Monday, January 19, 2015

The importance of Networking.

Although we know the importance of networking in the author business we often have our heads down writing and miss opportunities to do it. I love the people part of writing (readers, book sellers, publishers, reviewers, bloggers, other authors...), but when I'm feeling the pressure of a deadline my vision of focus shifts to the page. In that part of the process we are alone.

And while the alone part can be daunting, critical and fun - networking is key to getting the word out about our work. With no traveling troubadours going from town to town sharing our wonderful stories, we have to do it ourselves. I have a decent voice, at least I used to, and could probably make up a song to sing about the stories I write - but that's not really what works these days. It's social media and the impressions (hopefully good ones) we make on the people we meet in our authoring travels.

Making a habit of hanging out at your favorite bookstore is so easy to do. Watermark Books & Cafe is one of my favorite places to be. They have tons of great books for sale, events for readers and authors, and a delightful cafe. A good cup of tea, a book, a cookie - OH BOY! Nothing better, in my humble opinion.

Writer workshops and conferences are a great way to meet and greet all the wonderful people associated with this profession. If funds are tight you can usually find one within driving distance of your home and probably someone to share a room with. (Check out Shawguides Writers Conferences to find one in your area.)

Some of my best writing buddies were a result of conference attendance over the years - sharing a spare room or hotel - and the fun and educational experience together. People who love writing are the coolest people, don't you agree? And no one understands the plight of a writer like another writer. It's also a great way to connect with publishers, agents, editors and book sellers.

But most of all, don't forget the readers. You'll find them anywhere and everywhere. For example: There's a boutique in the Old Town part of Wichita that I love. Shopping and buying gifts there is an adventure and doesn't hurt my growing earring collection any. It's called Lucinda's. I've made friends with the owner and she has a wonderful group of sales gals working for her. I love it so much that I put the store in my last novel (Patchwork Family). And guess what, my books are selling very well there!

Another favorite spot of mine is the library, where books and book lovers can always be found in abundance - so make it a point to donate copies of your work to your local library so they can share it with the world. Tell your friends and family to ask their local library to stock your books as well. My first novel Feisty Family Values can be found in Australia and thirty of the fifty states in the union.  Not a bad bit of networking.

Enjoy the journey, my friends.
Born and raised in Kansas, Bonnie Tharp spent much of her formative years in her grandmother’s kitchen as official taste tester. Although not much of a chef herself, she enjoys good food and believes all the best discussions happen at the kitchen table.
Bonnie is the author of Patchwork Family, published in March 2014 by Belle Bridge Books. It’s the sequel to 2010’s Feisty Family Values, a novel of women’s contemporary fiction.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Author Pamela Thibodeaux Discusses the R's of Writing

Today we have a special treat for our readers. Author Pamela Thibodeaux is our guest blogger at Author Expressions. She’s offering some helpful information and advice for fellow writers.

(W)rite the best piece you can! There are hundreds possibly thousands of markets out there. It goes without saying that writing your best is important whether it’s an article, essay or novel.

Research. Once you sell your piece and the limits of your contract have expired, start looking for similar markets to submit to, including those outside the United States. Say you’ve written an essay for Working Mother, try, a Canadian market that has several publications on the subject. If you’ve published in print, try online markets and vise-versa.

Rework. Can you add or take away from your original piece and sell it to another publication? Perhaps you’ve written an essay for a secular magazine, can you add the faith factor and sell it to a Christian market or vise-versa?

Revise. Can you revise your article or essay to fit a whole new market altogether? 
My essay Perfect Love was initially published in the Feb. 2001 issue of The Romantic Bower Ezine. One year later, a call for submissions came for a compilation called Crumbs in the Keyboard; Stories From Courageous Women who Juggle Life & Writing.  By simply adding a commentary to the article that acclimated it to fit the purpose of the Crumbs project, the story was published in this anthology.

Rewrite. Can you rewrite your piece with a different POV so that it’ll work elsewhere? I did. My short story Angel of the Day was published in Nov. 2000 issue of The Romantic Bower Ezine. I revised the entire story from the hero’s POV, changed the title, added a hint of sizzle and a splash of sensuality and created a whole new story. The new version, Cathy’s Angel was published by Pelican Book Group and is still available.

Revamp. Can you cut out the tips and advice of a long piece and submit that elsewhere?  I have. Several of my longer writing related articles have been shortened to bare bones and submitted to various publications for pay.

