Friday, December 24, 2010


I hope your holidays are filled with family, good friends and lots of cheer.

I brought my husband home from the hospital after his Tuesday knee replacement. So, our Christmas will be quiet while he exercises, recuperates and watches sports.

I am, however, still working on marketing. I bought cookie cutters - boot, cowboy, cactus and horse. At some presentations I plan to have kids decorate their own cookies. I also found lots of recipes for cowboy cookies - hardy oatmeal cookies. After Laura Resau said she took French pasties to a signing and had lots of people, I began to consider what I might do.

Along with the above, I copied the book cover on 8" x 11" cardstock, cut the picture into large puzzle pieces and plan to hand out as prizes.

The next post will be January 3rd.

Monday, December 20, 2010

No New Ideas

As writers we are told there are no new ideas only old ones rewritten. I discovered that by mistake this weekend.

Turner Classic Movies and AMC showed many old Christmas movies including "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson. I love old Christmas movies.

A young woman becomes a pen pal with a man she doesn't know. Then she takes a job in a music store. The two people decide to meet. She carries a book and a flower and waits for a long time. As it turns out, her music store boss is her pen pal and discovers as much when he looks through the window of the restaurant to see her sitting there with a book and a flower. He leaves but returns and sits down. Sound familiar?

I have watched "You've Got Mail" so many times I know it by heart. A scene in the picture duplicates the one in the Christmas movie. As I think about the two movies, I recall more and more duplications.

Further research discovered the first version "The Shop Around the Corner," 1940, starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan was set in Budapest. "In the Good Old Summertime" came out in 1949 as a remake set in Chicago. "You've Got Mail," 1998, takes email, AOL, Pride and Prejudice and the old versions to a new level set in New York City. Silly me thought the last to be a "new" movie. Little did I know.

Although not always reliable, Wikipedia gives a good account of the three movies.

The moral of this writing is don't give up on your story just because you discover it has been done before. Give it a new twist - change the setting, tweak the plot, add something new and go for it. If writing non-fiction such as advice, remember today's generation doesn't know all those past ideas.

Happy writing!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Author events

I've been told that if you want to be a hit with your publisher, you should commit yourself to marketing. The School Manager of Pelican Publishing commented how excited she is about all the events I've lined up for the book's release. What can you do?

Perhaps I've listed some things before. Contact as many people as possible. Start a Facebook Fan Page. Network wherever you go. Make business cards and pass them out liberally. Consider making bookmarks. I gave a recipe for that before. Since then I've decided to have them done professionally at a local business. Join social media groups. Work with your publisher. Check out other markets such as, in my case, businesses that deal in cowboy clothing. Join author events. I have access to one but it costs a small fortune to have a booth. I'm thinking about it. Think publicity. Plan now for interview questions. Update your website. These are but a few suggestions. If you have more, please comment.

Things are heating up for the release. News from the publisher indicates the Denver Art Museum has backordered books already. Pelican says response has been great.

Local events include book signings at several locations.

  • February 17th, 506:30 pm, Small Business Development Center Networking Event in Loveland
  • February 26th, 1:00 p.m., Old Firehouse Books 
  • The Loveland Museum/Gallery hosts a signing/presentation on March 19th, 1-3.
  • March 26th, I'll conduct a teacher workshop on how to get children to enjoy, interact, look thoroughly at art, and how to incorporate art into other curriculum subjects.
  • April 13th, Primrose School in Denver
For more information and locations, check my website.

I'll be adding a signing at Reader's Cove soon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Books and Christmas

Sales! Sales! And more sales! Even my book with a release date of February 15th is already listed at a discounted price for pre-orders on and Barnes & Noble website. Last time I looked Borders and Pelican had it at full price.

Books make wonderful Christmas gifts. I've given The Polar Express and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey to all my grandchildren as well as other children I know.

I've written articles on giving books. "Book of the Month Club" gives a book each month in honor of a child's birthday or to extend Christmas throughout the year. Depending on the child's age, Newbery and Caldecott books make great gifts. To make it easier, buy stamps ahead of time and mailing envelops. You can even buy the books early. I once found one in a grocery store sale bin - Click, Clack, Moo which was an honor winner.

