Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Releases from 4RV

by Vivian Zabel

     4RV Publishing has just released or will release within the next few weeks the following books: Rebuilding Your Life by the Owner's Design by Danny R Von Kanel; Boo's Bad Day by Penny Lockwood (aka Penny Ehrenkranz), illustrated by Deborah C. Johnson; Tales from Mike's World by Mike McNair; Kimmy Finds Her Key by Wayne Harris-Wyrick, illustrated by Bridget McKenna; and A Wandering Warrior by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.

     Building Your Life by the Owner's Design shows readers they can build their lives one frame at a time, taking them through the five spiritual growth stages and lead to a life that has meaning, impacts their world, and brings glory to God. When asked why people would want to buy his book, Danny Von Kanel replied:

Though the market has its share of books on spiritual maturity or personal growth, none offer five stages of maturity, none use a construction metaphor throughout in addressing spiritual maturity, and none attempt to place biblical characters in stages of maturity. Building Your Life by the Owner's Design also differs from other books in its use of building scriptural analysis, assessment checklist, sample surveys, and unique research.


     Boo's Bad Day takes readers to a day in the life of kitten Boo, who sneaks out the house and discovers that freedom, by himself, can be scary. Readers experience the frightful things Boo encounters and the lesson learned.

     Penny Lockwood's words are brought to life by Deborah C. Johnson. Together they create an adventure story for children of all ages.

     Mike McNair's heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in 2000 triggered a strange side effect -- a compulsion to write. Since the attack, he has written two hundred newspaper articles, a novel (A Distant Summer, 4RV), a children's picture book (Sammy the Shivering Snowblower, 4RV), and a story that's been read by millions on the Internet.

     Tales from Mike's World includes dozens of short tales that range from offbeat humorous to thought-provoking serious. 

     Cover art is by Aidana WillowRaven.

    A soon-to-be released picture book Kimmy Finds Her Key, by Wayne Harris-Wyrick, contains a story that helps children understand that "things" aren't the key to happiness. When Kimmy's mom tells her to find her key, Kimmy doesn't understand at first, but she begins the search.

      Bridget McKenna uses her quirky style to bring another children's story to life.

   The final soon-to-be released is an adventure-historical-romance by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.: A Wandering Warrior

  As he excels with historical stories, Harry continues his story-telling with A Wandering Warrior.
    A Wandering Warrior, an action–adventure novel, takes place in twelfth century England. Thomas Beaumont, a commoner, warrior and an itinerant soldier, loses his uncle in battle and his brother through the duplicity of another. He wanders over the country, using his skills to live and to search for the man who killed his brother. 
    His search brings him the love of a traveling young woman, but romance must wait for revenge.  The twists and turns of fate challenge the warrior in many ways, often creating doubt for success. The goals at the ends of his searches hold a reader’s interest.

     Cover art is by Aidana WillowRaven.

4RV Bookstore   

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life on Hold receives CLC Seal of Approval

     Beverly Stowe McClure received notice that her young adult novel Life on Hold has received the Children's Literary Classics seal of approval and is entered for an award.

     The review from CLC follows:

Life on Hold, by Beverly Stowe McClure, is the poignant story of Myra, a sixteen year old girl who discovers a document revealing that the man she had always believed to be her biological father actually adopted her as a young child. As she deals with feelings of confusion and betrayal, Myra contemplates whether to search for her missing father.

Working to find clarity and resolution, empowered by the enduring love of family and her close-knit group of friends, she learns the value of honesty and communication and ultimately comes to realize what family is really all about.

McClure exhibits rare talent in this story which follows a young girl on her journey to discovery as she struggles to be true to herself in this compelling coming-of-age novel.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Reviews & Awards

   Receiving the Seal of Approval is an honor and the sign of a well-written book. Hopefully we'll hear later that Life on Hold earned a silver or gold seal. Bev, we are proud of you. 

