Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sandy Lender - Don't quit your day job!

Sandy Lender Doesn't Recommend Quitting Your Day Job
Or...the joy and insanity of being a writer

By Sandy Lender, fantasy author

Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman University, prides itself on offering a liberal arts education to graduates. I got out in four years with a degree in English and a liberal arts education that has garnered me a 15-year career in magazine publishing and public relations/marketing, but my true passion, the "career" I've nurtured since I was about six years old, is writing. And I don't mean journalism. Yes, journalism and editing are what have paid the bills the past 15 years (and will continue to do so), but fiction writing...oh...fiction writing is what has kept me alive.

It's probably going to be the death of me.

Let me explain. If you're visiting this site, you've probably been drawn here by an interest in books or authors or a writer's lifestyle or something along those lines. Let me give it to you straight. All writers have a touch of insanity about us (this is normal). We usually carry a muse around with us, but this is not always by choice. We complain about characters fighting for their rights, refusing to conform to our wishes in a scene. We go on writing binges that keep us up until 3 a.m. before collapsing next to our computers just to get up and start typing again when the sun blazes in to wake us around 7, skipping meals, showers, potty breaks and phone calls until some aspect of reality forces us out of the writing cocoon. We will tear a room to shreds looking for a pen if an idea has just struck us. And woe to the fool who gets between us and a piece of paper when we get hold of that pen...

Because I've experienced the insanity described above, I've been lifted up by hearing stories of people who have enjoyed my first published novel, Choices Meant for Gods. Now I get to read comments on my page of people claiming Nigel Taiman is "by far" their favorite character, or "I want to be just like Chariss when I grow up," and I feel this lump of pride in my darlings rise in my throat.

That's the joy and insanity of being a writer. You pour your heart and soul into the work; and pray that someone out there likes it, too. Now here's the hard part. People have to read it to like it. They have to know it exists to read it. So you have to get it to them.

Enter the marketing and promoting aspect of the new author's job. I attended the ArcheBooks Publishing's Professional Novelist Workshop about two weeks before receiving my contract for Choices Meant for Gods, and had attended the Naples Press Club Writers Workshop the week before that, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of the marketing nightmare new authors faced. I was ready. Lay it on me, I thought.

Now I'm on the last day of a two-month online book tour I organized myself, contemplating repeating a moderately successful instore book signing at the local Barnes & Noble that I organized myself, and managing six blogs (including for the promotion of my fantasy novel that I've organized myself, preparing a spate of press releases I've written myself that I'll spew forth like water from an erupting sprinkler next week, etc. Do you see a trend there?
New authors are on their own. Unless you have the few thousand dollars it takes to hire a publicity firm/PR agency to send out press releases for you, you're on your own. I don't have a few thousand stray dollars and I don't trust people who charge less than professional rates to do a professional job.

I take hope in the fact that even J.K. Rowling was once in the same boat I'm in now. She was down to her last food stamp as the story goes when that fateful call came: Her little story about a boy named Harry Potter had been picked up. I've already had my call. Choices Meant for Gods is published and out there. Now I need my lottery winning event to propel me into J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter status, but, for right now, I'm going to just keep writing deep into the night and reading those fabulous e-mails that praise Nigel and Chariss. Because making a living at this would be nice, but, truly, the writing binges that result in someone singing Chariss's praises are the real joy and insanity of being a writer.

I'd like to thank my host today for posting this guest blog article. And I'd like to thank everyone who made the CMFG Online Book Tour the raging success it's been. You know that paragraph above where I said new authors are one their own? I'd like to correct that. We actually have each other. Without each of you, the name Sandy Lender wouldn't be all over the internet right now, and readers wouldn't be one click away from to pick up my epic fantasy novel. And new author Sandy Lender is grateful to every one of you.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Interview with Sandy Lender

Sandy Lender

Q: I've heard it said that you recreated your genre. Can you describe this process to me?
A: I did have a fabulous review from Jamieson Wolf of Linear Reflections, which was reprinted with American Chronicle, in which he stated I had reinvigorated the fantasy genre and "reworked the standard quest into something meaningful and engaging." First of all, I'm extremely gratified to see something like that written about me as a writer. It wasn't what I set out to do. Second, I think the only way I was able to put so many new and/or redefined elements into Choices Meant for Gods is because I researched and toyed with the elements for years. When something felt out of place as I wrote, I could go back to my notes or the map I have on my desk or the wall calendar I have at my feet and see which characters were hanging out where and which were injured and which were in a huff and which were recalling legends from the past to use to their benefit in the future, etc. I developed an entire mythology for this novel…and hopefully that mythology can be published as well!

Q: How big a part did your own Faith play in your book?
A: This is a bit odd because I'm a Christian by profession, yet I've created a polytheistic society in which the gods show up and walk among the mortals, literally interacting with them on an often irreverent level. But there's an important message showing up beneath this plot of Chariss (the lead female character) humbling and guiding, essentially re-educating, the highest active god of Mahriket: He's losing His followers. Over the past few centuries, people have been straying from the flock, so to speak. They've been turning to dragon worship (which is actually worse than it sounds) and wildcat worship, which I mention very briefly in a seemingly innocent scene in which Master Rothahn (Chariss's charge) goes to His temple in Arcana City. His temple is described in mockery of the mega-churches you see in our society today (but I doubt anyone picks up on that—symbolism is quite lost on the general public these days) with all its standard features all in their right and proper place, but few worshipers in the seats offering prayers of thanks for what they've been given. He realizes that fewer and fewer of His lesser gods have been bringing His followers' petitions to Him over the years, but, rather than stopping to consider that His neglect of His followers might be to blame, He gets upset with the priests and followers over it. It's a screwed-up bit of theology, to be sure, but it is part of the arc He must travel through in the novel. And it's part of the message I wished to get across. Out here in our world, how many of us are stopping to be thankful for what we have? Does it take a person like Chariss to step in and demand we take note of God The Father to realize we owe Him our thanks?

Other than that, my faith kept me from getting too crazy with the violence or letting the romance go beyond its "boundaries." There is a romantic story between Nigel and Chariss, which, and this is all the foreshadowing my nervous readers get, will blossom as we move forward. But while I have these characters unmarried, I'm not letting them fall into bed, if you know what I mean. (That's not to say they marry or fall into bed in the next book, by the way.) I figure I have enough to answer for when I get to Heaven that I don't need God asking me, "And why did you feel the need to put gratuitous sex in this novel that children could get their hands on?" I also kept the language clean. It proves what a splendid vocabulary and use of the English language you have if you can write a 170,000-word novel with only two or three swear words in it. That Henry Bakerson just gets too riled up…

Q: A little birdie told me that you really would like to explain how much your religious ideals and upbringing influence decisions you made while writing this book. Can you share these with us?
A: I mentioned a couple there, but the big one deals with sorcery. With the popularity of the Harry Potter series, one can't help hearing about J.K. Rowling's use of sorcery with her characters. I think that might confuse the youth who read her books, and that's why adults should be around to monitor what their kids are reading. The Bible teaches that sorcery comes from an evil source. Period. Does that mean that books with sorcery in them are evil? No. Does that mean books with sorcerers in them should be banned? No. Does that mean I'm saying anything negative about Rowling? No. She created a fictional story with fictional characters and that story has entertained children (and adults) for years. Kudos to her! Now I have done the same and can only hope that older youth (and adults) will be entertained for years. But, with any fictional story, readers should be sure they're separating fantasy from reality when they read it; remember where the story ends and real life kicks back in. For my novel, I didn't want anyone confused in any way. I made the sorcerers very bad and created my own concept for the power the "good guys" possess. I call it the geasa, and I derived that word from genies, which, if you think about it, is a stretch. But, hey, it's fantasy. I pronounce is gay-suh. The people who possess the power (which is akin to magic in other authors' novels, if you need a point of reference) are called Geasa'n (gay-suhn).

