Friday, June 25, 2010

Creative Trance

by Sarah-Anne Playle

I hit the keyboard and type out letters and words. Next to me, long shadows fall across the studio suite as the sun sets outside. I barely notice as I continue to type, trying to figure the story that has hounded me since November, now with an official three false starts. I open up a new document and try starting for the fourth time, but like the other attempts it fizzles and stalls, like a car running out of gas, a few spurts, a few grumbles, and then it's dead. I go down a paragraph and try again. I turn the ignition but the car doesn't start. I am creatively stuck. I lean back and stretch my shoulders as the pet behind me squeaks for dinner. Her pleas fall on a brain that is not currently focused on the real world. Instead it is focused on the imaginary and fictional.

What is it with this story, I question again. It hounds me, haunts me – the premise, the title, the characters, but the theme eludes me. And this is problem, I think, the fact that I can't find the true essence of the story. The sun has finished setting now and the studio slowly fills with evening darkness. I roll my shoulders to release some of the tension and then lean back over my keyboard. I don't know what to write. I have two characters, each of which have starred in different aborted beginnings, and I do not know which one is the star of the story. Who's story is it, I wonder, Rogue or Katlin's? And what about that third time travel assassin that crept in last week? I would like to forget it, just get up and walk away and go and get a real job, but I know I would end up feeling creatively stifled and miserable like I have at every job. For some reason, this story wants to be told, and I'm the one who has to tell it.

I stretch my neck, moving it side to side, hoping inspiration will hit. I sip cold Starbucks coffee, waiting. I turn on my antique Victorian lamp as the studio gets darker. Inspiration does not hit. Finally, in frustration, I try an old writing trick I know. I set my cell phone alarm for ten minutes, put fingers to keyboard and start writing about the story, without editing, without stopping, letting anything come. Slowly, as type, the story begins to take shape and create meaning in my mind. I begin to understand what it is about the story that has fascinated me and what I want to tell. The main premise takes shape, the plot begins to evolve and scenes get outlined. Rogue and Katlin stay, but switch roles and the third assassin becomes a pivotal player.

The pet behind me is now chewing on her cage bars to get my attention. I continue to write, barely noticing her. Professional athletes talk about being "in the zone," and a similar thing happens with writers when we are fully engaged in their work, when the outside world ceases to exist. The pet chews and squeaks and I, I write. By the time the alarm goes off I finally, after nearly six months, have a clear picture of the full essence of the novel. I stretch my back again I glance at the clock. An hour has gone by since I sat down at the computer. It feels like five minutes. I don't remember working with such interest and focus in months, and with such a sense of satisfied completion. My art career was filled with half finished pieces that needed the last boring bit of layering done that I would have to force myself through, or, more often than not, put off until all inspiration was dead and then start a new drawing, just to repeat the process.

The pet now resorts to ringing the bell at the bottom of her hay bale. “I know, I know,” I say to her as I reengage with real life. “I'm a terrible owner.” I ruffle her nose and pour her food. My mind still back with the story, I feel excitement for the next day when I can go back into the creative trance.

Sarah-Anne Playle started writing novels at the age of ten and finished her first published work, The Distance Between Us, at the early of eighteen. Since then, she has worked various 'real' jobs in order to support her writing “habit” as she nicknames it. Recently, she has also started a visual arts career, and has already had one gallery display, with another one coming in the near future. Both writing and artwork can be found at

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poetry Corner June 2010

(with thanks to Berenice Abbott, photographer)

I look back over the thousand and thousand negatives,
assembling from them one monster montage, myriad-
faceted, combining squalor, elegance, such curiosities,
monuments, faces serene, sad, never ordinary, pug-
ugly too often even in triumph: here is power to capture.

Why? some ask, and, considering, I can be no clearer:
for that instant I stopped time – a star in her heyday,
never to age on the negative any more than her beau,
and that bustling market with the fishmonger long dead.
Reliquery of strength, irony, vivacity, decay – a city live.