     Life on Hold may be found through Amazon, B&N, and brick 'n mortar stores as well as the 4RV Bookstore

4RV Publishing  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

By: Stephanie Burkhart

Social media sites are a great way to attract new readers and Pinterest is one of the fastest growing sites today.

What is Pinterest? Is it free?
Yes, Pinterest is free. While Twitter and Facebook focus on words, Pinterest attracts your attention by using pictures and graphics. Pinterest is mainly about collecting and sharing. Think of it as an online scrapbook.

What can you collect on Pinterest?
Anything. There are two ways to do it. Upload a picture from your computer, or re-pin a picture using the "pin it" button that you can add onto your tool bar.

You can have multiple "scrapbooking" boards, and name them whatever you want after your own interests.

How can Pinterest work for me as an author?
You can create a board named after your book and those pictures that have inspired the setting – a landscape, an actor, or an item featured in the story. You can pin the book's trailer or anything else that is relevant to the novel.  Don't limit yourself. Say you like to cook, too. Pin up your recipes on your board, too. By pinning a new recipe every week, you'll keep your followers checking in. Sharing recipes is very popular, but you can also share jewelry, candles, soap, and baby ideas.

Some Interesting Stats:

Pinterest is popular because of the simplicity of its design.

80% of its users are women.

There are 11 million unique visitors a month.

In the US, people are 70% more likely to buy a product if they find it through Pinterest.

I've got no time. How do I fit Pinterest in?
Set up a social media "plan. Say you can only fit an hour in for marketing. What's a necessity? Emails? Blogging? Facebook? Twitter? Triberr? Pinterest? Budget your time and stick to it. A little pays off. Plan 15 minutes for emails, blogging, Facebook, and Pinterest.  The next day: Emails, Triberr/Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.  A constant, active presence attracts followers.

Question: Are you on Pinterest? Share your Pinterest link. What do you like about the site? Any misc. thoughts to share?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She lives in Castaic, CA and has two young sons. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow and 1st Flag of NH.

First Flag of New Hampshire:
Can Alyssa and Miguel find the first flag of New Hampshire before time is up?

My Pinterest Link:

Links for 1st Flag of New Hampshire:


Barnes & Noble:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Name that Tune

I stumbled into fiction writing without much background, and thus had a lot to learn. One of those things was use of brand names, quoting song lyrics, and the like.

I was working on my first long work of fiction, and passed it by my writing partner.

"You might want to remove the mention of Kleenex, by the way," she said. "It's a trademark, and you could get into trouble."

"But all my main character does is blow his nose," I protested.

"Sure, but why take a chance? In my opinion, he could just as well use a generic tissue."

Would I have gotten into trouble? Most likely not, as I didn't say anything negative about the Kleenex that could have resulted in loss of sales.

Names and titles can't be copyrighted, but brands can be trademarked, and trademarks are also protected by fair use. Copyright and fair use is a complicated subject, and any particular use requires careful analysis. Fair use is judged relative to four factors: purpose and character of the use, the nature of the material being quotes, the amount used, and  the effect on the market.  Small amounts of material and non-commercial use are less likely to be challenged.

So a mere mention of a product, song, or other trademarked or copyrighted material is most likely okay, but if my character chokes on Spaghetti-Os and dies, I might want to switch to a home-made meatball.  Mentioning the name of a song would, again, most likely be all right, but quoting the lyrics without obtaining permission could get me in legal hot water.

What is fair game? Works in the public domain,  titles and short phrases,  facts, theories, ideas. US Government work. Anything published in the United States before 1923 is in the public domain. Anything where the copyright has expired or wasn't registered properly.

Kleenex is a trademark, which is why my writing partner pointed it out.  If you have any doubt as to whether something is protected, the  Patent and Trademark Office website will allow you to search for copyrights and trademarks.  The public domain music site will turn up many more recent tunes in the public domain.

If you're a writer, be aware and take care.