Record-keeping. If you have more than one article, short story or essay that you’re trying to market, it is imperative that you keep records of your submissions so that you don’t duplicate them. It looks unprofessional of you to send the same piece to the same place once it’s been rejected. Now, if you’ve implemented one or more of the above steps to better fit a particular publication, then by all means query. A simple paper, notebook or document listing the submissions and indicating what’s been accepted where, works well. Also, keep accurate records of your income and expenses for tax purposes.

Renegotiate. Most newsletters and websites have a reprint rate so it’s unprofessional and unnecessary to argue the point. For those that don’t list a reprint rate, offer to take less than their normal payment since it is a reprint or perhaps trade articles for advertising.

Remember, in this business money isn’t everything. Marketability is. Publishers want to know how marketable you are; therefore, clips mean experience, experience means exposure and exposure means one step closer to publication!

So learn the R’s of writing. Added together they equal Revenue.

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Website address:  
Twitter: @psthib

Title: Circles of Fate
URL for Cover:

Blurb: Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Purchase Links:
Create Space:

 Pam, thanks for being our guest today. Comments for Pam welcome here!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Name Game: How to Select the Right Title by Jacqueline Seewald

I believe that a well-chosen title helps sell a writer’s work. The first impression a book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title. The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether you write literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc., the title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully feel cheated.

I have a few suggestions that I believe might prove useful:

First suggestion is to do some initial research. For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.

All right, let’s assume you have formed some ideas for titles. Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in some way. Here’s an example: one of my Five Star/Gale novels is a mystery entitled THE THIRD EYE. There are a number of other books with the same title. However, my full title is: THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY. This differentiates it. It also informs readers that this novel is primarily a mystery.

This brings us to my next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word choice. Maybe it represents a reoccurring symbol in your book. Example, in THE DROWNING POOL, my second Kim Reynolds mystery, the pool becomes an important symbol and, in fact, there are two separate pools related to two separate deaths. You’ll note that a much more famous mystery writer than myself used that title before I did. But I didn’t hesitate to adopt it because it happened to fit my novel as well. In THE BAD WIFE, latest Kim Reynolds novel in this mystery series, the first murder victim and the key character in the novel is (you guessed it!) the bad wife. And yes, she really is very bad.

Another suggestion: keep your title short if possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice. For example, the title of one of my novels is DEATH LEGACY. Just two words. Appropriately, it’s a suspense thriller. Enough said.

Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. Example: for the third novel in the Kim Reynolds mystery series I used the title THE TRUTH SLEUTH. Kim is an amateur detective and also an academic librarian. So the title fits the main character. The whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully makes the title stand out.

 In my short story collection, BEYOND THE BO TREE, I used alliteration. I also hoped to provoke curiosity with the unfamiliar Bo tree in the title.


In my YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, I used familiar names in the title to provoke reader curiosity.


Are there any titles that stand out in your memory? If so, why? If you are a writer, how do you select your titles? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Writer's Responsibilities

In the early 1980s I joined a writers' organization and attended several meetings, conferences, and workshops.  But as my involvement grew, I could see where I was going because I could see the other writers ahead of me on the road. Several beginning writers threw themselves into the work of supporting the organization and wrote less and less. Several well-published writers continued to write and volunteer, though over time they wrote less and volunteered more. Many saw their careers fall by the wayside. After a year of this I jumped to the wayside.

My admiration for the men and women who create and sustain organizations that benefit others is unflagging but for purely selfish reasons I choose not to be one of them. The time I spent volunteering was time I wasn't writing. But I didn't really like this totally selfish person, which meant I had to find another way to contribute to my community. I hold the belief that each of us should do something more important than our self. I know not everyone else believes this, but I do and that's enough.

As I've gone along writing over the years I've found various ways to contribute to other writers' success or advancement. The Larcom Review was a labor of love but also published a lot of New England writers, and treated them like professionals. I joined with two other writers to found and edit for seven years the Level Best Books anthology. I've contributed to, and run, numerous workshops for no pay, and invited other writers to join me on panel discussions. I regularly offer to write reviews for others as well as serving as a beta reader for some. I have limits, of course, because I have only so much time, but I think being available in some capacity for others is important.

I can still recall the many individuals who encouraged me when I first started writing as a teenager, and when I first started sending out short fiction during my college years. People helped in various ways but the point is each one offered something--a suggestion on a book to read, a comment on a story, the sharing of a magazine, invitation to a book event, and more. These sound like small things but they arose only because the individual took the time to listen and care about another person's progress. At the time we don't think such small offerings are important, but in later years we remember them with gratitude and, in my case, mild amazement at how significant a small gesture can be.

I hope that in taking a small role in my community of writers I am in some way repaying all those who helped me along the way.

