Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action! by Katie Hines

When I considered what to write today, I realized I was still hung up on what I wrote last time: the need to write, period. It seems like a worthy goal, and I think, a goal all of the time because so many of us lead very busy lives.

Lights, camera, action, aka ready, set, go, needs to be our focus as writers. Too often, we writers can get bogged down in the details of marketing and promotion, and fail to connect to our muse.

Heck, let's face it. For many of us, it seems the muse has flown the coop, and by the time we realize the door was open, our muse seems long gone. However (don't you love that word?), there is hope. Yes, pay attention to marketing and promotion, but also balance that left brain work with right brain creativity.

Sit at your computer, turn the lights on, move your web cam so you can't cheat, and take the time to reconnect.

How do we recapture our muse? I think it's different for everyone, but what it boils down to is that we have to take action--be ready to write. What we write may first come out as crap, but then we find ourselves connecting to our muse, and find the creativity once again.

Ready: turn your light on above your computer. Set: Move the webcam so it doesn't distract you. Go: Take action! Be proactive, connect with that muse and begin to write once again!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas season starts

by Vivian Zabel

          'Tis the season for giving, receiving, sharing, decorations, lights, and Christmas music. Yes, I know some people believe it's the season for shopping, scrambling, frenzy, and madness. However, perhaps we should relax a bit and really examine the Christmas season.

          First of all, what does this season really mean? It represents the birthday of Jesus Christ; notice I said represents, not is. More than that, the season represents the characteristics of Christ: love, sharing, giving, fellowship, kindness, and celebration.

          We need to show love not only to those who are lovable; that's easy. We also need to love those who may not be so lovable. Perhaps someone has hurt us. Yes, I've had many painful encounters with other people, a few recently, but I MUST forgive and have no harsh feeling for those people. No, they won't care, but I will benefit, and doing so is right. 

          We can share without bankrupting ourselves in money, time, or energy. Our town has the Hope Center, where those less fortunate can receive help. I give donations of can goods, toys, and nearly-new clothes, since I don't have the funds to give money or new clothing. I remember a time when our family received formally-owned clothes and were thrilled.

          Giving doesn't have to cost a fortune, either. Maxing credit cards to give elaborate gifts can be a nasty gift to give one's self. People who really "like" us accept what we can give and understand what we can't. Some families draw names so that one person doesn't have to buy gifts for everyone else. Some families give gifts to people who have little rather than give expensive gifts to each other.  Others give the children in the family gifts and maybe small tokens to the adults. There are so many ways to "give" and not add to the madness of the world around. Gifts can be of time, services, or other non-buyable types.

          Fellowship is a large part of Christmas, being with friends and family. Someday, for Christmas, all my family will be together. Another kind of fellowship is to remember those who has lost a loved one or loved ones at Christmas. A card, a note, a phone call can help, not only for the first Christmas after a loss, but also afterwards.

          A little touch of kindness goes a long way. During our rough time (some day it will end), people offered to help. Even though few actually did, just knowing people cared enough to want to help helped. Having a person open a door when one has his or her arms full is an inexpensive kindness. Kindness does not have to cost one penny.

          Celebration can range from enjoying Christmas music (one of my favorite parts of Christmas) and Christmas lights (even if we can't put up lights of our own, we can enjoy those other people do) and carolers and Avent services and family/friend get-togethers. We can celebrate in our hearts, knowing that the season of peace can be filled with celebrations that don't include wildness and excess.

          I celebrate having a husband who loves me, warts and all. I celebrate having a family filled with children and children-by-marriage, grandchildren and grandchildren-by-marriage, and great-grandchildren. I celebrate having friends. I celebrate having wonderful authors, illustrators, editors, proof readers, and other staff, current and past. 

         Thank you for being a part of my life.

4RV Publishing website  
4RV Bookstore    -- remember 4RV has an ongoing book sale. Prices will remain cut until Dec. 20, but orders made after Dec. 5 can't be guaranteed to be delivered before Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday -- 4RV

          Today is Small Business Saturday and an opportunity to help small businesses stay in business. Just one purchase can make a difference. Imagine what would happen to 4RV Publishing, for example, if everyone would order one book. Yes, a big difference indeed, one purchase at a time.

          Please spread the word about sales offered today by small businesses, also by 4RV Publishing. All sale prices for books include shipping in the United States. Anyone wishing to order from outside the U.S. can inquire by email, and information will be sent.

          One suggestion, though, if ordering books from 4RV, try to order no later than December 5 to guarantee delivery before Christmas.

          Please join us today to help keep small businesses going. Remember, just one purchase can make a difference. 

4RV Bookstore   


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Tis the season of Thanksgiving

by Vivian Zabel 

          This week brings a day of thanksgiving. I know I have much of which to be thankful, but I need to remember to give thanks every day, not just one day a year.

          I'm thankful for my husband of nearly fifty years. We met November 7, 1961 and were married February 18, 1962. I don't really remember being without him by my side. No, our road has not be smooth. We had struggles and difficulties, some major, but we survived. We both want to be in God's will and to be what He would have us be.

          I'm thankful for my children: Rene, the musician from the time she was four years old; Bob, the warrior with a tender and loving heart; Randy, the peacemaker and baby of the family with more maturity than he should have had; Regina, the angel in heaven. I love my children more than they probably know.

