Monday, July 22, 2019

How To Score Book Reviews

In the world of indie publishing, nothing gives you street cred like good book reviews. Maybe your blurb simmers with the wit of Oscar Wilde; maybe your cover art provokes spontaneous tears because it’s Rothko levels of sublime. All that’s no substitute for a real, live reader liking your book — and liking it so much they go out of their to share their excitement with the world. For potential ebook buyers, reviews furnish social proof. They show off how popular and vetted your book is and offer insight into the sort of people who liked it, making would-be readers wonder if they might like it too. You might be tempted at this point to buy praise — or start spamming your book’s Amazon page with adulatory sock-puppets. But there’s no need to take shady shortcuts. Instead, just follow these tips, and you’ll be scoring book reviews the ethical way.

1. Define your audience

You know your book from cover to content — after all, you wrote it. But now it’s time to think about how it comes across to people who weren’t around for the writing process. To get the reviewers you deserve, you have to know your audience — there’s no point hawking Louboutins to a shopper looking for soccer cleats, or tempting a would-be tractor-buyer to drive away with a Corvette instead. You can start working at the level of genre: My book is for sci-fi readers. But your thinking will have to get more fine-grained than that. Try to picture your perfect reader: how old they are, what they do when they’re not nose-deep in your book. Most importantly, try to imagine what else they like to read. This step is arguably the most important part of defining your audience: naming your comp titles — books that read comparably to yours — so that fans of those books can become fans of your books. Think hard about how your project fits into the greater publishing ecosystem, and you’ll be able to fine-tune your target audience, going from “sci-fi fans” to, say, “YA readers interested in works of Afrofuturism with a strong female lead.”

2. Identify the right reviewers — and pitch them

You’ve got a strong sense of your audience. Now it’s time to target the subset of that audience able to furnish you with glowing reviews — the ones who run the book blogs. First, do a sweep through a directory of book reviewer blogs, keeping an eye peeled for those that seem to fit into your niche. Next, think about your comp titles and track down where those books were reviewed. To streamline this process, you can also try submitting to a service like Reedsy Discovery, a book-marketing platform that shops your book out to reviewers for you. Now you’ve got a list of promising reviewers who A) work in your genre and B) have a demonstrated preference for works like yours. At this point, you’re ready to make contact with reviewers and pitch them your book. Make sure to look over each blogger’s policy to make sure you’re contacting them the right way — for instance, not cold-emailing them when they want you to fill out a form. Make sure to customize your pitch for each reviewer — the last thing you want is to sound spammy or boilerplate. Reference their past reviews to demonstrate that they’re more than just a faceless source of free publicity to you, and pull out those comp titles to prove you’ve done your homework on the market.

3 Draw them in with giveaways

Giving your book away for free can be a great way to get more readers lining up for it, trailing reviews in their wake. Luckily, Goodreads makes it easy to list a giveaway, and the data says it pays: according to book marketer Thomas Umstattd, 750 people enter the average Goodreads giveaway, and 45% of the lucky winners end up leaving a review for their prize. By doing a giveaway, you’ll be generating much-needed buzz: even bookworms who don’t win a copy are now more likely to add your book to their bookshelves. If Goodreads isn’t your scene, you can also offer your book through LibraryThing — their Member Giveaway interface gives you a real-time look at exactly how many users are making requests for it. You can also use freebies as reader magnets to, well, draw readers in and start building a fanbase. If you’ve got an entire series in the pipeline, for example, consider making the first installment perma-free in exchange for emails — and be sure to put a note in the back matter asking readers to leave a comment on your book’s Amazon page. Because they didn't have to give up a cent, they’ll be that much more willing to pay you with their time, offering glowing — or at least, honest — reviews.

Monday, July 15, 2019

#IWSG - Writing in the summer or How to legally ignore your children.

For some, it's always difficult to carve out time to write. There are always a hundred or more things we need to be doing and writing seems to take a backseat.

Then...summer break from school arrives.

There is a constant buzzing noise going on in your ears.

It's your child(ren).