Margaret Fieland is one of the poetic muselings. Their anthology, Lifelines, was published in Nov, 2011. You can find her on the web at or at

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Character's Actions Show His Emotions

"A Character's Actions Show His Emotions" by Joan Y. Edwards

Action Shows EmotionPublic Domain by Tjoepoe
Action Shows Emotion
Public Domain by

When you were in grade school, your teachers probably told you to tell the emotions of the character. You probably wrote simple emotion words. She was mad, frightened, happy, excited, etc. This pleased your teachers. Now, as a professional writer, that’s no longer an acceptable option in the final version to submit to a publisher. What do you do now?

In Wikipedia Richard Lazarus’ theory states that emotion is a disturbance that happens like this:
  1. What’s Happening? What does it mean to you? This cues the mind to choose an emotion.
  2. Your Body Changes according to the emotion chosen to suit the situation: increased heart rate, and adrenalin to handle the situation – fight or flight.
  3. Action – The person feels the emotion and chooses how to react.
Sometimes our mind makes mistakes with its reasoning. Motivational speakers tell stories about people who worry themselves to death. They also tell how if you’re afraid of something, your fear will attract it to you. On Snopes I found the legend Bob Proctor told about a man who got locked inside a refrigerated train car. He thought he was freezing. He wrote a note telling his family and friends  how he was freezing and  his fingers and toes were numb. What he didn’t realize was that yes, he was in a refrigerated car, but it wasn’t activated. It was 65 degrees in there. Be careful what you believe. Anchor your beliefs in truth.

Even though you and the man down the street have the same experiences, it doesn’t compute in your minds the same way. Your gut reaction is not the same. It’s also true about husbands and wives, best friends, and co-workers. What you believe about your experiences, determines your emotions. That is powerful. The same thing is true for each of your characters. In your story, if you put 42 people on a bus and it wrecks, not all of them will react in the same way. They are all sitting in a different seat on the bus. They would also have 42 different opinions. As a result, they could have 42 different emotions triggered by the wreck. They could act 42 different ways.

Below are five examples of what I call “Plain Jane” telling sentences, followed by five “Dazzling Dan” sentences that show the effects of the emotion  - the actions.

1. Amanda was angry.
Amanda screamed. She picked up the tall trash can with the foot-long rat in it and threw it down the steps and slammed the door. No rat was going to stay in her apartment without paying rent.

2. Steven was tired.
Toothpicks propped Steven’s eyes open and his shoulders drooped to the floor, but he stayed up to watch the voting results on the midnight news.

3. Bruce was happy.
Bruce danced around the coach. He smiled and gave high-fives to his teammates.

4. Olivia was sad.
Olivia sat in a chair covered with a week-old newspaper with the obituary page over her face. She pitched a fourth empty box of tissues on the floor. She pushed the button on her stereo to play the same song she listened to all night: “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.”

5. Tom was scared.
Tom closed the blinds. He checked the locks three times. He hid under his bed and prayed what he hoped was not his last prayer.

Check your manuscripts using Search and Find for the regular emotion words: joy, sorrow, fear, hate, angry, sad, joyful, afraid, fearful, hate, etc. While writing, pretend that you and your characters are playing “Charades.” You can’t say the “emotion” word. You can only act it out. Make your character’s actions show their emotions.

Thank you for reading this blog post. Please share one of your “Plain Jane” sentences and its revised ”Dazzling Dan” version in the comment area. I'd love to read them. 

Good luck with all your writing endeavors and every phase of your life.
Accept yourself as you are. Celebrate you every day.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Article Marketing Reprint Strategy – Pros and Cons

Article Marketing Reprint Strategy – Pros and Cons

By Karen Cioffi

Offering your articles/posts/e-books to be reprinted by others might be a valuable marketing practice.

While it seems most authors don’t allow their articles/posts to be reprinted by others as part of their article marketing practice, I have come across a couple of writers/marketers who generously do allow this practice. They allow their posts to be reprinted by other writers to be used on their blogs or in their FREE newsletter. Obviously, anything being offered to reprint should never be reprinted in something you are selling, such as an ebook or report.