          I'm thankful for my grandchildren: Rene's children - Macayla, Keri, Faris, Meena, and Aiden; Bob's and Brenda's girls - Liz and Jenny; Randy's and Janelle's boys - Ryan, Colby, and Shane. Each one has a special spot in my heart.

          I'm thankful for my great grandchildren: Macayla's and David's children - Kurtis, Ethan, and Haylee; Keri's and Jarrod's girls - Katie and Emma. They are such blessings.

          I'm thankful for friends, some who have been part of my life for many years. I can't begin to list them all, but I want to give special thanks for those who have been in my life the longest: Jean Bray (since we were in third grade), Joyce Childers (over 40 years), Carolyn Leonard (since her son was a senior in high school), Jacque Graham (for over 30 years), Larry Boyd (since high school), Phyllis Cote (since high school), Sherrill Chandler Henderson (since we were 12 and 13), and Margaret and Terry Rohlmier (we met in college). Others from the past have been found and some lost. Also more recent friends have brightened my life.

          I'm thankful for all the 4RV authors, illustrators, and staff members. All are blessings, even those who have been a challenge. The company couldn't exist without Aidana WillowRaven, Ginger Nielson, Harry Gilleland, Mandy Hedrick, all the editors, all the authors, and all the illustrators, past and present. I wish I could name all, but I don't want this post to be so long. However all can be found on the 4RV website and bookstore. Thank you, everyone.

          I pray each and every person who has been a part of my life and who is still a part of my life will have a wonderful Thanksgiving. God bless you all.

by Vivian Zabel

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why not have fun selling your books ~

by Ginger Nielson

Wow! Your book has just been published.  The journey you took to get from blank page to that precious book you hold in your hand was well worth the struggle, the set backs, the interruptions, and the critiques along the way.  Now you have copies to sell.  You also have to sell yourself to the public.

It is time to get your book and your vision out there.  Some bookstores will be happy to oblige you. After all they will make money if you sell your books through them.  But some bookstores are either not so willing or unable to host newcomers to the marketplace.

That leaves another solution. Selling your books elsewhere.  Some venues may be well suited to a book sale with the proper amount of publicity.  Libraries may have book signing events for local authors.  If you are in the children's book market you might be able to convince the Children's librarian to allow you an event with some games, crafts, or giveaways for the children.

A bit of planning ahead is needed. You have to let people know you are going to be out there.

Before you commit to an alternative venue for selling and signing your books, consider sending out an email to all your contacts letting them know where and when you will be presenting your work.
This is a great time for you. It is something to shout about and let your friends know the good news.
Publish the news on your blog, on any social media connection you have, and ask friends to do the same.

Many schools have book nights where more than one author will be present signing copies of their books.

Some farmer's markets and Sunday afternoon antique and flea markets will also rent a table to anyone willing to pay the price, sit in the sun or rain for about 4 hours, and take their chances with the rest of the crowd.

Some retail stores with particular lines of clothing or toys might also welcome a book signing if you have what they think might appeal to their customers. Your presence may also be giving the retailer a boost.

The alternative venues are often a great source of public exposure and sales can result in some of the most unexpected ways.  But, there is work to be done if you want to succeed in an unusual venue.

The plus side here is that you putting your name and face out there for the public.
You want them to remember you, your book, and your vision. You need to make sure that is the end result even if you don't sell many books. It is wise to take advantage of any reasonalble offer if you are seeking exposure.

Be sure to have a poster, or announcement in plain site well before the event. Even the local newspaper may be willing to give you a bit of press space.

Make sure any display of you and your books and any art associated with it looks great!

People walk through many venues quickly and you want to stand out. If you are limited to a small table bring an inexpensive carpet to lay down in front of your space. The more colorful the better.  You can find such things at outlets, dollar stores, or Job Lot stores.  How about decorating your space with a plant or two?

Maybe your book is a period piece. Why not wear a costume.

Maybe your book is a brightly colored children's picture book. Why not have some illustrations on display.

Are there bookmarks, sell sheets, take home flyers available? Why not make some of have some made.

Are you selling prints of any of the illustrations or posters suitable for framing? Or, do you have some already framed prints ready to sell?

Are there small take away items that children might love to have that are associated with your book?

Consider a guest book or sign up sheet that will allow customers to leave a name or email, or home address for info about your upcoming work, and appearances.

Have some of your best reviews on display either in the sell sheet, or as larger printed pieces accompanied by a cover shot or an illustration from inside your book.

Here is one more little item that may have escaped some in the past.... Sign your work so that people can actually read your name.  A squiggle is fine, but people who want a signed copy of a book want to show of your name as well. Yes, your name is on the cover, but that signature inside the book is precious to the new owner.

Consider the forms of payment for your work.
Try to take as many forms of payment as possible.  You can certainly take cash, but consider check and also credit card. You can get a device called a "SQUARE" that attaches to your iPad or cell phone and becomes a card swiper. The details on using one can be found at: The Square Card Reader

All good wishes to you for your first, and for all those book signings to follow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Promotion: Review of Sparrow Alone on the Housetop -- The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel

          The Midwest Book Review's October issue includes a review of Sparrow Alone on the Housetop by mother and daughter writing team: Jean James and Mary James.