Another darling book for younger children is Ellen Javernick's The Birthday Pet. Check for local authors and try to fit their books with the children on your list. Getting an autograph is also a plus. For special children, give the gift of an author visit to their class. In my case, I'm offering free presentations for launch of the book for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year. I still require reimbursement of travel expenses for out of town.

Series books are always a hit. Libraries have lists of popular series by age. Just ask the resource desk. Think the Bailey School Kids, Magic School Bus, and many others. Check Debbie Dadey's website for several series.

Think books for gifts. Start a child's library at a young age. They'll become avid readers.

Friday, December 10, 2010

End of year

As the end of the year approaches, I begin to analyze what publications printed my works in 2010. Course, my husband gets on my case to print it all out for our taxes.

That said, what is your method of record keeping?

Some record keeping programs make the job easy. However, after trying one, I decided my spreadsheet works fine. I set up a spreadsheet with a submission listing - publication, article title, date, email or snail, what was sent (query, book proposal, whole article, etc.), acceptance/rejection, follow-up, editor, address, promised pay, expense and actual pay. Below all that, I list what expenses I accumulate as they happen.

Unfortunately, I'm a book junky. Instead of borrowing all my resource materials, I tend to purchase them from or wherever I find them. If the books are out of print and expensive, I borrow them. My shelves are loaded. Many books have sticky notes along the edges. I'm not good at note taking but everything is marked in each book.

With the approach of the New Year, I'm considering what writing goals/resolutions I can make. The first will be better note keeping - footnotes particularly. If anyone questions a statement or fact, I'll have instant access to the source rather than spending time going through sticky notes.

What 2011 goals are you setting?

I think I'm pretty much finished with my website. Check it out. Let me know if you have suggestions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Facebook Fan Page

The teacher, Sean Macready, convinced me I need a Facebook fan page with all the numbers he quoted. Course, getting fans is like getting friends on a blog, takes a long time. In checking my google analytics, I find many more people check the blog but don't become friends. I have to admit, I fit in that category also - read the blog but don't become a friend. Maybe I'll change that.

The Fan Page is much like a profile except it is triggered with keywords, if I understood him correctly. So, more people will eventually read the page rather than your profile which does nothing. You can track readers on the fan page but not the profile. I'll let you know if it works. He also suggested not to over promote yourself on your fan page. Post other things three out of four posts and promote yourself in the fourth.

The teacher offered a free hour consultation, which I will definitely use. I'll get the page up, then, check with him before I send out invitations for fans.

More marketing for my book included:
1. Downloading all school districts in Colorado
2. Downloading all library districts in Colorado

Next I'll check Wyoming schools and libraries, especially Cheyenne and Laramie.

Seems like every time I make some contact, it leads to a marketing event. The SBDC has a networking event in February right after my book is released. Even though I live in Fort Collins and should go through that office, the Loveland office agreed to promote me. I'll register for that soon.

Besides the CCIRA (Colorado Council International Reading Association) convention, I learned of a Mountain and Plains convention which will be held this year in Loveland, Colorado, just 10 miles from me. I've contacted them.

You never know who can offer networking advice. Use every possible connection.

Next week I plan to go to Business Card Factory here in Fort Collins about making cards and bookmarks. I want to get them soon so I can begin passing out bookmarks.

I've updated my website to include fees for presentations and an offer of free presentations until the end of the 2010-2011 school year. I sent one email to a prospective customer and she was delighted and will get back to me with a date. I learned from SBDC not to say "If you'd like......" but, instead, "What date would you like....." It worked!

You can find my book on for pre-orders and on the Barnes & Noble, Borders and Pelican Publishing websites.

Hope you can use a few of these marketing ideas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I admire self-publishers because marketing is time consuming. My publicist does a lot but I'm also helping. Unable to sleep last night, I worked on several marketing ideas at 3:00 a.m. I've spend this whole day at the computer on other marketing projects.

I found a listing of museums that display Charles Russell's art. I emailed each one with a description of the book, a place to order an e-galley (online review copy) or regular review copy and a thank you for considering purchase of the book. We'll see if any museum shops place orders.