They want [insert food/attention/time/a ride/permission/attention/answers/food/attention/etc. here].

Again and again.

So, how can you balance your writing with your family?

Bribery. It's an old-fashioned notion.

Promise the park. Promise new books. Promise fast food. Promise ice cream. Promise the movies. Promise cash.

Do whatever it takes to get a few hours to yourself and write those words.

Okay, maybe that's not the best advice, and, honestly, kids aren't cute and young for long, so do your best to balance the time you spend with your children and the time you need to write.


Interested in our next Twitter event? Use this LINK to get more information!

The next #IWSGPit  will be in January 15, 2020
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Our annual anthology contest is now open! Use this LINK to find all the details!

The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 3500-5000

Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy

Theme: Voyagers

Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019  

Need some clarification on the genre?
Middle grade – suitable for 9 – 14 year-old children.
Historical – it must have historical aspects and be set in a time before 2000 or earlier. It just needs to be set in the past. Adventure/fantasy – the subgenre can be either adventure OR fantasy. The fantasy genre is acceptable as there are many ancient cultures and times that believed in supernatural occurrences.

Monday, July 8, 2019

What's Up?

The answer to that question, "What's Up?" is A LOT!

There's a new anthology contest that is open and taking submissions now. The main genre is Middle Grade Historical Fiction with the sub-genre of Adventure/Fantasy. If you're sharpening your pen and want to enter, take a look at the SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND RULES. 

WRITE IT. EDIT IT. PUBLISH IT. Is working with #IWSG and they're getting some excellent submissions to their contests. In June, the theme was The Caged Bird, and thirty writers entered. While it was a hard contest to judge, Nick Wilford managed to winnow the "short list" down to three winners. You can click on the badges to read the winning entries, but you might also enjoy reading some others. The list is HERE.


If you didn't enter last time or you want to enter in the next contest, here's the theme and a link to the SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Jump in. It's a lot of fun to participate.

Have you checked out IWSG on Instagram? Tyrean Martinson keeps our members and followers up on all that's happening.

Although our next Pitch Party isn't until January, you might want to put it on your calendar and start thinking about what you'll pitch and how you'll do it so it catches a publisher's or an editor's eye!

We are also looking for one more admin to join the team! If you are interested, please email us. Must be active member of either the blog hop or Facebook. 
Email - admin @

So do you think you'll enter something for the IWSG's next anthology? How about the August WEP? Do you have something in mind for the Red Wheelbarrow theme? Are you on Instagram? If so, we hope you'll follow us. Are you thinking about pitching your story in January? And are you interested in joining the team?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Sizzling First Wednesday in July

It's July, so now we're cooking! 

Temps are up, fall is beginning to look darned good, but we need to take time and celebrate
HOT #IWSG Wednesday.

Thanks Alex!

And it's not too late to visit all of the great July hosts and say hello:

Young Adult Books
The Question of the Month is "What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?" The question is optional, so I'll opt to answer it as best I can. 

There may be a few of my quirks lurking in the Princess of Las Pulgas. Carlie tends to be stand-offish when she's hurting, and I've been told that's my strategy as well.  In Sudden Secrets, one of my friends thought my MC technique for managing stress seemed similar to mine. Cleo ran to escape thinking about her situation; I hike--guess that's close.

I'm not much like Hutch in Double Negative, but Fat Nyla and I share a lot with each other. I wrote one scene to re-enact a moment in my life, but in the book I got it right and punched the jerk in the nose. Score one for Nyla. Score one for me--just a little late.

My snarky self comes out in Sliding on the Edge, I'm afraid. Shawna cops her bad ass attitude to cover up a lot of insecurity. I've been known to do exactly that. I'm better at dealing with those insecurities now that I'm "matured." My mother would be so grateful.

Monday, June 24, 2019

#IWSG - The right pitch at the right time: good news from a #IWSGPit event!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is pleased to introduce Charly Cox, who was offered a publishing contract after participating in our #IWSGPit event in January 2019! Please give her a warm welcome as she shares her story with us today!

When I first began writing, there was a little voice that insisted on intruding and whispering: What makes you think you can do this?