Sparrow Alone on the Housetop
Jean James and Mary James
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780982659489, $19.95

"She ran toward the cavorting plane, positive something terrible would happen in the next few seconds, but it still took her totally by surprise when it did. She plunged into the large hole of Ruben's stump. Her foot went down deep beside the taproot, and her chin hit hard on the ground. A ton of loose dirt slid into the hole along with her, filling her shirt and shorts and even her mouth. When she tried to climb out, her left foot wedged under the root, and she couldn't make any progress except to bring more dirt into the hole. She wiped the dirt from her eyes in time to ascertain the plane had landed safely after all, and she was the only casualty.

"A-Are you okay?" the pilot shouted and ran toward her. She suffered the most humiliating moment of her life when he stepped halfway into the hole to render aid.

"I'm fine. I can get out.""

So goes the ignominious introduction of Anne Sumner to Jim Orr. Their relationship will take them back and forth between the United States and Mexico on a mission to solve the mystery of strange illnesses in the small towns where Anne has been working as a missionary. Jim is a pilot for her father's company. He transports the payroll for the large company and does some crop dusting for them.

Several of the villagers who work in the fields start becoming ill with a mysterious flu-like disease. When Anne is struck down by this same disease and is rushed to a hospital in Houston, the questions begin. Why won't the doctor give her any information about what might be wrong with her? Why did her father put her to work in her old job in public relations? Why did only she and a couple of others get sick in their little village, but many in a neighboring village were struck down? The answers to these and other questions lead her to the horrible truth. She begins to unravel the mystery through talking with many of the villagers who had become ill and by getting a second opinion about her own illness. What she uncovers is the inner machinations of her father and her sister to cover up the true reason for the mysterious illness, as well as other questionable events. She does not know who she can trust - her new friend, Jim, her cold sister, Angeline, her brother Fred - but she certainly cannot trust her father.

Anne's faith is tested, even as Jim's grows. With his help, she begins to regain her conviction and trust in the right people. Together they untangle the web of deceit that has overtaken the whole Sumner Company and the small towns in Mexico.

This book, written by the mother and daughter team of Jean James and Mary James, tells an exciting story about death, intrigue and romance that the reader will enjoy. The very interesting final confrontation between Anne and her father leaves the reader wondering.

Jean James was active in many outdoor pursuits before becoming a full-time writer. She collected live mammals and reptiles for international distribution, collected live venomous snakes for antivenom production, and worked on sundry wilderness construction projects. She's married to WW2 veteran, William James, and they have six children.

Mary James has spent half her life writing and the other half making music. From age five she has written songs and performed as a touring singer/musician. Today, she spends most of her time on the road but is always anxious to come home to her photographer husband and troublemaking horse.

Katherine Boyer

          Sparrow Alone on the Housetop is found on 4RV Bookstore, and all books are on sale.

4RV Publishing website

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promoting Your Book with QR Codes

by Holly Jahangiri  

I’ll bet it never occurred to you, while writing your book, that writing would be the easiest part of becoming a published author. I still remember the “deer in the headlights” look on my face when Vivian Zabel said something to me on the phone about attending a book festival and arranging for book signings. “WHA—? Oh, no, no, no… I WROTE the book. You have to promote it!!”

I still remember Vivian’s laughter on the other end of the line. After my blind panic subsided, it did start to sink in – it even made sense. What’s a good book promotion without the active involvement of the author? When’s the last time you went to a book signing and thanked the publisher for their autograph?

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies That Will Broaden Your Reach is a great list of things you can do right now to promote your book. As an introverted technical writer who writes children’s picture books by night and still wakes in a cold sweat from nightmares involving kindergarteners and flying globs of Jell-O, rotten fruit, and spoiled milk, virtual book tours are one of my favorite methods of book promotion. I also like new, cutting edge, or creative ideas.

What Are Those Squiggly Things?

One such idea involves the use of QR codes – a form of two-dimensional barcode that can be easily scanned and translated by any number of free smartphone apps. A lot of people ask me, “What are those squiggly things?” My dad would call them “curiosity generators.” The cool thing about QR codes is that, although they’ve been around for quite a while, they’re just now gaining traction as a marketing tool, and they’re actually useful because they are so easy to use and so accessible thanks to the popularity and widespread use of smartphones. Look closely, and you will see QR codes on billboards, shop windows, buildings, magazines, coupons, ads, business cards, postcards, web sites, and more. If you have a smartphone, odds are you’ve seen them as a way to quickly download apps from a catalogue or web site. Odds are, they pique your curiosity and you want to scan them – to discover the “secret message.”

Here are a few examples (if you have a smartphone, go ahead and scan them!):


Adding a QR code to your business card lets you embed your contact information in a standard format, or allows you to create a “landing page” with dynamic content that can be updated as needed. When resizing the QR code or changing colors, or when placing text or other images near the QR code, be sure to scale the graphic, preserving the original aspect ratio. Always double- and triple-check to be sure it still scans, if you make any changes to it at all. The “quiet space” around the QR code (more commonly known as “white space” to us writers) matters, and some codes have a higher amount of “forgiveness” built in (higher error checking). A higher amount of error checking results in a more complex code that allows for up to about 30% of the pixels to be replaced or altered artistically. This often comes at the cost of scanning speed, and people may give up trying if they think the code doesn’t work, so sometimes, simple is best.


