • How do they like to be pitched?
  • How can you put a spin on your pitch that they will like?
  • How many times are you going to follow up? (The answer to this should be “a lot”)

With the right research and execution, you can greatly enhance your chances of being covered by a large outlet, which will lead to many more eyeballs on your book.

Pro-Tip: When writing a pitch, not tailoring it to each audience can be a huge disadvantage. Do you want a health-focused public radio station to cover your book the same way Financial Times would? Of course you don’t—you know that those stations often appeal to different audiences. Make sure your pitch highlights the value of your book to their specific audience.

2. Skimping On The Legwork 
We all have long days, and when you’re writing a book, and doing the marketing and publicity, that can make the day much, much longer. The temptation is always there to take shortcuts—send out generic email blasts, drop $10,000 on a “publicity service,” or just give up on book marketing altogether. 

But the legwork is where the magic happens in publicity.

Force yourself to reach out to local bookstores, libraries, author groups and book clubs and schedule some readings. Even when your exhausted, write those emails to journalists who probably won’t respond. Embrace the grind, because that’s the only way to get results.

Leaning in to the legwork in marketing also gives you the opportunity to really be present and seize opportunities. If you send out a generic email blast and have a virtual assistant handle all the follow up, you’ll save time, but you’ll miss those unexpected opportunities when someone responds to you offering a cool new collaboration.

Be present, be committed, and push yourself through the grind of publicity. Your hard work will pay dividends.

3. Not Building a Platform
Not building an online platform for your book is a huge publicity mistake. 

When readers and supporters want to get to know an author, and that author’s whole catalog of work, the first thing they do is go online and look at the author’s site. Don’t believe me? Check out Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, both of whom are best selling authors many times over, and both of whom have amazing websites.

Your site is your ultimate sales tool. It’s where readers go to learn more about your book, to explore ways of engaging you, and—most importantly—to buy your book.

With all of the tools available now to make website building incredibly easy (and sometimes even free) there’s almost no excuse not to have an author website when running your own publicity campaign. 

Don’t Play Small
All of these mistakes are symptomatic of a larger issue that plagues authors. We think we’re smaller than we are, that professional websites, complex publicity campaigns, and coverage in major outlets are for writers who are more prolific than us.

We relegate ourselves to thinking that we—as small, amateur writers—don’t need more than a Facebook page and maybe a review on our friend’s blog.

When you play small, you get small results. Don’t limit yourself before you start. Approach your book’s publicity campaign as if you were already a bestseller, and the results will follow.

Thanks, Reedsy! This was great. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group - Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime Released

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

Today’s optional question:
It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Mark July 19 on your calendar - it’s the next Twitter pitch - #IWSGPit.

Are Twitter pitch parties worth it? Do author get signed?


Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. signed Sherry Ellis and her book, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, will be released on September 4th of this year.

So, get your pitch ready!

Today the IWSG has a special announcement - the release of its third anthology! 
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

$14.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 204 pages, Freedom Fox Press
Mystery & Detective (FIC022000) / Crime (FIC050000) / Thrillers (FIC031000)
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find the authors at the Tick Tock Mystery blog and Facebook page.

Find the book at Amazon / B&N / / Kobo / Goodreads

Who is picking up Tick Tock or participating in #IWSGPit?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dianne K. Salerni, Make Rejection Your Motivation to Grow

Make Rejection Your Motivation to Grow

We hates it, precious. We hates it.

Rejection stings. It undermines. It tarnishes every writing success you’ve ever had. That was all you had, it whispers. You already peaked, and it’s downhill from here.

And yet, we can’t quit writing, can we? At heart, we’re incurable story-tellers with the lives of characters pulsing through our blood. We can’t stop writing. But if we let rejection infect us, we’ll never break out of its cycle.

People say, “It only takes one yes” and “The business is so subjective.” These things are true, and remembering this might help you stop weeping and binging on your comfort food of choice. But it doesn’t help much when you face your next blank page. Since you can’t control the whims of the publishing business, you must take control your own journey as a writer.

I’ve experienced a number of rejections lately, including on a project I thought was a sure thing. Rather than keep cranking out similar stories and expecting a different outcome, I’ve taken a long hard look at my work and asked myself: Am I bringing the best I have to the table?

It’s not that these projects weren’t difficult. I swear, I tore my hair out over some of them. But I’ve come to realize that if I don’t learn something new and vital about the craft of writing in each and every story I write, then I’m not growing and learning as a writer. And if my works have been rejected, maybe it’s because that lack of growth is apparent.

One of the most common reasons for rejection—and the most puzzling for writers—is: I didn’t connect with your main character’s voice. If you’re like me, you’ve banged your head on your keyboard over that one. What’s wrong with the voice? What did she mean, she didn’t connect with it? How do I fix what I don’t understand?