Another concept I've highlighted in conjunction with the geasa is that of tolerance and acceptance. I believe in the Golden Rule. Do unto others… I see a lot of bigotry in our world, even today when we're supposed to be oh-so-enlightened. So the characters throughout the history of Onweald in Choices Meant for Gods, while not outlined or "visited" in the story, are mentioned as a group, in passing, once or twice as a persecuted race. People without this gift from the gods fear the Geasa'n and often react negatively toward them. In the past, the Geasa'n were hunted and killed for their "difference." Things have improved, in large part due to the Taiman family's influence, but there are still bigots in Onweald, and those who don't treat each other with respect, those who don't embrace each other despite differences in power or lifestyle or point of view are usually the bad guys and eventually get their comeuppance.

Q: What would you like the reader to take away with them, after reading your book?
A: A deep appreciation for what Chariss is going through.

Q: If you could create just one character from your book for a best friend, which one would it be? And why?
A: Well, I was about to say Chariss because she would make a fabulous best friend, but I've already got Nigel Taiman here. He does my blog at and he's a fabulous muse to have around. Great guy. He'd put a sword through someone in traffic for you!

Q: What fundamental laws are at work in your book? And how do they affect your writing?
A: Do you mean life laws or grammar rules, because I'm a grammar freak. You know I've got that grammar guide every week at The Dragon… I would have to say that the law of writing what you know has affected my writing in a very positive way. I've got a female lead character who is strong despite adversity, keeps her sense of humor despite mounting obstacles, etc.

Q: A bit of a different question here, since my blog is a bit more on the side of marketing, can you share with us the path you've chosen to market your book?
A: I've relied heavily on online/electronic marketing at the outset here. I had a real-life book signing in June that I just don't want to repeat, but my day job precludes going on a world tour alongside Duran Duran anytime soon. So I needed a way to get the word out without spending a great deal of money or burning all my vacation days in one fell swoop. The internet is the logical venue. Consider the fact that about 400 titles are released into the book marketplace every day. Now, not all of those are published by a bonafide publishing house like ArcheBooks Publishing, but they're still books wanting the shelf space that my book is taking up if my book even made it to that store. Then consider the number of brick-and-mortar, mom-n-pop book stores that have closed just in the past few months. Finding a book store to sell your book is difficult. Finding web space to sell it through is not difficult. For instance, people can walk into Barnes & Noble and ask for Choices Meant for Gods, and there's a 90 percent chance it's not on the shelf. But you can zing over to Amazon and order it any hour of the day or night and it's in stock. Now, some of those spaces on the net cost money, (my ad space at wasn't expensive, but my year presence at was – but is also worth it) and you'll have to weigh that option when you get to that bridge.

I also have six blogs that talk about the book, introduce the characters, summarize the chapters, give a little bit of insight about my life, offer writing, grammar and promotional tips, host other authors' characters, etc., all in the name of marketing. Each blog is managed by me or a character from the novel. For instance, Abigail Farrier, whom most readers ask me to kill, has this sad, pathetic blog at where she basically posts her diary entries. I've got that to build sympathy for her. (It's not working.) Henry Bakerson has the blog at where other authors' characters are interviewed, and I/he created that blog specifically to help other authors with their marketing efforts. Yes, a few of the Choices Meant for Gods characters will pop in there from time to time, but I wanted a way to help people who were going through the same "ugh, how do I market this online!?!?" nightmare that I was in the beginning.

I haven't done this with Abby's blog, but the others are registered with Technorati and Blogflux and all that good stuff that makes them truly useful for search engine optimization, etc.

So there are lots of online options to help authors promote their works, beyond the static website.

Q: Is there anything you'll change in your future writing endeavors?
A: I'd LIKE to be able to write all day, every day in some nice Tuscan villa with my bird at my side…For some reason, other people in my life have been able to take extended breaks from real life to pursue their hobbies (on other peoples' dimes), but I've yet to master this artform I consider freeloading. And maybe that's why I haven't pursued it yet…I consider it freeloading. Once I learn to call it a sabbatical, I might be off and running…

I'm going to just keep plugging along churning out as many books as I can as fast as I can to keep all the muses happy. I'll continue writing under the speculative fiction umbrella, and I'll try to keep positive, useful messages under the plots. Back in college, one of my professors taught us that Middle English scholars/writers set out to write literature with two goals in mind: 1) to educate and 2) to entertain. I don't know that society always picks up on the educational angle of fiction these days because we're not as in tune with symbolism and subtlety, but, if anyone's looking, they'll find scads of it in Choices Meant for Gods.

Q: Where is Sandy Lender going from here?
A: Probably to take a nap. New authors don’t get to sleep much in this industry. ;)

Jan, thank you for hosting me today! It was wonderful to get to talk about issues that few folks have thought to ask. You were a great addition to the online book tour!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bliss - by Janeal Thompson

Bliss, the title of the book and the cover painting, a hint at what's inside. Poetry from the soul, words captured by the pen, entwined in paintings of fantasy and light, this book introduces Artist-Writer Janeal Mulaney Thompson's inspirational thoughts revealed.

For a glimpse inside the book, or to order your copy visit "Bliss - Introducing Writer Fantasy" and get your copy today.

For more paintings, art, and writings by Janeal, visit her site at

Labels: , , ,

Sandy Lender, again?

Woohoo, Sandy Lender is marketing again. She sent me this note about next Monday's blog stop. I wanted to pass it on. There are few people who will stand up and be counted, so I send tributes to those who do.

I can't wait to see her Interview!



I think you'll enjoy the interview I have with Jamieson Wolf on May 29. I give a response that's going to get a few people up in arms, but, you know, I believe in the Bible and what it teaches, and I'm going to stand up and say it if I'm asked.


That day the stop is at

I'll send a reminder out like a good little marketer. ;)

Have a great Tuesday!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

From Sandy Lender, Author of Choices Meant for Gods
Available At Last from your local bookstore or online


Labels: ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Choices Meant for Gods by Sandy Lender

Sandy Lender is the author of Choices Meant for Gods, a fantasy novel published by ArcheBooks Publishing, Inc. in March of 2007. Sandy was kind enough to sit down with us at Books off Broadway and answer some of our questions.
To read her interview: Click here!

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

In Search of Adam

Here I was, minding my own business this evening, and there he came... Adam... Sporting a loin leaf, his hand raised to his mouth, fruit ready to bite, and I knew... I'd spotted Adam. Is it the Adam? I don't know...

But I've seen Adam.

Visit if you think you've seen him, there're pins all over the map indicating where he's been spotted...

I'm rather anxious to see where he's spotted next, since I saw him in Eastern Europe.

Still searching....

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Rock of Realm - by Lea Schizas

I'll tell you what I did with my YA novel The Rock of Realm and perhaps from there you will get some ideas:

I was promoting one book as well at the time so I took one of the adventure parts which takes my young characters through the Qulany River where they must face an obstacle. But before I tell you how I used this scene I need to give you another bit of info in order to understand something:

My characters find a shiny pink rock and some glitter that they toss about and chant a verse which causes them to be transported to this other dimension. So what I did is I sewed up several purple satin pouches, purchased some pink rocks, and bought glitter and placed them in the pouch, tied with a pink satin ribbon.

Now to go back to the Qulany River: I had two big vases shaped like boats, one black and one white. I place these pouches in the boat vases, sprinkled blue confetti all around them to look like water and then placed stands with a few of my books all around them.

I also had a clear frame where I placed a printed copy of revew summaries on the book so passerbys can read.