You can use a QR code to make it easy for people on the go to sign up for your newsletter, or bookmark your blog. QR codes can be printed or placed on your blog. This example goes to a signup form for a mailing list I created for a blogging contest. You can use a QR code to link to your book trailer on YouTube (keep in mind that Android-based smartphones may only be able to play video hosted on YouTube).

It is easy to create your own QR codes, at no cost, online – just search for “free online QR code generator.” One of my favorites is If you prefer artistic QR codes that you can integrate with your brand image, you may want to hire a designer. The following promotional codes were created using and Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3:




Now Create Your Own – It’s Easy!

  1. Using your favorite web browser, visit
  2. In the blue box, enter your text. You have 255 characters to play with – that’s 115 characters more than a Tweet on Twitter! You can use a URL shortener, too, to buy more space for your message.
  3. Click the Qurify! button. Your QR code appears to the right.
  4. Click the link to Download (PNG file)  |  Download (JPG file) - choose your favorite format, or download both.
You can use the black and white QR code as is, or add it to your promotional materials using your favorite illustration program.

This should be enough to get you started! Any questions? Fresh ideas for using QR codes? Share them in the comments, below.

Holly Jahangiri is a technical communicator, social media analyticator, children's book author with 4RV Publishing (Trockle, and A Puppy, Not a Guppy), blogger, happy wife and mom living in Houston, Texas. She would really appreciate it if you would read her post, Good Goals Gone Bad on

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vary Your Sentences: Start with a Different Part of Speech

"Vary Your Sentences: Start with a Different Part of Speech" by Joan Y. Edwards

In the book Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon, she gives you many ways to vary your sentences and improve your manuscript. One new way intrigued me. It was a new perspective on varying sentences for me. I've written about varying sentences by making them as long as ten words or shorter than 40 words. Make some sentences simple, some compound, others complex. Elizabeth Lyon says you can vary sentences by starting sentences with a different part of speech. Certainly you might not want to do this for every paragraph or use all ten of them on every page. But if you find yourself in a rut of the same kind of sentences in a paragraph, using her idea will help you change the pattern and add emphasis to the sentences instead of letting them disappear into a sing-song rhythm.

You say, "Explain it more. I don't understand what you mean."

Okay. Let me see if I can make it easier to understand.

Take the longest paragraph from the first ten pages of your manuscript.

Here's one I made up for this blog post:

Steve left the bar at 2:00 a.m. He locked the doors and turned on the security. He wondered if that guy was really going to come back and get the girl at the bar. That creep wasn't going to get her if he had anything to do with it. Where was Sarah anyhow? He'd seen her leave an hour ago with a friend. He looked to the right passed the cars parked near the dumpster. He saw sparkly material on the ground. He ran to check it out. He couldn't believe what he saw.

I'm sure you'll agree that this paragraph needs help with varying the sentences. Out of 10 sentences, seven of them begin with the word "he." That is boredom at its height. Help! My paragraph needs help.

To improve the sentences using this method, you have to know the different parts of speech and how to use them properly.

What are the parts of speech? Here are parts of speech, definitions, and an example of a sentence beginning with it. The University of Ottawa, Canada has a site with many parts of speech with definitions and samples:

1. Interjection is a word or a short phrase usually followed by an exclamation point that can stand alone. Use sparingly. The English has examples: Use sparingly in manuscripts.

Oh my! He lost his wallet.

Yikes! The roof is leaking.

2. Preposition is a connecting word that shows the relationship of a noun or a noun substitute to some other word in the sentence, including time, location, manner, means, quantity, purpose, and state of condition. (Unbelievable information about prepositions at this link from Hunter College Reading/Writing Center And even more about prepositions at

On Wednesday, the bird in the tree sang a song for the children at the playground after lunch.

From the auditorium, we could hear the band rehearsing.

3. Conjunction is a word that joins words, phrases, clauses and sentences. There are three types of conjunctions: and, but, or, yet, so, for, nor. Coordinating conjunctions work in pairs: both...and; either...or; neither...nor. Subordinate conjunctions: before, while, since, because, and until.

Jane went to the store. However, she did not make a purchase.

Neither Tom nor Jack drove the truck.

Before Jake blew out the candles, he took a deep breath.

4. Verb is an action word, state of being, or a helping or linking word. The English Club has a list of 600 regular verbs: and also Moms Who has lists and explanations of the uses of different kind of verbs:

Run to the corner and back.

Curl your hair with the new rollers.

5. Adverb is a word that describes or limits a verb. Most of the time, it's good to use a better more specific verb than to use an adverb of manner ending with "ly." has a list of common adverbs: adverbs that indicate place, purpose, frequency, time:

Yesterday he raced his car.

Somewhere lurked the cat.

6. Gerund is a noun using the ing form of a verb. Owl at Perdue University has good examples of gerunds at work in sentences:

Running is his favorite stress reliever.

Sewing keeps her busy.

7. Noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.

Men, women, and children filled the mall.

Newspapers featured a stories and pictures about the new invention

8. Pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun in a sentence.

Uncle Jim backed the trailer into a parking space. He was sure the space was big enough.