Some of the things I’ve started to question about my own writing, especially as it pertains to voice, are:
  • ·       Am I choosing the right point of view for the story? Or have I defaulted to the point of view I’m most comfortable with?
  • ·       Have I given POV to the right characters? (Considering how my drafts change over time, have I recognized that a POV character in the first draft has lost importance as the story evolved, while another character has gained importance?)
  • ·       Have I delved deeply enough into character arcs and fully explored my characters’ emotional crises and eventual growth? Or have I simply skimmed the surface because going deeper makes me uncomfortable?

And, not directly related to voice, but looking at my projects holistically:
  • ·       Have I tried something new or stayed squarely within my comfort zone?

The last time I had a big book deal was when I left my comfort zone of historical fiction and ventured into urban fantasy. When I started that project, I didn’t think I would ever finish it. But I did. And now it’s a three-book series.

In the past year – in between the weeping and the binging – I’ve done my best to grow and learn as a writer. I’ve explored new genres and tried my hand with different points of view and verb tense. I took an old manuscript that came this close to selling and rewrote it, changing the POV and delving deeper into character emotions. I took POV away from a character who didn’t need it and gave it to a character who had more agency in the story. I outlined a book from start to finish – which is not something I normally do. And I started a project that is way out of my comfort zone.

I’ve decided to stop looking at rejection as a condemnation of my writing and start looking at it as impetus for personal growth.

Who wants to join me?

DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of the popular Eighth Day MG fantasy series, described by Kirkus as “an exciting blend of Arthurian legend and organized crime.” The first book in the series, The Eighth Day, has been on state lists in Maine, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, and Indiana. Dianne has also published two YA historical novels.  The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection and has been nominated for reader’s choice awards in Vermont, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. We Hear the Dead was the inspiration for a short film, The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Five Reasons To Promote Your Book

Many writers detest promoting their books, but it’s a necessary evil if we want readers. Too many of us indies publish our books, promote them for a few weeks, leave them to flounder and then fade into obscurity. If you’re going to be writing for the long haul, there are at least five excellent reasons to promote your books.

It’s great for visibility. This is obvious and, clearly, the number one reason to share information about your work. People are busy and there are oodles of things vying for their attention. If you don’t put your book in a position to be seen, it’s a sure bet that after release day visibility will taper off and soon the rankings will blow up to a huge number.

2.   You never know who you’ll reach or who’s watching. It’s a good idea to have several graphics for your books that you can rotate on advertising platforms and social media. I’ve found many readers simply by posting my graphics in various places, on some kind of schedule.

3.    It provides a mind shift. Most of us are writing and promoting at the same time. The intervals we use to showcase our work puts our brain in another gear and gives us time for fresh inspiration to take root until we sit again to write. If you like playing with graphics, that’s another way to change your mental channel to another station for a while.

4.    It keeps your eye on the prize. Including promotion as part of your day helps you stay disciplined. It’s also a great reminder that your aim is to sell more stories. All of us would like to find our tribe of readers, and regular promotion helps us to gain traction one reader at a time.

5.    Promoting helps expand your knowledge. Indies have to know a little bit about a lot of stuff. I now know what promotional material works for me and what doesn’t. I know what time of day I can catch my audience,  I’ve found out where my ads do better, and I continue to read books that talk about the why and how of promoting and marketing.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned about promoting? What works best for you? Do you know you can swap/share promotional material with other authors to get the word out about your book/s? What can you do differently to promote your book/s?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Brad Herzog. The Curious Writer

I first met Brad at a bookstore event last year where we gave presentations to a group of writers. I loved what he had to say about his take on writing because it jived with mine. Well, of course, you love people who agree with you, right?

The next time we met, he talked more about himself as a writer and a publisher. I had to share his take on this business with IWSG members. I think you'll love it, even if you don't agree with it.

Take it away, Brad.

As a bit of an iconoclast—and as a longtime author and freelance writer—I tend to question everything. When the rest of the world is zigging, you’ll often find me zagging. In fact, I believe that’s my job description: Tilt your head at the world, wonder out loud, grab an unusual idea, then write about it.

So I tend to question clichés about writing, too, including these:
*Write what you know (I prefer to write what I don’t know so that every fascinating subject is a mini-education for me).
*Don’t pitch it until it’s perfect (Nothing is perfect. Not even To Kill A Mockingbird. Rewriting is paramount, but it can cross the line into procrastination).
*Be disciplined (If a strict writing schedule works for you, great. But mood and motivation contribute to the strength of my work. When I force writing, the Force is not with me).

