Thursday, February 28, 2013

3 Ways to Supercharge Your Writing This Year

by Joel Friedlander

There’s such a clean slate to the year, looked at from this early vantage point, that it’s hard to resist making plans, resolutions, or other agreements with ourselves about how this year is going to be, well, different. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you can make today — right now —different, you don’t have to worry about a whole year of different. When starting something new, it might be useful to think about May 1 or October 1. Then, you might be asking yourself, “What will propel me to do what I said I’m going to do now, since it isn’t all shiny and new and novel the way it was early in January?”

For writers, a new year isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. That’s because if you’re the kind of writer who publishes books, or is thinking about it, you write longer manuscripts that can’t be contained so well by events that only occur on the calendar. Most books take months or, more likely, years, to come to fruition and make it into print or onto the market. That in itself makes writers somewhat immune to New Year schemes. Still, there’s no denying that at the beginning of the year, we have a different perspective, and we want something new.

Here are a few ways to kick your own writing into a new gear this year.

1. Spend time every day writing with a pen on paper. I spent years freewriting with a pen in notebooks I placed next to my desk. I recently ran across the same advice from uber-blogger Chris Brogan, and I’m here to tell you that it works. The speed of writing with a pen (you might prefer a pencil, and that’s fine, too; it’s the physical act that’s important) makes it possible for me to keep just ahead of my own mental process, which is ideal for freewriting and blog writing and any other kind of first draft writing. Something about the physicality of the writing process also triggers my brain differently than writing at a keyboard. You should definitely try it; it’s a great practice. For some reason, I find this practice just keeps me in my own creative stream, where everything just flows.

2. Make a mind map of your most recent great idea. Mind mapping has become an amazing resource for me over the last couple of years. The dynamic nature of a mind map, the fact that you can expand and collapse the map, and its ability to grow in lots of directions at once, make it irresistible for brainstorming.

It’s not just for brainstorming, though. Even blog articles fall into place and are more coherent when I’ve mind mapped them before sitting down to write. Sometimes the mind map is nothing more than a list of topics or key words, and sometimes it goes to many levels of detail. In either case, using mind maps can give you a creative jolt just when you need it.

My favorite mind mapping programs are Mindjet Mindmanager for the Mac and iThoughts HD for the iPad, but if you’re just getting started or want to experiment, try one of the free programs like Freemind.

3. Find your 10 minute sweet spot. Once you learn how to drop quickly into connection with your own creative flow (see idea #1, above), you can accomplish quite a bit in a short period of time. I have found that there is always a 10 minute slice of time I can grab for creative work. Arriving early at a pick up and stopping on the road on the way to the office have both worked for me.Sometimes the creativity bursts that happen in these “stolen” moments are momentous. Sometimes you end up describing the oak tree you’re staring at for 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter. As long as your pen (or your fingers on your keyboard) keeps moving the entire 10 minutes, something will come.

These are three ideas you can use today, and I guarantee they will make a difference in your writing life, and if you do one of them tomorrow, that will make tomorrow better, too. One day at a time, we write our way to the truth, the crux of the matter, to our own redemption as writers. Celebrate the journey by doing something different today, and the whole year might turn out different, too.

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WITS Book Reviews February 2013

Title: Shudderville Part Four
Author: Mia Zabrisky
Publisher Mia Zabrisky Books (December 14, 2012)
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

As I read the first three installments of Mia Zabrisky’s Shudderville series, there was one main question in my mind: just who is Tobias Mandelbaum? Is he a sorcerer gone bad, or the devil himself?