I had cut up small scraps of paper where I invited people, whether they purchased or not, to guess how many jelly beans in the three different sized clear jars I had up front to the side. On the paper I asked for their names and email addresses to keep on hand so I can email them updates on any future books. However, the person who nailed the correct jelly bean amount took home the jar right away. I had several of them already made up with the amount taped to the bottom. Kids helped me on that chore.

I also had pamphlets made up with the cover, title, ISBN, and my website on the front, inside I had each characters names with a small write up on them and what part they played in the book, then on the back I placed one of my best book reviews with my website and email address at the bottom.

With each purchase, I offered a bookmark, a pouch, and a glitter pencil telling them this was their magical pencil to begin penning their own stories since most of the purchases were made by parents or grandparents to give to their children.

What you need to do is take a part of your book and bring it alive the way I brought the Qulany River's adventure on display. This will open up a window to talk about why you decorated it the way you did.

Hope this helps.

Lea Schizas

MuseItUp Club
Apollo's Lyre
Meet Lea:

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dianne E. Butts - Book Signing

When Members of the Lamar Writer's Group have a Book signing, we 'turn out'.

Dianne E. Butts of Pueblo, Colorado, long time member of the Lamar Writer's Group signed her book "Cup of Comfort" an Anthology, in which she and several other Authors were published recently.

Lamar Writers, Jan Verhoeff, Ava Betts, and Kenton Verhoeff visited the signing at the Lighthouse Bookstore in La Junta, Colorado. After a very pleasant visit, Jan, Ava, Kenton, his brother, and sister visited Bent's Old Fort, and checked out the new water at John Martin Reservoir in a round about trip home from the signing.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Regina Paul

Author Interview: Regina Paul

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Regina Paul, and I write speculative romance. I'm a full-time author, and have been for the last year or so. I live in Seattle, WA with my husband of 19 years. We just moved here about a year and a half ago from Portland, OR where we lived for 15 years.

I recently signed a contract with Amira Press for my romantic suspense novella Destiny's Choices which also won 3rd prize in Amira's Around the World of Romance Contest. I have 3 other books out currently, Getting Out Alive, a science fiction romance, Illara's First Christmas (a continuation of the Getting Out Alive story), and The Mark of the Guardian, a fantasy romance and freebie from author's website.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I have always been a writer, but I made the choice to do it professionally about 10 years ago, although it took me until 2003 to really get serious about making it a career.

What was your first published work?

I had a short story published in a school periodical when I was in Junior High.

What one person most significantly impacted your writing? How?

My friend and fellow author Valerie CJ McGee. I almost gave up writing all together after a bad experience with someone who claimed they were a professional editor. This person was not objective in their comments, but rather degrading and negative. I was very devastated as I had trusted this person, I acutually believed the person. Fortunately, Valerie who had also read the same manuscript convinced me that the person was wrong and could not be a "real" editor based on the person's comments. I finished the book Getting Out Alive, and it has received rave reviews from several reviewers, and fans.

When writing we often find our voice within, where do you most often find your voice?

My characters tell me what to write, what their story is.

Do you always write the same genre?

Well not exactly. I always write romances, but I switch whether it is a romantic suspense, science fiction or fantasay romance, or paranormal romance. Most of my books contain elements of several genres hence the term
"speculative" romance.

What one piece of advice has had the most impact on your writing career?

When it comes to getting published, never give up. No matter how many rejection slips you get continue to submit. Also, hone your craft, learn as much as you can about being a writer, and talk to the authors who have had success because they can give you tips.

What is your most recent publication?

My romantic suspense novella Destiny's Choices is due to be released soon from Amira Press.

What would you like the readers to know about you?

That I am a very approachable author. I love to talk to readers, and I always respond personally to e-mails, and am even willing to meet them in the chatroom on my website or on IM.

Do you have a website? What is the address?

Yes, my official website is

Where do you write?

I have a home office that I do my writing in.

What is your most consistent muse?

My fellow authors. I have been very fortunate to get to know some really incredible authors that I can converse with about the craft of writing and bounce ideas off of.

Everyone has that one moment of revelation about life, have you had yours yet? What was it?

My favorite question to ask myself when something is bothering me is, "Is this going to matter in five years?" and if the answer is no, then I forget about it. Basically, the epiphany was that life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

What is the one thing you wish you had that you don¢t have right now (as a writer)?

A publicist to help me get the word out about my books! Unfortunately, I don't have the budget right now to hire one, but such a person is on my wish list.

What's your favorite drink while you write?

Hot chocolate.

Sign up for my monthly newsletter and get free romance reads! To subscribe visit my yahoo group page

Labels: ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Grab Your Reader with Conflict

Grab Your Reader With Conflict
By Lea Schizas

No, not conflict of interest…not conflict within your being…but conflict found in a story.

What exactly is conflict in a story? Simple…a problem/obstacle your main character needs to overcome by the end of the story. Think of it as your engine that drives your car forward. Without one your car remains idle, collecting dust in the driveway. Give your car a super booster engine and you’ll be coasting the streets with no worries. Well, until the police stop you.

In a story conflict moves your character through various situations he must overcome. This intrigues and pulls your reader deeper into the story, connecting with your character’s predicament. A character needs to have a hurdle tossed at them, makes for an intriguing situation to find out the outcome. Without an outcome, there is no magnetic charge with your reader.

Before writing your story and making up your character profile, ask yourself these questions:

What will be the main goal my character will face and need to overcome?
Who will be my target audience?

The second question is important because it will help to focus your words and subject matter to suit the appropriate audience. For stories aimed at children, your focus will need to adapt to a child’s view of the world around them. Most of the time the story is told through the character’s point of view aged a few years older than the intended audience. For example, if you aim your story for the 8 – 10 age group then setting a story for a twelve year old character would be best since kids always like to read and associate with kids a bit older than them.

What subject matter can you write about for this age group? Middle grade readers love mysteries, soft spooky tales ( no knife-wielding maniacs, head chopping, blood and core etc, more suspenseful and ‘goose-bumping tales like in the “Goosebumps” books), magical tales (Harry Potter), even teeny bopper stories like “The Babysitters Club” or “Sweet Valley High”. These latter ones are suitable for the Young Adult market, too.


Here are some examples of conflicts in some books:

- the almighty tried and successful ‘good against evil’
Think Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs…yes, these fairy tales were using the ‘good against evil’ method if you sit down and think about it. The wolves in both fairy tales were intent on overcoming their ‘so-they-thought’ weaker counterparts.

In the above examples, something stood in the protagonist’s way:

Harry tries to defeat Voldemort but problems and other antagonists along the way makes this quest difficult for him.

The Lord of the Rings finds Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring but evil and dark forces stand in his way, too.

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars needs to defeat the new order of evil, and he, too, faces many obstacles and characters along the way.

In each of these examples, these obstacles (new smaller conflicts against the bigger goal they are after) causes a reader to continue reading to find out if he’ll be successful, how he will outsmart them, and what change will this cause in the main character. Along with these obstacles, throwing in some inner conflicts alongside the outer emotions helps to cast them more as three-dimensional beings, for example:

Luke Skywalker deals with the knowledge he has a sister somewhere out there. His inner being and emotions help to make him more sympathetic, which eventually bonds the reader to him. The same with Frodo; his world has been thrown for a loop when he takes on the quest of the Ring…along the way he begins to doubt if he, indeed, is the best man for this job. Also, he questions his will power to avoid succumbing to the dark forces once he has tasted the Ring’s power.

Another example to show you what ‘inner conflict’ means:

Let’s assume your book is based on a police officer who mistakenly shoots a young child while pursuing a suspect. It’s dark in the building and the kid jumped out of nowhere with a toy gun. The police officer is suspended while the case is being investigated.


How he deals and is dealt by his immediate peers
His struggle to remove the visions of the killing
The emotional turmoil as he waits for the investigation to conclude.
His dealings with the parents of the child he accidentally killed.