For the many who are better at volunteering than I am, I recommend Sisters in Crime (and my chapter, New England), Mystery Writers of America (again, New England chapter), and the National Writers Union, Boston Local. I can't say enough good things about these groups and how much they do for the rest of us.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Potpouri

CS Lewis, was the  most important Christian intellectual of the 20th century. He was a British poet, christian apologist and novelist, literary critic, essayist and medievalist, and a break-through children's book writer of his time.
Fifty years ago he published an essay called "Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus". He writes about the strange winter customs of a barbarian nation and what he wrote about is increasingly true in our country today. The Christmas rush begins too early and Christians lose sight of what the Advent season is  all about. After Christmas sales starting today, IMO continue to mock the true meaning of what happened on Christmas day.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" teaches the terrific challenge of Christmas with the heart-rendering self-discovery of Scrooge,and does so with laughter, outrage and incredible feeling.
But enough said about the wrongs and  the challenges of this beautiful holy season. It is a time to rejoice and open our hearts to others; a time to be thankful for our blessings.

I am particularly thankful for a second career of writing. The success of my five published books has given me much joy and accomplishment. I still have hopes for my work in progress, although time is slowing down for me, I intend to give it my all, just as I did for  the first.  When Monday rings in the new year 2015, I will take time to savor the best of the many pages that came alive in print for me and the many who helped to make that happen. The first and last novels were historicals: Four Summers Waiting and The Red Cockade. The contemporary series, Maine Shore Chronicles included Finding Fiona, Moonglade, and Promise Keeper. I wish all my colleagues and readers a productive Happy New Year filled with good books and good times.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Perfect Presents for the Holidays by Jacqueline Seewald

The holidays are a great time to gift friends, family or yourself with books to read. With people going on vacation, sitting at beaches, pools and on cruise ships, or ski resorts, many individuals enjoy relaxing with a good book. And there certainly are a lot of them being published!  You can find books to suit every age and taste whether fiction or nonfiction.

Just published and appropriate for holiday reading is a nonfiction book entitled: Miracles of Kindness; True Tales of Kindness in a Modern World. The website is: far available at the iTunes Store. 
My most recent reads are fiction books I haven’t yet reviewed for Amazon or Goodreads.  Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (my husband’s choice), Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery (which I chose to read for myself) and for both of us as we drive currently listening to the audio of Any Other Name by Craig Johnson. On my to read list: John Grisham’s Gray Mountain as well as JoAnne’s Myer’s Flagitious: A Four Story Anthology (recently mailed to me by the author). I’ll also be reading Joseph Rigo’s new novella Going Dutch.

I’m going to recommend my own most recent books to readers and hope you’ll forgive the commercial message. I do think these books make “perfect presents” for a variety of readers.

The fourth Kim Reynolds mystery THE BAD WIFE (and yes, she is very, very bad!) was published by Perfect Crime Books. It is available both in print and e-book editions.
(Endorsed by Sara Paretsky, the previous novels in this series received excellent reviews. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperbacks which followed the hardcover and large print editions are now sold out.) The ebook edition of THE BAD WIFE is reasonably priced.

My Regency romance novel TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS received a lovely blurb endorsement from Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick which appears on the cover of that novel, published both as a hardcover from Five Star/Gale and in large print from Thorndike Press. Mary Balogh also read this novel and offered helpful editorial suggestions prior to publication. SteameReads has published this novel in a newly edited edition in all e-book formats.

I won SteameReads “Some Like It Hot” romance novel writing contest with my sensual Georgian Highlands historical THE CHEVALIER. That novel was  published and is also available in all e-book formats.

My “clean read” YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER was also recently published as an e-book in all formats by Astraea Press. This YA novel is a good reading experience for mothers and daughters to share. It’s not just for teens. Although a romance as well as a coming-of-age novel, the main theme is about family values. A good choice for the holidays.

DEATH LEGACY is now available in a new e-book edition at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or Google from The Novel Fox. This romantic mystery suspense thriller received excellent reviews in hardcover and large print editions from Publishers Weekly and Booklist among others. The Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition sold out in just a few months.

Finally, I will mention my book of short stories, BEYOND THE BO TREE, published as an e-book by Authentic Press:
which offers some of my best diverse stories for reader enjoyment inexpensively.