As suggested by the counselor at SBDC (Small Business Development Center) I am working or jazzing up my website. Not accomplished at this point but getting there. To demonstrate the care demonstrated by SBDC, I tried to get in a class on making a Facebook fan page. I was too late to fill either of the last two available spots. This morning SBDC called and said they were squeezing me into the class since my book comes out in February and I need the class now not in January. How thoughtful of them! I highly recommend getting their help in marketing your work.

I now have my own domain email address although I've not used it much as yet - My next step in the marketing process is to check contacts for all Colorado and Wyoming school districts. I want to attend district teacher meetings, if possible. Then, perhaps I'll acquire some classroom presentations. I contacted the CCIRA (Colorado Council International Reading Association) 2012 chair and will fill out their information when it becomes available online in March.

The Loveland Museum/Gallery reserved the date of March 19th, 1-3, for my book signing. They also asked me to present a teacher workshop on March 26th. Besides the school districts, I'm working up that presentation. Once I receive a few recommendations for my website, I'm hoping more presentations will come my way.

My website Author Visit section gives an Introductory Offer of free presentations until the end of this school year. Most authors have made such offers for their first books. I am following suit. Then I'm not charging as much as some. That may bite me in the foot, but I'll try it for a while. My next job requires I write a comment form for teachers to fill out with permission to place comments on my website. Those help to build a reputation.

I hope you can apply some of these marketing ideas for your work.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing Ideas

Every year about this time I think about all the articles I should have written, or those I've written but failed to submit in time.

I promise myself year after year to write stories during the Holiday Season and then place them in a folder for submitting in about June. It's a good idea but I have yet to fulfill that promise to myself. Life gets in the way.

So, start now and write down the ideas as they happen. Then, put them in a folder of things to write immediately. Maybe you have a better process. If so, share it.

Next, set aside time on your calendar to write. Even during this hectic time of year, don't get out of the writing habit. It only takes a few minutes to jot down the basics of an article. You can embellish it in January.

Look through magazines now for ideas from articles printed this year. What holes can you fill next year? Remember, new generations need the knowledge you may take for granted that everyone already knows. There aren't many new ideas, just repeats of old ones.

With this said, I promise to dig out all the Holiday articles and put them in a folder ready to submit. I'll do it after I put up the tree!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Writing & Promoting

On Writing:
Have you considered that you write everyday even though it might not be for publication? How many emails do you send in a day? How many notes do you hand write to children, husband or whomever?

Word 2007 helps automatically with grammar, capitalization and sentence structure. I admit it sometimes makes a mistake!  However, it keeps you on your toes. In Word, if you start a new sentence and forget to capitalize the first word, it does it for you. I wish email message pages had the same help. Have you received those emails that never capitalize a word? They are hard to read.

No matter in which writing exercise you participate, make it the best writing possible. Use proper grammar, capitalization, sentence structure, active verbs, etc. It serves as good writing practice.

With that I got out of my system, how about writing those email queries? Do you concentrate on getting the point across with all the above and devote the time you spend on a snail mail query? Your query email message needs to express the same professionalism as your standard query.

On Promotion:.
I mentioned before my meeting with the Small Business Development Center for help in promoting my upcoming book-HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART. By the way, it is listed on for pre-orders. At this point, it has some incorrect information that will be addressed shortly. The age is 7-12 years not 4-8 years. The might relate to grade levels but that is not how it is stated.

Back to the SBDC. I learned a lot. She zeroed her focus to my audience - in this order: teachers, museums, libraries, schools, parents and children. Then we discussed how to reach that audience through organizations, school districts, the Internet, libraries, and museums. She reminded me to include Wyoming since it is relatively close - especially Cheyenne and Laramie. We talked about teacher training classes in a college setting.

She suggested I start lining up presentations now, three months in advance. Charging is a difficult process for most of us. I researched the charges by some authors and discovered a wide range. I decided to eliminate charges until I earn a reputation. She suggested I approach with this comment, "I'll be in Cheyenne the week of (fill in the blank). I'd like to offer you this new release (fill in the amount) value for free while I'm getting established. Which date do you prefer?" Then after about 6 months, I can start charging. But let them know they are getting a bargain.  She suggested I try to hit a bookstore, classroom, library or as many entities as possible in one day or week in a particular area.