Whether you’re just beginning this journey, or like me, you’ve been plugging away for a few years amassing piles of rejections so high you don’t really want to admit how many there are, I’d wager you, too, have felt fear, defeat, self-doubt, or even impostor syndrome. For me, there are times the fear and self-doubt are so strong, I freeze even when my characters are telling me exactly what to write.

You might see how a site called Insecure Writer’s Support Group might appeal to someone like me. But, here’s the thing—until January 2019, I’d never heard of them. But, I’ll get to that.

It’s important to share your experiences with those negative voices because feeling these things means you care and want to succeed, that you’re willing to fight for it. Use those emotions to help guide you.

Because the fact is, writing is hard. It’s discipline. It’s getting your heart stomped on by rejection. But, it’s also handing a new world over to someone else. It’s finding a way to stand up and dust yourself off…repeatedly. It’s learning to trust, to recognize and appreciate constructive criticism that helps better your craft.

 It’s learning to keep on keeping on.

It took almost a year to write, edit, and revise (a billion times) my first novel. And as the rejection pile grew, I researched, studied, and refined. I’d heard it’s rare for a first novel to be published, so I kind of set mine aside, and wrote another. Different genre, different age group. And I queried my heart out, adding to my pile of rejections. But, I’d also heard it could take three, four, or even five novels before one was published. So, I wrote novel number three and spent two years querying it. And even though, for the first time, agents were requesting more material, rejections kept flowing in, each one another stab in the heart.

And, while I didn’t believe Novel #1 would ever see the light of day, every once in a while, I’d dust it off and send it out.

It was during one of those times I ran across other writers talking about this #IWSG Twitter event. Like I said, I’d never heard of this group, so I checked out their website to see what they were all about.

And discovered a smorgasboard of links, encouragement, and well—support. The first thing I did was pin the site to my taskbar for easy access.

As for the Twitter event, I almost ignored it because I wasn’t prepared. But, another little voice nudged me, and with a ‘what the hell attitude,” I took bits and pieces from everything I’d learned during past events and sent off pitches for all three novels.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. So, imagine my surprise when I received a coveted ‘favorite’ for… Novel #1. I kept my excitement to a minimum because this was still a long shot…but, at least it meant I was doing something right, and every little bit of encouragement is worth clinging to!

After I researched the publisher, I made sure every ‘i’ was dotted, every ‘t’ crossed. Then, I inhaled deeply and hit send.

And forgot about it.

That’s right. I honestly forgot it was out there. Until one day in March, I opened my email to find a message from Keshini Naidoo at Hera Publishing. I clicked on it, assuming it was another rejection for a different novel, so, it took me a second to realize, “Hey, wait a minute. This is the opposite of a rejection!”

I must have read that email a hundred times. And then I read it to my husband who assured me I wasn’t imagining things. Then, I read it to my son who said, “That sounds promising.”

So, I answered all the questions Keshini asked and hit send again. Even then I didn’t allow myself to become too hopeful. After all, I’d heard stories.

In fact, full-fledged panic with a new set of doubts wiggled in. Did I respond too quickly? Not quickly enough? Did she hate what I said?  I made myself sick. My poor husband had no idea what to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with me.

Six weeks of correspondence passed between us (and yes, those silent in-between times were difficult (waiting is hard, folks!) before the official offer finally came in May—a three-book deal for a series stemming from my very first novel. I was elated, excited, and absolutely terrified! I thought Holy crap. What if I can’t do this? To which my son said, “You’ve already done it; you’re just going to do it again.” (Isn’t he the best?)

I’d like to tell you everything has changed, but the truth is, writing is still hard, even with a fantastic editor with crazy good ideas and suggestions, and self-doubt still creeps in sometimes, sabotaging my efforts and holding my brain captive.

What I can say is I’m happy I didn’t give up. And, if I’m being completely honest, if it hadn’t been for my husband, my biggest cheerleader, and my son (who is the world’s best plot-hole finder and fixer-suggestor), I might’ve quit long ago.

