Friday, July 26, 2013

Join Us for a Conversation with Author and Animal Activist, Chris Hammer

They say it only takes one person to change the world. In Chris Hammer's case, it only took one animal, a beautiful, blind pit bull named Irving. When Chris, a lifelong animal lover, set about finding Irving a home, she discovered a lack of services for abandoned senior and special needs animals. That was the inspiration for Irving House Animal Sanctuary, the organization Chris founded four years ago to save these precious creatures from almost certain death.

Chris has another passion--writing--and she ties these two loves together in her wonderfully crafted books. Today, Chris joined the WITS podcast to discuss her latest, Family Can Be Murder. It is a fast-paced mystery with plenty of intrigue, humor, and of course, a dog. Fred, the smart, funny Chihuahua, steals so many scenes that he'll undoubtedly return in the next installment of the Dysorganized Crime Series.

Her first book, Bixby's Canine Capers, is a collection of short stories chronicling the adventures of an equally feisty beagle, including the internationally acclaimed, Bixby and the Wolf.

Click here to listen to the podcast

Like what you heard? Family Can Be Murder is available on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, and through the publisher, The Fine Line Editorial Consultancy. You can also order Chris' books and learn more about her work with animals at

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Week's Podcast Guest: Author and Animal Activist Chris Hammer

It is not often we meet someone who really lives their passion, so you can imagine my       delight to meet a person who's devoted to two! This Friday, author and animal activist Chris Hammer discusses her new novel, Family Can Be Murder. It is a suspenseful,  fast-paced thriller that will have you laughing one minute and scratching your head the next. 
Jane Grotto, the star of the story, isn't looking for any trouble. She is content to run her car repo business, have Sunday dinners at her parents' house and hang out with Fred, her feisty but good-natured Chihuahua. But when Jane's favorite cousin is accused of murder, trouble finds her. As she races to prove his innocence, she stumbles into a closet full of family skeletons, one of which is definitely worth killing for. Jane isn't looking for romance either, but when sexy NYPD detective Lou Lotedo shows up on the scene...well, let's just say there's only so much temptation a good Catholic girl can resist. Like any book you can't put down, Family Can Be Murder is over far too soon. Luckily for us, it is only the first installment of the Dysorganized Crime Series. The second book will be released some time this fall. 

Family Can Be Murder is her first novel, but it is not her first book. Her debut short story, Bixby and the Wolf, won international acclaim and was ultimately developed into a short story collection, Bixby’s Canine Capers. 

Chris is also the Founding Director of Irving House Animal Sanctuary; a rescue organization she established four years ago for the care of abandoned senior and special needs animals.  The organization is named for her first "client", a blind pit bull named Irving.  Since she was a child, Chris wanted to do two things: write, and help animals, and she is living both dreams. A portion of the proceeds from all book sales will fund Irving House. 

To read more about Chris' incredible work with animals or to order her books, please visit
And be sure to tune in to the WITS podcast on Friday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Eliminate Writer’s Block in 4 Easy Steps

Think You Have Writer's Block? It May Just Be “Chakra Block”!

By Denise Demaras

As a writer, artist and holistic coach, I focus on things that affect creativity, as it is a marker of overall health. Recently I've been looking more closely at the role the chakra system plays in our health and creativity. The chakra system, when balanced, open and in sync allows for a creative and love-filled life experience as we function from our center and highest self. Life can feel inspired, divine and guided.

On the other hand, when the chakras are imbalanced, everything--including our relationships, physical health, and creativity--suffers. That book or painting goes unfinished because it feels like an exercise in futility. Our questions go unanswered because we are blocked by excuses and negative self-limiting beliefs. We look to others for answers that will never suffice for our own unique expression. There are seven major chakras and each play an integral, separate yet related, part in our life experience and our health.

In our first--or root--chakra, we find our foundation for life. This determines our physical needs in this three-dimensional realm. We respond to life experiences from an unbalanced root chakra when we react from the “survival mode”. Life revolves around whether there is “enough”, whether it be money, food, love, and so on. It can show up in your relationships when the concern is what the other is doing for you; or in your professional life as for example, wanting to be an artist and being afraid that you cannot make a living being an artist. Often these beliefs are under the surface, undermining relationships or keeping you from selling your work, paintings or books. It’s simple; your brain computes self-limiting beliefs that program your life experience - always running in the background and interrupting the field of unlimited possibilities in life.