9. Adjective is a word that describes and often precedes a noun. Keep and has a great list of adjectives that describe appearance, condition, shape, size, sound, time, taste, touch, quantity, and feelings:

Red shoes tapped the rhythm.

Three uniforms hung in the lockers.

10. Limiting Adjectives Articles A, an, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Writing Center has great examples and explanations of the uses of the artilces, a, an, and the:

A dog barked.

An apple dropped from the tree.

The mailman delivered the package on time.

Okay. Now you're very familiar with the parts of speech mentioned above. You are ready to do one or more of the following exercises to help you see what pattern of sentences you use most often and decide if you want to use a different part of speech for the first word of your sentences to improve your writing.

Exercise 1: Print out a page of your manuscript - preferably a whole page. Underline or highlight the first word in each sentence, then put a tally mark in the appropriate column in the chart below.

Exercise 2: Rewrite that page with the purpose of varying the sentences. If you used only two ways to begin your sentences, use three more ways to vary your sentences on that page. You want the writing to flow smoothly. Sometimes you want to repeat a pattern.

Exercise 3: Copy the first page of your favorite book. Underline or highlight the first word in each sentence, then put a tally mark in the appropriate column. Does your favorite author vary the part of speech for the beginning of her sentences?

Exercise 4: When you critique another writer's work, you might think that sentence variation would improve the writing. If so, make a chart like this for them and mark the beginnings of their sentences on a random page or give them a link to this blog post. Put a tally mark beside each part of speech when a sentence starts with it.

Part of Speech Variation of First Words in Sentences on a Manuscript Page


I hope this helps you understand the work of the parts of speech, and how to use them to vary the structure of your sentences in your manuscripts. Only use this if you agree with 100 per cent that it will help you.

Please leave a comment.
1. How many ways did you begin your sentences on the page you selected?
2. Do you think rewriting your page using a different part of speech for the first word in your sentences helped improve your story? If so, why? If not, why not?
3. How many parts of speech seems natural to use on a page?

Thank you for reading my blog post.

Do something fun for you today!

Joan's Elder Care Guide 4RV Publishing: Release June 2015

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Promotion: Review of Just Breeze -- The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel 

         Appearing on "Katherine' Bookshelf," in The Midwest Book Review for October, is Just Breeze by Beverly Stowe McClure . 
Just Breeze
Beverly Stowe McClure
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780984070824, $15.99

Who would want to go through life with a name like Breeze? Breeze Brannigan had no choice and her looks and personality as described by Beverly Stowe McClure in Just Breeze complement that name. This contemporary novel tells just what it is like for eighth graders through the interactions of the major characters, Amy, Cam, Tony, Allison, Sara and Noah. There are also the wise parents and other adults who are not averse to meting out sage advice to the 'harem scarem' teens.

The story centers on Breeze and her relationship with the 'new boy in town'.

"But I barely heard Tony, for standing behind was this boy I'd never seen, an average-looking guy. Not take your breath away handsome, but surprise, surprise, he was as tall as me. Correction, his spiky-like hair was as tall as me. His eyes struck me at nose level."

There are the usual teenage angst scenes as well as the interesting revelations. She is attracted to him, but has to wonder about him. Why does he like her? Or does he? Where is he from? Is he an alien? All of these questions and more are asked and answered in this rousing book. You will have to read this book to follow the metamorphosis of Breeze and her friends as they begin to grow up.

Beverly Stowe McClure lives in Texas with her husband, Jack. She is a mother to three sons, grandmother to four granddaughters and two grandsons and great grandmother to one great grandson. Her official bio says she married very young.

Beverly is a member of both the North Texas and the national Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Katherine Boyer
          Just Breeze is now part of the holiday sale found on the 4RV Bookstore.

4RV Publishing website         

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Elevator Pitch and Your Manuscript

Your elevator pitch, or simply your pitch, is a very condensed, yet concise description of your story. It can be one to several sentences long; the idea is to grab the publisher, editor, or agent’s attention and interest with the core of your story in the span of under 3 minutes.

The marketing arena’s idea of the pitch is a one sentence calling card – you’re unique selling proposal or proposition.

The idea behind the elevator pitch is to imagine that you get on an elevator and surprisingly you’re there with a potential client, or in the case of writing for children or writing in general, a publisher or agent. You are given just the time for the elevator ride, which was approximated at 3 minutes, to pitch your story. That’s the elevator pitch.

It may also happen that the time you have to pitch your manuscript may be under a minute. Suppose you’re at a conference and happen to get on the elevator at the end of the day with a frazzled publisher or agent. You want that very short span of pitching time to be as effective as you can make it, without annoying or further frazzling your target. It may be the only opportunity you’ll have for a direct, although very brief, uninterrupted pitch.

The one sentence pitch, also known as a logline, takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to condense your entire manuscript into one sentence. Within that sentence you need to harness the soul of your story in a simple, concise, and hooking pitch.

The general writing consensus is to do your best and create one sentence that tells what your story is about. Once you have it nailed, expand it into a few more, adding only the most important aspects of the story. This is excellent practice for tight writing.

This way you’ll have two different versions of a micro pitch. It’s important to always be prepared – you never know when or where you may come upon an unsuspecting publisher, agent, or editor . . .  maybe you’ll have a few seconds, maybe you’ll have 3 minutes.