As it is, I’m still finding it hard to believe that this is actually going to happen—October 2019, to be exact.

All of this to say: KEEP ON KEEPING ON. And when you have those days when you’re wondering what the heck you think you’re doing, remember, it only takes one. And when the time is right, you and that one will find each other.  

Charly CoxAs for me, I’m sending out a collective group hug to the creators of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. My gratitude is heartfelt, and I credit you for the path that led Keshini Naidoo and Hera Books to me. 

Thank you for recognizing a need and setting up a place for writers like me to share their hopes, fears, failures, and successes. You all rock!
Charly Cox
P.S. If you get a chance, check out my website (a work in progress, but I’m getting there).
Twitter: @Charlylynncox

Thank you and best of luck, Charly!

Interested in joining our next event? Use this LINK to get more information!

The next #IWSGPit  will be in January 15, 2020
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Our annual anthology contest is now open! Use this LINK to find all the details!

The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 3500-5000

Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy

Theme: Voyagers

Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Staying Positive After a Rejection


It happens to everyone at some point in their writing life.

This year, I've been trying some new things. I'm challenging myself in new directions. So, rejection has been happening and I still keep on writing and I keep on sending out queries for short stories, novels, and poems, and I'm still okay. 

But rejection stings. 

On some days, I might struggle for a minute or two (or sometimes a few hours) with an icky, insecure worry that maybe all of my work sucks. I have had moments where I've looked at the subject line of an e-mail in my inbox and just not opened it for a few minutes. 

I have to remind myself that my work is still okay, that it's not for everyone, but there is a market for it. I have to find ways to stay positive.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with rejection. I've read posts from fellow writers who are struggling with it. 

While preparing for this article, I also found a post by Anne R. Allen entitled: "Rejection: Why It Feels So Awful and 7 Ways to Heal the Hurt."  It contains information from a psychological study on rejection. 

So, the hurt from rejection happens to many of us and it is real. But to succeed as writers, we still need to move forward and keep writing, keep submitting our work, and keep ourselves positive. 

How do we do that?

I would like to say I'm all wise and knowing, but I'm not, so I asked for some help from some fellow writers via e-mail, Instagram, and Twitter. Here's what we came up with:

Tips for Staying Positive After a Rejection

Take a deep breath, take a walk, pray, go outside and look up. 
Find your favorite part of your story, novel, or poem, and read it again. 
Look up stories of famous authors who were rejected multiple times before making it. If they could survive the storm of rejection, so can we! 
- Tyrean Martinson - author, teacher, and IWSG Admin

Remember, it’s not personal – it’s business. Don’t let your ego take a hit.
 - L. Diane Wolfe - author, publisher, and IWSG Admin  

If I’m lucky enough to get some feedback with the rejection, I pay attention to it. If the reject is simply a no, I check that submission as unsuccessful and try again. If I get several rejections for the same piece; then I know I need to work on it, and I go through it again before sending it off to a keen-eyed editor. Repeat the process.
- C. Lee Mckenzie - author and IWSG Admin

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that he put a roofing nail in the wall and was going to quit once it filled with rejections. Once it was full, he added another nail. Knowing rejection is part of the process keeps me from getting too disappointed. Learn from the no and keep going. 
- Elizabeth Seckman - author and IWSG Admin

In the days of snail-mail, I used to tape rejection slips to the wall until it became quite shaggy with them. I had a series of favorites from Gordon Lish.
And - Have the next market you're going to send the piece to already lined up and ready to go.
- Cat Rambo on Twitter - author, editor, teacher, and President of the SFWA

And remember that the rejections is from ONE person and not the whole world!!!
- Soulla Christodoulou @soullasays on Instagram - author, blogger

And, this last thought for staying positive- find a community. We can share our insecurities. We can encourage one another. That's what IWSG is all about. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Writing for Voice First Devices

Writing for Voice First Devices

As a writer, it's probably time to start paying attention to "voice first" devices. I’m talking about the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant line of smart speakers. Ignoring the odd-looking cylinders and muffin tops that are popping up in more households every day could end up costing you an untapped source of avid new fans.