C.J. Heyworth, Sunday 4th. October 2009

From Snap to Clink

The distance from snap to clink is not very far
You could walk there from here

Snap woke me up about 11 o’clock
To wrench my cell phone away and chuck it to the weeds

Clink showed up later to tell me how it is . . .
Thank the gods my kids are still sleeping

Snap told her story while I sat on my hands
And the bruises from the kicks still pained me

Clink walked me out to his used paddy wagon
Then cuffed me in front of my neighbor’s house

Snap went to sleep on the California King
With a leather, sleigh-bed frame

Clink drove me down on a two-minute ride
To my one room windowless apartment

The distance from snap to clink is not very far
You could walk there from here

John D Wilkinson II from Breakfast Ketchup with Hot Sauce Too

A Little Red Wine

A little red wine can sure make a difference
In just how you look at the world.
It puts on a veil of rose colored glasses
So sweet, as your head starts to swirl.
It won’t change your life
Or heal all your troubles,
But the feeling can be so divine.
So, open the bottle, sit down beside me,
And let’s share a little red wine.

The weight of the world is there on your shoulders,
As sure as the night turns to day.
You could use someone to share all your demons,
And help you to chase them away.
I’ll see you through without even asking,
You don’t need to give me a sign.
We’ll face it together, if it takes all night
With the help of a little red wine.

Traces of life, traces of anger,
Images lost and forgot.
Dreams that came true and dreams that were shattered,
Lessons unlearned and untaught.
Loved ones we’ve known, or wished we knew better,
Friends that were left far behind.
We’ll share it all and make it seem better
With the help of a little red wine.

Dennis S Martin

Other Life Out There

I’m trying to settle down to sleep;
Some motel on some road.
Other rooms are stacked - high, wide, and deep.
I know I’m not alone.

Doors to here. Doors to there.
Doors to rooms are everywhere.

I hear a voice; and then a laugh.
Oops, there’s a sneeze; then it’s a cough.

Suppose this place is the universe,
And my room is our earth.
Then suppose we start to hear some sounds,
From other far-off worlds.

Beeps from here; blips from there.
Other brains are everywhere.

Catch a signal; check an image.
Send a broadcast; text a message.

I should be drifting off, but now I’m wide awake.
Thinking of those others in places out in space.

Someone starts a shower; down a hall, up a stair.
And now I fall asleep; I know there’s life out there!

Jan Bossing©2010, Joelton, TN

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Entering Contests and Getting Awards Before Publishing Your Book

Recently, my team editor Sarah Moore received a question from a client that we weren’t sure how to answer. We asked our book proposal expert Carolyn Howard-Johnson to reply. Here is the question followed by Carolyn’s answer:

I have entered my book for The Claymore Dagger Award. Is it acceptable to continue to submit it to literary agents as well? I do not want to be unethical or anger the literary world before I even get my foot in the door. I have read the home page for the contest and all that is stated is that the manuscripts must be unpublished and not under contract. I need your professional opinion on what is acceptable. Thank you for your help.

One can't be sure that any general statement applies to every agent and every publisher, but here goes: Generally speaking an agent (and any publisher she might contact) should be thrilled to have an author whose book has already won an award and who is a savvy enough promoter to have already garnered attention.

If I were consulting with her, I'd even advise her to put the Dagger win (once it becomes a win!) in her query letter. In other words, highlight it. Shout it out! If one publisher or one agent doesn't like that, perhaps he or she wouldn't be the right agent/publisher for this author in any case.

I think the question to ask yourself is if the award is given by an individual publishing company and includes publication of the winning submission. If so—from an agent's point of view—it would only mean that it had been submitted to a publisher before they took it on. Ethically your client should be willing to let the agent with whom they signed a contract represent them for the book published by this agent, should both publisher (the one who ran the contest) and author agree to a publishing contract. The agent may choose to advise the author during the negotiations, but even if they don't, the offer should be made.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Writer's Block; Is it Real?

by Carlene Rae Dater

I have been writing for over 25 years and have to say, I don't get writer's block. I'm lucky because I started my writing career working for newspapers and believe me, there are no writer's blocks in newsrooms. Newspapers have deadlines. If you're given assignment and told to write four or six or 12 inches by 6 PM, you do it. If you can't make deadlines, there are a lot of bright young writers lined up to take your job. Working for newspapers also taught me to write fast, get all the facts up front and to always spell names correctly!