The next post will include some of her other suggestions as well as those of my critique group's discussion last night on the same topic.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How do you write?

At our SCBWI schmooze last night we discussed how and when people write. Once they have all the information? Before they finished the research?  How do they organize - with note cards, sticky notes, scraps of paper, on the computer? We determined the method depends on the person.

According to Teresa Funke, there are several methods and one should choose whichever works for them. One of my unpublished books, a fictional autobiography of one incident from my childhood, I wrote by just sitting down and writing. I mentally knew where I should start and where I should end. All that came between was chronological.

Another unpublished book, called Monkey Madness, came about by setting up chapter names. I knew some of the events I wanted to include in this wacky, time travel, adventure chapter book of three boys who go through the picture frame of a famous painting into Paris. The writing came easy because I knew where I was going. A little research along the way added the necessary information for the time period.

Finally, I started work on my Charles Russell book that comes out this Spring. This non-fiction, art appreciation children's book needed a different format. I read many accounts of Russell's life and painting life. I chose which 12 pictures and one self-sculpture I wanted to use. I knew I'd approach each object the same as when I give art museum tours - questions to have the viewer look at the work, some tidbits of interest and a closing sentence that possibly led to the next object. Each object only needed about 200 words. Sounds easy but how do you get all the information across you want readers to learn when you have pages of notes! At any rate, the writing came easy once the "outline" was finished.

The follow-up book on Frederic Remington deployed the same method and the writing came easily. My outlines may not look like outlines but they worked for me.

I have learned that for me several methods work. However, the ones where I had a definite written plan worked the best.

How do you write? Do you research first or as you go? Do you have a method of note keeping you might share? How do you put together the plot and subplots? Do you make character sketches? When do you fact check? Do you use the same method/methods for writing short stories or articles, fiction or non-fiction?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Subheadings in articles for magazines help clarify what is written. Take for instance, the articles I just finished for Rocky Mountain Senior and Lyons Recorder. Each lists Christmas activities for several cities. By dividing the article into city subheadings, residents need not read what doesn't apply to their city unless they want to participate elsewhere.

Another article listed inexpensive ideas for Christmas decorations. I wrote a subhead for each area of the house - kitchen, bathroom, great room, etc. Then a reader can concentrate on the area they desire to improve with more decorations.

Be sure the subheadings are parallel. In other words, if one begins with a verb, the rest should begin with verbs. If one is a noun, the others should be nouns. Make subheadings descriptive enough that readers can skim and find what they need. For a long article, try to subhead each page.

I discussed writing with the co-owner of the Lyons Recorder. Some topics we covered included "ing" and "ly" words as well as active verbs. I believe the best advice any writer can pass on would be to make your writing active. Eliminate those "to be" verbs and replace them with active verbs that describe the action. Sometimes, as I've indicated before, the adjectives or adverbs turned into verbs help the action.

Now that the Holidays are approaching, everyone's schedules fill up. Some people may have little time for reading blogs. I started putting up decorations yesterday because we will be out of town part of Thanksgiving week. Hopefully weather cooperates and we'll hang our Christmas lights soon. Wish we hung them during all our Indian summer.

That said, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled friends and family. I will post before Thanksgiving but skip Black Friday.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I have often wondered how to write age such as two-year-old. Do you hyphenate or not? Helen Wilkie's tip says if you use the age as how old you are, don't hyphenate. However, if you are describing your two-year-old grandson, do hyphenate. When the age is a description, it is hyphenated. Now if I can just remember this!

This past week I skipped the Friday post because I was babysitting my nineteen-month-old twin grandsons. Needless to say, I had little time to write a post. Besides their keeping me busy, my son's house was visited by two herds of elk. Both consisted of over 30 animals. They decided to relax and enjoy the day on my son's backyard in Evergreen, Colorado - one group at a time. They filled the space between two houses and spread out beside the house as well. In fact, at one time, four decided to eat the carved pumpkins on the front porch. Only large floor to ceiling windows separated us. They stared at me as I stared at them.

There must be a story in there somewhere.

Hyphens bring to mind a requirement of Pelican Publishing. They don't like the use of a dash but prefer an em dash or hyphen with no spaces. Since I wasn't quite sure from their examples of what they wanted, I made sure I had no use for them in my manuscripts. If not sure, don't use it, I decided.

I received my second advance check and immediately spent it on a multimedia projector for classroom presentations. I'd rather depend on my own equipment and knowledge of it. A friend suggested she'd much rather have her own equipment since every visit ended up with something missing, the AV person absent or a machine she didn't know how to operate.

Now I have one more advance check when the book is released. Hopefully, I'll pocket that one. The other two paid for the book pictures and, now, equipment to help in marketing the book. Will I ever make any money on this sale? Some people assure me I will. We'll see.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Next Book

Now that HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART is at the printer, I have concentrated on a book for the same series called Frederic Remington's Art.

Once you've a contract for one submission, you can follow the guidelines given you by the publisher for sending the final manuscript as you prepare your next submission.

For instance: Pelican requires Times New Roman, 12. I usually work in Courier New, 12. So I reformatted my Remington manuscript to the new font and size. Pelican also wants the pages numbered a certain way. I followed those guidelines. Each paragraph needs to be indented by a keyboard tab, not individual spaces or a formatted tab.

They want no spaces between paragraphs. All punctuation must be followed by one space, no more. In other words, one space after a period at the end of a sentence. I've been following that rule for several years now. To get used to it, copy one page of a manuscript and place only one space after a period. By the time you've typed the page, it will be a habit.

They want double-spaced manuscripts with one inch margins all around. If your book has chapters, they want all the page numbers from the beginning to the end of the complete manuscript. Even though they ask that each chapter be a separate file, the numbers remain for the whole book, not by chapters.

These guidelines, as well as many more, are for a contracted manuscript. However, some things I applied to my new manuscript submission. Always check your manuscript several times for spelling errors, etc. I usually find something I'd missed. That goes for blogs also! After I write a post, I copy and paste it into a Word document to check spelling. Did I miss anything?

In other words, I sent the manuscript last week. YEA! Now the waiting begins. Should I be positive and begin the process of following the rest of the guidelines like a dedication, chronology, introduction? I guess it won't hurt. No matter who eventually buys the book, I'll need those additional pages.

Friday, October 29, 2010

THAT, Marketing and Pricing

Helen Wilkie puts out emails called Word Trippers. I've mentioned this before. She sends twice-weekly tidbits on correct writing or speaking uses of words. Today she addressed a favorite of mine. I eliminate the word "that" whenever possible. Most times it is not needed. Example: He told his employer that he would be absent. We commonly use similar sentences when speaking. However, if we wrote like we speak, no one would read. Boring! Now read the sentence without "that." Does it mean the same? Whether you are writing, critiquing or speaking, think about leaving out the word "that." It cuts down on your word count!

I mentioned at my writer's group I'm working on a marketing plan. (Notice I left out the word "that!") One writer suggested I take advantage of a free mentoring program at the Small Business Development Center. You must go to the one in your location. In other words, I can't use the one in Loveland, Colorado but must go to the Fort Collins center. On their website,, they have a form to fill out first under counseling. Then they set you up with a mentor. They also offer classes to help with marketing plans and, of course, try to get you to take one.

When I mentioned this to my son last night he related an author's experience. Seems a reporter approached a bestselling author and asked how she could get started. He asked if she'd taken any marketing classes. She snipped her negative answer. He said, "Well, you notice this is a bestselling book, not a bestselling writer." Any author needs to know how to market in today's publishing world. I'm on my way to learning.

Which brings up another problem. As a first time author, I, in good conscience, can't charge for classroom presentations or other speaking engagements. I thought I'd do a year of free first. I checked several local authors' websites for their pricing. In emailing a few, I learned they started by giving freebies first also. Then as they received recommendations and built their reputation, they charged. The key is reputation. Debbie Dadey related how one author didn't really want to give many presentations so he raised his prices. He received more requests. Upon asking the schools why, they told him he must be better than people who charge less.

Charging is a two-edged sword. If you don't charge, they think you aren't any good. If you do charge, the schools can't afford you. However, I discovered schools do have money for presentations; you just have to have the right connection. Another author suggested to the schools how they partly cover the author cost through book sales. Schools get the books at a 40% reduction. If they sell books, they reap the profit.

Any comments??? 

Monday, October 25, 2010


I'm a day late and a dollar short this week with my posts. The last week was filled with volunteering and the annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Craft Fair. I'm a tole painter as well as flower arranger and decorator of special projects. Last year the fair raised $21,000 so we aren't the typical "little old lady" group. This year's inventory amounted to less than last year so the profit won't be as much. However, it took up three of my days. Tomorrow we'll culminate the event and donate leftovers to nursing homes and other craft sales.

To catch you up on book progress, the Charles Russell book should be in route to the printer soon. I've been working on a Frederic Remington book. Today I emailed the Amon Carter Museum with a list of paintings/sculptures I want to use. Should have done it before writing the manuscript. Actually, I did check their website and found the pieces I wanted to use. Today was a different story. We'll see if they still own them.

My advice is to check before writing. I may discover I've included some items the museum no longer owns and will have to start all over or at least delete some pictures and add others. Hopefully they'll get back to me quickly.

Even though the week provided little writing time, I managed to write two pages of the manuscript and an article for a small town paper on Sunday. The month is almost over - YEA! I'll have more time in November provided our two trips don't interfere. I'll babysit my twin grandsons November 3rd through 6th. Visit a Dixieland Jazz Festival in Clearwater, Florida, Thanksgiving week. Should have an article idea after we visit the Circus Museum and see my husband's father's picture with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Band.

In the meantime I'll get a head start on Christmas decorating and baking. Since my husband has knee surgery on December 21st and comes home on the 24th, I should have plenty of writing time at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011.

When I counted up my submission for 2010 last week, I discovered I'd met my goal of one a week. I know many other people submit much more, but that was my goal. Not all received acceptances, however, one included a book. Guess my time was well spent.

What writing goals do you make? Be reasonable. Don't expect miracles. But keep plugging along.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marketing Plan - bookmarks

I am anxious to get started on a marketing plan for my new book, HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART. A friend, LeAnn Thieman, and I plan to meet to go over what she's learned about marketing plans while writing her self-published books and for Chicken Soup. When the marketing is up to the author, one gets pretty creative.

I'm not sure what plans Pelican has for marketing my book. However, I plan to start with bookmarks, some pins to wear and PowerPoint presentations. The presentation is about done. Since this book is a "looking at the art" of Charles Russell, I include questions to encourage looking as well as activities. To make the presentation an extension of the book means I'll use different pictures, add some biography, and include a few activities from the book.

Since I don't have Microsoft Publisher, I searched the Internet for ways to make bookmarks. Try using the Microsoft Word Tables program. Here are some directions.

1. Open a blank document in Word
2.  Click Insert on the menu bar and Tables
3. Select 3 columns and 2 rows.
4. In Word 2007, which I have, place the cursor in the first column and row. Right click your mouse. Scroll down to "table properties."
5. Click the row tab and set the height at 2".
6. Click the second row, right click mouse, and table properties. Set this row to 5". They suggested 4" but I like the 5" better.
7. Place your cursor in the first column. Right click your mouse and go to table properties.
8. Click the column tab.
9. If you have a picture of your book, click the top row/column, insert menu, and select picture.
10. Browse your pictures and choose the one you prefer.
11. Size the picture to fit by double clicking it and, at the top right of the menu bar, set the size you want.
12. Now copy and paste the picture into the other two columns.
13. Now place the cursor in the lower row, first column.
14. Add your text in any format or colors you choose.
15. Copy and paste into the other columns.
16. You can either print it yourself, on card stock or a heavy paper of your choosing, or take it to Kinkos or another printing company and they will print and cut for a nominal fee.