Throughout all of these emotions the one factor that will bind your reader to continue will be: How will he fare at the end of this book. The way you first portray this particular character in the beginning will be totally different by the end because of the various upsets he’s had to deal with. Show him as upbeat, nonchalant, no change at the end and you will lose your reader’s interest in the book and in you as an author.

Think of real life: if you had to go through a trauma as the officer in the example above, how would it change you? A writer needs to wear his character’s shoes and get inside his head to fully understand him. Write a story with a stick person and you get stale material. Write a story with powerful emotions and you have one interesting read.


By the end of your book all inner and outer conflicts need to have reached a conclusion. Whether your character overcame or failed is not as important as making sure he tried to meet them head on. You cannot place a conflict (or foreshadow) without making sure by the end of the story some sort of a resolution was made. This is cheating a reader and they WILL notice, especially if one of those conflicts was the one he’s been hoping to see the outcome to.
(Note: Article first published in Mike’s Newsletter in January 2007)

Author’s Bio: Lea Schizas is founder and co-founder of two Writer’s Digest Top Writing Sites and recipients of several Preditors and Editors awards, The MuseItUp Club and Apollo’s Lyre. She is the author of the Young Adult Fantasy novel “The Rock of Realm” and the paranormal/thriller “Doorman’s Creek”. She is also the editor and co-author of “The Muse On Writing” a writer’s reference book, and the fantasy novel “Aleatory’s Junction”.

In October 2006 Lea Schizas along with Carolyn Howard-Johnson hosted the first annual Muse Online Writers Conference where over 1300 Attendees and Presenters took part.

For more information on Lea Schizas, link here:

Labels: , , ,

Jo Linsdell

Author Interview: Jo Linsdell

Please tell us about yourself.

Originally from the UK I moved to Rome , Italy about 7 years ago. I write articles for websites, newspapers and magazines. My books "Italian for Tourists" and "A guide to weddings in Italy " along with my various e-books are currently available at

Since moving to Rome I've had various jobs including working in hostels, being a tour guide and teaching English as a foreign language. I now work fulltime as a freelance writer. I write in both English and Italian.

I write two blogs; which is for people in the writing industry and which is about all things connected with Italy . The later won BEST BLOG in the Muse It Up awards in January of this year.

I’m also the founder and organiser of PROMO DAY! which is an online international promotional event for writers.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always loved writing and therefore it's something that just came naturally. Creative writing at school was one of my favourite lessons. I decided to take my writing seriously however about 2 years ago and sent off my first article. It was published 2 weeks later in a newspaper for English people living in Florence called ‘The Florentine’. I suppose this was the first time I felt like I was a writer.

What was your first published work?

My first published book was ‘Italian for tourists’, an English-Italian phrasebook designed especially for tourists.

What one person most significantly impacted your writing? How?

My late uncle Barry. He lived his life fighting against a variety of illnesses and was hospitalised for the last years of his life but he never let his health problems stop him from doing the things he loved. He taught me that if you want something badly enough you can make it happen despite the odds. It was him that gave me the courage to live my dream of being a writer.

Do you always write the same genre?

Until now I’ve concentrated on non-fiction but I’m working of some fiction at the moment. It’s still very much in the ideas stage but I’m hoping to one day publish a novel.

What one piece of advice has had the most impact on your writing career?

To have more faith in myself. If you don’t believe in yourself you won’t get very far. Just because one person rejects you doesn’t mean another won’t think you’re great.

What is your most recent publication?

A Guide to weddings in Italy .

What would you like the readers to know about you?
As well as all my writing projects I also host weekly chats every Saturday at my website with a different guest speaker each week. We discuss a variety of topics related to the writing industry.

My current big project is PROMO DAY! Though. It’s an all day online international promotional event for writers and people in the writing industry. The first event held in march this year was a big success and the second, to be held on Saturday 23rd June 2007 is set to be even bigger and better. See for more information.

Do you have a website? What is the address?
I have lots of websites. My personal website is and my storefront is I also write two blogs; and

Where do you write?

This depends on the project I’m working on. I do most of my writing from my computer at home. I have a little corner in the lounge where my desk is. Most of that corner is covered in post-it notes. I should probably get more organised but some how my un-organisation works for me. I guess the important thing is that I understand my system When I’m not here, I’m normally wandering the streets of Rome doing research for the guide books I work on (and my own books and blog of course). I always carry a small notebook and pen with me in case I come across something interesting.

What is your most consistent muse?

Most of my writing is centred around Italy and Italian traditions, culture etc… Having come to Rome for only 3 days and ended up staying 7 years I guess you could consider Italy to be my greatest muse.

Everyone has that one moment of revelation about life, have you had yours yet? What was it?
When I left home. I realised for the first time that I could never be good enough for everyone else at the same time and that it was more important to be good enough for myself. When I tried to please others by doing what they considered the right thing for me I was never up to standard, but when I opened my eyes and put my foot down I started to enjoy life. I was finally doing what I wanted…and was good at it too.

What is the one thing you wish you had that you don’t have right now (as a writer)?
A best seller, a contract worth millions…

What’s your favorite drink while you write?

A nice cup of PG Tips tea.

Jo Linsdell-Feliciani
website: or

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lea Schizas

Introducing Author: Lea Schizas

What hardships have you endured in your writing career?

When I first started writing once again in 2000, I was unfortunate to come across a couple of writing groups I joined where all members for some reason feared sharing information with other writers. Although at the time this upset and annoyed me, I now realize it helped build the writer I am now. How? Simple; it gave me the opportunity to set up my own writing community of writers where all we do is share links, information and help one anothers; The MuseItUp Club.

What was your inspiration to write The Rock of Realm?

Being a mom of five kids you can imagine the amount of books I read or bought over time. What I found lacking was a unique 'villain' who simply had a reason for who he was. So while I outlined my Young Adult fantasy adventure, I made sure to offer a villain to readers where sympathy, fear, uncertainty of who he really was came into play. As in real life, many face obstacles in life where we need to remove our fears and analyze our next step. This is what you'll find in The Rock of Realm, inter-laced with adventure, friendship, laughter, and three very special talking animals that are a hoot.

The whole premise of The Rock of Realm is about a young teen who discovers she is the princess to this whole new world she never knew existed. This revelation opens up various doors to her emotions; anger as to why her parents kept this from her, courage when her best friend, the animals, and my heroine find themselves in a fight to elude capture by Rock Kingdom's villain, and somehow find their way back to their own world.

What age group is The Rock of Realm aimed for?

It's for the young at heart--so that about fits everyone.From a Young Adult fantasy you skipped to a totally different genre; paranormal suspense thriller with your newest upcoming release, Doorman's Creek.

Are there any similarities with your first book?

The only similarity in Doorman's Creek is me using teens as my main characters again. I love to depict teenagers with courage and a challenge to overcome. In Doorman's Creek, three teens discover a cave with a skeleton...and a hidden entity they weren't counting on. From there, my main character Kyle Anderson, begins to experience visions of past and present murders. He's in a race to discover who the killer is before another family member gets killed. I had a lot of fun writing this one because I love writing the 'teen dialogue'.

Do you commit to goals to further your career?

Most definetely. The first five years was set to build a name for myself and write a few books. The end of 2006 saw me complete this phase with more than I had anticipated. My accomplishments can be read in my website along with my published books to purchase at:

From this year, my next five year goal plan is to write like my life depended on it. I spend the first five years promoting and branding myself as a writer and now I need to write some more.)

Any tips for new writers?

Yes, sub, sub, sub. Thinking about writing, finishing your writing, and then leaving it in the drawer is NOT going to help further your career. That first rejection hurts, yes, but if you don't sub you'll never get that first acceptance.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We are ALL Children of the Same God

Anne T. Oxley, author of "We are ALL Children of the Same God" recently released on has a new website at . Check it out and see her latest release.