I don't have deadlines anymore, well other than those that are self-imposed, but I still don't get blocked. Oh, I may run out of steam on one project or get bored with it, but then I just shift to another piece and work on that for a while. Because I freelanced for so long, I always have multiple projects going. Right now I'm working on and alternating between: a memoir, an article about my rescue dog for an anthology and three novels. I also write a blog twice a week and do some freelance articles for a variety of magazines. That's not much I know, but I'm semi-retired, I've been writing for a long time and I'm getting lazy.

If you're the kind of writer who only wants to do one thing at a time, that's fine. You still don't have to get blocked. Instead of staring at that blinking cursor, write nonsense, write a poem, write something but whatever you do, don't stop. That waylays madness. Once you stop writing you'll talk yourself into being blocked and that's not good.

Try to write something every day, even if it's only in your journal. Remember, you're allowed to write crap. You know you have to revise your work anyhow, so just write. Start by copying lines from one of your favorite novels or paragraphs from a magazine article. Your brain will take over and before you know it the words will flow again and your fingers will be flying across the computer keys.

I guess I don't understand writer's block or why writers get blocked. I mean, do plumbers get blocked? Do teachers get blocked? Have you ever heard an accountant say, "I couldn't go to work today, I'm blocked. I simply cannot add another number." I'm afraid that poor accountant would starve to death pretty fast. So, like the plumber or teacher or accountant, you show up at the page every day and just write. Don't worry about writer's block, it doesn't exist.

Here's a quote from comedian and author Steve Martin about writer's block that I love: Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.

Carlene Rae Dater has published over 350 pieces of short fiction and non-fiction as well as nine novels and a non-fiction book. Her tenth novel was released in May, 2010. Visit Carlene’s blog at:

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book with a View June 2010

Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’s Tales
Author: Linda Ballou
ISBN: 978-1449971526
Reviewed by Barbara Milbourn, an editor and writer in Nashville, Tennessee affiliated with Writers in the Sky

In roughly twenty short stories, travel writer Linda Ballou takes us with her up active volcanoes in Costa Rica, down hundred-mile rivers in the Yukon Territory, over combination jumps and oxers in Ireland, beneath the Sea of Cortez, and along unforgettable jaunts through deserts, woods, peaks, and valleys in both hemispheres. Her tales span years of traveling—sometimes alone, occasionally with her mother or life partner, and often with others in search of soft adventure. Brimming with action, intelligence, regional history, funny mishaps or tight squeezes, each story is set against a backdrop of nature’s jaw-dropping beauty. Ballou aims to share her world view, and through her Eco-alerts make the reader care more deeply about our vanishing resources and places of wild beauty.

Living in greater Los Angeles among millions of other lost angels keeping pace in a hurried world, Linda Ballou makes no bones about her need to seek equilibrium, solitude, and salvation in the sublimity of nature. Forget thousand-thread count sheets at luxury hotels or shopping for the latest bling. Like the great figures liberally noted in her pieces—Robert Frost, Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Muir—Ballou prefers the great outdoors and is intimately acquainted with it. She is a naturalist, a thoughtful traveler, one caring toward the environment and sensitive to local populations both near and far. And, she is a meticulous researcher.

Lost Angel Walkabout is richly detailed and poetic. It gifts the reader with the depth of observation in the clear and careful naming of the world around us—places, peoples, plants, birds, mountain ranges, animals, and sea creatures. More satisfying than naming is storytelling the authentic connection made with the inhabitants of land, sea, and sky; ravens and great spirits, fin whales the size of city buses, or Native Americans forced to flee their land. Because the author has connected deeply, so does the reader. Something is gathered from every place visited, and it seems impossible not to connect with our own highest and best self through Ballou’s experiences—not to mention wanting to get up and go there.

Linda Ballou keeps good company too and includes interviews with renowned travel writer Tim Cahill and endurance rider Lari Shea. Like her travel writing hero Tim Cahill, Ballou sees humor in many of the predicaments she stumbles into, or out of, or overboard after.

