Friday, February 28, 2014

Picture Perfect: The Best Cover for Your Book

When you self-publish like I do, you may find yourself scrambling for just the right book cover. And if you can't afford to hire an illustrator or a photographer, you may find yourself giving up even before you've really gotten started.

How can a self-published author with little or no money create an attractive cover?

Here is a list of some things I have done.

For A River of Stones I used a picture of my youngest daughter for the cover. CreateSpace has templates for you to use to create the cover you've envisioned.

For Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones as well as the guidebook, I used free stock photos from CreateSpace.

As you can see the book covers are identical. I wanted the reader to connect the story with the guidebook. Having identical covers has also been a great selling point. If you  like the story you may like the guidebook to work through your own Goliaths.

For Scrambled, my husband took some photos using our camera. Although I have liked this cover, I am working on finding an illustrator to update book one to match book two coming out this year. And because illustrators are usually hundreds of dollars, I'm looking for someone who will trade illustrating two book covers in exchange for free publishing of one book through Idea Creations Press. Know of someone? I would love to hear from you.

For The Feast: A Parable of the Ring, my husband and I went to a local bakery and shot photos of a professionally made cupcake. Sure, I'd tried my own cupcakes before that; but there is really something to be said for a professional looking cupcake on an equally professional cover. :)

Marketing Your Book on a Budget also meant that we had to find a free photo of a dollar bill that we could use on the cover.

Fortunately, CreateSpace is set up for not only putting together great covers, but equally quality interiors. They also give you a choice of mat or glossy exteriors. I especially like the mat feature, new on CreateSpace. I think the books look even more professional with this finish.

Choosing the best cover for your book is a little like searching for a home. You're not going to find the home you want right off the bat so it's a good idea to do a little searching online and off to give you some ideas.

After you have a few cover ideas lined up, focus on the reader. Ask yourself, what does this cover generate in terms of interest? Would a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, be drawn to this cover? Make sure that the cover you choose reflects the genre of your book as well as the readership.

As an example, my first book, A River of Stones, was first published through a local publisher. Though the cover was really didn't represent the story itself, nor the genre. So when I bought back the rights to the book and created a new cover, I especially focused on the young girls who would be reading this book, rather than on what the title alone represented.

For Conquering Your Goliaths, we had a difficult decision making process. A sunflower really connects with female readers, but I also wanted males not to be put off by the cover. Still, nothing else seemed to work for both sexes, so we finally settled on the sunflower, knowing that our audience would be mostly women because of this choice.

When a cover is chosen, it's important to know what you're stuck with. Not in a bad way, but in a realistic way. It's often difficult to choose a cover with the right genre look, but even more difficult, is the chance you take when choosing a cover that will ultimately draw one sex or the other.

Marketing Your Book on a Budget is a good example of a book that appeals to both sexes, but this is often difficult to achieve; still it's better not to rush this stage, but to take it slowly, almost as slowly as searching for that perfect house.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writing What You Love

Since we're at the tale end of February, and along with it Valentine's Day, I wanted to put in an arrow or two for writing what you love.

Years ago, when I first began writing, it appeared that I had to write certain genre's so that my career would take off. Romance was a big deal then, maybe even more so then than it is now; even westerns were peeking out from behind the covers.

But I didn't want to write romance and I didn't want to write westerns.

I wanted to write real life stuff, or at least, as real life as I could make it. I wanted to write a mainstream novel; something many would read.

Ultimately, I wanted my first book to be on the best-seller list, whatever best-seller list that was.

Now I know better.

It took some nudging, but after a few years I realized that I needed to write what I loved, and even, what I read. I also believed that I needed to write what I knew.

And though I still believe this last scenario to some extent, the writer in me is happy to go online to retrieve information not currently stored in my brain. And so, although my settings are either places where I've lived or places I've vacationed, I still do that needed research, as we all should if we want our book to be as authentic as possible.

Writing what you love is sort of like going on vacation anyway. You prepare all of the needed items like research, a computer, your brain flowing with ideas, an outline, and whatever else you believe you'll need, into the suitcase called "My New Novel," and get ready to move forward.