Labels: ,

Virginia Lowe

Author Interview: Virginia Lowe

When did you decide to become a writer?
Forty years ago I decided I wanted to write this specific book. It started when I was studying librarianship, and read Dorothy White’s Books Before Five (1954). I decided that when I had children, I would study their responses to books in the same way. I was married in 1969, had my first child in 1971, and began as parent-observer at once. The book was published this year.

What was your first published work?
Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell (Routledge, 2007) was my first monograph. I have done many articles, both academic and popular, on the same topic in the interim. There was also a pamphlet Adult, Book, Child about reading to babies.

What one person most significantly impacted your writing? How?
The children’s father, John, was as enthusiastic as I was about the record keeping. When I wasn’t able to write up the diary on a night, he would do it. And of course he read to the children, and minded them often so I could go to conferences etc.

The reading diary on the two children went from their birth to when they were about ten with almost daily recordings (at least until they were five – sometimes, though rarely, 10 or more pages a night) and sporadically from then until they left home at 18. It comprises over 6000 handwritten pages, and covers their responses to over 2000 book titles.

When writing we often find our voice within, where do you most often find your voice?
You could say that the voices were the children’s, but in fact putting the book together into a readable (hopefully enjoyable) form, was a work of creation too. But the "voice" just comes from doing a lot of writing, I think. (Remember I am talking about non-fiction here – I do write poetry also, but that is a different process again.)

Do you always write the same genre?
I have only written the one book, but have had many articles published – mostly on the same topic – the two children’s book-responses. But I have also written poetry, short stories, and am (of course) partway through a novel.

However I also run a manuscript assessment agency Create a Kids’ Book and have helped many other people to write and polish theirs.

What one piece of advice has had the most impact on your writing career?
Steinbeck said somewhere that writing a book is like having a baby. I doubt if even he imagined such a lengthy gestation!

What is your most recent publication?
If we’re talking about books, only the one.

What would you like the readers to know about you?
Though it’s taken a lifetime (almost) I’m not crazy. It has been a labour of love, and the book itself is an end result I’m very proud of.
Maybe they should know that I’m still happily married to John, after 37 years. And the two children have grown into independent, courageous, book-loving adults.

Do you have a website? What is the address?

Where do you write?
I have always had a study, but in the last year we have moved out of the main bedroom of the house and turned it into an office. It is a lovely room with a wall of windows looking out on the big trees and other greenery of our front yard. It is a delightful place to work.

What is your most consistent muse?
Necessity – which is probably why I don’t get down to my novel more often, but work on the writing that has to be done – assessing the work of others.

Everyone has that one moment of revelation about life, have you had yours yet? What was it?
That you don’t need to fear death – when you’re dead you won’t know about it anyway. I almost died six years ago. I’m very glad I didn’t (all the work on the book would have been for nothing, for instance, but now the book is published) and I’ve had a great six years, but it made me realise that there is no need to fear death either.

But also that you should live each day as if it might be your last (as one Monday, when I had been swimming and other routine things, almost was – I was in Intensive Care for seven weeks thereafter, and the family came to farewell me three times).

What is the one thing you wish you had that you don’t have right now (as a writer)?
Time to get on with the novel again.

What’s your favourite drink while you write?
Dandelion tea.

Labels: , ,

Pauline B. Jones

Author Interview:
Pauline B. Jones
Please tell us about yourself.

I was raised in Wyoming, live for in New Orleans for 18 years, but moved to Houston before Katrina. Been married 32 years and we have three wonderful children (all grown). I'm the author of eight novels. Four of my novels have won awards:
PIG IN A PARK: Dorothy Parker Award
THE LAST ENEMY: Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award
MISSING YOU: Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award
OUT OF TIME: EPPIE - Best Single Title/Mainstream, 2007

When did you decide to become a writer?

Does anyone decide to become a writer? It just happens, doesn't it?

What was your first published work?


Do you always write the same genre?

I write suspense, comedy suspense, comedy mystery, action adventure and just finished a science fiction book that is curiously devoid of science. The thread that binds all my books together is PERIL. That is why I call my website The Perils of Pauline

What one piece of advice has had the most impact on your writing career?

Reject rejection.

What is your most recent publication?

OUT OF TIME, What happens when a twenty-first century woman on a mission to change the past meets a thoroughly 1940s man trying to stay alive in the hellish skies over war-torn Europe?

What would you like the readers to know about you?

What I'd like them to know is that I'm a NY times bestselling author. Unfortunately, that's not the case. So they'll have to settle for knowing that I enjoy what I do and can't imagine doing anything else. :-) Also, I'm also a HUGE proponent of ebooks. I'm the proud owner of two e-reading devies: a Palm Treo and an ebookwise device. Between the two devices, I have about 100 books with me at any given moment--and no trees died to make any of them. :-)

Do you have a website? What is the address?

Where do you write?
I write at a desk in my (messy) office until my back gets tired, then I fire up my (aging) laptop and find somewhere comfortable downstairs to work. I also keep my work loaded on my PDA (Palm Treo) and will make notes or edits if I have to stop and wait somewhere.

Everyone has that one moment of revelation about life, have you had yours yet? What was it?

That life is short, too short to spend it writing something I don't want to write. So I only write the books I really want to write.

What is the one thing you wish you had that you don't have right now (as a writer)?

Well, I could use more money, but mostly I'm pretty happy as a writer. I get to write books of my heart and I have two publishers who will make them available to readers. What could be better than that?

What's your favorite drink while you write?

Diet Dr. Pepper :-)

thanks again!

Pauline Baird Jones
Out of Time, EPPIE WINNER 2007

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 19, 2007

Writers In Lights

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a fellow writer in my hometown. She's quite an interesting lady, and I realized, I don't know much about her. For that matter, I don't know much about any of the writers that I work with on a regular basis. But I'd like to know more...

So, that brought me to this little Writer quiz, and I sent it out to a variety of writers, asking their opinions, ideas, and thoughts on what they do. I've been getting in some interesting responses.

Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting some of those responses, along with some links to their websites, blogs, and books. I hope you'll all enjoy this bit of information collecting as much as I have so far.

Jan Verhoeff

The Author Interview/Quiz
  1. Please tell us about yourself.
  2. When did you decide to become a writer?
  3. What was your first published work?
  4. What one person most significantly impacted your writing? How?
  5. When writing we often find our voice within, where do you most often find your voice?
  6. Do you always write the same genre?
  7. What one piece of advice has had the most impact on your writing career?
  8. What is your most recent publication?
  9. What would you like the readers to know about you?
  10. Do you have a website? What is the address?
  11. Where do you write?
  12. What is your most consistent muse?
  13. Everyone has that one moment of revelation about life, have you had yours yet? What was it?
  14. What is the one thing you wish you had that you don’t have right now (as a writer)?
  15. What’s your favorite drink while you write?

You can answer in the comments on this page, or you can email your responses to me, and I'll post them as another page with your photo.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Snow Stories

Have you written a short story, or a long story about snow?

The challenge is to write about the Winter Storms of 2006-2007 and publish your experiences.

I'm currently taking submissions for an Anthology of snow stories. If you have something you'd like to enter - enter away.

Send your submissions to Please put Snow Story Submission in the Subjectline so I can sort them easily.

If you happen to have any photos that give images of your story, include them, please. I'll add them to the stories in the book, for a colorful memory.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday Morning --- Writer Review

Sunday Morning I got up late, having forgotten I needed "something for Sunday School" because I was teaching a class of 4th and 5th graders. So, I pulled a random story off the Internet. Usually this isn't what I'd do, I'd write my own, or find "just the right something" but this time I hadn't planned ahead.