Don’t be surprised to find her on the back of a galloping horse yelling “Yee Haw!” and let out a yell yourself.

Title: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Author: Tisha Morris
Turner Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-1-59652-567-2
Price: $9.99
184 pages
Reviewed by Randall Hawk

Having practiced the art of feng shui for many years, I was naturally inquisitive when I came across 27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home .

This ancient eastern art of energy transformation has become very popular in modern western society. Combining science and the mystical, feng shui is used to clear clutter and change the energy of a space. Author Tisha Morris, a certified life coach, energy healer, and feng shui consultant, has simplified this art form so anyone can use it to transform their home, office, work area, and rejuvenate their life.

Tisha briefly and simply describes how feng shui can be used to transmute energy in your living space. She takes you on a path throughout your home and explains ways to change the flow of energy by de-cluttering, cleaning, painting, rearranging furniture, ridding yourself of unused items, personalizing, and creating sacred space.

I was especially helped by the sixth thing Tisha mentioned: Get rid of “just-in-case” items. She made it clear that keeping items just in case you need them later is the same as saying you believe you will have a negative situation in which you will need to use the items. It’s about trust, but it’s also about the Law of Attraction. Tisha explains the destructive power of having a negative intention. Holding on to unneeded items just in case you may need them is like saying to the universe, “Send me a situation in which I can use this item.”

27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home is a handy, well-designed book you will want to keep around for years. Practicing this art is a fun and creative way to energize your life and home. You won’t know how much though until you try it. As a result of being inspired by this book, I’m planning to design a sacred space designated for meditation and other spiritual practices. I’ve already rearranged the furniture in the living room. Don’t worry that you will feel overwhelmed when you begin the process of decluttering. The author gives an easy four-step plan to take action in phases. The basics are to remove clutter, change things, clean the space, and then add feng shui elements. Easy enough!

Tisha states, “Your home should feel good to you and be a place where you love to be. As you love your home, you will love yourself.” I agree. Any time I have made positive changes, cleared the clutter, or shifted energy in my home, I have found that it uplifts my spirit and mind, giving me the ability to think more clearly and work more effectively.

Book Title: Forever With You
Author: Ivzi Cipuri
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4257-7
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc., 2010
Reviewer Byline: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

When I first received the book, Forever With You, by author Ivzi Cipuri, I was struck silent by the faded photograph on its cover. I have been haunted by that lovely face; the way her eyes shy away from the camera’s lens, as if hiding the soul within, forever denying the reader’s gaze and foreshadowing the author’s torment. Lovingly dedicated, “To my unforgettable beloved wife Aije . . .” this volume of poetry is an autobiographical journey of love, life, and loss. Through it, the author seeks to immortalize his beloved wife and to share their story with the reader . The book is divided into three sections or moods of poetry. In the beginning, Ivzi offers the reader beauty and hope as he and his bride enter into a new life through marriage. His poetry describes glimpses of life well lived, of health and happiness. Then, the poems take a turn down darker paths, into clouds of fear, illness, battles waged, and ultimately death. The author completes his offerings by opening his chest, and in words, he gifts the reader with grasping, choking, ugly, angry anguish, and grief.

“You beauty, you ugly, I hate you all!
You give me pain, I cry, I toll;
You pinch my soul, you break my heart,
I want to throw, to crash you apart . . .”

I cannot tell whether it is the story of a woman’s courage, and love’s fight for life . . . or instead, if it is the story of a man’s love and anguish revealed in the poetry that I find more compelling.

This book is haunting in its humanity. The verse is rough, but true to the voice of the author and in its aching realism, more potently real than prettier words or a more skillful pen could convey. Forever With You effectively sings the song of life and courage; its melody revealing depths of love and painful loss more poignantly because it is roughly sung.

I recommend this book for readers who have suffered loss due to illness or for those and their families who are fighting to recover health. An excellent example of the healing power and transformative impact words and art can have on the grieving process and a ringing testament to a love and fidelity that knows no barriers, not even death.

Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World
Theodore Jerome Cohen
AuthorHouse (2010)
ISBN 9781452002705
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Theodore Cohen goes back to a time in his life to create a fictional story based on his own real-life experiences during the Austral summer of 1961 -1962. He was part of a Chilean Antarctic expedition with a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin doing a gravity survey. The work was down on the North Antarctic Peninsula.

Cohen carefully builds a plot which includes natural dangers of weather and environment, criminal activity, greed, and murder. Cohen uses actual events which occurred during the period 1958 through 1965. Real people from his life, fictional characters, and fictional agencies and organizations are all a part of the carefully developed plot. Cohen incorporates the Great Chilean Earthquake of May 22, 1960 and the theft of valuable assets from the bank’s safe deposit boxes valued at millions of dollars to build suspense that leads to an unexpected surprise ending.

The following is typical of Cohen’s amazing descriptions: “ a world of ice, enveloping, looming over, and dominating the landscape . . . melting, cracking, separating, inching inexorably toward the sea, calving in thunderous convulsions that send thousands of tons of ice and snow pouring down from great heights . . . ”
The University of Wisconsin team had a threefold objective. Grant mapped large portions of the area and collected a variety of rocks and fossils that he needed in defense of his doctoral theses in Cretaceous sedimentation. David similarly was collecting rock samples needed for his doctoral work. Ted was working to establish a new gravity network in the Chilean Antarctica.

The book is thoroughly researched, fully documented, and highly informative. Ham radio operators will appreciate the detailed descriptions of strategies involved in communicating worldwide with Ham radio and other high frequency communications. Avid Chess fans will enjoy the reference to highly complicated chess moves and mention of various well-known Chess Tournaments. Frequent references to Catholic tradition and rites will be of interest to practicing Catholics.

I appreciated the use of the Spanish language when appropriate in the dialog with the easy reference to the English translation. I was enthralled with Cohen’s account of the Chinstrap penguins (a rookery of over 100,000.) Cohen’s own pictures, other photos, maps and illustrations add a stunning visual dimension to the narrative.

Cohen writes with depth, authenticity, and meaning as he draws from his own experiences. He adeptly expresses the feelings, emotions, and psyche of his characters. It became difficult to pinpoint where biographical writing ended and fiction began.

“Frozen in Time” is compelling reading combining the elements of conflict, suspense, intrigue, entertainment, and enlightenment. I highly recommended it.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Looking for a Creative Writing Class?

I have recently connected with an author named Roberta Allen, who has published many times with independent and mainstream publishers. Three of her eight books are on the topic of writing.

Roberta has been on the faculty of New School University for 19 years and has taught in the writing program at Columbia University. She has taught private workshops since 1991.

That is impressive enough, but the reason I’m writing is to let you know about her creative writing classes designed to help writers overcome blocks, build confidence, feel safe taking risks, recognize what works and what doesn’t, and learn to trust their intuition.

She offers these creative writing classes in a group setting to those who can meet in-person in the New York, NY area, as well as one-on-one mentoring sessions via email and phone.

Roberta’s supportive, constructive critiques give specific suggestions for improvement as she teaches students to recognize their individual writing process and what can be done to improve it. She will teach students how to write in a variety of literary genres—micro fiction, micro memoirs, short stories, memoirs, novels, experimental forms—as they learn about point of view, structure, voice, style, language, character, conflict, plot, theme, dialogue, and rhythm.

Whether you are a beginner or a professional wanting to simply hone your skills, you can benefit from working with Roberta.

In-person classes are limited to six participants who revise at home, then read aloud in class and get feedback and support at every session. Most class time is devoted to constructive analysis, specific critiques, and free-flowing discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of each work after it has been read aloud to the group. When each member reads aloud, the group reads along on copies and makes individual notes. Therefore, each member gets written feedback to use for further revisions. The writing process, the elements of writing, dynamic beginnings, and strong endings are explored within the context of each given work.