Shudderville Part Four answers that question, at least in part, with the story of Mandelbaum himself. Like his victims, he too was once idealistic and hopelessly in love. Once, he too had a wish and its fulfillment cost him all he held dear. Twisted and bitter, he has destroyed countless lives, seemingly for no other reason than his own pleasure. But as we learn in Part Four, there is indeed a method to his madness. Now his plans are being threatened by Sophie McKnight, the young mother whose life he ruined in Part One. Of the long list of people who want revenge on Tobias, and the even longer list of those who simply want to “undo” the wish he granted them, Sophie is the only one willing to go the ends of the earth to bring him down. She pursues him relentlessly, only to find that she and Mandelbaum have more in common than she ever could have imagined.
Zabrisky’s skill as a storyteller is never as apparent as it is in Shudderville Part Four. The showdown between Mandelbaum and Sophie is subtle, powerful and as a sensitive as a landmine. Each goes to lengths previously unimaginable, and we are again reminded that so much of our behavior is driven by circumstance. It is this view into the darkness of the desperate heart that makes Zabrisky’s work truly terrifying.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Disco, Tear Gas, and Song – Ghostriding down Memory Lane

By Deborah Wilbrink

My heart beat faster as I flounced into Memory Lane. It was the only singles bar in Columbus, Georgia. A disco ball rotated above the dance floor, casting its mirrored light onto the strutting hopefuls of 1984. On Saturday night at ten o’clock, the country music stopped, the deejay started, and two women threw themselves down onto the floor, rolling and grinding like Pentecostals in a snake bed. Shocked at the evolution of graceful freestyle dance, I made a fast “exit, stage right.” That ended my first journey to Memory Lane.

So I get a secret smile whenever I hear my newly written and recorded theme song, “Memory Lane,” with its title suggested by my co-writer Femke Weidema. (See the Poetry and Prose Corner of this newsletter.) The song tells of tracing one’s family history; the singer convinces herself to write a book about it. Femke’s voice is memorable and the song is recorded with piano, something I could never do. Femke is also signed with a publishing company, so there’s a chance that you will hear our song on a movie soundtrack. Posting a song on your website is just one way to drive traffic there, and get people started thinking about what you want to communicate. It was easy to get permission in this case. All of this just goes to show the glory and fun in collaboration!

Ghostwriting is collaboration. With a ghostwriter, you can submit a rudimentary manuscript, or you can simply tell your ideas, and your writing gets finished. Some of my clients never touch a pen! I learned from interviews with people like Grammy winner Emmylou Harris and guru of macrobiotics Michio Kushi, how to elicit passions and ideas from a subject. Then I, the ghostwriter, convey what’s important in an attractive, meaningful way to readers. The fun comes in preserving the author’s style!
Right now, I’m ghostwriting with author Mary Moore Hoover. She witnessed the forced integration of Ole Miss in 1962 – from within a shower! Her perspective is novel; I hope to place a copy of her memoir in the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. But Mary Moore isn’t writing, she’s telling! I’m prompting. I’m doing the writing, but it’s her book, her story:

Tear gas poured through the windows. We raced to the bathroom and turned on all the showers. Clouds of steam kept the stinging tear gas away. We had no lights. In the dark you could hear guns go off; there was screaming. It was like living in a war zone. Soldiers were bivouacked all around the sorority houses. They had tents, and they had tanks. We were trapped for two days in there, without any food. But somebody’s mother had made a strawberry sheet cake. I haven’t eaten strawberry cake since then . . .

Mary Moore candidly admits to being a naïve teen at the time, over fifty years ago. As her story progresses, she matures to the background of the Civil Rights and Women’s Lib movements. These historic moments become personal, a personal history of what they meant to an individual’s life. Through the experiences of thousands of individuals, these stories become history for us, today. And Mary Moore’s son and grandchildren will now know her story; in fact, it was her son’s suggestion that she save it.

If you’re thinking of writing your story and you're not sure where to start, consider a ghostwriter: a pair of sympathetic ears, attached to a heart, feeding a mind, stirring a soul, and moving a typist’s sure fingers.

Deborah Wilbrink is a WITS ghostwriter and editor specializing in memoir. Find out more about Deborah and hear her song at

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The First Lady of Tennessee, Crissy Haslam, likes ANI!

By Kristen House

ANI's fan-base keeps growing. Now, you can add the First Lady of Tennessee to the list of folks who think we're pretty cool.