I got to church with the story, and began to read it. What a funky story! It might have been true, I'm not sure about that, but the writing was attrocious! There was not one action verb in the entire story - almost five pages. By the end of page two I choked on dangling participles. After page three I managed to drag my eyes over another paragraph of past perfect tense. Then, page four took me bungling through the jungles of Plymouth Rock searching for Pilgrims to choke on lagging English Grammar. HELP!!!

It wasn't bad enough that the writer screwed up the Pilgrim's purpose of relocating and dislodged an entire century of American History, he and/or she also mutilated the Christian Faith even by most barbaric, non-politically correct terms. The story however, was passible, and the 4th and 5th graders I read it to didn't notice too many inequitable facts. When the story ended, we chattered about the topic and the facts, or rather fiction... Ultimately, the story was a good lesson in how to interpret history.

The moral of this review is... When writing fiction for children, be sure you identify it as fiction, not historically factual based verbosity.

So what's your story about?

Check out this fiction about Marlin the Christmas Elf at

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Set the Scene for Action...

A scene is a unit of action within a chapter. By action, we don't necessarily mean a gun fight or a battle, although it can be either. But something has to happen within a scene. It has to affect an outcome that changes the thrust of your story. At the end of a scene, something has to be different than it was at the beginning.

The scene must deal with either goal, motivation, or conflict. It can deal with all three, but it must affect one of these components. Besides that, a scene should have at least two other reasons for inclusion in a chapter. These reasons can be to introduce a new character, a crucial fight or battle, comic relief, a love scene that changes the hero's feelings for the heroine or vice versa.

There are many other reasons for scenes. You need use only your imagination to think of them. You can't have two people discussing the weather unless the weather influences the plot. If the characters are discussing the weather, there must be a reason. They are planning a crucial night mission and need dark clouds and no moonlight. Nor can you have two people driving around admiring the scenery, a scene such as I read in a critique group.

You might have a character pointing out the mountains and telling the other that those mountains hold many caves, "a good place for stashing our supplies." A chapter can be just one scene or more than one. Please don't make the same mistake as I did with my first couple books and have many short scenes.

You should never pad a scene, but at the same time, it should have enough substance to it that extends it for more than just one or two paragraphs. Occasionally you will see one short scene within a chapter, and that's fine if it accomplishes some purpose. But avoid, as much as possible, many short scenes.

By the same token, a chapter can have as many scenes as the author considers necessary to get his points across. When writing a chapter, at the beginning of each, make a list of what you want the reader to know. Most likely, this list will lend itself to scenes, and you can build your chapter from that.

Questions and comments are always welcome.

For more general writing tips, Shirley Martin.

Fanatic Writers --- Know any?

Thanksgiving morning I woke up to check the Turkey and stopped by the computer... Okay, I know, that's psycho! But... That's what happened.

Two hours later I had written a book called Marlin the Christmas Elf and saved it on my harddrive. At various times throughout the day, I edited, choreographed the graphics in the text, and added little bits to the story, and ended up with a great Christmas story for kids, or ummm... ahemmm... not so kids... to enjoy for Christmas. It talks about Marlin the Elf and his fascination for all things sweet and yummy, along with his ability to think outside the box and rescue Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from a fate worse than death.... RETIREMENT.

Can you imagine Rudolph retired from pulling Santa's Sleigh? ME either. I'm so glad for Marlin!!!

While you're reading, get ready for some goodies, Marlin Sperra, created a yummy treat for th back of the book. Easy to fix and yummy for your tummy!!! You'll want to nibble every bite!

You can get it at Jan's Bookstore Pick up a copy of Christmas Angels and Corky the Happy Lizard, too. You'll have plenty of great stories for Christmas this year with those three in your stocking!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Burning Desire

Burning Desire?

than a heart beat,
than love,

I wonder
do you understand?
Can you
feel me there?

I feel
the miracle of you.
I see
a future of us.

Is that enough?
Can you
hear us breathing?

In the silence
there go wondering
Along the precipice
that is life itself.

I long
to hold you
I need
to feel you near.

That is not enough.
I need
more than just a moment.

I need forever.
I need time itself
in my hand,
holding on to the universe.

You need
routine and control.
I need
spontaneous combustion.

You need
order and organization.
I need
creativity and enthusiasm.

the earth still turns.
moves ever forward.

Are we
meant to be?
Or maybe
simply what was?

The lingering
moments pass with hesitation.
I hold on
a breath of recrimination.

This time
forever lingers
stands still

And I know
I want exaultation
I desire
more than resignation.

Step up
oh man of rapture
Claim my heart
and my soul capture.

Keep me guessing
Tomorrow Brings.

By Jan Verhoeff

Copyright (c) 2006 - Jan Verhoeff

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Book Review For Connie Gotsch

Snap Me a Future

By Connie Gotsch

Blast from the past! Scarred for life, Shelby McCoy hangs onto her dreams as a stubborn, capable, single Administrator of the Mall along the San Martin River in New Mexico. Her love of Native American Artifacts keeps her focused on the museum and art galleries on the mall, and elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment. As a photographer, her views took on greater interest.

When J. Rodney, owner of the Mall, challenged her personal values and professional choices, Shelby took his challenge, tendered her resignation, and exited her safe secure position for the bawdy gray-green walls of the local newsroom. Candid photos, words of warning, and her own significant desire to achieve something great while protecting the land she loves sent her perilously into the arms (or pit, as it were) of danger.

Warner’s break into her home left her frightened and hurting from the loss of her dog, but she stood strong, holding onto the hope of sustenance and a future with the man of her dreams, Museum Curator, Benjamin Keith. Warner continued to pursue her with threats, at the request of Charlie Pierson, but the danger was passed. His threats fell on dead space. Benjamin Keith stayed nearby as personal protection, continuing to build his relationship with Shelby, thwarting Charlie’s previous efforts.

Meanwhile Charlie hid out, holding hopes of reclaiming his relationship with Shelby and looting the Native Lands. His continued raids on National Preserve Lands placed national treasures in the hands of Art Aficionado for sale.

Hooks and turns in the book keep you locked onto the action, moving quickly toward the final climax. Connie Gotsch’s clear concise writing style entertains and educates you about the Native Lands and Artifacts of Northwestern New Mexico. While the story is fictitious, the serenity of New Mexico shines through in glorious factual descriptions of scenery, weather, and community.

The positive format of the story brings you into the land and absorbs your heart with pensive realities forged in sweltering fiction. I would encourage anyone to read this book. The words will tantalize your senses with shrewd sensual motion.

Review by Jan Verhoeff

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm Writing My Life Story...

Today was Writer's Group and I enjoyed a terrific meeting with Karen Sperra (a good friend and fellow published author in the group), Louise and Keith Clark, and me... It was a small group - but it's a small town. Sometimes small groups have the most effect.

After introductions (or re-introductions, it IS a small town), Keith said he wanted to write his Life Story, and told us a bit about himself. He's an adopted child, and various other "things" that he feels are important. I listened with interest, knowing that our roots are crossed on rare occasions in history, and acknowledged the value of his book.

As we worked through the meeting, Karen presented our lesson, and asked us to write a 'quick story' for the educational portion of the meeting, then we critiqued a chapter of my latest "Adventure Series" book. Something I'd been wanting to do, in the group and hadn't had time for recently.

The process of getting involved with other writers is time consuming and energizing. It takes time out of the day, and the result brings energy to our writing. I'm always so grateful for the time spent in meetings, participating with friends/writers who have an interest in putting words together to get their point across. I come home revived, ready to write.

Thank you writers for inspiring me!!!