Have a glorious time!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014



Image of Sarah Beard
Photo Credit: Heather Clark
Find out when Sarah uses a computer to write, and when she switches over to paper or a notebook. Learn a little about her YA romance, and discover what fantastic advice she has for new writers!

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I've been making up stories since I was a little girl. I used to spend a lot of recesses out in the school yard by myself, lost in my own world. But it wasn't until Jr. high when I started recording the details of those worlds on paper. I wrote my first short story for an English class, and my teacher encouraged me to continue writing, so I did. In high school I was on the literary magazine staff, and I used writing as an outlet to get through a very difficult time in my life. Most of my writing during that time consisted of cryptic poems and song lyrics, but they were my way of expressing the things I didn't feel comfortable saying out loud. When I went to college, I took a lot of writing classes for my communications degree, and although I knew I would write a novel someday, I didn't attempt it until after college when I was married with two small kids. And then one day while my kids were down for a nap, the novelist in me just clicked on. I discovered a couple characters I really cared about who had a story compelling enough to finish. And that was Porcelain Keys. 

                              Purchase Porcelain Keys

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I usually write at my kitchen table. I have an office in my house, but it rarely gets used because I have three kids and I want to be accessible. But I do a lot of writing before they get up in the morning or after they go to bed, because quiet, uninterrupted time is crucial to my writing process. I write both on my laptop and on paper, and I've found that each produces a different kind of writing. My laptop is the best tool for plotting and writing a first draft. But when I’m revising, I’ll often rewrite scenes on paper, because for some reason they turn out more lyrical that way. Also, a lot of scenes come to me when I’m not sitting at the computer. I keep a notebook with me to record new scenes as they come to me, then I’ll type them up later on my laptop.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is drafting and the process of discovery. I love discovering who my characters are and why they do the things they do, and what their story is. My least favorite part is editing, because that’s when the real work begins. It’s easy to tell a story. But it’s hard to tell a story well. It’s not just about grammar and punctuation. Pacing, dialogue, tension, conflict, setting, characterization and more have to be considered separately, then together as a whole. But although editing is tough, there is nothing more rewarding than having a reader experience your story in the way you first imagined it.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My goal as I’m writing my characters is to make them as realistic and interesting as possible. In the real world, people are complex. We have a lot of different challenges, interests, and motivations. And we all have a story. If my character doesn't feel real to me, they won’t feel real to the reader. And likewise, if I don’t care about them, neither will the reader. So I make sure I know everything about a character before introducing them, and I also give the reader reasons to care about them.

My main character, Aria Kinsley, is someone who on the surface seems fragile and vulnerable, and may even see herself as weak. Music is how she identifies herself, but because her father forbids music, she has to keep that vital element of herself a secret. But as the story progresses, we see just how brave she is, and she comes to see herself as someone who is courageous and strong, who is not afraid to take the hard path when she knows it’s the right path. She has a sensitive heart and feels things very intensely. She’s passionate. She loves deeply, and she grieves deeply. She takes everything in and lets little out. She is a hard worker and isn't afraid to sacrifice. She is sure of two things—her love of music, and her love for Thomas.

Aria’s love interest, Thomas Ashby, is both an artist and an intellectual, a modern-day da Vinci, if you will (though on a much smaller scale). He creates beautiful art pieces with melted wax, then turns around and reads The Feynman Lectures on Physics—for fun. He is studious and introspective, and much too hard on himself. He is restless, but good at hiding it. He is carrying his own secret burdens, but he never shows it for fear that they’ll add to Aria’s hardships. And at one point, he can’t carry them anymore, and he buckles. Thomas adores Aria and wants nothing more than for her to be happy. He goes to great lengths to help her achieve her dreams and opens doors for her, figuratively and literally. He is not perfect, but he is just what Aria needs.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Since Porcelain Keys is my first novel, I've had to ride a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to marketing. I have a website and blog, and I regularly post to twitter and facebook. I have author pages on Goodreads and Amazon, and have gotten great results using the Goodreads giveaway program. I also threw a book launch party, did an interview with a local television station, and have more podcast interviews and signings planned. But one of the most effective marketing techniques so far has been my blog tour. I wanted to get as many bloggers as possible to participate, and I ended up with over 60. Most of them read my book and left some great reviews on their blogs and on Goodreads/Amazon. Bloggers are invaluable when it comes to collecting initial reviews, which help potential readers decide whether or not to read your book.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Organizing time is not on my skills list, so most of the time, I write when the scenes demand to be written. Luckily these days, I have a few hours of quiet time during the day while my kids are at school. Sometimes I set daily word count goals, but I find that when I do that I focus more on quantity than quality. So setting a daily time goal works better for me. Usually I strive for two hours a day, but often those two hours turn into more when I get into the groove. And I try to write first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My debut novel, Porcelain Keys, was just released this month. I’m about halfway through the draft of my next book, another YA romance. And I have a few other projects that I keep notes on as well.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have a few projects on the back burner. They’re all YA, but all very different stories. One is supernatural, two are light sci-fi, and two are urban-fantasy. But in each of them, a love story is central to the plot.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

First of all, I would quote John Irving: “More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.” Writing is mostly rewriting, and if you can endure the editing and rewriting, then you can succeed. But you have to learn the craft. You can write a million words and never become a good writer if you don’t take the time to learn how to write well. Take advantage of the many educational resources out there. Books on writing, writing conferences, online articles and blog posts are all inexpensive ways to learn about writing. Join a good critique group. Read a lot. Write a lot. Be patient and get comfortable, because it will be a long journey. In fact, once you decide to be a writer, the journey never really ends.

Thank you, Sarah!

SARAH BEARD is the author of Porcelain Keys, a YA contemporary romance. She has
a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between
writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor and a hopeless
romantic. She enjoys reading and composing music, and lives with her husband and
children in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @authorsarahb, or at Her website is

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ever Read Something Completely Wrong?

The other day I was looking through my emails...I get over 100 a day...and I came across this headline:

Diary of a Tummy Tuck.

But what I read was:

Diary of Tammy's Truck.

Now, this isn't the first time, nor will it probably be the last time I miss-correctly read something. And it was funny, you know?

But the new headline really made me think. If Tammy's truck could speak, what would it say? Would it be tired of hauling the dead Christmas trees to the drop off spot every Christmas? Would it whine because it was always asked to haul the old furniture and stuff? Would it just want a few days off at the beach?

A tummy tuck is one thing, hauling stuff your entire life without pay is quite another.

But then again, perhaps wanting a tummy tuck is a little like hauling stuff your whole life, and wanting a new lift; something that says, "Hey, I'm just not going to carry around that fat anymore."

Okay, I'm a little off my rocker today, but I also have a couple of new ideas floating out there. Will I ever use them?

Whose to say?

But the ideas are intriguing, you know?

Monday, February 24, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kathryn U. Hulings

Kathryn Hulings not only has a great first name; please check mine if you're wondering why, but she also has a connection (albeit a small one) to J.K. Rowling. (Check out the answer to question two).

If you know of someone who has down syndrome, this interview will be of specific interest to you...

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

My husband, Jim, and I are the parents of five, grown children whom we have raised in Fort Collins, Colorado over the past thirty-three years.  I am also an instructor at Colorado State University where I teach literature, composition, and creative writing courses.   

Reading and writing were given a very high priority by my own parents; as such, I grew up surrounded by books and constant opportunities to express myself though the written word.  In other words, I have always been writing!  My B.A. is in English, and my M.A. is also in English with a concentration in creative nonfiction.  

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I always have pen and paper on hand, and whenever an idea strikes me I write it down.  I have been known to write on more than one restaurant napkin!  When I am working on a manuscript and really getting down to business, I work on a laptop, in my home office. 

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is watching the story unfold and being surprised by the unexpected turns the prose takes.

My least favorite part about writing is when I know in my heart where I want to go with a piece, but I can’t find a way in that makes sense; the right line, word, or spark can be so very elusive.  

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

When I am writing in creative nonfiction, my characters exactly duplicate real life people—or at least how they are from my perspective.  In fiction, my characters are heavily influenced by real life folks, but I often conflate a lot of people I know into one character.

Readers seem to appreciate believable characters who are recognizable, relatable, and may even have an uncanny resemblance to someone in their own lives. 

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I am new to this scene, having just published my first book in July of 2013 with the University of North Texas Press.  I have a website and a Facebook presence for the book, and a dear friend who is a publicist in California did an amazing amount of outreach to get the book recognized and reviewed.  