Check out the classes and sign up at

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing for a Cause

by Kate Garvey

Do you have a passion? Mine has always been for animals. My father was a veterinarian and I began rescuing wildlife and injured animals as young as six years old. During my teen years I worked for my father and witnessed first-hand the suffering animals endure when they are injured or ill. In college I wrote term papers opposing animal research. For much of my life I felt so powerless and overwhelmed by cruelty toward animals. Back in the 1980’s the United States was euthanizing approximately 17 million healthy adoptable animals because of pet over-population and irresponsible ownership. Many of the top research institutions were using animals for medical research; vegetarians and individuals who chose a vegan diet were thought to be eccentric and a little weird.

Instead of following in my father’s footsteps, I became as a property manager in Nashville, Tennessee. I routinely rescued animals that were abandoned in streets, parks, and even left inside vacant rental homes without access to food or water. I started reading about factory farming of livestock and my consciousness and food choices changed even more (even as a kid I could not eat mammals). My feelings of frustration and sense of powerlessness regarding animal cruelty grew. In 2003, I saw a Pit Bull who was literally starving to death on the streets. I’ll spare you the description but this poor creature was the most abused animal I had ever seen. Most likely she had been used as a “bait” dog for a dog fight ring. One-thousand dollars later, I had a dog-aggressive Pit Bull I could not place. She was an unwanted high maintenance pet but I loved her deeply and gave her a good home despite the physical and emotional costs of her care.

When Michael Vick’s dog fight operation was exposed, I wrote an impassioned response to an article I read in the Wisconsin State Journal, which is a highly respected, well-read daily newspaper in the upper mid-west. The following morning a friend stopped by with the paper and there was my unedited letter under the Featured Guest Editorial. This was a major credit to my writer’s bio. It led to two writing assignments for Wisconsin Woman Magazine and other freelance work. But, the best reward is that I got to be a voice for those who suffer wretchedly and yet have no voice and no political power.

The battle against animal cruelty continues as does my passion to be the voice for those who cannot speak. I like to think in some small way my words have been part of the growing consciousness toward sentient beings. Because of animal activists, writers like me, and great animal welfare organizations, progress has been made. The euthanasia rate has been cut in half in the past thirty years, more and more people are become vegetarians or at least buying free-range meats, and most major research institutions are using non-animal model testing for medical experimentation.

Edward Bulward-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” As a writer you and I have been given a precious gift that allows us to touch thousands of lives. So, if you have a cause, I implore you to write, write, write! Write for a cause you believe in and give it your best effort. There can be no greater reward for a writer.

Kate Garvey is the founder and director of the Institute of Sound Healing and a freelance writer. She has had more than fifty articles published on animal welfare. Kate will be releasing a series of e-books on animal welfare this fall. For more information on ways to prevent animal cruelty please visit the “Free Info and Products” section at or email Kate at (put Reference Writer in the subject line).

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Calling for Submissions for July 2010 Ezine

It's time for me to start putting together the next fantastic and information-filled e-zine for July 2010. That means I need you to send me your articles, contest announcements, and brags to be included in the next issue. We have more than enough book reviews, but if I have room for them, I'll include them.

Read our guidelines for submitting here. Remember, the better your piece is written, the better attention and credibility it receives--and the less editing I have to do.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Beyond Books: Building Multiple Streams of Income

by Dana Lynn Smith

It takes a lot of time and effort to attract people to your website and blog, so it's important to maximize your income opportunities from those visitors. Below are some ideas for earning money from products and services other than print books.


The easiest way to create an ebook is to convert your printed book to a PDF document. Nonfiction authors may also want to spin out portions of the book into several smaller ebooks or create ebooks that expand on the information in their printed book. You can also create ebooks by combining or expanding on articles you have already written.

If you'd like to publish in a variety of ebook formats, check into Smashwords. For a 15% sales commission, with no upfront fees, they will convert your book into several ebook formats and handle the online orders and payment processing for you. Book formats on Smashwords include PDF documents and formats that can be read by ebook readers and devices like Kindle, Sony Reader, iPod, and Palm. Smashwords is a good way to get started with ebooks.

Teleseminars and Audio Products

Free teleseminars are a great way to promote your products and services, but nonfiction authors can also earn income from hosting paid teleseminars or webinars. Be sure your paid sessions provide excellent value for the dollar and record the session for those who cannot attend.