When the root chakra is balanced, we are able to live more realistically, fearlessly and focused. We are grounded in the ways of the world on a physical level and that converts to stability, certainty and physical strength. We have healthy boundaries, know we can survive and are not limited by excluding or labeling people, cultures, or religions - all of life is there for us to use in order to create our own unique way.

You can ferret out these limiting beliefs and “uninstall” them by watching your thoughts and behavior. Observe yourself, your thoughts, before you act. Listen to the thoughts that dismiss your desires, happiness or creativity. For example, if you learn of a dream job opening, and hear yourself think, “Oh, they would never choose me for that.”, or ”If they hire me they'll probably fire me when they see I am not good enough”, and so on. The same is true in your love relationships. Do you find yourself staying single because you think, “I'm not good/smart enough for him/her?” Or are you afraid it won't work out and you'll be hurt or fooled again? If so, you are in perpetual survival mode; living on high alert and always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

When you believe self-limiting thoughts, you prevent life from being the expansive, love-filled, passionate, creative and joyful existence it is meant to be. Step out of duality and fear by balancing your root chakra. To open up this chakra, break through your writer's block, enjoy deep love, passion and enthusiasm for life, try this:

Breathe: This slows down the mind naturally and relaxes the body-mind-spirit so that you can see your life in the moment with clarity and ease.

Gratitude: Focus on what you have with appreciation, rather than what is missing.

Acceptance: It is all good - your circumstances are in your life for your own development.

Journal: recording your thoughts, whether on a notepad, iPad, or phone helps to uncover self-limiting beliefs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Poetry and Prose Corner July 2013


Please, Lord, leave this house untroubled,
We who serve you humbly plead.
Knowing well your faithful promise
We shall follow where you lead.

Heralds rise to sound the trumpet,
Blast a warning all must heed.
Close the door and
Light the candle.
Hearts in faith need never bleed.

Safe within this sanctuary,
You are surely all we need.
Nothing to bring shame upon us,
No concessions to concede.

Faith denies all pessimism.
Hope springs forward from her seed.
Onward with determination,
One day soon we shall be freed.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront:


Infinite being of love and light
Expand your essence
Your truth and grandeur
Past the limits of time and space
Past the commandments
carved on tablets of stone
You make your own rules now
Infinite being of love and light
Expand your essence to the size of this room
Expand your grace to the size of this city
Expand your I AM Presence
to the far reaches of the multiverse

Beloved infinite being,
Expand your essence
Trace your desires back to yourself
where you are already loved
You are already God

© 2013 Yvonne Perry

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes Almost Everyone is Making

People always ask me, “What's the single biggest mistake authors make?”. I'm not sure it's just one mistake, though the truth is that one mistake can sink your entire book. Often when I tell a group of authors what I'm about to share with you they shake their heads in disgust, yet so many authors continue to make mistakes that can be fatal to their book's success. Most of the time, though authors know that publishing a book is like starting a business, they're still shocked when their book is a failure, despite the fact that they didn't market it.

“I don't have the time,” they'll say. Well, guess what? If you don't have the time to market then don't spend the time to publish it. Unless it's just a “thing” you wanted to do, then fine. Publish away, but don't expect success beyond your immediate family and close friends. Most authors, however, seek to publish for other reasons, most of them tied to their platform, business, or speaking. If you fall into this category, here are ten things you should avoid like the plague:

1. Waiting to see what happens: Often authors will put stuff out there and wait. They'll wait to see if it works, wait to see what comes back, or wait to see what kind of sales they make. Authors often tell me this, too when they hire us. “I'm going to wait till your work is done before I market.” Why do they do this? Sometimes they want to measure the effectiveness of what we've done which I totally get. But it's just not a good idea to wait, at least not in this climate. You should keep working, whatever you can do.