I’m surprised that more writers don’t take advantage of this reprint strategy. The benefits seem obvious – let’s look at four of them.

Four Benefits of Allowing Reprints

1.    You have written something that someone else views as valuable.
2.    You increase your visibility.
3.    You increase traffic back to your site.
4.    You never know who will see that article/post or where it will end up.

What About Giving Your E-books Away?

I have also seen this reprint practice utilized with e-books, and it peaked my interest. These informational e-books plainly state in the beginning of the content that readers may freely pass it along. This technique generates additional visibility and is a great promotional tool and marketing opportunity.

In fact, I recently started taking advantage of this marketing practice with one of my e-books.

Article Marketing and Content Reprint Word of Caution Here
Please remember, it’s essential, when taking advantage of a writer’s reprint offer, to always keep the article or e-book intact. Be sure to use the author’s byline and/or any other text and links that they have as part of the bargain.

The reprint strategy is a win-win situation: the author increases his visibility and you get an article to use on your blog or in your newsletter, or you get a free e-book to offer on your site.

Reprint Strategy Drawbacks

Obviously, there are a couple of circumstances in which offering or using reprints isn’t advisable, such as: you wrote the article specifically for a magazine or ezine and publishing elsewhere is restricted, or you may not want to use an article with a byline that will send your reader to a site that offers the same services you do (a competitor’s site).

One other possible drawback to this particular article marketing practice is dilution. What this means is that if you have your article available on a number of sites, when someone does a search for the topic of your article, it may not be your site they end up going to.

In addition, search engines will usually only pick up and categorize the first print of an article, unless it’s revised to avoid this situation.

But, all-in-all, this is a practical online marketing plan.

Why not try this marketing practice. It will be a supplemental tool to be used along with your article directory postings. These two strategies combined will certainly generate and increase visibility and traffic back to your site.

Note: For any type of article marketing you do be sure to include at least one link in your bio/tag at the bottom of the article that leads back to your opt-in page.

Need to build or increase visibility and traffic to your site? Check out:
Creating and Building Your Author Online Presence

And, for more writing and marketing tips visit


Friday, March 15, 2013

Writing on Display All the Time - Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

 by Vivian Zabel  

        How can we shoot ourselves in the foot with writing? Simple, we don't pay attention to what we write, especially if we don't believe it important, such as in a Facebook comment or post or a message sent to another person that may be aired publicly. We fail to think we are on display as a writer or editor. Other times, we may hurry and become careless. The fact remains, we need to remember our writing is on display all the time others can read it.

     As an author, an editor, a publisher, and a retired English teacher, the number of errors (not just typos, we all have those) found in posts by "authors" or "editors" on social sites makes my teeth clinch in agony. Then along come articles and blog posts by authors and editors full of some of the most commonly known grammar -- incorrectly used. The mistakes found in stories, novels, and other types books become an avalanche. 

     The word there is used in place of their or they're, or one of the others is used incorrectly. It's and its are interchanged incorrectly, as are your and you're. Those examples are simply a few of the grammar mistakes I read every day. Commas are not used where needed, or they are sprinkled like rose petals everywhere possible. Run-on sentences create a feeling of confusion in the minds of readers.
     All right (and that's another mistake, using alright for all right), some people don't know grammar well, but writers and editors definitely should. I don't know that I would want to read a book by someone who can't manage to understand the difference between homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings) and/or what version of a pronoun is used as the object of a preposition. For example, I often hear (hear not here), "That's important to Mary and I." Really? He would say, "That's important to I"? Actually, that is what he did say. A compound object is the same form pronoun as a singular object. And I have heard and read that problem from so called well-educated people. Anything between a speaker or writer and another person means the object form MUST be used: between John and me; between my husband and me; between you and him.
     I know some people think that using correct grammar isn't important, not even for writers. After all, editors are responsible for making a writer's work "pretty." Wrong. Many publishers do not edit. Whatever the author wrote, the way he wrote it, goes in print, if accepted. Also, I've seen editors make some of the same type mistakes in their writing and editing. Again, I'm not talking about an occasional typo (which we all make and need to watch and correct); I mean mistakes that brand us as not being good writers or editors.
     A side note to those who don't believe good grammar matters since they don't write or edit: Not only are writers expected to use their own language correctly, but businesses are expecting their candidates for employment or promtion to use grammar the right way. "Experts" say the use of correct grammar shows intelligence, creativity, and a desire to communicate effectively: traits that employers want in those hired or promoted. I'll cover this topic later, but business experts are presenting arguments in support of not hiring or promoting those with poor grammar skills.
     I fought high school students for nearly thirty years, trying to help them understand and use their language correctly. I cringe when I read what some of them write on social sites because I know they should know better. However, I shudder more when people who call themselves authors or editors slaughter grammar.
     As I said, we all make typos, especially when auto-correct kidnaps our words, but correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure do matter. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Butterbeer