I hope I've printed all the instructions. If you have a problem, make a comment to the post and I'll get back to you. Good luck.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"ing" words

"It's hard to soar with eagles if you write like a turkey!" I laughed when I read this quote in Don't Let Your Participles Dangle in Public. Sometimes I reread my writing and wonder what "turkey" wrote that!

I didn't really find anything in the book about "ing" words besides the discussion on participles. Course, I didn't read the whole book either. I don't remember where I first learned about "ing" words, so, I'll just give my take on the subject.

In some instances the words can actually be the verb. Check your sentences. Anytime I read a manuscript in my critique group, I search for inactive verbs, "ly," and "ing" words. Many times the verbs are passive but can be changed to active simply by changing the participles. Along those lines, most adverbs or adjectives are unneccessary. Take them out and make the verb stronger and active. 

With all my concentration on the elimination of  "ing" words, my editor changed my manuscript and added a couple. My critique group and I got a good laugh out of that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Participles plus a newsletter by Dr. Judith Briles

Dr. Judith Briles is a guru of self-publishing. A member of Colorado Author's League, she puts out a newsletter filled with writing and publishing information, the all new AuthorU Newsletter, The Resource.  It is 17 pages of authoring and publishing information. You can join her newsletter list by clicking on her name. 

I have a grammar book called DON'T LET YOUR PARTICIPLES DANGLE IN PUBLIC. Its definition of a participle is "A word formed from a verb that is used as an adjective. It ends in ing. A dangling participle is defined as "a modifier that is positioned in the wrong place in a sentence (usually dangling at the end) to properly modify what it's supposed to." We saw examples in my last post that were actually at the beginning of the sentence.

On page 5.24, the book states that a dangling participle appears often as the first word of a beginning phrase to modify something it doesn't. Therein lies the problem we faced in the last post. Example: Sitting on my mother's lap, the circus was more enjoyable. It sounds as though the circus sits on the mother's lap, i.e. a dangling participle.

The problem, according to this book, can be solved by the skeleton rule: (1) head (who/what), (2) body (did/does/do what), (3) feet (to whom/what, (4) fluff (when, where, why how?) "Even if you put fluff up front, make sure your head comes before your feet." Example: (when) On arriving at the airport, (who) I (did what) met (to whom) my friends (where) at the gate.

Several examples demonstrate the ease with which you can create a dangling participle as well as how to correct them.

Friday, October 8, 2010


What is syntax? I sometimes get caught using words in the wrong order in my writing. It is an easy mistake.

Syntax is the order of words in a sentence. An example from Helen Wilkie's twice weekly Word Tripper is: "While cycling along the street, a big dog suddenly jumped in front of me." Who is cycling, the dog or the person? How do you correct the reference? Change the order of the words.

Any noun following the introduction which includes the "ing" word, must refer to whatever/whomever is performing the action. In the example, the dog is the cyclist. Wilkie offers these solutions:  "While cycling along the street, I saw a big dog suddenly jump in front of me." The I refers to the "ing" word. Or "As I was cycling along the street, a big dog jumped in front of me." If you go back and look at the original example, you know something is wrong.

My college A Functional English Grammar says syntax is "The study of the relations of words to one another." It also calls the order of words described above as a form of "Dangling Participle." For instance, "Burning brightly, we watched the flames dance up the chimney." Here, too, the understanding is confusing. What/who is burning? "We" refers to the burning. But are "we" burning? Of course not. The noun following the introduction with the "ing" word is not burning.

My writer's group knows I am death on "ing" words. I'd rather a writer say exactly what they mean, In that case, many "ing" words aren't necessary. Action verbs can take their place. The last example could be changed to: We watched the bright flames dance up the chimney. Omit the phrase completely. We already know the flames are burning. I added bright to enhance the sense of "seeing." 

Next I'll have to explain more fully a Dangling Participle. Or, perhaps, address more kinds of "ing" words.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Controversy Continued

I guess controversy can't be avoided at times. It follows you wherever you go. This morning in my Bible study class a woman had just heard of the protest over an art exhibit at the Loveland Museum/Gallery. She went on and on and hadn't even seen the piece in question. When I spoke up telling her I'm a docent at the museum, her opinion of me changed to the negative. Long story short, she apologized and we discussed the situation and disregarded her first emotional response.