You probably already know that people are consuming fiction in many new ways. While most still engage with stories by reading or listening to audiobooks, a growing audience listens to stories on podcasts, reads bite-sized episodes in mobile apps, or lives the story via a chat app or game. Especially younger fans of fiction are seeking stories via these “alternative” channels.

You can now add voice assistants living in smart speakers to the list of alternative channels for the consumption of fiction. But what types of fiction work best on devices that include Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU)? Here are some possibilities:
      Streaming Audio
      Passive listening with no input from the listener, such as listening to Alexa play an audiobook
      Example: "Alexa, read my book 'Lincoln in the Bardo.'"
      Branching Narratives (Non-linear, Choose Your Own Path)
      The listener hears a story and is asked to choose between two or more paths to drive the story in a different direction
      Examples: "Alexa, open the Magic Door," "Alexa, play Jurassic World"
      A story is used as a way to engage the listener is a game
      Examples: "Alexa, open SpongeBob Squarepants," "Alexa, start Westworld," "Alexa, play Tricky Genie"
      Conversational Storytelling
      Conversational elements, such as questions, accompany a story in an attempt to engage the listener and personalize the experience
      Examples: "Alexa, open My Box of Chocolates"

The challenge for writers of traditional fiction is to discover new, but intuitive, ways to invite readers to interact with a story. The current default model for interactive fiction seems to be the branching narrative.  Some of these offerings have been very successful and have grown large followings, such as The Magic Door.

At Tellables, we find the idea of conversational storytelling more interesting than branching narratives. Our first attempt at designing a conversational experience is the My Box of Chocolates voice app ("skill") on Amazon Alexa. We've also created a way for independent authors to submit original stories for publication in each monthly box of chocolate stories. Our goal is to create a publishing platform authors can use to publish voice first stories, as well as an audience of avid listeners who enjoy engaging with these stories. 

Whatever path you choose, it's not too late to get in on the game. The world of voice first fiction is just starting to take shape. Now is the time to begin exploring the opportunities.

Amy Stapleton is Founder of Tellables, a publisher of voice first conversational stories. Apart from designing voice apps, Stapleton is a writer and editor of content for the Tellables Amazon Alexa story experiences "Tricky Genie" and "My Box of Chocolates." Stapleton retired from an IT career at NASA to pursue her vision of transforming talking devices into a platform for engaging new story experiences.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Post Day - #IWSGPit, Anthology Contest, WEP, Instagram

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. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

June 5 question:
Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology Contest opened last month – only three more months to enter.
Middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy.
Theme - voyagers.
See the site for full details on how to submit.

Our #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event will be January 15, 2020. Be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Over at the IWSG Instagram, we have prompts set for the month.

The WEP challenge for this month – caged bird. There are also some new rules in place – visit the site for full info.

What upcoming event excites you? What's your favorite genre to write?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Trouble with Words

To combine or not—that’s the question for today. In my latest story, my character was getting dressed and putting on make up. Or should it be make-up? Maybe even makeup.  I couldn’t remember. Usually, I’ll gloss over those sort of mistakes and leave them for my editor to weed out. But with this story, I am publishing it chapter by chapter on Wattpad without the help of a pro edit.

I decided I better check it out. Readers deserve the best quality read we can offer.  

The answer is…makeup. But only when it’s being used as synonymous noun. I need to put on my makeup. When it’s a verb, it’s make up. I need to make up a test. And to make it even more complicated, as an adjective, it’s make-up.  If you were sick you will need to take a make-up test.

A similar rule applies with work out. As a noun, it’s workout. That was a great workout. As a verb, it’s separate. I work out before lunch.

Pick up. It’s separated as a verb: Pick up the truck from the garage. As an adjective, it’s combined: I drive a pickup truck.  Or…The bar is a great pickup spot..

Get away. Adjective: I need a getaway car. Noun:  I could use a beach getaway. As a verb, it’s two words. Get away from the cookies.

Every day. Everyday is the adjective form. These are my everyday clothes. As opposed to: These are the clothes I wear every day. A good rule of thumb…if you can replace every with each, separate the words.