by Suzanne Y. Cordatos

Quick--Name something that exists solely because a writer dreamed it up. One yummy example is Harry Potter’s favorite drink, butterbeer. On tap and wildly popular in Florida, a butterbeer can foam your lips courtesy of a JK Rowling-approved recipe. After reading a scene in the books or visiting Hogsmeade in the movies with Harry and friends, you can’t help but crave a butterbeer mustache of your own.

Does your writing contain powerful objects? Do you create symbols? Do you simply hand your characters a cool prop when convenient? People intuitively know a good thing when they read about one. Make your object important and they’ll remember it.

Consider butterbeer. A frothy, slightly fizzy, kid-friendly butterscotch drink, butterbeer is on hand to celebrate a Quidditch win or relax on a day off school. Is it a coincidence that Harry's friends often smuggle the stuff into their cozy common room? Is it an accident that the worst wintry weather coincides with pub trips? In contrast to the cold outside, the friends holding the mugs take on the warmth and comforting qualities of the drink. Who doesn't need friends, warmth and comfort? I'd guess J.K. Rowling designed butterbeer moments with great intention. 

The orphan Harry was friendless as can be before arriving at the wizard school. It is friendship—love—that ultimately gives Harry the strength he needs to defeat the villain Voldemort. Friendship is a powerful theme in the Harry Potter books, and butterbeer is a symbol of that theme. No wonder fans make the trek to Orlando to taste it!

Ordinary objects can hold great significance. A photo of a person or place your character hopes to see again. An apron once worn by a treasured grandma who knew how to cook her way into a family’s heart. The smell of a flower or a few notes of a melody remind your character of a person, place or aching need.

Create a symbol:
            Is it necessary to the scene? To the overall story?
            Are your scenes cluttered with objects? Can fewer be given a spotlight?
            Does the object represent anything else going on? Does it symbolize a theme?
            Fantastical or ordinary, is your symbol grounded in humanity? 

Characters come alive when they need to do things such as eat, drink, love, sleep, clean, communicate, travel and defend rights just like us. Your characters will leap off the written page and resonate with readers.            

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Copy Editing the 4RV Way

by Vivian Zabel  

Dilly by Rena Jones, created by Ginger Nielson
         Once an author finishes his manuscript, which has been accepted by a publisher, has been edited, and is ready to layout, to be designed, the designer provides a layout, then a proof. 

   The designer does not edit, just formats/layouts the text after importing the manuscript from a Word document. Therefore, the way the document is written at that point, any leftover warts and all, is what appears in the InDesign (idd) file. The designer attempts to tweak paragraphs to rid the design of orphans and widows and hyphenated proper nouns, but sometimes tweaking doesn’t work. At that point, copy editing begins.

            Let’s look at the duties of the designer first. After the material is imported into an InDesign file, the designer places the text on the pages with the correct margins, headers and page numbers, chapter and section headers, indentions, and other formatting issues, a process which takes hours and sometimes days. After everything is “placed,” he/she tries to tweak paragraphs that have orphans or hyphenated proper nouns, to eliminate the problems. If any pages have widows at the top, the designer again tries to tweak the paragraphs with widows so that the widows are gone

            The designer does not edit. If something does catch her eye, she may fix the problem if something simple like a misspelled word, incorrect punctuation or grammar, or such. However, her job is not to edit, and she is not expected to do any editing.