Jan Verhoeff

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reprint Values: Make Money From Writing

Article Writers: Exploit Their "Reprint Value"
By Dr. Gary S. Goodman

A while ago, I attended a class geared to consultants, and one of the sections dealt with generating publicity.

I thought I was pretty good at this, but there was one tip that clarified something for me.

We cannot guarantee how many people will read one of our articles based on its initial publication, but we can have a big impact on their secondary readership.

For instance, if a major urban newspaper carries one of my articles or it features an article about me, a good number of readers might happen upon it, especially if it is placed in a well read section.

But then, it will be thrown away, and with it will go my chances for greater readership, right?

Not really, if I make a REPRINT of the article, a paste-up of it that I place in my portfolio. I may not have to bother if the publication offers a reprint service. For a small fee I can purchase a hundred or even thousands nicely packaged reprints.

Anyway, it is the secondary publication of my article that is even more important to me as a consultant, because I can deliberately send it to people who are most likely to retain me for a project.

The same idea applies to internet articles. No matter what business you're in, you can “reprint” them by copying their layout as they appear on the web, and insert them into your emails. Though it is less effective at getting them read, you can also insert links to them in your reference materials that you send to prospects.

Moreover, you can print hard copies of your internet articles and dispatch them to the most interested readers.

“The right people” may never come across your Ezine articles by themselves, and this fact can be dispiriting.

Instead of being satisfied that a relative handful of people have clicked on them, deliberately seek more readers through reprints, and you’ll get a much better return for your literary and promotional efforts.

Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 800 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered a foremost expert in telephone effectiveness, customer service, and sales development. A top-rated speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at:

Article Source:

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Writer's Learning opportunities

Building confidence and learning more about the craft means stretching your skill to include new and better techniques. Take every opportunity to learn something new about your skill.

A few suggestions for the learning season:
  • Write something every day. When you write every day, you begin to hone your craft and make it worthwhile. Your skill increases. You style emerges. You begin to learn the process and develop a sense of comprehension that brings your work importance and value.
  • Learn some new words. Keep an ongoing list of new vocabulary words by your computer screen. (I keep mine on sticky notes stuck to my monitor - hey, it's better than writing them on my hand!) It might be fun to keep a notebook and count how many new words you can learn in a year, or even just a month.
  • Develop an ongoing journal and write in it every morning. Even just one thought in your journal will breath life into your day. My journal includes all the positive things that happen to me. I even include my positive thoughts, affirmations, and dreams. It brings them to life.
  • Recently, I began posting some of my journal online. It started out as a marketing journal and became more personal. I'm not sure why that happened, but it did, and I've decided to leave it available online. I've found I have a hard time holding onto a specific niche with my journals, because my writing goes wherever... like wondering through a jungle, I tend to follow the trail. Whatever I'm thinking today, goes in the journal.

I hope your trail of writing leads you to personal growth and understanding of who you are and your purpose here.



Sunday, June 18, 2006

Impact YOUR Personal Value

Okay, so the story goes. I have a new website about ready to go up, so I'm running some searches, on Google, to see if I can't find some inspiration for the site. I needed something significant for "content" and everything I'm thinking at the moment has to do with food or chocolate, so I was scoping for inspiration.

So, I google my key words, and this magazine site comes up. On the first page of Google, with an article right there at the top. No where in the intro is my name, or even anything I recognize as mine. The title pops up and I scan it, thinking... "Ah, that's significant." and I pass the writer's byline going straight to the meat, thinking... "Wow, I wonder if I could use THIS content on my site? Maybe it's an article marketers work. This is truly significant and applies to what I want to do. So.. I look back up at the writer's byline "Jan Verhoeff, hummmm... Oh wait, that's me, and I read the article again. Gosh!!!! Oh GEE!!! I'm a great writer! That says exactly what I want to say..."

And I'm sitting here AMAZED! Because we just went through the ABUNDANCE and PROSPERITY thing with Kim Emerson hacking at me that I ALREADY HAVE... and THERE IT IS!!! RIGHT THERE in front of my face, I already wrote it.

Now I know this world isn't ALL about ME. But, you know what, I'm beginning to feel mighty important and at least somewhat respected for my knowledge, because I've been recongized by some perty POWERFUL folks as having something IMPORTANT to say! My NET worth today is growing by leaps and bounds!!!

EVEN my SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER - who just happens to be my FORMER divorce Judge, told me that I have some pretty powerful concepts that should be written down to share this morning - IN SUNDAY SCHOOL! (And I was just talking about Mom stuff, role models, and how Dads who abandon, leave their children to the dangers of predators.)

Jan Verhoeff
Marketing Guru

Oh - the magazine site online:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Got a Newsletter - Build Your List

Build your mailing list and put your newsletter on the map!

How do you build massive mailing lists overnight? The secret is in the marketing. If your mailing list is a last minute toss in on your website, chances are it won't get much attention. However, if it's the top of the heap interest for you, everyone will be focused on signing up, and your list will grow.

So, where should it be?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that your newsletter signup list should be above the fold. But, everything on your site can't possibly be 'above the fold'. So, what do you leave off or move lower?

Marketing Guru, Jan Verhoeff, teaches a means of including the newsletter signup below the fold and still getting attention. Her methods work on the website and in the newsletter. Get a Consultation on your site - the month of May at a special discount rate - SERVICES.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Writing for Effect

Ineffective Words--Wordiness

By Jan Verhoeff

When you read back through your work, the effectiveness of the words become more apparent when you seek to find the rhythm.

Read it out loud.

After the first edit, you have to read your work out loud to find the errors. I read to my children, at least once a day. Often what I read to them is something I'm writing or editing. (Unless it's totally inappropriate.) They even get a kick out of my business docs and books, because they are learning something about business and what Mom does.

Something happens when you HEAR what you're reading as well as see it. The words take on a rhythm, almost an independent value. IF a sentence lacks value, comprehension or value, it will not read "right".

Avoid Cliche.

Trite phrases may be exactly what you want in a particular place, but more often are wasted ineffective words. Be original! Get used to using your own words to describe a moment and be colorful.

For instance:

"The sun came up over the mountains."

(Of course it did. But try...)

Pale lemony light rippled across the night sky illuminating the jagged ridges.

Choose the image you want your reader to comprehend.

Useless Words

Some of the words in our sentences just kind of lie there, sucking the life blood from our words that leave us lingering in that distrustful anticipation of what might come in the next sentence.


Some words in our sentence lie there, sucking life blood from our words. We linger in distrustful anticipation of what comes next.

The use of prepositional phrases, the word THAT, and words that "point" are not (generally) necessary. Try the sentence without them, and see if you don't find a more active rhythm.

Rambling sentences.

Oh, Pulllleeeez, MAKE A DICISION! Recently, I read Jimmy Carter's book. I loved the book, but it read much like his Presidency (no offense intended, I love the man). His sentences rambled on forever. One took over half a page and literally said nothing. I made one of my kids diagram the sentence. They literally NEVER FOUND a verb. Everytime I took a breath, I had to go back and restart the sentence, and then I was out of breath again by the time I got to that spot again, so I was always and forever rereading the same sentence over and over again until my children were comatose and I was gasping for air. Make a decision. Put a period in the sentence. If your subject is "you" the noun can be presumed, but a verb is REQUIRED.

Use humor.

If your book truly uses humor, you won't have to constantly tell your reader the characters laughed. (This is my weakness.) When I'm reading something out loud to my children that I've written, my oldest daughter on key (every time I say 'laughed") says, "What's so funny?" I used to want to strangle her, but it makes sense. If it's funny - why do I have to say it's funny?

When you read through your work, find those 'feeling statements' and see if there isn't some other way you can SHOW your reader instead of telling.

Sarah's tears fell like rain in Georgia. is more effective than Sarah was sad.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Write a Wong and Other Wize Witings...