2. Feeling like you have to do everything: You don't. Yes, I know it often feels like you need to do everything. There are social media sites calling your name, blog posts to be written, book events to attend, blogs to read. There's a lot that you can be doing but focus on what you should be doing and, to that end, make sure you're doing the right things. Spend your time wisely. Don't get distracted by the latest big social media craze. If you can't be on both Goodreads and Library Thing then pick one. You're better off being in one place and having a solid presence there than just dabbling in networks. Dabblers typically don't make sales.

3. Not putting out enough content: The reason that it's important to pick your battles in social media and marketing is not just because of the “dabbling factor” but also because you have to create content. Lots of it. Blog posts, Twitter updates, YouTube videos, engaging pins on Pinterest, and the list goes on. Creating content can be a full time job if you let it, but there are hundreds of articles out there that can teach you simple ways to create helpful, engaging content for your readers. Good content is the single biggest driver of audience attention. Don't have time to create content? I was listening to a talk by Gary Vaynerchuk on social media and content. Someone asked him, “But what if someone doesn't have time to create a lot of content?” He smiled and said, “Then you shouldn't be doing this.” I couldn't agree more.

4. These rules don't apply to me: I was doing a series of speaking events recently and after I was done, an author came up to me and told me about his book. I asked him what he was doing to promote it, he said: nothing, really. Not because he didn't have the time, but he felt that his topic was such a hot trend, he didn't need to. This might be the worst mistake authors make and the most frequent. The basic rules of marketing today do apply to you. I don't care if you are somehow connected to someone who is famous, writing about someone who is famous, or slightly famous yourself. If you don't work for it, the results will still be the same: crickets.

5. Not staying on top of trends in your industry: The basic idea here is that you stay on top of not just your industry, but the industry you're in, too. That is: publishing. Why should you stay on top of what's going on in publishing? Because the trends might affect you. Let's say you have a book you want to put out and because it's short, you figure it's not substantial enough to warrant publication. Guess what? If you'd been staying up on trends you'd know that for a variety of reasons short is the new long. Thanks to consumers who want quick bites of information and things like Kindle Singles, consumers love short. I just published a book called How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Every single email I've gotten back from readers is that they love it because it's packed with information, no frills and, most of all, short.

6. Lack of engagement: If someone (a reader) writes you a note or an email, are you responding to them? Often times the answer to this is no, which surprises me. Reader engagement is crucial, not because you need to be polite (didn't your mother teach you that?) but because in an age where bloggers are inundated with review copies and review space is shrinking, guess who will be your next best ally? Yes, your reader. Engage with them, thank them but most of all, respond to them.

7. Waiting till the book is done to launch the website: This is one of my favorites actually. Well, not really. I speak with authors all the time who are a week away from having a book and have no website. “It's coming,” they tell me. When? I ask. The answer is often, “Oh, when the book is out.” That's about three months too late. Now, granted, sometimes this can't be avoided, I totally get that. Delays happen. But in 90% of the cases when I hear this, it's because the author didn't know that it can take months (and in some cases years) to get traffic to a website. Start early and the minute the site is up, start blogging, too.

8. Being in a rush: A few weeks ago I got an email from an author who asked me for my recommendations on a publisher. I told her and the next day she emailed back and said, “I got so excited that I just uploaded it. I didn't have it edited but that's ok, I still have a book!” Well, I'm not sure of that. Ok, yes, you still have a book but in the long run, did this really benefit you? She said she was using this book to promote herself. Let me ask you this: would you send a potential employer a resume that wasn't edited? Likely not, right? Yet many authors have published books that aren't edited, either. While I know there are a lot of options for publishing and a lot of very quick ways to get your book “out there” fast is not always good, sometimes it's just fast. If you just want a book for family and they won't judge you on your horrible editing, then go ahead and rush to publish. But if you want something that you can be proud of, that's going to help you build your platform, don't rush. Just because you can publish quickly, doesn't mean you should.