Here is an example of a one sentence pitch from

Two brothers and their female cousin decide to track down a serial killer themselves, not realizing that one of them may be the very killer they seek.

Here’s another one from the blog at Buried in the Slush Pile:

The Emerald Tablet -- In this midgrade science fiction novel, a telepathic boy discovers that he is not really human but a whole different species and that he must save a sunken continent hidden under the ocean.

And, here’s my own one sentence, 28 word pitch for my children’s fantasy chapter book. The 99 word version of my pitch hooked a contract with a publisher:

Children 7-10 love fantasy and magic and Walking Through Walls has just that; twelve-year-old Wang decides he’ll be rich and powerful if he can become a mystical Eternal.

Obviously, if you have a scheduled pitch you will need to adhere to the publisher or agent’s rules. You may be able to provide a pitch with 100-200 words. But, it’s a good idea to have that one sentence pitch on hand for that you-never-know moment.

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and editor. For more on writing and marketing visit and sign up for her FREE newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get TWO free e-books on writing and marketing in the process.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Promotion: Review of Priscilla Homes and the Case of the Glass Slipper -- The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel

         Appearing on "Katherine' Bookshelf," in The Midwest Book Review for September, is Priscilla Holmes and Case of the Glass Slipper by John Lance and illustrated by Diana Navarro .

Review by Katerine Boyer:

Priscilla Holmes and the Case of the Glass Slipper
John Lance
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond OK 73083
9780982659496 $14.99

John Lance has done it again! He has written an amusing children's book with a new twist in Priscilla Holmes and the Case of the Glass Slipper. There are some curious references to a familiar fairy tale that has to do with a beautiful girl who went to a dance at the palace and danced with the prince, then left in a hurry and lost her magic glass slipper.

Priscilla, the Ace Detective, is called on by the prince to find the beautiful princess he danced with at the ball. So she gets to work. She begins to follow the clues and comes up with 3 clues that she has to sort out to solve the mystery of who the missing princess is. They are:

"1. A pumpkin coach

2. A magical glass slipper

3. A pair of mysterious strangers. One wears the same size shoe as the missing princess."

She follows the clues to Gary the Glassblowers, then to The Magic Bean to talk to Merlin. This leads her to Aunt Mag's house and the two mysterious strangers. Because of her Ace Detective status, she soon puts the clues together and finds the princess just as the prince shows up. Then comes the twist. For this review, suffice it to say that they all lived happily ever after. You will have to read the book to find out what happens that is a little different from the story you may remember from your childhood.

The illustrations, so aptly done by Diana Navarro, as she did with the first book about the ace detective, provide the reader a definite idea of the characters in the book. The background she depicts in her art is also very well done.

John Lance lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two daughters and two slightly-crazed Labrador Retrievers. He enjoys spending time with his family and reading, writing and working in his garden.

Kathleen Boyer

          Priscilla Holmes and Case of the Glass Slipper is now part of the holiday sale found on the 4RV Bookstore.

4RV Publishing website

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Promotion: Gunther the Underwater Elephant - The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel 

          The first children's book both illustrated and written by Ginger Nielson is reviewed in the November issue of The Midwest Book Review on Katerine's Bookshelf.

Gunther, the Underwater Elephant
Ginger Neilson
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond OK 73083
9780983274025 $15.99

Ginger Neilson has written and illustrated an adorable book about Gunther, the Underwater Elephant. The story is different from the normal children's books in that Gunther does not get into terrible trouble that he cannot get out of himself, but he does show his courage and intelligence when a tragedy occurs.

Gunther, the little elephant, is accidently separated from his family and ends up floating out to sea where he learns how to use his trunk as a snorkel and meets a creature who helps him return home.

"When the bright morning sun woke Gunther, he found himself in the middle of a swirling sea.

Alone and afraid, he called and called for his elephant family. Suddenly, his tiny island came to life!"

When he gets close to home, he is met by a tropical bird who tells him of a tragedy involving his mother.

Follow Gunther as he figures out how to save the day with some of the things he found on his underwater trip. Children will love this story and stare in wonder at the lovely illustrations that are important in telling his story.

This is a wonderful book to read to your children as a bedtime story and will also be great for any time reading.

Ginger Neilson is a full time children's book illustrator and author. Her home and studio sit at the top of a hill, near the edge of a forest in semi rural New Hampshire. There is a magic wand on her desk and a dragon in her basement. Everything else is nearly normal. She has illustrated over 25 children's books. This is the first one she has written as well as illustrated.

Katherine Boyer

4RV Publishing Bookstore
4RV Publishing Website

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies That Will Broaden Your Reach

While most of us already know the book promotion basics, there are also a number of other avenues you can take to broaden your book promotion reach and make your promotional efforts more effective.

20 book promotion strategies you can use to promote to a wider range of potential customers:

1. Make use of your website’s opt-in box. Provide a weekly or monthly newsletter that offers information your reader/subscriber will value. Along with the information, you can offer your books for sale. Building your subscriber list is a key marketing strategy.

2. Use article marketing and social networks to broaden your reach, and be sure to provide links that go directly to a designated landing page for the sale of your book/s.

3. Book virtual book tours with tour services or create your own. Try to get guest spots on sites that are geared toward your target market.