We met with the First Lady to talk about the summer ANI novel-writing camps at Cheekwood, and also to share news about the Pen & Paper Clubs. She was impressed. :)
Don't know about the Pen & Paper Clubs? Check out this article from The City Paper:
We're on a mission, and 15 schools are coming along with us for the ride. If you see your school in the yellow box to the right, you should join us. If you don't see your school, you should email Kristen and we'll see if we can get to you next semester.
The Pen & Paper club is a private/public partnership, and is committed to providing scholarship funding to writers who need assistance.
email for an application or more information, or register online at

Friday, February 15, 2013

What WITS Can Do for You

By Yvonne Perry, owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services

Just look at all the wonderful services that the WITS team is able to provide! We can take a book from nothing more than an idea in someone’s mind and bring it all the way into the hands of the reader through online marketing.

Of course, there are several stops along the way. The first step is to arrange for a consultation to discuss what your manuscript will need in order to get it ready for publishing. Let’s say you bring an idea for a book to us, but not a word has been written down. One of our ghostwriters can record an interview with you, transcribe the story into a Word document, and then help you develop a manuscript that is ready for a copy or line edit.

Or, perhaps you have the basic manuscript typed up in MS Word, but it’s in pretty rough shape and needs a lot of rewriting and additional development of scenes, characters, transitions, and other elements to make the story flow cohesively. A developmental editor can turn this into a well-written manuscript, ready to be handed to one of our copy editors, who will catch mechanical errors.

The price for ghostwriting and developmental editing depends upon how much work you are willing to do yourself and how much you want to turn over to the ghostwriter. We have payment and time-management plans that will allow you to pay as you go and spread the work out over a period of time.
From this point, your book will be ready for a proofreader to clean up any gremlins that missed the first pair of eyes during the copy edit. Then, it will be formatted to industry standards using headers, footers, page numbers, chapter headings, etc.

Next, we will discuss the publishing methods available and help you decide which is the best route for you. If you decide to publish as an e-book, we have a layout artist who can help you meet the strict formatting criteria for the Kindle, Nook, and Apple iBook readers, as well as Smashwords. If you decide to publish on demand, we can walk you through the set up on or If you decide to present your book to a conventional publisher or literary agent, we can help you write the query letter and book proposal, complete with a comprehensive marketing plan.
And, speaking of marketing, we don’t leave you high and dry with your new book. We work with you to establish your online platform and promote your book through social media.

Don’t delay your goal to be a successful author another day. Go to and contact us now!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Poetry and Prose Corner February 2013

February Song

Yes, dear friend, her cold runs deep,
Her frozen earth of steely stone.
Even in the sun’s brief glow
Its sharp fangs penetrate the bone.

Bitter wind sweeps every corner
Of her tiny village square,
Sweeping from vast northern tundra
Spreads its pinpricks everywhere.

Bundled well in scarf and parka
Venture out into her fray,
Blinded white with falling snowflakes
Stop to watch her children play.

Snuggled now beside the fireplace,
Scalding cocoa warms inside.
Let the chill enjoy her conquest.
We have nothing left to hide.

And we huddle at her leisure
Watching as the days grow long,
Bound to leap with hope and joy
As February sings her song.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront:

Memory Lane a song by Femke Weidema and Deborah Wilbrink © 2013

When he sailed the raging sea, was he scared of what would be
Or hitched his wagon to a star, ‘cause it would take him far
Walking streets paved with gold where the nights were never cold
And people won’t grow old before their time
When I climb the Family Tree, I know so much more about me

I should write that down, I should save that story
I should write a book so the kids remember me
I’ve got things to say, I know they are still learning
I could steer away some pain with a drive down Memory Lane.

Did he find his wife to be, barn-raising in the field
Like grandpa found his bride and never left her side
Though many things were never said, he’d tell the story how they met
With love I won’t forget before my time.
When I climb the Family Tree, I know so much more about me.