            If she sees widows, orphans, or hyphenated proper names that she can’t tweak away, she often will highlight them in a different color for the author and editors to see. That doesn't mean she will find all of them.

            After finishing all layout problems to the best of her ability, she creates the idd file into a PDF proof to send to the author and editors. 

            Authors are to list problems and solutions in a Word document to send as an email attachment to the designer as follows:  the PDF page number of problems/errors as found in the proof;  indication where the problem is found; and the corrected material. For example, if I find a missing word on the first page of the proof, I would list, in a Word doc, the following:
PDF 1     fifth complete paragraph which begins Mary ran toward …  Problem is  
              the word “doesn’t”  is left out of  Jack sees her. Should be
              Jack doesn’t see her.

            Also, any orphans, widows, or hyphenated proper nouns will require the author re-write a sentence or even a paragraph or part of a paragraph to solve the problem. 

            At this point, a vocabulary lesson is needed.                         widow: a group of one or two words (may be three very short
                             words) left at the top of  a page as the end of a paragraph
                             from the previous page. 
                        orphan: a word that ends a paragraph but is on a line by itself.
                        hyphenated proper noun: spacing causes a proper noun to
                              be hyphenated with one part of the  noun on one line and
                              the remainder on the next line.

            The author (or editor, if helping) needs to find any and all remaining errors or problems, including spelling, grammar, missing words, words in wrong order, punctuation, or confusion as well as those listed above.

            The designer and author may have to go through several proofs before one is approved by the author as being as close to being perfect as possible.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Writing - Theme and Your Story

Theme and Your Story

By Karen Cioffi

Theme can be a frightening topic. Do you have a theme in mind before striking the first key? Or, do you write your first draft and then decide what the theme is? Do you have a problem deciding what the theme is, even after you’re in revisions?

In an article, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Theme,” in the Writer’s Chronicle, May 2010, Eileen Pollack discussed theme:

“The concrete elements of any story constitute its plot—Character A, in Village B, is torn by a specific conflict that gives rise to a series of concrete actions through which she relieves that stress. The more general question raised in the reader’s mind by this specific character acting out this specific plot constitutes the story’s aboutness—or, dare I say, it’s theme.”

This description of the elements of a story holds true for any fiction work, including children’s stories. The elements, woven together with theme as the foundation, are what makes the reader continue on, turning the pages . . . it’s what makes the reader care.

According to Pollack, “Theme is the writer’s answer to the reader’s rude, So what?” And, if the theme is poignant, and captures what some or many people actually do, allowing the reader to recognize the situation and actions, the reader will be engaged. Hopefully, the reader will be able to take the theme, however subtle it is, away with him.

For those worried about the theme affecting the story’s natural flow, Pollack advises deciding on your theme after your first draft. Once you have your theme in hand, go over your story again and again. You can now let the theme subtly permeate your story. Pollack goes on to say, “The most powerful use of theme is the way it allows you to fill in your character’s inner lives.”

Literary agent Mary Kole, in her blog at, also sheds light on the worrisome theme:

“When you revise, think about what your work is saying. You’ve got to have a reason for writing it. There should be distinct themes and ideas that you could point to as the center of your book. [. . .] Once you know what these are — and you usually won’t until you’ve started revising — you can use them as a lens. [. . .] A theme for your work should color everything in it, subtly, especially the descriptions.”

So, there you have, after you’ve written your story and are working on revisions, if you haven’t gotten it yet, your theme should become evident. Using it as a “lens” and filtering each paragraph through it, you should be able to convey the theme to the reader.

Need to build or increase visibility and traffic to your site? Check out:
Creating and Building Your Author Online Presence
And, for more writing and marketing tips visit