Informational teleseminars, in-depth interviews, or live presentations can also be recorded and sold as a CD or downloadable MP3 file. Many authors charge extra for a written transcript of their teleseminars and audio products.

Package Deals

Increase your order size by offering add-on products for an additional fee. For example, when promoting your ebook, offer a companion audio product for a small additional fee. Novelists can offer several books together at a package discount. Children's books can be paired with companion products like stuffed toys that relate to the story. Package prices should reflect a discount of 20% to 30% of the price of the products purchased separately.

Home Study Courses

Once you have content in several formats, such as books, audio, and video, you can package them together into a comprehensive "home study course."Some courses also include individual or group coaching sessions. These courses are often presented in a three-ring binder which includes the printed text and sleeves containing the CDs or DVDs. Like packages, the price should reflect a discount off the prices of the separate products.


To sell your information products, you'll need to have an ecommerce system to process payments. Clickbank and Paypal are among the easiest to set up. Other choices include ecommerce processors such as Plimus. If you expect to generate more than $2,000 a month in online sales, consider getting your own merchant credit card account and setting up a shopping cart system. Kathleen Gage offers a free tutorial on choosing a shopping cart. If you publish ebooks through Smashwords, they will handle the payment processing for you.

Affiliate Programs

All authors and small publishers should belong to the Amazon Associates affiliate program. In addition to collecting a commission on sales of your own book, you can promote non-competing books and a myriad of other products. For example, cookbook publishers can promote their favorite small appliances and authors of parenting books can promote children's products available on

Many nonfiction authors offer their own affiliate programs, so check to see if there's a program for your favorite information products. You can also find affiliate programs on sites like Commission Junction. To maintain your credibility, only promote quality products that you believe in.


The easiest way to earn advertising revenue is to sign up for the Google AdSense program. But think carefully whether the ads will detract from your site and whether you might have a problem with inappropriate ads appearing. Because just a tiny percentage of visitors will click on the ads, you need a lot of traffic to make any money.

If your site gets a significant amount of traffic, you may be able to sell banner ad space or sponsorships to other organizations that want to reach your target market. This can be done manually on a small scale—just set aside one or more ad spots on your site and charge advertisers by the month for those spots. Run your own ads to fill any blank spots.

There are a variety of ways to generate additional revenue. Just be creative and look for things that are a good fit for your business and your book.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana's blog at , and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free newsletter at

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Network with Us June 2010

Linda Ballou's book is here!

Lost Angel Walkabout: one Traveler’s Tales is a spirited collection of travel narratives recounting the haps, mishaps, and serendipitous adventures that have given travel writer Linda Ballou her sense of wonder and delight. Some of the stories might make you glad you stayed home, while others will inspire you to toss the TV clicker out the window and get up off the couch to explore our beautiful planet. All of these tales let you share the sensual experience of being there without straining one muscle, getting altitude sickness, or tipping your canoe.

The publisher of Velda Brotherton’s book, The Boston Mountains: Lost in the Ozarks, has its new website up where the book can be ordered. This regional nonfiction is a history of the people who settled the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks in Arkansas, beginning in 1828 when the Cherokee were moved west into Indian Territory. It has 205 pages and contains 137 photos of the lost communities and the people who lived and worked there. It can be ordered through the publisher's Web site:

Get a FREE 30-day trial of Allison Maslan’s life coaching software for personal development and goal setting at

Check out the awesome feng shui and decluttering articles on Tisha Morris' book tour Tisha's book, 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home is the perfect guide to clearing clutter and creating an energetic space in which to work, live, or play.

Janet Riehl, author of the new audio book Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music did a podcast with Author Access on DIY Audio Book Promotion. Listen to her conversation with Victor Volkman and Irene Watson at Janet invites you to become a Riehlife Villager at

Memoirs from the Asylum, Ken Weene's gritty tragi-comedic novel of life in a psychiatric hospital, is now available on Amazon. This is Ken's second novel. He specializes in hard-hitting themes and lyrical writing. Memoirs From the Asylum can evoke laughter and tears often within the same paragraph. Ken's work is published by All Things That Matter Press, and he is a past contributor to these pages.