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

My calendar would indicate that I am supposed to write in the mornings.  The reality is that I write when I can, and I write when words are coming so quickly I must write, whatever the hour or place.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I am currently working on a novel influenced by real life events.  My book, Life with a Superhero: Raising Michael Who has Down Syndrome, is a literary memoir, so I am on an exciting writing adventure with this new project. 

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

Not really the back burner . . . I have four more projects lined up to follow my current novel in-the-works.  All four are fiction works.  I also have some plans to keep trying my hand at screenwriting, which is a passion of mine.    

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Keep writing. Keep reading craft books for advice.  Read every genre under the sun.  Join a writing group if that’s your thing. Find a few trusted people who will read your work and offer feedback and guidance.  When you’re ready to submit, brace yourself for possible rejection, and then use it to learn and grow.  Then repeat the whole process again.  And again . . .  

Thank you, Kathryn!

Learn more about Kathryn at:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Transitions in Writing

I don't know if I've spoken specifically about transitions as they apply to writing, but I'd like to tackle the subject today.

Not tackling a person running with the football is a little like transitioning from one paragraph to another. There needs to be some connective tissue if you will; something that says to the reader, "Now we're going here, and can't you tell how smooth the journey is?"

Actually, the reader might not be thinking these words at all, but if your transitions are not smooth, they will definitely be thinking, "This is awkward."

Too many missing transitions, too many ball dropping episodes, and you just might lose your reader.

Transitions are a pretty big deal when you consider how transitional words help to ease the flow of your book. 

(Consider the last two short paragraphs. Do they sound like two unconnected thoughts to you? They did to me, so I've added a transitional phrase. The phrase is bolded below).

Too many missing transitions, too many ball dropping episodes, and you just might lose your reader. And losing your reader is a pretty big deal when you consider how transitional words help to ease the flow of your book.

I love the transitional words mentioned at Kim's Korner for Teacher Talk. These words can help you with your transitions. But transitional words shouldn't be the only way you keep your reader, reading.

Sometimes, rather than using a transition to take the reader from one scene to another, it's preferable to end the scene and start a new chapter or new beginning scene within the chapter. When I decide to begin a new scene within a chapter I will use *** asterisks to signify that the scene is changing.

Because you don't need to include every scene in the main character's life, only those scenes that contribute to the overall theme of the book, it's a good idea to check your transitions from time to time. Sometimes, even great transitions can take the reader off the beaten track, so far off, that they feel as if they're reading an entirely different book.

Who wants that?

So keep your focus. If you find that you've just dropped the ball or missed the basket, back track in your reading until you find the place where that old ball is stuck; and get it to your goal.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How I Review Books

Since I'm currently reading An Invisible Hand by Kathy Golden, to be released in May, I wanted to spend a few moments letting you know what I look for in a great book, and how I write my reviews.

A great book must go beyond a terrific cover, of course. I look for an engaging story, one that takes me somewhere I may not yet have visited either physically or spiritually. I look for real characters, people that are unique in their characteristics; ones that I can relate to or understand. I want a message. I don't want to be beaten over the head with it, but I want a message. I want the sentences to flow like water, the typos to be minimal if any, and the work as a whole to leave me wanting more. Books like these get 5 star ratings.

I'd like to think my reviews are honest without being rude. I focus on what works in the book over what doesn't, what I like over what I don't like. I find a review rarely needs to focus on the negative to be a review that works not only for the author but for the readers who will now pick up the book.

Reviewing books for me is sort of like talking to a friend about something great I have just finished reading. If I like the book enough, I want them to feel like my choice might also be their choice.

I also want the author to know that I actually read and thought about their book. A few days ago I learned that some reviewers actually go to Amazon, read the little that's written there, and then post their review as if they'd read the book entirely.

Wow. I guess I'm a bit naive even in my 50's.

Reviewers have a great responsibility, not only to read the entire book, but to put their best foot forward when it comes to review time. And I hope that how I review books not only helps readers but also writers who want to continue to write.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Drama in Writing

Though some might say that they're only writing this scene to get to the next "great" one, or putting in this character because they feel as if their main character needs a "friend," or even, that this dialogue is needed though it's not very "exciting," I'm a firm believer that every aspect, from setting to character must be filled with some sort of drama.