9. Ask for what you want: I was speaking with a group of authors recently and there was an author in the crowd who said that every book event she does always has a great turnout (lucky her!). I asked her how she was using these events and she looked at me sort of confused. “What do you mean?” she asked. I told her that with that kind of a turnout, she should be signing folks up for her mailing list and then following up with them (think reader engagement). I asked her what she really, really needed for her book. She said she needed more reviews. I told her to ask her readers for help. “You can do that?” she asked. You bet you can. Readers really do want to help authors they love so let them and tell them. Whether you're doing live events, online promotion or whatever. If you want reviews for a book ask your readers. I have an author who, every time someone writes her about her book, she will thank them and ask them to review it. Almost all of them do this. It's a fantastic way to build your reviews on Amazon. Because of this she now has hundreds of reviews on Amazon. Wouldn't you like to have that? Just ask.

10. Wanting to make a fast buck: With all the news around eBooks and the money some authors are making in this industry, it's tempting to think, “Hey, I need some cash, let me publish something.” But as with any industry, these stories are the exception, not the rule. Yes, many authors are doing very well but they're also working on it every day. This isn't a “set it and forget it” type of market. You can't just throw content out there and wait for the sales to roll in but you'd be surprised how many people do this.

I often find myself telling authors that “publishing is a business” so much I feel like I should get it tattooed to my forehead (and what a conversation piece that would be!). But the reality is that it is and, though many who are reading this will feel like this article is written for beginners, that's not true. I've seen authors who have spent years in this industry, struggling for success because they keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Many mega-bestselling authors are turning to self-publishing as a way to get content to market quicker. I heard a formerly traditionally published author speak about this recently and during the talk she said, “I don't have time to do anything other than write the book. I just can't do anything else.” I was sort of surprised that she said this, but coming from the traditional world and having been published for years that way I can see how she might have lived a somewhat sheltered life. Even for traditionally published folks the world is a different place and no one, even the biggest names, are immune to this. As to point #4, the rules apply to everyone. Yes, that means you.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

WITS Book Reviews July 2013

Title: The Ashes of Windsor
Author: Liz Newman
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Publish Date: September 15, 2012
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

I have read three of Liz Newman’s books, and I am continuously amazed by her ability to tell such different kinds of stories with the same level of suspense, romance, and intrigue. In Vampire Eden, I was taken to the underbelly of Vegas where the undead run wild; in Eternity Skye, I was taken back to the days following the September 11th attacks, when so many of us were forced to reevaluate what was truly important. The Ashes of Windsor, however, depicts an all too plausible—and all too terrifying—post-apocalyptic world.

By all accounts, Inari Giles has an incredible future ahead of her, one that includes an Ivy League education and a passionate romance with her boyfriend, Peter Huntford. But all of that changes when a nuclear bomb hits New York City and plunges the eastern part of the country into starvation, war, and disease. When Inari learns that Peter has fled the area, she feels as though her will to live went with them. But then her hero returns, along with his family, to rescue her. They take her to one of the few surviving hospitals, where she can recover from her extensive injuries, and she and Peter formulate a plan to escape to Arcadia, a land left untouched by the nuclear fallout. There are conditions to being admitted to this place, and Peter and Inari just might fit the bill—that is, if they make it there alive.

Part Handmaid’s Tale, part Walking Dead, The Ashes of Windsor took me on an emotional roller coaster with every flip of the page. One minute I was laughing at a typical teenage exchange between Peter and Inari; the next, I wanted to cry from heartbreak or cower with fear. Newman has hinted at a sequel (or, hopefully, a series), but it will be a painful wait.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Author Blogging 101: How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

by Joel Friedlander

How long should a blog post be? I get asked this question all the time, mostly by people who are concerned with “doing it properly.”

What can you say in response? Most books and courses on blogging will suggest that 250 to 500 words will do, depending on your subject. That doesn’t work for me, or for lots of other bloggers.

When I got started, I noticed most of my instructional posts seemed to reach the end right around the 1,000 word mark. I didn’t choose that, but it seemed like that’s where my “meter” was set.
Your results will vary.

Look at these three highly successful bloggers who can act like case studies in how long your blog post should be, and see what you think.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a marketing and branding expert with a huge following that has helped to propel many of his books onto the bestseller lists.

