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:
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 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.