Do you realize that every piece of your story, every scene, even every character has to be, well....captivating?

A writer just can't afford for a sentence, any sentence, to just lie there--flat.

They can't afford to place in an equally dull setting and equally dry character.

It just doesn't make... 


(There is no typo there).

Who would finish a book riddled with boringness?

Is that a word?

Anyway, they wouldn't. Of that I am sure.

Drama in writing is achieved not only by the way your sentences are constructed, but by the feeling you place within them. Are you using your five senses? Is your main character asking thoughtful questions of themselves after an especially grueling scene? Are your characters well-rounded; are they more than stick figures, meaning they have their own personalities and quirks?

Does every scene, and I mean every scene, count for something in your book? Does it need to be there? If your scene doesn't connect with the main theme of your book; if it's there because you think it's "cool," or because you just "like it," ditch it.


Do you ever put a book down because it's so long winded? Do you want to get to the next best part because the part you are reading is about as dry as a paper plate? What can you learn from books whose pacing, stinks?

Every book has something to teach us, so I recommend reading lots and lots of them. Writing is important, too. As we write and then edit, especially as we begin to read our work aloud, we catch things. Dull sentences. Boring surroundings, or even a lack of surroundings. Awkward transitions, and more.

The best drama out there, in life as in fiction, is captivating because of all of the emotions intertwined. Love. Hate. Secretiveness. Thoughtfulness. Pain. Action. Hope. 

I'm not giving up on you.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Write Here In Ephraim Writer's Conference

WINNER IS ANNOUNCED! But room is still available at the conference!

Photo: WIN THIS PICTURE OF ANDREW JACKSON! In honor of President’s Day…and because I need your help promoting the awesome “Write Here in Ephraim” writers conference (see )I’m giving away a $20 bill! “Like” this post and get 2 tickets for the CASH drawing. “SHARE” this post and get FIVE tickets! READY…SET…CLICK!!!

If you're still wondering how to come up with the $20 bucks needed to attend the upcoming Write Here in Ephraim Conference, ($15 if you pay early) wonder no more!

Brent Boswell, one of the speakers at the conference, is giving $20 bucks to one lucky reader of his Facebook page. Just like or share (or both) and you're in! You can find him here.

And as a reminder, I will be teaching two classes on Marketing Your Book on a Budget. And yes, I will be giving away two copies of this book to two individuals who attend my class.

What could be better?

Click here to learn more about the conference.

And please let me know if you have any questions!

Happy Writing!


Monday, February 17, 2014


What does Darcy do when she doesn't feel like writing? What does she do in the marketing arena to bring in sales? How does Darcy feel about book signings?

Find out in today's author interview: 

Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing? 

I am a couple and family therapist/counselor by profession. In May of 2010, my 48 year old husband was diagnosed with Stage IV Gallbladder Cancer. We found a blog site called CaringBridge where we journaled our story so people could follow what was happening. We started hearing a lot of “you really need to make this a book” comments and the idea started to grow.  In March of 2013, Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer was published.  I started blogging weekly in September of 2012 and have continued to do so. I am also currently working on the sequel to Bitter and Sweet.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?   

I write on my laptop. I like to be able to change things around easily. My computer is slow sometimes so it can be frustrating. I have a little office off my kitchen where I do most of my work.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

Once I get going, it flows pretty easily. I write about personal experience so it ends up being pretty cathartic for me. The least favorite part is scheduling writing. I hate when it’s Thursday and I need to blog and I don’t feel inspired. It’s hard to “make yourself” write. But with other professions, you have to work even if you don’t feel like it, so I try to push myself with the writing too.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?  

My story is true to life happenings. I have had to change the names other than myself, my husband and my pets. Other than that, it’s all as true as I can make it.  Because of the “realness”, I think people can relate to the characters. Once they start reading, they want to continue. After this writing experience, I have a deep appreciation for authors that can create characters and plots. I have no idea how to do that. I can write about what I deeply feel. To create apart from that is not a talent I possess.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing? 