A lot. Alot is not a word, unless you are intending to divvy up portions, then you’re still spelling it wrong. Allot each player Gatorade. Vs. A lot of players drink Gatorade.  

All right vs. alright. Although alright is gaining ground, the rules for when it’s acceptable can be complicated, whereas all right is always all right. Being the sort of gal who likes to do the easy thing, I’m a fan of all right.

Lastly, here are a few problem words to keep in mind:

Ice cream. Remember, it’s a treat so special, it deserves two words.

High school. Like the cliques of that era, it’s never combined.

Heartache. Unless you’re describing active angina, it’s one word.

That's my list of trouble words. How about you? What words give you pause while writing?

Image by Welcome to all and thank you for your visit ! ツ from Pixabay

Monday, May 20, 2019

5 Science Fiction Books That Predicted the Future

Science fiction has always been a genre of brilliant ideas. In many cases, the fantastical creations you’ll find in sci-fi are parables and metaphors for modern-day struggles: the androids in Blade Runner draw obvious parallels to race relations in America, the Klingons in Star Trek are a proxy for the Cold War-era Red Menace.

But sci-fi isn't just a reflection of our present — it's also a way for authors to exercise their imaginations in terms of how we might be living in the future. In this post, we’ll look at five predictions from classic science fiction books that have since become… science fact!

From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Florida Moon Missions

One of speculative fiction’s greatest innovators, Jules Verne still got a lot wrong about space travel in his 1965 novel, From the Earth to the Moon. For one, he imagined that a giant cannon could shoot a bullet-shaped capsule into orbit and beyond — a process that would have turned its passengers into compressed corpses.

One detail that Verne did manage to predict with eerie accuracy, however, is that the launches would take place from Central Florida. In the book, the Columbiad space gun is built on a hill in Tampa— a mere hundred miles away from Cape Canaveral, where NASA would stage the majority of its launches a century later.

But why Florida? Despite the fact that the Sunshine State is subject to some of the most mercurial weather conditions in America, its geography presents two major benefits. It’s close to the Atlantic, for one: multi-stage rockets are able to jettison parts safely into the ocean (and in the event of a disaster, civilian lives would not be at risk). Also, due to its proximity to the equator, launches receive an additional speed boost thanks to the rotation of the Earth. Hooray, science!

Brave New World (1931), The Antidepressant Epidemic

In Aldous Huxley’s all-time classic of science fiction, citizens of the World State are kept docile with the help of a mood-enhancing drug called Soma. At the time when the book was published, pharmaceutical solutions to psychological issues were pretty primitive — opiates and amphetamines were unnervingly seen as a panacea. There was no way for Huxley to have known just how prevalent antidepressants would become by the end of the century, yet his hunch most certainly turned out to be right.

Seeing how the media (rightfully) focuses most of its attention on the opioid epidemic in North America, you might be staggered to learn that over 11% of American use antidepressants. This is according to a CDC report that’s almost ten years old — and you can bet that number has increased in the years since. In many parts of the world, antidepressants from human urine have made their way into natural waterways at such a level that that fish have become less alarmed by predators. A brave new world, indeed...

Neuromancer (1984), The Internet

“A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

This is how William Gibson describes PAX, the global computer network at the center of his seminal novel, Neuromancer. Five years before Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, Gibson presented a stark vision of how online information would be shared, experienced and exploited. The story follows Case, a washed-up hacker who’s hired to break into a major corporation — a plot that has influenced any film where a teen in a hoodie hunches over a keyboard with a flurry of fingers before barking, “I’m in!”

What was once weird and fantastical has now almost come to fruition in 2019 — with the exception that we don’t talk about ‘jacking in’ to cyberspace, thank God.

Looking Backward (1888), Credit Cards

Da-da-da-da-da-da! Charge it!

Diner’s Club first popularised the idea of the credit card back in the early 50s, but the term itself was introduced a lot earlier. Edward Bellamy’s Looking Back imagines a socialist utopia of the future (in the year 2000!) in which those with harder jobs work fewer hours and all citizens are given ‘credit cards’ loaded with an equal split of the economy’s spoils.