Even more than that, Godin is a true thought leader, with people in many places picking up on his ideas and being inspired by them.

His post today is Polishing Perfect, a classic Godin piece on how to stop deviating and get your project moving forward. Classic line: “Stop polishing and ship instead.”

Total word count of this post: 104 words.

Glen Allsop

Not quite as famous as Seth Godin, but Allsop is only 26, so give him time. He writes long, deep posts about the essentials of online commerce.

Allsop’s writings have had quite an effect on the online marketing world, and he built a highly popular site very quickly. Many of his articles get hundreds of comments from his rabid fans.

His most recent post is Case Study: Have Your Best Product Launch Ever (Without a Single Affiliate), an article that goes into remarkable detail about a product launch while, at the same time, whetting the appetite of thousands of readers for the product being launched. Classic line: “Selling is not about getting a customer once, but having them look forward to receiving more things from you in the future as well.”

Total word count of this post: 7,925

“The Passive Guy”

Yes, I know his name is David Vandagriff, and he writes the highly popular Passive Voice blog. An intellectual property attorney, Vandagriff has a different style. Instead of writing a lot of blog articles, he curates content, posting excerpts from articles he finds online.

Sometimes he’ll post the excerpt and link with no commentary, sometimes he’ll add a sentence or a paragraph, and once in a while he’ll let loose and write a few hundred words on a subject.
Today, Passive Guy published 6 blog posts, with a total of 150 words in copy. That’s for all 6 posts.

What Did We Learn?  Okay, the 3 very popular bloggers in our case studies had word counts that ranged from none (Vandagriff) or few (about 25 words per post for Vandagriff if you average it out) to almost 8,000. Allsop’s post is 76 times longer than Godin’s. Essentially, these numbers are meaningless.

The question, “How long should my blog posts be?” is unanswerable. Your blog posts should be long enough to do the job, whatever that job is.

What’s your offer to your readers? Godin, Allsop, and Vandagriff inspire amazing passion in their followers, and keep them coming back for more.

When your passions intersect with your readers’ needs, the question itself will cease to exist.

So blog on.

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.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

WITS Announcements July 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 for only $7.00.

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 writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Write a poem or a short story for a chance to win cash prizes! Postmark deadline: July 31, 2013. All works must be original. Visit our website for details:
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on life skills such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance.
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
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
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, lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension, and offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WITS Podcast Schedule July 2013

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.

On July 26, author and animal activist Chris Hammer dishes about her new book, the hilarious whodunnit, Family Can Be Murder.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Editor's Corner July 2013

Welcome to July 2013 issue of the WITS Newsletter!

Recently, I watched Limitless, a movie about a writer whose life is going nowhere fast. A talented but defeated man, he has a book contract, but has not written one word of his novel. With the bills mounting and an angry agent breathing down his throat, he is one step from eviction and, even worse, obscurity. Then a chance meeting with an acquaintance presents him with an irresistible opportunity: a pill that allows him to tap into his “limitless” potential. This pill brings to the forefront of the mind every memory, every piece of knowledge he has ever acquired. More importantly perhaps, it dissolves all fears, insecurities, and “what if” negative thinking. In other words, it does what metaphysical people have been trying to teach us for centuries: it eliminates the mind chatter that distracts from our goals, leaving perfect clarity and focus. Of course, it’s downhill from there, with the usual Hollywood-style murders, mayhem, and political corruption.
I sat there, fascinated (and distracted from my own work!) as he finished his book, became fluent in five languages and made millions in the stock market, all in less than a week. If only such a pill existed! As the end credits rolled and I floated back down to earth, I realized I had not been so affected by a film since the Matrix. Both contemplate the possibility of manipulating our reality and stretching our limits (albeit artificially) beyond anything currently possible. What if we could simply shed our fears? What if we recognized each obstacle as a mere illusion? Imagine what we could accomplish then, even without the pill or the computer program. I invite you to try it the very next time you are sitting in front of that blank computer screen. I did, and if nothing else, it’s certainly making things more interesting.

Happy Fourth of July, folks, 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