I have a dear friend that is the mastermind behind most of my marketing. Social media is the biggest one. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wordpress (blog), and LinkedIn. They are set up so that when I do something on one of those sites, they interact with each other and show up on all sites. I also have websites for my counseling practice and the publishing company.  We blitzed all email contacts we have.

The second area we have concentrated on is book signings and talks. We made contact with all the local bookstores and libraries in our area. We have found that signings are generally not as successful as having some sort of talk or reading.

The last area is making cold calls/email contacts to churches, book clubs, and colleges. We literally look up places online, find out contact information and start networking. And of course, wherever we go we are always talking, talking, talking.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?  

I generally write Monday through Saturday, maybe an hour a day. Thursdays I also blog. I don’t have a particular time of day because I work around appointments, kids, etc.  Sometimes I write in-between phone calls and emails. But sometimes, like right now, my house is unusually quiet and I can just concentrate on what I am doing.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My first book Bitter and Sweet; A Family’s Journey with Cancer came out in March of 2013. It is the story of my husband’s terminal illness- the diagnosis and how we managed our lives until his death five months later. I am now working on the second book. I believe this one will be called Life After Death on This Side of Heaven.  It will pick up on the grief process after you get through the funeral and have to figure out how to make sense of your life again and develop a “new normal.”

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it. 

This wasn't part of the original plan, but now that we have the publishing company established we are thinking about publishing other people’s books. We are currently in the editing process with a children’s book which has been exciting!

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent? 

Write anyway. Anyone can publish so that isn't an issue. Realistically though, even good writing is hard to sell. So you have to do it for your own personal satisfaction. Helps if you have another means to support yourself financially!

Thank you Darcy! has reviews of Darcy's book, the book trailer, links to television and newspaper coverage, speaking engagements, etc.; there are also links there to Facebook, twitter, linked in, and pinterest:  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Have you entered for a chance to win this book?

If not, this is your last opportunity!
I will be drawing winners tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's My Birthday and I'll Stay 29 if I Want to!

Yes, today is my birthday. And no, I'm not going to tell you how old I am except to say I've been the same age -29- for pretty much as long as I can remember.

Having said that, I want you to know that being -29- at any age, isn't so bad when you consider 
all of the things you've learned, 
all of  the wonderful people you've met, 
and all of the life you've been able to experience.

Having strawberry cake today.
Both good and bad.

Today, however, I want to reflect on the good, all the good, and thank you for being a part of my life. I couldn't be a writer, at least a real writer, without someone (even one person out there) reading what I'd written. I couldn't be a friend if I didn't have one, and I couldn't have learned anything if I hadn't left my computer (at times) and wandered the neighborhood.

As a writer, the most important thing that I can do (besides write) is to be open to all of the experiences that life has to offer, and not only to experience life, but to incorporate what I have learned into the books I've written.

I hope you, as a writer, a reader or both, stay open to the wonders around you.

And stay 29, will ya?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Getting Book Reviews UPDATE!

I wanted to talk a bit about getting book reviews today. It seems they are getting tougher to get, at least for some genre's like Christian fiction. That being said, I did receive a fine review yesterday for The Feast: A Parable of the Ring, book two in the parable series.

You can find the review here. This is the second time I have been reviewed by Mareena at Emeraldfire's Bookmark. You'll also want to check the review I received today on Virginia Ripple's blog for Marketing Your Book on a Budget as well as the one recently posted on Amazon.   

Here's another review for Marketing Your Book on a Budget:

This is an excellent guidebook for a budding author, and loaded with many great tips for getting your book where it belongs: in front of readers! Finally, a clear and concise resource that will get you off the ground as an author. ~Lou Farris

The good news about reviewers who've enjoyed a previous book you've written, is that you will more than likely get them as a taker on the next book. But this isn't always the case. Reviewers are getting busier by the minute because authors have discovered that not only can they receive great FREE reviews online, but they don't necessarily have to worry over not getting those sought after reviews that often came from places like Kirkus or The New York Times.

Like getting on television or on a local radio station, it just doesn't make sense for a writer to stress about places they will probably not be able to market their book (at least at first), and instead, focus on those avenue's that will help them get the word out.

That's why I love blog reviewers. They are book readers, and many of them, though not in the business to write 'professional' reviews in magazines and newspapers, will do a right fine review of your book on their blog and even pass that review along to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads.