Of course, you may have already gathered that these ‘credit’ cards function more like debit cards. It would, after all, not be a utopia if citizens were able to rack up debt with exorbitant interest rates and live in fear of losing their homes. But still: the concept stands today.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1939), Mass Surveillance

We couldn’t finish off this little list (list-ette?) without mentioning the granddaddy of sci-fi prognostication. The fact that “Orwellian” is a standard adjective for mass surveillance should give you some idea of how influential Nineteen Eighty-Four has been.

In the novel, a citizen’s every movement is observed by omnipresent “telescreens” under the guise of national security. As a result, an atmosphere of paranoia hangs over the people of Oceana: is Big Brother watching? And does he know what we are thinking?

In 2019, Big Brother has taken on many forms. Sometimes, he appears as the CCTV networks that criss-cross most major cities. Though, more often than not, he manifests as a multinational corporation that makes prestige television or allows our old classmates to share their incendiary opinions.

Martin Cavannagh is a staff writer for Reedsy, a marketplace connecting authors with the best freelance editors, designers and book marketers. Find Martin on Twitter.

Monday, May 13, 2019

#IWSG - Unlocking Writer's Block

Photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash
Writer's block is real. Too many people have experienced it to say it doesn't exist. However, even though there may be many reasons for it, it can be overcome.

Many writers feel that we can slump or run into slow times, but they don't believe in writer's block. They advise that you stop thinking and let the creative side take over.
Just write, even if it stinks at first.
There's always a rewrite. 

 For some it's actually serious – a massive, soul-sucking obstacle. This could stem from the constant drive to be productive and the thought that if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you. Sometimes you just don’t have anything to say, and that’s fine. 

If you are blocked, have you considered that you may be going the wrong way, your brain is fried, or because you weren't in the mental space to write just then? Learn to think about it not as a block but more of a hurdle. 

If we look at it from yet another perspective - are you saying you didn't have a single possible idea for what might happen next, or are you saying you couldn't think of the idea that was suitable enough for you to put it on paper? Looked at in this way, a block is absence of possibility.
On a positive and final note, maybe we need to see writer's block as a sort of siesta... or a catnap... or a snooze. Sounds quite pleasant, doesn't it? It's the mind taking a quick break as it tries to change the subject for a moment. 

So you choose - hurdle, absence of possibility or siesta?

I kind of like the idea of viewing it as a siesta, which leads to a recharge of your mental batteries allowing the ideas to flow freely once again.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Book Promotion: 5 Tips for Authors on Using Social Media

Writing the book might be one of the most demanding and difficult parts of being an author, but spreading the word about it is another part that will require some attention.

Social media gives its users the power to connect with others who have similar interests. An author can greatly benefit from this, as they can easily have access to thousands of people who will potentially be interested in the genre of the book. Here are some tips to help you promote your book on social media without much trouble.

1. Focus on the quality of your promotional content

The very first thing you should focus on if you wish to attract more potential followers and spread the word about your new or upcoming book is to make sure that the promotional content you create and promote is of the best quality.

While interacting with your fans is important, it is not the only thing you should be focusing on. Your promotional content might be in the form of a picture, a video or simple written text. Any of these things need enough preparation and knowledge from your part and it is not impossible for an author to find it difficult to write promotional-type text.

2. Host a giveaway for your book

Giveaways are a great way for you to get more people to see your new book and also follow your social media pages. The only thing you will have to do is take a creative picture of your book, post it on your social media pages and ask your followers to follow a certain set of rules in order to join the giveaway. These rules can include:

• Liking the post regarding the giveaway
• Sharing the post in their feeds
• Tagging one or more friends in the comments
• Following your account

You can choose one or more of these rules to follow and make the post more suited to your preferences. In any case, though, you will come to find that giveaways are not only easy to host but also actually effective at promoting your new work in a short amount of time.