Still, I most question this: Brand yourself. Pick a genre. Stick to it. 

I understand where this comes from—the notion that a jack of all trades is master of none, that an agent or editor should be able to categorize you, that expertise is focused, and that success in a certain arena breeds more success. And yes, a great many mega-successful authors are nearly inseparable from a genre, whether it’s Stephen King or John Grisham or J.K. Rowling.

But King and Grisham also have written about baseball. And Rowling penned a novel, The Casual Vacancy, about social issues. They could write about anything they wanted, and that’s exactly what they did—expectations be damned.

So why can’t any author? Why can’t anybody gain the sense of satisfaction that comes from a bit of courageous experimentation? Why can’t it actually be viewed as a triumphant attempt, perhaps even a beneficial one? After all, we may think we know which genre lures us. We may think we know where our talents are best suited. But how do we really know until we dabble a bit?

I suppose I’ve made a career out of this.

In college nearly 30 years ago, I was a summer intern at Sports Illustrated for Kids, which (through its publishing arm) released my first books a few years later—a sports puzzle book, a couple of sports trivia books. Was that my destined path? Well, roads veer and fork. Now my list of published children’s books includes fiction and nonfiction, little board books for preschoolers and nonfiction collections for middle graders, rhyming alphabet picture books and co-authored autobiographies.

I’m not a genre-specific children’s writer. I’m a writer.

I actually began my career as a newspaper sportswriter who soon realized I was more interested in the human angle than the X’s and O’s. So I began writing magazine features—mostly about sports. But roads widen. I broadened my scope. A quarter-century later, my portfolio includes everything from Sports Illustrated to in-flight magazines, from stories about Monopoly and miniature horses to profiles of the Wright Brothers and Dr. Joyce Brothers (um, separately, that is). My first book for adults, The Sports 100: A Ranking of the Most Important People in U.S. Sports History, was a book about sports history. But really, it was a foray into cultural trends, business, media, gender, and race.

I’m not a sportswriter. I’m a writer. And that means I’m an historian, an observer, a commentator, a critic, whatever I want to be.

When The Sports 100 was about to be published, I found myself staring at an atlas one day. I noticed tiny little towns named after virtues—Pride (Alabama), Wisdom (Montana), Inspiration (Arizona). On a whim, in a Winnebago, my wife Amy and I decided to hit the road on a year-long, 48-state journey. “We’ll search for those attributes in those places,” I said, “and I’ll try to write a book about it.” The resulting book, States of Mind, did rather well (look it up if you want to read about its goofy journey involving Regis Philbin and Oprah). I’ve since written two more American travel memoirs in which I examine the big picture by visiting the tiniest dots on the map. It’s where I flex my writing muscles. I’m tremendously proud of the writing and the scope (if not the subsequent sales).

But I’m not a travel writer. I’m an author.

Of course, not every experiment pans out. I written a couple of manuscripts (think The Phantom Tollbooth and Where the Sidewalk Ends) that I truly love. Someday they’ll have covers and ISBN numbers. But not yet.

But there, too, I haven’t limited myself. Like so many writers, I grew frustrating with the publishing gauntlet. So I zagged again. I started my own little venture, Why Not Books, which has grown beyond my own books (ranging from a picture book about golf to a civil rights memoir) to publishing a couple of other authors whose manuscript and message resonated with me. And lots of things resonate, which is why I’ve created blogs about everything from 100 literary lists to the merger of place and prose.

But I’m not a publisher. I’m not a blogger. I’m a peddler of notions. I send ideas out into the world.

So if you’re focused on a specific genre, and that’s where you feel comfortable, that’s great. Embrace it. Ride it out. Have a blast. But hopefully, your motivations are internal. True writing comes from within. And as the great Walt Whitman contended, “I am large; I contain multitudes.”

If you’re a square peg of a writer, don’t try to fit yourself into a round hole of oft-repeated rules and arbitrary categories. Anyway, more likely you’re a squircle… a heptagram… or nonagon. If that’s the case, you have to create your own fit. In fact, why peg yourself at all?

To be curious about many things is human. That’s why we’re writers. And to dabble is divine.


Brad Herzog is the author of dozens of books for children, including W is for Welcome, a celebration of the challenges and accomplishments of America’s immigrants (Sleeping Bear Press, April 2018). He also has written a trilogy of travel memoirs, which the American Book Review deemed "the new classics of American travel writing." As a freelance magazine writer, Brad has been honored several times by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), including a Grand Gold Medal for best feature article of the year. As a speaker, he visits schools around the country and has presented a popular TEDx talk about “Catching Creative Ideas.” Along with his wife and two sons, Brad lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula.