Friday, July 27, 2012

Good Manners for Interviews and Reviews

by Vivian Zabel   

      Your book is out, finally. You're excited and full of expectations. People want to interview you and to review your book. Often you are asked for a summary of your book for interviews and/or reviews. You sit down and write answers to questions for interviews. You write a summary of your book. You're prepared to "face" the world to promote your baby, finally delivered after such a long wait. But, what should you include or not include in an interview or summary?

          First, in a summary, never give away the whole plot. Give a blurb such as found on the back of a book, maybe add a few more details, but not much more. You want people to read your book. Therefore you want to tease them with enough to cause them to want to know more, for them to want to read your book. Only in a synopsis for an agent or a publisher/editor do you want to give the whole condensed story.

          Now about interviews, you always need to include a link or links where your book can be purchased. For example, 4RV books can be found on their bookstore site (, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and through brick 'n mortar stores.

          Your publisher probably promotes you and your book, so you need to be sure to mention the company in return. Most people, when they see a book promoted and no publisher given, think the book is self-published. If you're not self-published, why would you want people to think you are? If you are self-published, you don't need to mention that unless you want to do so. By giving information, at the least the name of your publisher, you are also thanking the people involved for taking a chance on you and your work.

          It never hurts to give credit to people who helped you reach your goal. Did you have an exceptional editor? Let readers of your interview and/or review know. Did an artist give you an outstanding cover or illustrations or both? Share the information. A bit of recognition makes most people happier.  

          None of us have a nearly perfect book without the help of others.

 4RV Publishing 
4RV Bookstore    


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Have you ever given much thought as to how your personal beliefs infuse your writing? Yep, this can be a touchy subject, but it doesn’t have to be.

Who you are as a person has a direct bearing on the types of characters you create, the genre you write in, dialogue, story arc, and on and on and on. As a person, we are more than experiences; rather, our experiences help frame who we become. Yes, I know, this is the whole nature vs. nurture controversy. If you’re not familiar with that, there are two prevailing theories of what sort of things determine who we are as people: nature, or that with which we were born; or nurture, the sum of our experiences. I personally think it is a combination of the two.

But what does that have to do with who we are as writers, and about what we write? It has absolutely everything to do with it! Case in point: News channels. CNN tends to be very liberal, and its stories are slanted in that direction. It will report stories which are favorable to liberal causes. And although it will show both sides of a story, their slant and bias is obviously toward the left. On the other hand, FoxNews tends to be conservative, and their stories are slanted in that direction. The news anchors and reporters reveal their bias in their questions and the people they interview. Both news agencies, I dare say, will declare they are bias free, but one can hardly watch either station without knowing in very short order what their leanings are.

Our writing is the same. If we have a personal faith, it will come through in our writings. If we base our life on certain values we learned as we grew up, those values will come through in our writing. Even such things as to whether you use profanity as part of your daily conversation will come through in our writing. I know that I can pretty well pinpoint an author’s view point on religious, political and other sensitive subjects just through the slant their character’s give in the story. Same thing with gender bias or leanings.

If we want to explore human sexuality, our personal beliefs will come through in not only the characters we create, but in their actions and dialogue. I know of one author whose son came out of the closet only within the past couple of years; before this happened, she did not use any gay characters or relationships in her books. Since then, not only does she include gay characters, but also those who are in love with each other and explores certain details of their relationships. There is another author who very obviously does not like those of the Christian persuasion, and his main characters tend to be liberal and to look down their noses at Christians. There is yet another author whose main characters are Christian politicians and these characters deal with issues in relationship to their personal, conservative views and the clashes they have with the liberals.

Here’s another example: A person who had experiences with drugs and homelessness in their younger years, will write eloquently of those experiences through their characters. They may choose to write about the issues of drug abuse and homelessness, whereas another writer who has not had these experiences may avoid the subjects altogether. And either of these author’s uses or non-use of character’s with these sorts of background may be a subconscious thing, rather than otherwise.

Of course, there are always writers who can write eloquently of just about anything, from any slant or persuasion. But, still, I bet if you closely scrutinize their works, you can discover what their personal beliefs are as well.

If we are really self-aware and realize our characters are an extension of ourselves and our experiences, we will be able to create characters that lean to the left or to the right. We will be able to create characters who are straight or gay, Christian or non-Christian, pro-life versus pro-choice. And yet, even in all that and no matter how hard we may try to show no bias, our personal beliefs will shine through and permeate all of our writing.

And, although I have tried very hard not to reveal my personal leanings, I bet you can peg me, too, right?

Katie Hines is the author of Guardian, a middle grade urban fantasy published by 4RV Publishing. She is also an editor for MuseItUp Publishing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Marketing Tools - Triberr

Triberr is a social marketing tool that is free. It can be a bit complicated, so I'm going to try to make it easy to understand the basics.

To use Triberr you need a blog and a twitter account. At the heart of Triberr, it uses Twitter to broadcast your blog articles on the Internet. So what makes Triberr different? It's a sharing platform, giving you access to a broader audience.

Triberr has its own terminology. When you join, you become a tribe of one, but you need to seek out other members who have similar blogging interests so you can join their tribe. Joining a tribe costs "bones." (Triberr money) You get 100 bones when you join and I understand there are opportunities to earn bones as well, or you can buy them.

I joined Triberr, filled in my bio, added my Twitter account and plugged in my blog's URL. I joined a few tribes and learned I have a reach of over 30,000.

The bulk of the work is done in the "tribal stream." You'll see your blogs along with blogs from your tribe mates. Click "approve" and Triberr will release these as "Tweets" on Twitter in 20 minute increments. If you've got a tribe of 10 people and you're all tweeting each other's posts, then you've expanded your reach.

A note: Tweets sent by Triberr have a "" signature.

That's Triberr in a nutshell. It's a social marketing tool that expands the number of people you can reach on the net. 5 minutes a day (to approve posts of your tribe mates) on a consistent basis should give you opportunities you may not have had before. You don't have to hang out on Triberr like you do on FB, Yahoo Groups, or Twitter, but it can be effective once you learn the ropes.

Any questions, comments, feedback, tips about Triberr are welcomed.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, NH. After spending 11 years in the US Army as an MP, she settled in California and is now a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her books with 4RV Publishing include "The Giving Meadow" and "1st Flag of NH."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Get Rid of Your Writer's Block

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards and her licensors
Writer's Block

Get rid of your writer's block. Destroy it. It seems real, however, writer’s block is only imagined. It’s emotion that’s built this block and it’s emotion that’s keeping it able to exist as though it was real. However, writers can make the lowest of creatures and the greatest of heroes come to life. Writers have the power to make this block real. Is yours made with cardboard, plastic, metal, or wood?

Paint your block. Decorate it with stickers. The more you talk about this block, the more real it becomes. The more you talk about this block to yourself or other people, the bigger it grows. The more it stands out. The more powerful it is.  It becomes so real you can pick-it-up and toss it around. You can even sit on it, day after day, night after night.
Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards and her licensors
Choose Your Writer's Block. Decorate it.

What other excuses can you put inside this block to make it grow to a huge monster size: Your job, your family, your friends. They are all worthy excuses, but they don’t really want to keep you from your dream. You are the only one who can keep you from achieving your dream. But, you say, “You don’t know me. My situation is different. My job really does keep me from writing. My family demands all of my time.” That may be true.

However, what would you tell a character in your novel if she was saying those very words. Would you tell her, ”Stick up for what you believe in.” What would you tell your daughter or son if they were talking about their dreams? Would you tell them to give up? Would you tell them it's impossible to achieve their dreams? No. I don't think you would.

You must believe in yourself. You will be better willing and able to do things for others, when you take a few minutes each day to do something for yourself. Remember the airline stewardess who says, “Put your own oxygen mask on first, before you help someone else.” Your dream is your oxygen mask. It gives you life. Go for it. Take time for you. I’m not saying to neglect your duties. I’m saying embrace the belief that you can do them both. You can make time for you to write and take care of your responsibilities. You have to believe you can make time to write and make it come true. You have to take action. You have to take action to destroy this block.

By taking action, you can destroy the writing block. How? Delve into the middle of it with your mind. Go ahead. Get your vehicle of choice: Race car, Armored car, Convertible, or Limousine. Take action. Drive right into the middle of your writer’s  block.  POW!

Red Covertible

What? There’s no crash. No explosion. Why? You dissolved it.  Your writer’s block was only real in your mind. It never truly existed. It was not real.

In my opinion, writer’s block is a situation that stops a writer from writing. It could be from a fear of success or a fear of failure. It could be a fear that you are not good enough. A fear that if your words will have no meaning to those who read it. It will not be accepted by others, as you wish it would. It is difficult at times to put the feelings you have experienced into the characters you describe on the written page. However, millions of people did it in the past. Millions of people do it today. Join them. Why not let it be you that writes?  If you die with your story untold, you leave a huge chunk missing out of our human database needed for future survival. Write. You can do it.

No person is indispensable. The world needs you and your opinions. Everyone’s opinions are important. Even if we disagree with them, it is good to have those opposite opinions. They help verify what you truly believe. Your writing doesn’t have to be the best writing of any person in the whole universe. It only has to be the best writing you can do at this very moment with the feelings, experiences, and skills you have right now.  If 5 minutes is all you can give right now, give 5 minutes. Know the reasons why you are writing. What is it you are trying to say about life? If you think life ends up badly no matter how hard you try, write a story about it. Prove that’s true. Create characters who will point out this truth and write it.

If telling a sad tale is all you can write now, write the saddest tale you can write. People will read your story and cry with you. Write.

If telling a funny story is what you want to do, tell the funniest story ever written and people will laugh along with you. It’ll give them new hope. It’ll give them healing. Write.

If you believe that good triumphs over evil, write about it, prove it. Write the whole story from beginning to end. You can always change the words after you get them written. Worry about revising later.

Get up 30 minutes earlier and write.

Get a timer. Set it for 30 minutes. Just write. Write your name. Write the date. Write how it feels to write. Write what you want to prove to others by your writing. Write what you want to prove to yourself by your writing. Write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about punctuation except for who said what. When you are writing, always put in your dialogue tags, such as: Jane said. In my opinion from my personal experience, it's very difficult and takes endless hours to go back and put them in later. Periods, quotation marks, commas, etc. You can put them in now or later. If you remember, put them in. If you get going really fast on an idea, go with it. Don’t fret, you can put your punctuation and check your grammar later. (If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can use the Review Check Spelling & Grammar. It’ll show you the errors in your writing and suggestions for fixing them.)

What I’m trying to tell you is that this block is an illusion. It is imagined. It is an image in your mind. You put it there by saying it was there. You can take it out, by saying it is not there. Say the words, “Seconds ago, I had a block. The block is gone. I am free to write. I find ways and time to write. I am a writer. A writer writes, therefore, I write. I allow myself to write. I write often and well. I am courageous in writing. I allow myself to be a successful writer. I allow myself to be a failure at writing. I will continue writing against all odds. I accept myself as I am. I am a writer. I write.”

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Creating Websites or Blogs - Plan First

You would think that creating websites and blogs wouldn't have any consequences, but if they're not properly thought out, they may.

I have to admit that I do everything fast. Well, not like I use to when young and healthy, but old habits die hard.

What I mean is I get an idea and instead of taking my time and thoroughly thinking it through . . . carefully planning and thinking of future endeavors and how this decision will factor into all aspects of my writing, I jump in. I quickly choose a domain name and throw up a website or blog.

Now, you may say, “So what's the big deal.” Well, in the visibility and marketing world it's a HUGE deal.

Suppose you start out with one book, or write in one specific genre. You know you have to create a website to get your visibility started so you go to Blogger or WordPress and create a free site. Or, maybe, you go to BlueHost or GoDaddy and pay for hosting.

Whichever you choose you’ll need a domain name. You’re in a rush, so without thinking of any possible consequences to this seemingly innocent move, you choose a domain name.

Maybe you chose: I'm Learning to Write, or Jane Doe Writes for Children. Or, maybe your first writing venture has you teamed up with a co-author or contributor, and you create a joint site.

See where this is heading?

You decide on the domain name "Ann and Jill Just for Children." You’re starting out so this seems reasonable. But, a year or two later, Jill has nothing to do with your current writing life. And, you've authored another children's book along with a couple of writing and marketing e-books. Not only that, but you’ve diversified and write articles in multiple genres.

Now what do you do? Your traffic and subscribers are all connected with Ann and Jill Just for Children.

A light goes off . . . you'll simply create another site. And, you’ll create a third site because you now offer writing services and ecourses.

But, what about the traffic you’ve built up that’s going to the Ann and Jill site?

Not a problem, or so you think.  You cleverly decide to link all your sites together.

This is an option, but before you know it, you’ll end up stretching yourself thin trying to add content to all your sites. Not to mention working to drive traffic to multiple sites. This will end up limiting the time and effort you can put into your own publication goals, following your groups and social networks, and doing research. And, it will cause a dilution in focused traffic.

Ah, the 'webs' we weave...

So, the moral of the story is don’t box yourself in. THINK BIG from the get-go and take possible future endeavors into consideration when choosing a domain name and creating your website and blog. A 'safe bet' domain name for your first site is Your

Rule 1 in writing and marketing is to create a writing and marketing plan.