In my newly revised book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget, there is an entire first chapter dedicated to getting reviews from bloggers. You may want to pick it up either in eBook or paperback format to learn more about the people and places that hunger for your specific type of book.

Until then, remember that reviews (in my humble opinion) next to interviews, are the most important way to get the word out about your book, so it makes sense to dedicate some quality time to the project.

I wish you luck!


Monday, February 10, 2014


What was Nancy's reasoning for wanting to learn how to write in cursive? What do typo's do when she's shut her computer off? Learn some tools of the writing trade in this week's author interview!

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I've been writing for as long as I remember. I first wanted to be a writer when I was seven. I was just trying out cursive writing and thought it an awful chore but was eager to master it since I was sure that once I could write like a grown-up, I would be able to write books.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I write all times of the day and night. I usually get up at 5:30 so I can write for at least an hour before I go to work. I write all day at work since that is part of my job managing the publications and communications department where I work. Then I go home and write some more. Clearly, I have a huge need to escape reality. I write every day. Sometimes I feel it’s an addiction and try to stop, but I've never been able to do that. I usually compose on a computer unless there isn't one around.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I have lots of favorite parts: making up the stories, getting to know the characters, the research, and I love the incredible wonderful feeling when things all start to fall into place or when an unexpected twist or connection pops into my head.

My least favorite? The boring stuff: editing, proofing. Especially the proofing. No matter how many times I proof something, there are always more typos waiting to torment me. I’m convinced that when my computer is turned off, letters move out of place to dance and play. Some of the letters can’t remember exactly where they belonged, so they end up in the wrong place. Some of the letters just disappear altogether. I wonder if they end up in someone else’s story, the fickle things.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My characters just kind of pop into my head, although at times I see someone doing something curious or I overhear (okay, I’m eavesdropping) a snippet of a conversation that intrigues me, and I start giving the person a life that probably has no basis in reality.

Not positive why readers would want to get to know my characters other than the stories they have to tell.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I admit I am not good at this. I love to create, but I have a very, very difficult time self-promoting. No doubt that comes from my early childhood in which I was frequently told not to talk about myself and – horror of horrors – one must never, ever brag. Bragging included anything that included the words “I” or “me.”

I post things to my Facebook page – always with an apology for shameless self-promotion. I use twitter, always hoping I’m not annoying anyone. I use the kindle free five day program and send announcements about the free days to the wonderful people who send out lists of such things. I have a website I all but ignore because I’m uncertain how to promote it. My latest efforts are to reach out to the kind people who review books for free and then post reviews. And, for the first time, I have contacted someone—you— bout an author interview.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

When my kids were little, I would get up at 5:30 so I could write before they woke up. It’s a habit that stuck, so even though they grew up and now have homes of their own, I still begin my day that way. Now, though, I can also write in the evenings after work because I no longer have kids to play with.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’m working on an anti-war novel set on the home front during World War II. I’m also working on a collection of short stories which I will illustrate with photos I've taken of cemeteries. That short story collection isn't a horror story; rather it’s about redemption and the quest for understanding.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I want to get back to a novel I wrote a few years ago. I put it aside because it wasn't quite right and rewriting it seemed an overwhelming task. But I love the story and need to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

There are also two screenplays I really want to write. I wrote a bunch of screenplays a while back and became disheartened because it is so difficult to sell one, but I have two that I keep thinking about, and the only way I know to get them out of my head is to put them down on paper. (Although if I were to win the lottery, I’d no longer have to worry about anyone buying them – I could write them and produce them myself!)

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Forget about the publishing part of writing. Just write. The more you write, the better you’ll get. If you have stories to tell, be kind and share them.

That said, take the time to learn the tools of the trade. You wouldn't try to build a house using your shoe to hammer in nails and a butter knife to cut wood, so why try to write a book without first arming yourself with the tools a writer needs—a good grasp of the language, a firm understanding of the rules of grammar, a foundation of story structure, character development, etc.?

Thank you, Nancy! Here is a list of Nancy's books:

Purchase: Gabriella: the tale of a misfit fairy
Purchase: The Dolltender
Purchase: The Dolltender's Christmas
It Could Have Happened: Fairytales
 for grown-ups