4. Create trailers for your books and post them on sites such as YouTube. You can try your hand at creating a trailer for free at If attempting this seems a little overwhelming, you can hire someone to do it for you.

5. Create postcards, business cards, and flyers with your book information and cover. Include the link to your book’s site or your author site.

6. Contact your local newspapers and request they do an interview or a feature on you as a local author.

7. Request book reviews from reputable reviewers and ask them to post the reviews on your Amazon and B&N selling page, Goodreads, Shelfari, and other sites that can help promote your book. Post them on your own site/s as well.

8. Enter competition. Winning a contest, or getting second place or mentionable awards is a great way to increase interest in your book/s. Be sure to enter reputable contests. Also, check out your state book lists

9. Put out a request in your groups to be a guest on blog talk radio shows that feature authors. While it’s good to find those that feature authors in your genre, it’s also a good idea to broaden your reach and shoot for shows that are diversified.

10. If you’ve established yourself as an expert in your field, you can give teleseminars or webinars. This is a proven strategy for increasing your subscriber list, thereby increasing your selling reach.

11. Give free or reasonably priced workshops. Again, this is a proven strategy to increase your subscriber list with people who are interested in your topic.

12. Create a how-to-course and offer it in daily or weekly segments through emails. You will easily boost your subscriber list through a course. It also guarantees that those who subscribe for it will open your mailings.

13. Have a 2 for 1 sale and promote the sale through all your social networks and a press release. Everyone loves a sale.

14. Create and publish press releases on a regular basis. You can report on your teleseminars, how-to-courses, workshops, news, sales, etc.

15. You can also look into associations, businesses, groups, schools, and other avenues that may be interested in your book. This is also a great way to sell in bulk.

16. Sell through catalogues. This may take a bit of research, but the benefits may be more than worth the effort. Do an online search for ‘your genre’ book catalogues.

17. Become a part of joint ventures. Publicists may be looking for authors to be partners in their book promotions. You help promote their authors’ books, and you’re listed in their content, usually by offering a free or discounted book, or e-book. There are also different situations. Again, this can be worth the effort.

18. Think about having your book included in book clubs. Again, do an online search.

19. Look locally. If you’ve written a children’s book see if your local toy store, baby store, or children’s clothing store will be willing to offer your book for a percentage of the selling price. If you’ve written a cook book, talk to the local bakery owner or coffee shop. And, don’t forget doctor’s offices, dentist’s offices, beauty salons, and so on. Don’t be afraid to seek out facilities that may not be an exact match. Establishing this type of partnership is a win-win situation.

20. If you have the funds, find out what a publicist or professional book marketer can do for you.

Remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and editor. For more on writing and marketing visit and sign up for her FREE newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get TWO free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more free e-books just for stopping by.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Promotion: Review of Priscilla Homes, Ace Detective -- The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel  

         Appearing on "Katherine' Bookshelf," in The Midwest Book Review for September, is Priscilla Holmes, Ace Detective, by John Lance and illustrated by Diana Navarro .

Review by Katerine Boyer:

Priscilla Holmes
John Lance
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780984070879 $13.99

Priscilla Holmes, Ace Detective by John Lance is a very funny, imaginative children's book that calls on many familiar fairy tales, such as the Muffin Man, Cinderella, Rapunzel and others, to tell the story and solve the crime. It will make adults want to reminisce about their childhood and retell their favorite stories.

The mystery loosely follows the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as they return home and find someone has been in their house. Priscilla is hired by the Bear family to find out who broke furniture in their house and ate their porridge. She begins her investigation and finds the following clues:

"1. Shoeprint (small)

2. Long blonde hair

3. Pink bow"

With just these three clues and her 'greatly honed detective skills' she investigates and solves the mystery. The solution will not be a surprise to those who are up on their fairy tales. However, following Priscilla through her detecting process is unanticipated fun for all ages. The penalty for the perpetrator is one that is in line with the offense.

I really enjoyed the book and Mr. Lance has a great knack for relating fun stories for children. The illustrations by Dianna Navarro are wonderfully imaginative and telling. Children are going to have a lot of fun with this story and laugh at the insertion of other familiar stories and nursery rhymes.

In an interview with Tracy S. Morris, Mr. Lance discussed the origin of this story:

"Priscilla Holmes is one of those rare cases (for me at least) where the character came first. I was sitting in my study one day and looked out the window to see my daughters playing in the backyard and that was when a girl detective popped into my head. Priscilla is smart and determined (like my daughters) and has a distinct dislike for cleaning her room (also like my daughters)."

John Lance lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two daughters and two slightly-crazed Labrador Retrievers. He enjoys spending time with his family and reading, writing and working in his garden.

Katherine Boyer

          Priscilla Holmes, Ace Detective is now part of the holiday sale found on the 4RV Bookstore.

4RV Publishing website 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Public Speaking for the Terminally Introverted Author

by Laurie Boris

I was recently a guest on a “Meet the Authors” panel in New York with ten other women who had been published in the last few months. We spoke about how our books came to be: the initial idea for the story, the publication process, and our marketing efforts.

As each woman took the microphone, the passion for her work came out clear-eyed and full-hearted. How she navigated the publication process clearly struck a chord with the fifty-odd women in the audience, each hoping to see their own work in print or pixels one day.