I should write that down, I should save that story
I should write a book so the kids remember me
I’ve got things to say, I know they are still learning
I could steer away some pain with a drive down Memory Lane.

Memory Lane…
I will write that down, I will save that story
I will write a book, I will write a perfect memoir
‘Cause I’ve got things to say, I know they are still learning
I will steer away some pain when they drive down my,
When they drive down my Memory Lane

Valentine's Day
Painting By Denise Demaras

February is mostly cold, damp and gray
But warming it up is Valentine's Day.
Being in love or wanting one that's true
Is a dream everyone can share - even you.
Valentine's Day is almost here
Reveal your heart without any fear.
With words of true love this time
Write someone a song, letter or rhyme.

~Denise DeMaras

Friday, February 8, 2013

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

By Megan Pacella

Sometimes it's hard to be the new girl, but since I started working with Writers in the Sky, I've learned that sometimes being the new girl is fun! After signing on with the talented WITS group in late December 2012, I was happy to finally meet up with the team over lunch in mid-January.
For those of us who work alone as freelance writers and editors, it's a gift to be able to sit face-to-face and talk about our projects and goals, and ask each other for advice.

While listening to other members of the team talk about their specialties, I realized just how much experience and affection I have for copy editing (or line editing, as some like to call it). I find it exhilarating to work my way through a manuscript and make it a consistent and grammatically correct document that flows smoothly for readers.

I've been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, but my first paying gig was manning the writing center at Lipscomb University from 2006 to 2007. I spent my time helping students improve their academic papers and turning their lists of skills into intriguing resumes.

After graduating with a B.A. in English from Lipscomb University, I immediately started working for Hammock, Inc., a custom content firm in Nashville, Tennessee. For three years, I helped manage three magazines: MyBusiness, American Spirit, and Soldier and Family Foundations. That's where I learned to love copy editing—especially on a rainy day with a never-ending cup of coffee in my hand.

From Hammock, I moved onto a variety of other projects: healthcare writing, music writing, business editing, and manuscript editing, just to name a few. Today, I split my time writing and editing music, healthcare, business, history, and human interest content. Yes, that’s a lot of different hats to wear! And I'm excited to put on a new one through my work with Writers in the Sky.

I look forward to working with new clients and collaborating with my talented team members to make your manuscripts and other writing projects even better. You're in good hands with us. Trust me.
You can follow Megan Pacella's adventures as a freelance writer and editor at


Thursday, February 7, 2013

WITS Announcements February 2013

As a subscriber to Writers in the Sky Newsletter, you are entitled to share your announcements with our readers. See guidelines at and send your material to us before the 24th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Anything posted in the WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at

Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long MP3 audio book of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife.
Be sure to tune in to the Aspects of Writing Radio Show. Host James Kelly and his guests provide advice on a wide range of topics, from writing for TV to how to find the right editor. Aspects of Writing airs every other Tuesday at KLAV 1230 on the AM dial, or You can also view the show live at (click on the “feature” button).
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on a life skill such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, or following inner guidance.
State of Appreciation is a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical and spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. This publication offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads at
Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those around You is a guidebook for empathic people who have been unknowingly carrying energetic burdens that belong to someone else. See all purchasing options at
If you are looking for someone to create an original piece for your book cover, you might want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook:!/pages/Diane-Daversa-Fine-Art/109782219119036.
Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience is about how to embrace multidimensional frequencies, and lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension. The book offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WITS and We Are One in Spirit Podcast Schedules February 2013

WITS Podcast

Writers in the Sky Podcast is a Nashville-based talk show about writing, publishing, and book marketing. An educational tool for people who want to learn more about the craft and business of writing, this show offers interviews with authors and writers, as well as the latest news about books currently on the market. You will also learn about publishing methods and marketing techniques as we interview publishers and publicists. Listen to archived shows via RSS Feed. Download WITS Podcast on iTunes for your iPod or iPad.