Typo Publication: Writing a Few Wongs

By Jan Verhoeff

To read this you have to plant your tongue firmly in your left cheek, open your lips a bit, and read out loud. (Tip: don’t move your tongue.)

Occasionally, I do a beta search of the – uh, search engines – to find out where my work ends up, since I provide a lot of FREE content for the internet. Today, I was doing one such search and started counting the typos.

Needless to say, I’m not a perfectionist, I often publish work with a typo or two (sometimes three or four) but my writing is interesting, people read it, and I’ve noticed the typos don’t usually matter a whole lot. People read right over them, and judging from where the articles are placed, a few well-educated folks either missed the typos or didn’t care enough to correct them. The other side of that is, I’ve noticed a few corrections on my articles that should have been left alone, because the correction made a bigger wrong than the original.

So, what’s a girl to do?

The internet is a big hairy place to live, and a few writes don’t make a wrong so long as your topic is clear, your content valuable, and your heart is in the right place. My heart is right there in my chest beating merrily along, my content has merit (or you wouldn’t be reading this – even with your tongue planted firmly in your cheek), and my topic is clear – LIFE is dysfunctional, enjoy it as it comes.

I’ve learned in my short 46 years of pumping blood on this planet that there’s far more to living than being perfect, and life without errors would be – pretty boring. So, I continue typing out my thoughts on paper, publishing them where ever folks read, and attempting to just live and enjoy the life I’ve been given.

Don’t you just love it when the sun comes up in the morning, after the weatherman predicted rain? I find those moments incredibly valuable! Definitely worthy of a smile, some laughter and one more write.
For all you folks who go through life looking for the errors – I just want to say, “Get a life! Enjoy the deeds you do, live for the purpose God gave you, and make a difference. Write a Wong!”

Jan Verhoeff is a fun loving single mom of four children. She’s energetic and focused with optimism and enthusiasm on creating a better world. She often spreads sunshine and smiles with her writing. Her hope is that God will send her a bit of Joy and a bit of Grace everyday to share with others. See her at

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rejected - Okay

Several months back, I sent a story to "Chicken Soup for the Something or Other" and promptly forgot about it. I submit articles for "Chicken Soup" Quite often, and for some reason - I'm rice and they want noodles - or some such, I haven't been published in the Chicken Soup books yet.

After I read the rejection letter, my first thought was, "Hey, great, I can redo that story/article for my life experience book - currently in process." And I saved the letter, because it has a list of "stories that made the ripple" and I noticed the titles are quite colorful. I want to keep the titles for ideas. About three emails later, it dawned on me - "Hey wait, THEY REJECTED my story!"

My next thought, well, there's something I can post about. Ummmm does this mean I'm a "real" writer? I got a rejection and it just inspired me more?

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, what is the consensus here? How do you react to a 'rejection letter'? Does it send you sprawling for cover in hiding from the possibility of another rejection, or inspire you to write some more?

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Writer Exercise - Enjoyed it.

Tip of the Snowflake

Written by Jan Verhoeff

Although I'm just one in a crowd, I stand out. It isn't my physical attributes, although I'm sure you'd recognize me as different there too. My points are a big jagged, my holes a bit too large, and my ice crystals are a bit too cold attracting frost and toxins from the air.

My personality makes me different from the rest. Of course, snowflakes have personality. Mine is slightly brash, a bit abrasive and unkind. The ages haven't rounded my corners there much either. I attract the wrong kind of, well, snowflakes - the toxic kind. It isn't my fault, you know. It's just simply the kind of snowflake I am.

I considered being kinder once. It was a fleeting thought, a rash of persistence in the rush of traffic, but I knew. It was all in vain. My vanity won't allow gentleness. I must be harsh to keep my sanity. If snowflakes gathered round, because I was nice, the frost on my delicate limbs might melt. I need that frost to survive.

You'll see me there on the right, the icy little crystal with all the attachment, a bit stale and evil appearing. My toxin levels are quite high now; you won't want to come near me. Age has made me ugly and unattractive. That frown on my face is a reflexion of the toxins I've experienced.

Yet, I see sunshine. I feel it now, melting me down. I must experience warmth and renewal. I guess I just now realized, we snowflakes are meant to melt.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Easter Cook Book - Great Recipes and Menu

I know, cookbooks are a dime a dozen, everybody writes them, but I have this whole collection of fabulous recipes "that nobody else has" and I can't see keeping them hidden, when I want to share them so bad. Besides, I collect cookbooks, doesn't everyone?

Anyways, a good friend of mine asked if I was doing my usual Easter Brunch Buffet this year and I said, "Yeah, of course. Why?" And she said, "Well, we can't come and I wondered if you'd send me your recipes so I could do it here?" She lives a ways off and I know she loves my Brunch Buffet (It's really good!) so I told her I'd send her a copy of my recipes and menu so she could serve my Easter Brunch Buffet.

While I was typing the recipes into a message to send her, it dawned on me, this is a BOOK! I might as well format it and make it a book so others could use these great recipes and there could be Easter Brunch Buffet's all over the world out of my great recipes.

To get a copy of the greatest Easter Brunch Buffet Menu and my book with the recipes, a short Easter Story, and dedication to my Grandmother, who was an incredible cook herself! Just click HERE.

For other books I've written check out Jan's Book Store.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Color in the garden - and my cheeks?

Occasionally I get a chance to have my photo taken in my natural state (that's my office). My daughter happened to be awake and moving around before I'd started pulling out my hair and creating a wicked mess.

I'm thinking it's probably time to get one outside in the sunshine again after a winter of chills. The sun has melted the last snows off the grass and I noticed green shoots out there, looks like there may be daffodills and tulips coming up before long. I'm certainly ready for a different color than the beige that slowly seeps its way across the land in the winter time.

I'm anxiously awaiting summer this year. As much as I love snow, it just seems that winter has been a long time running (probably because we really got no snow).

April showers anyone?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just a leaf in the sands of time...

I land on soil and wait
only time can tell
my fate

I can't suggest
or be oppressed
for naught
am I
but a leaf on the sands of time.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mobilectomy - the Readers Revenge

Occasionally, I come across something that is just too good not to share.

That isn't the case at this moment. I was quite tempted to keep this tidbit to myself. However, in preference to my typical news oriented self disclosure, I'm choosing to tattle.

Yes, I remember all those admonitions to not be a tattle tale when I was a little girl, but I didn't really listen then either.

Being baited by former Lamar Daily News Publisher to promote his book through the grand gesture of writing a book review (an offer I couldn't resist) gave me ideas for marketing and promoting. And since that's the other side of what I do, of course I went to the metal for a chance to continue that side of my business interests.

If you click on the book info to the left you get a chance to see Tom's book "The Fleagle Gang Betrayed by a Fingerprint" and also to read the reviews. Out of history, Tom pulled a factual rendition of mass crime centered around an event that rocked the community where we both grew up. Even now, some 80 years later, if you mention the Fleagle Gang, someone pops up with a new story of where they were when it all happened.

Aunt Frieda was a little girl, sent to the store on an errand for her mother and experienced the early morning memories of the event. She hasn't forgotten.

People born even a few months prior to the 1928 event remember in vivid detail the events of that day. While their memories may be tainted with time and cause, they are just as valid today.

From a time when news was transmitted through messages dropped from planes, injured bystanders left with a note to transport, and telephone messages delayed in case their might be something more to say, the process has changed dramatically.

Now, a sheriff's officer might relay a message via radio, cell phone, or instant text message including a photograph of the actual event or person. Technology has changed the crime scene as surely as it has change investigation.

To be a writer today means you must know the ins and outs of all technology.

Kuddo's Tom, for a job well done. Aren't you glad you could click this book out on a computer as opposed to the manual typewriter of yesteryear?