But as for marketing and promotion, they were less enthusiastic. I heard a distinct note from several of the authors. Marketing and promotion, to them, sounded like a distasteful but necessary chore, like emptying the litter box.

Then one panelist stood up and voiced what many of us had been thinking. “Face it,” she said. “We are writers. Most of us would rather hide in our rooms behind our computers.”

A natural introvert, I could really relate to that. But in today’s literary marketplace, even with social media allowing us to stay at our computers, we can no longer completely hide—not if we want to be treated as professionals. We can’t equate marketing, especially face-to-face marketing, with taking out the trash, either. It’s a vital part of being an author, making sales, and generating interest for your next book. So, what do you do if even thinking about speaking in front of a group of people makes you want to throw up?

1. Forget the clich├ęs about imagining the audience in their underwear. Frankly, depending upon the audience, that would horrify me even more than speaking in public.

2. Remember why you are there. You arranged this event, or agreed to speak at it. You invited these people and they chose to show up. Now, what are you going to do for them? Reframe your presentation and your attitude toward helping your audience. Do you have important information to relate to them? In my case, I wanted to help aspiring authors by letting them know what to expect during and after publication. This took the focus off me and put it on what I could do for them. Therefore, since it wasn’t really about me, I didn’t have to worry as much about what people would think of me.

3. Preparation is the foundation. Yes, you’ve been living, breathing, and sleeping your latest project for years. You’ve memorized your hundred-word pitch. You know everything about your protagonist down to her choice of toothpaste. But don’t, do not, if you’re nervous about talking in front of a group, try to wing it. Write out your entire speech if you need to. Keep within the time constraints you are given, if any. Practice. Practice. Practice again. Ask a trusted friend to listen to your speech and give you feedback. Or practice in front of a mirror. You might not notice a nervous tic that needs taming or a habit of saying “um” between every other phrase. When I rehearsed with my husband, I learned that I needed to slow down and pause between sentences. Revise your script as needed, and practice until you are comfortable looking away from it (audiences like eye contact) or even not needing it, except for a few key bullet points.

4. Get comfortable in your venue. Arrive early, to get a sense of the space and settle into it. Bring your notes. Bring those little items that make you more comfortable. My mouth gets dry when I speak, so I always have a bottle of water and my favorite lip balm. I fidget less if I’m holding a pen, so I bring one. Have whatever you need to keep you settled and to reduce your fears.

And, finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if public speaking truly terrifies you. Check in your local community for a branch of Toastmasters, so you can practice speaking in a safe environment and getting constructive feedback. Once you get comfortable and know your material cold, there’s no limit to where you can take it!

Are you confident in front of a crowd? What helps you the most? Any public speaking nightmares you’d like to share? (Don’t worry; we’re all friends here!)


Laurie Boris is the author of The Joke's on Me, from 4RV Publishing. She also blogs about writing, books, and the language of popular culture at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Promotion: Review of The Joke's on Me -- The Midwest Book Review

posted by Vivian Zabel

          Appearing on "Katherine' Bookshelf" in The Midwest Book Review for September, The Joke's on Me! by Laurie Boris.

Review by Katherine Boyer:

The Joke's on Me
Laurie Boris
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond OK 73083
9780982642399 $18.99

Laurie Boris has written a comical book with her first novel, The Joke's on Me. Humor is entwined throughout this book about former actress/comic, Francine Goldberg, Frankie to family and friends, who returns home when she feels that she has been a failure.

"The cherry-red convertible and I bounced down the excuse for a road leading to my mother's bed and breakfast. This was not the most pleasant car trip I'd ever taken, and by the time I got to Woodstock, "bed" and "breakfast" were the only two things I wanted to see, besides a bathroom with a locking door. Unfortunately, when I pulled into the gravel parking lot, there was no room at the inn. The lot overflowed with old Volvos wearing rust spots and bumper stickers like "Free Tibet" and "My Other Car is a Broom".

The catalyst for her return to Woodstock was when the house she was living in rolled down into the Pacific Ocean with all of her worldly belongings, except the cherry red convertible given to her by her former boss. Then the actress she was working for decided to take a hiatus from her work as a famous, well-known actress and didn't need her help. And her mother had a stroke that brought on memory loss.

When she reached her childhood home, she found that her older sister, Jude, had put their mother in a nursing home and started running the family B & B as a holistic health retreat for 'over-the-hill' hippies. She also has ideas for the future of the B & B that will get them back in the black.

Frankie decides to stay and help her sister for the summer. She finds satisfaction in working to save the family business. You will be fascinated by the changes that Frankie undergoes as she sorts out her life.

Some old mysteries, that Frankie was not aware of, pop up as she reflects on her past life and her future. As you read through her memories and the amusing happenings of her former and new life, you will become fascinated with her and her family and friends.

Throughout the summer, Frankie struggles with her future. Should she stay in Woodstock and restore the business her parents had nurtured for so many years or should she head back to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood life? Her decision will be life-changing either way.

Laurie Boris is an award winning freelance writer with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written editorial copy, web articles, press releases, and other marketing materials. She is living in upstate New York working on her next novel.
Katherine Boyer
          The Joke's on Me! is on sale for the holidays: 4RV Bookstore.