Ignite your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi and A Writer’s World ezine. Get weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars, and TWO FREE ebooks! Sign-up today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pebbles on the Beach

Pebbles on the Beach

By Suzanne Young Cordatos        

Are you a collector?

When on vacation, I find it impossible to resist bringing back a piece of the place. How better to preserve memories of special times, gatherings, food, music, and scenery than holding it, literally, in one’s hand?
Sometimes a “piece” means a cheap refrigerator magnet in the shape of the Mayflower, but often it means a literal piece picked off the ground. My husband is from Athens, Greece, and visits to his family always include a trip to the beach. The ubiquitous pebble beaches of Greece are a wonderful place to find packable treasures. Marble chunks smoothed by years in the Mediterranean Sea. The whitest pebbles, or the blackest. Pieces of blue and green bottles. Broken terracotta so smooth it seems like an ordinary pebble, but one that might have originated in some ancient past. Each pebble contains the power to bring back visions of my kids dancing in a village square, laughing and stumbling over the fancy Greek footwork.

Collect words
In my writing, too, I am a collector. When I first began, I voraciously sought out “how-to” books. How to structure a story. How to bring believable characters or plots to life. How to build a platform. Then I realized: I was doing a lot more reading about writing than actually writing. Has this happened to you? We “feel” like writers, therefore we are? Nope. Not unless we are writing! Now, I prefer collecting books of words, unique thesaurus-style books filled with words relevant to whatever theme I am exploring barefoot at the moment.

Keep a small notebook
Collect special sayings that touch your heart in a notebook. They might worm their way into a book's theme. A small notebook can be a writer’s best friend, easily on hand to record the joys/pains of life. Annual events like the 4th of July would seem easy to recall, as they happen pretty much the same every year—but on a winter’s day writing about it, are you going to remember the sound of the American stripes flapping in a strong breeze, or its hooks clanging a summer music against the flagpole? Will you remember the sting of lemon in a fresh cut, or the pesky bee buzzing around the pitcher of lemonade? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Few Tips for Writers

by Vivian Zabel

     I'm a fan of writing magazines: The Writer, Writer's Digest, and a few others. I find suggestions that help me as a writer, and some times, I find things to ignore. The recent issue of Writer's Digest had many tips, good ones worth sharing. I'll give a brief, partial list of tips all writers many find helpful.

  • Unique shouldn't be modified with very, more, rather, or so. Unique stands alone.

  • A message I repeat over and over: Avoid multiple exclamation points, and I add, "Use only in dialogue and then seldom."
  • Know the difference between their, there, and they're. Their means belonging to them. There is a place, as is here. They're means they are.
  • Writers should have professional quality as their goal, not perfection.
  • Don't write about anything you don't care about.
  • Fiction will be smoother if the simple replaces the complicated.
  • Give your writing time to rest between revisions.
  • Use very and rather seldom, if at all. Don't be lazy, find a precise word.
     Hope those few suggestions help you be a better writer. To discover more tips try reading writing magazines in print or online.

4RV Bookstore 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Critiques are Essential

Writing includes a number of steps, one of those steps is belonging to a critique group.

Having been a moderator of a children's writing critique group and a reviewer for multiple genres, as well as an editor, I read a number of manuscripts and books. Reading both well written books and books that lack polish, it's easy to tell which authors haven't bothered to have their work critiqued or edited.

Seeing the unnecessary and unprofessional mistakes of writers publishing unpolished work, I always include the importance of belonging to a critique group in articles or e-books I write about writing. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides.

The critique group can catch a number of potential problems with your manuscript, such as:

1. Grammatical errors
2. Holes in your story
3. Unclear sentences, paragraphs, or dialogue
4. The forward movement of the story
5. Overuse of a particular word, adjectives, and adverbs
6. Unnecessary words to eliminate for a tight story

The list goes on and on. And, there are even more potential problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It's near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all of his or her own errors.

Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those suggestion and comments, but if all the members of your group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity, hopefully a light will go off and you'll pay attention.

Along with having those extras sets of eyes to help you along, you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will also be able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker. This will help you become a better and more confident writer.

Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you're ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group missed. And, believe me, there will be something in your manuscript that wasn't picked up on.

When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers will help you hone your craft through their critiques of your work.

If you haven’t already, join a critique group today.

Ignite your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi and A Writer’s World ezine. Get weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars, and TWO FREE ebooks! Sign-up today.