Mystery Author Darden North to Sign Novels at the 31st Mississippi Picnic in New York City

Saturday, 6/5/2010
Noon until dusk
Central Park, East Meadow between 5th Avenue and 97th Street

Organized by a small group of native Mississippians living in New York City, the New York Mississippi Picnic was first held in 1979 to showcase Mississippi’s artists and hospitality. The first picnic attracted some 500 individuals. That number has steadily increased with a crowd of over 2,000 expected for 2010. In addition to the delicious southern-style food and live music, there will be a Mississippi Authors Tent where mystery and suspense author Darden North and others will have their autographed work available for purchase. Copies of North’s three novels House Call, Points of Origin, and Fresh Frozen will be available. For more info about the Mississippi Picnic, please visit

A practicing obstetrician/gynecologist physician, Darden North’s author Web site is

Writing Partners, Wolter and Zapalac, are pleased to report that Rockin' Chair Cowboys has been accepted for publication through Outskirts Press. OP wrote, "You have a great collection of stories and recipes here. Everything about it is nicely done. You have done a great job capturing your memories and committing them to paper. (This is not an easy feat.) Even though it is a personal narrative and your family is going to cherish this from generation to generation, you have written it in a way that many will enjoy and benefit from reading. Your narrative voice is very familiar and friendly and you have a way with words. It is obvious that you have done your homework and put much thought and preparation into your work. Your book is well written. I wish more people would take the time to write their stories down like you have. I am sure it will be embraced by many. We can learn so much from reading the stories of other's lives. What a great book you have put together here!"

Vada M. Wolter and Joseph A. Zapalac, former classmates, became writing partners in October 2008 and within a short time had two books published, Reflections, Memories Past and Ribbons and Roses. Other books, including a trilogy, are planned.

Need help with using Twitter? Check out Dana Lynn Smith's Twitter Guide for Authors.

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful art of poetry or to write a short story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream. Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes. All works must be original.

The San Francisco Book Festival just awarded an honorable mention to Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry & Music by Janet Riehl in the audio/spoken word category. Sightlines: A Poet's Diary won a DIY (Do It Yourself) award in 2007.

Spirit of a Woman: Stories to Empower and Inspire written by Janet Riehl and published by Santa Monica Press is finally being launched after years in the making. "Sliding Glass Door" is one of two dozen essays in the book.

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Script-a-thon is a 30-day screenwriting competition taking place in July. We would like to include all interested screenwriters. The Script-a-thon is at heart a celebration of the art and craft of screenwriting. On our website, www.thescriptathon.comom, we offer screenwriters resources and opportunities to share their perspectives with each other and the world. Please let us know if you would be interested in participating in the new and exciting event!

Colleen Lyons
Marketing Director

Let's WITS help you with social marketing campaigns, Twitter, and virtual book tour. Check out our author's publicity packages!

Want to learn how to get your book on the shelves at libraries? See The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries.

Cherie Burbach is featured in the new book What To Do When No One Has a Clue by Stephanie Person and Barbara Harrison. The book is a funny and smart guide to modern day etiquette, and includes tips from people like Bethenny Frankel from the Real Housewives of New York City, designer Badgley Mischka, Top Chef Master Rick Bayless, Internet pioneer Arianna Huffington, and Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger. Cherie answers the question: "Is it okay to blog about someone you are dating?"

For the last year Sarah Playle has been writing a column called Chasing Rainbow; one artists journey, chronicling her experiences as an aspiring writer. She started it online originally but recently it has been picked up my one of her city’s local newspapers. Although the first entries were based on her visual arts career, she has since switched back to her original love of writing and is currently writing about her journey to becoming a published author. See her writing at

Velda Brotherton’s recipe book, which contains 150 authentic Boston Mountain Ozark recipes plus stories of growing up in Arkansas during the Great Depression, will be out this month. Arkansas Meals and Memories: Lift Your Eyes to the Mountains is being published by Goldminds Publishing. Check her Web site for a link to pre-order this book:

Enjoy this blog filled with tips for book promotion and ideas about how to gain online exposure.

Be a guest on WITS Podcast when you purchase any of our effective but inexpensive marketing packages.

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