Okay, now here’s your opportunity to share the books you think will make for good holiday reading this winter. Feel free to mention books you’ve recently published if you’re an author, books you have on your wish list or recently read and enjoyed as a reader. Don’t be shy! Comments/suggestions are welcome here. Let’s share.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interview With Author Patricia Stoltey by Jacqueline Seewald

Patricia Stoltey loves books and authors and regularly features guest writers from a variety of genres on her blog ( Ruled by the fearsome Katie Cat, Patricia and her husband reside in Northern Colorado where Bill escapes to play bridge and enjoy ham radio while Patricia avoids her writing and blogging tasks (and Katie Cat’s demands) by meeting writer friends for coffee, mostly to talk about procrastination. In other times, Patricia has lived in Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, and the South of France. You can learn more about her and her novels at her website ( She can also be found on Facebook: (, Twitter (, Google+ (, and Goodreads (  

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: First, let me thank you all at Author Expressions for letting me jump on board with news about my Five Star release. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Dead Wrong is a novel of suspense about a woman on the run but she’s dead wrong about who’s chasing her. You can see why I chose the title, but now that I know how many other novels have used that title, I wish I’d done a little more research first. If readers search for Dead Wrong, they’ll find a long list of books before they get to mine. Hopefully they’ll search on my name instead.

I chose to write a standalone suspense novel after my two Sylvia and Willie mysteries were published. I’m not sure writing a series is my primary interest, although I do have one more mystery Sylvia Thorn could solve. To me, standalones allow a greater mix of plots and characters…and I don’t have to keep track of all those important stats for the next book.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I started with the “woman on the run” idea because I enjoy reading suspense, psychological suspense, and thrillers. At the beginning, my plot was big and included a threat to the whole country. Gradually I tightened the focus and used a real-life crime that actually happened to a company I worked for. The rest of the story came from my overactive imagination and the desire to write some of the novel from the bad guys’ points of view.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  My main character is Lynnette Foster, a young woman who recently lost her father and had moved from Indianapolis to Florida, thinking she had a new job with a major Miami newspaper. That didn’t work out, so there she was, alone and lonely, working as a cocktail waitress. To ward off the constant advances of drunks and college boys on spring break, she took a self defense class taught by a sexy cop. She impulsively married the guy, and a week later was on the run with a black eye and bruised nose. Lynnette runs into big trouble when she crosses paths with a really bad dude, Fat Ass Sammy Grick (more evidence of my overactive imagination).

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  Five Star and Harlequin Worldwide Mystery published my Sylvia and Willie novels, The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders. The ebooks are now available for Kindle and Nook.

Sylvia is a 60-something former attorney and judge, and Willie is her older brother who suffers from a form of PTSD. In the first novel, Willie gets in trouble when he visits the old homestead in Illinois and finds a body. Sylvia travels from Florida to bail him out. In the second, Sylvia accompanies her mother’s travel club to Laughlin, Nevada, where they find a body in the hotel. Willie and their father fly to the rescue, but complicate matters more than they help.

My first published short story, “Three Sisters of Ring Island,” just came out in the anthology, Tales in Firelight and Shadow. It’s a creepy retelling of the Norwegian folk tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” only now the three characters are humans instead of goats, and they don’t deal with their situation in quite the same gentle way.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer: I’m finishing up the second draft of another suspense novel tentatively called Out of Control.   It’s not a true sequel to Dead Wrong, but I have reused a couple of characters. The female police officer who plays a relatively small part in Dead Wrong had now been newly promoted to detective and she’s the main cop who’s dealing with the murder of a young woman in Glades, Florida.

I also have two sort of finished novels ready for revision and editing. One is an untitled mystery, and the other is historical fiction. I plan to submit that one to Five Star for the Frontier Fiction line.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I grew up with books, loved reading, and always wanted to try writing a novel. My brother had a story to tell about his years in the transportation industry, so we tried co-authoring an action/adventure tale involving unions and management. Once I had that first draft printed out, the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. I churned out another novel, this time romantic suspense. Finally I knew what I wanted to do as soon as I could find the time. Not counting the writing classes and bad short stories and occasional mystery fan conventions along the way, the time didn’t come until I retired from my real job in the real world.

And just so you know, the action/adventure novel, The Troubleshooter, made it into audiobook about 14 years ago, but has never been in print (and probably never will be unless I find a spare year to do a couple of rewrites). That romantic suspense manuscript, Against Her Better Judgment, is still on my shelf with its wimpy heroine begging for a rewrite. It’s a better story, but needs a lot of character development.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: We learn best by writing, so write as much as you can even though most of it may not get published.
 And don’t throw away anything you write. It’s fun (and a little sobering) to go back and read it twenty years later.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:Dead Wrong is available now in hardcover through most online booksellers. I’d also love to have you request the book at your local library. They will need the ISBN which is:  ISBN-13: 978-1432829865.

By the time you read this interview, it’s possible the ebook will be available as well.  

Pat, thanks so much for being our guest author today! Readers, your comments and/or questions are welcome here.