3. Offer a chapter of the book for free

Another thing you can use in order to promote your book through your social media pages is to offer your followers the chance to read the first chapter of your book for free. Not only will this tactic make more people want to buy it so they see what comes next, but you will also be able to get more people sharing the post about the free chapter and talking about it.

You should not forget to include a link to purchasing your book online at the bottom of the post. If you have the link placed conveniently at the end of the post, the reader is much more likely to make an impulse buy and purchase your book right after reading the free chapter.

4. Stay in contact with your fans

Fans like to know that their favorite authors are willing to come in contact with them online. Along with that, people who come across your page and see you being kind and willing to interact with your audience will definitely create a positive impression.

There are many ways for you to interact with your audience through your social media pages and every one of them can help you boost your book promotions. You can reply to DMs, host live chats where you answer questions about your new book and of course reply to comments and follow your fans back.

5. Create and use your own hashtag

Last but not least, another thing you can do in order to help your book promotion is to create a hashtag which will represent the new book. For example, if you are writing a fantasy book, the hashtag can be the name or a variation of the name of the universe the story takes place in. It can also be the name of the main hero.

You can invite your fans to use the hashtag in order to share pictures of them with the book which you can then repost on your social media pages. You can also follow people who use the hashtag or give them a shout-out. The more visible your hashtag becomes, the more people will be interested to learn more about its origins and therefore the more people will come across your new book.

Which one of these methods do you believe is the one that will best help you promote your book through your social media pages?

Kristin Savage is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. Also, she has been a reviewer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to accurately assess newcomer translation services. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter .

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Masquerade Release Day and Announcing the 2019 IWSG Anthology Contest Opening

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. I 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 for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin!

May 1 question: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

We have two amazing announcements today!

Just released:
Masquerade: Oddly Suited - An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual companion or a date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Find Masquerade: Oddly Suited here - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Goodreads

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join them on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have.
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: HERE

The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 3500-5000

Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy

Theme: Voyagers

Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:

Elizabeth S. Craig, author and honorary judge
Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers. She lives in Matthews, North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two.

Dianne K. Salerni, author
Dianne K. Salerni is the author of the The Eighth Day fantasy series and historical novels, The Caged Graves and We Hear the Dead. The Roosevelt Ghosts, featuring young cousins Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt and a vengeful ghost, will be released in 2020 by Holiday House.

Lindsay Davis Auld, agent - Writers House

Lynda Dietz, editor
Lynda has been fascinated with the written word since her earliest years of reading the back of the cereal box at the breakfast table. She’s now a copyeditor who works with authors in a variety of genres, both in fiction and nonfiction. She’s had a blog for over six years, and shares writing tips from an editor’s point of view with a healthy dose of snark and silliness. She’s also an unapologetic—but always encouraging—grammar thug.

S.A. Larsen, author
S.A. Larsen is the international award-winning author of the middle grade fantasy-adventure MOTLEY EDUCATION and the young adult contemporary-fantasy romance MARKED BEAUTY. When she’s not chasing her characters around a graveyard or antagonizing them with young love, she can be found in Maine with her husband and four children. Visit her cyber home atS.A. Larsen Books.

Rachna Chhabria, author
Rachna Chhabria's imagination has taken her all over the world and introduced her to all kinds of creatures. She is the author of Festival Stories Through The Year, Lazy Worm Goes on a Journey, The Lion Who Wanted to Sing and Bunny in Search of a Name. A columnist with Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age, her stories have appeared in Young World, Open Sesame, Tele Kids and Deccan Herald Student Edition newspaper, as well as in several school textbooks. She also taught creative writing in a college for many years. As a child she loved listening to stories, now she loves writing them.

Tonja Drecker, author
Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.

David Powers King, author
David's works include WOVEN, THE UNDEAD ROAD, and FULL DARK: AN ANTHOLOGY. He currently resides in the Mountain West with his wife and 4 children.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

Our previous IWSG anthologies:
Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
Hero Lost: The Mysteries of Death and Life
Parallels: Felix Was Here

Will you be picking up Masquerade or entering the next anthology contest?
We also need co-hosts for June, July, and August. If you can co-host, leave a comment or email us.