February 1: Author and self-publishing guru Dara Beevas discusses her new book, The Indie Author Revolution: An Insider's Guide to Self-Publishing. Beevas is also the Vice President of Beaver's Pond Press, a Minneapolis-based indie publisher that mentors their authors throughout the writing, editing and publishing process.

WAO Podcast

We Are One in Spirit Podcast allows people to discuss spiritual journeys and life-transforming experiences that remind us that we are all one in spirit. Uplifting, enlightening, and insightful topics include healing, empathy, intuition, spiritual/psychic gifts, metaphysics, soul development, afterlife, spirit communication, and more. The shows are archived at feed:// Please subscribe to We Are One in Spirit mailing list to receive the call log-in information:

On February 21, 2013, Dr. Susan Shumsky will join Yvonne Perry to discuss Susan’s new book, Instant Healing. After she shares powerful healing affirmations with us, you will immediately feel different—more centered, harmonious, peaceful, uplifted, and inspired. No matter what the difficulty, Dr. Shumsky will immediately cut to the chase and provide the answer. She is not a fortuneteller and will not do readings on the show, but the healing methods that she uses will touch and lift you to make positive changes in your life. Dr. Shumsky will take questions from the listening audience.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Editor's Corner February 2013

I’ve always thought that clichés get a bad rap. They all began as an idea founded in truth, then were so abused that they became sarcastic punch lines rather than literal statements. Yet, the underlying truth remains. Just this week, I got to see “things happen in threes” in action; in this case, three very different clients fell prey to that particular quirk of the writing business known as "the whimsies of literary agents." All of these clients are talented, all of them are driven, and each has a great story or message to share. They all worked extremely hard getting their book “publisher-ready,” only to be rejected by the “gatekeepers” (agents). Finally, all three found themselves rewriting their queries, rethinking their books, and generally twisting themselves into pretzels to please the next agents on their lists.

What they didn’t realize, but soon found out, is that agents are incredibly fickle. One will say there’s no market for your book; another will proclaim it the next Grapes of Wrath two make matters more confusing, the same agent that rejected your work will love it three months later. If you ever hope to have your work published (and retain your sanity), you must learn to balance your desire to stay true to your story with your need for acceptance, which leads me to another cliché: “You can’t please everyone.”

Happy February, everyone, and as always, happy writing!

Dana Micheli
Writer and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services

Writers in the Sky is a team of ghostwriters, editors, and book marketing specialists committed to the craft and business of writing. We work with our clients on all levels of the publishing process, from editing and manuscript assessments to book formatting and marketing. So whether you are a first-time author or a veteran of the craft, let Writers in the Sky help you get your book out into the world. We also provide assistance with résumés, business documents, and academic essays. For more information, visit

Friday, February 1, 2013

WITS Podcast: Self-Publishing Guru Dara M. Beevas Talks about The Indie Author Revolution

Anyone in the book business these days knows that self-publishing has become a powerful force in the literary world. Gone are the days when self-published books carry the stigma of not being "good enough" for agents and traditional houses. On the contrary, many authors are choosing to forgo the querying process altogether, simply because they want to maintain control over their work.

That doesn't not mean it's easy (because, let's face it, not much is easy when it comes to writing and selling your book). Self-publishing can be extremely daunting, especially for first time authors. Someone who just wanted to write is now making critical decisions about formatting their manuscript (and cover art!) that can really impact their book's reception in the marketplace. They also must be ready (and sooner rather than later) to promote both themselves and their work through traditional and social media.

That's why Dara M. Beevas' book is such a godsend. Drawing on her experience as both a traditionally and self-published author, Beevas has created a comprehensive guide to joining the indie revolution. Also apparent in the book is Beevas' passion for mentoring other writers, which is no surprise, given her "day job". Beevas is Vice President of Beaver's Pond Press, a Minneapolis-based company created for the sole purpose of helping indie writers get their story (and a quality product) out into the world.

Click here to listen to the podcast:

Like what you heard? Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Beaver's Pond Press to order The Indie Author Revolution. For more information on Dara's work, visit Wise Ink.