How would you handle controversy over something you'd written? I wrote an article on the exhibit that was published in a small local newspaper last Thursday. The editor's husband is in the Bible study class. He and I discussed it briefly. I wondered if I should write something this week that neither defended nor supported the exhibit but explained the situation. His attitude was to probably ignore it. That, too, was my first response. Instead, I think I'll go ahead with my original plan and write an article on the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Hopefully, no one can protest anything in that show. It is history along with artifacts found in the grave. Then again, someone might protest the fact the grave was disturbed.

No matter what you write about, someone could find fault. Have you written in innocence something that created a stir? How did you handle it?

A note on networking. While listening to music at a Dixieland Jazz Festival over the weekend, I read and studied Frederic Remington, the next subject in my HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN series. Several people commented on my reading. I explained. One woman wanted more information. I gave her my card. Well, actually, I found out I'd left my cards at home and had to improvise with information on the back of someone else's card. Which prompts me to remind you - always carry writing business cards. I've been caught without them twice now. Add some extras in your checkbook in case you leave the holder/cards at home. Put a few in anything you always carry with you on trips whether it is in your suitcase, wallet, checkbook or make-up bag/shaving kit!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I hope I would never write anything that would cause a controversy. But when writing about art, one never knows who will be offended. Take for instance the following.

Thank goodness a friend emailed early yesterday morning that the Loveland Museum/Gallery where I volunteer made the headlines of the Loveland paper. I live in Fort Collins so don't take that paper. I checked out the article online. I discovered a protest would be held at 10 a.m., exactly when I was to enter the museum.

I don't handle controversy well and would have been totally rattled. I called the museum and explained why I would not volunteer that day. No way did I want to confront a reporter. They take things out of context and no matter what I'd have said, it would have been wrong. They totally understood.

The museum's current show houses works by one artist I don't even care for so I stay away from his work when talking to visitors about the show. One piece is offensive to me as well as others. However, that piece is 7" by 7" so not likely noticed by most people. At any rate, I stayed away.

When writing about art as I do, I may run into someone who is offended by an art work. I choose wisely and carefully. But who knows what can happen.

What I'm trying to say is be very careful what you write for publication, how you say it and where you publish it.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I am finally learning to take advantage of every situation to network my book no matter what the circumstance. For instance: this past weekend. As a volunteer at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, Colorado, and serving as one of two Volunteer Coordinators, the museum paid for the two of us to attend a symposium at the Denver Art Museum. I'd served as a docent there from 1985-89. Saw lots of people I knew including Melora McDermott-Lewis.

Melora is now the Education Director of the museum. When I reintroduced myself, she remembered me before I finished my sentence. Course, we'd worked together developing tours, etc., in that four year time period when she was an intern/assistant and I was a docent. I took that opportunity to mention my "looking at art" Charles Russell book. She commented she always wished a docent who knew art and how to deal with children would write a book. She asked that I send her one, let her know when it comes out and she'd place it in the study room of the Western Art Gallery. Also she'd talk to the museum shop.

Talk about networking. What more could I ask?

Then at the cocktail party, I met the Wichita Art Museum Director of Education. She'd attended the afternoon meeting with me but sat on the opposite side of the room. She commented that her museum displayed American art. I asked if she had any Charles Russell. "Oh, yes." That's all I needed. Our conversation led to her giving me her card and my promise to let her know when the book is released.

I never dreamed networking could be so easy! I've actually learned to mention the new book at every function I attend. My husband even mentioned it at a candidate fundraiser.

More networking came about at my critique meeting. A fellow attendee suggested she's learned a lot about marketing plans. She offered to meet with me to form a marketing plan the publisher will love! I'm researching marketing plans so I'm not a dummy when we meet in a couple of weeks.

The moral: take advantage of every opportunity to mention your new book. You'll be surprised at the numbers of people who'll be interested.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SCBWI Schmooze

Natasha Wing presented a program this week at the Northern Colorado SCBWI Schmooze. She spoke on back matter. "What is that?" you might ask. She described it as the part of the book, usually after the main text, that consists of things like an afterword, timeline, bibliography and more. Also, those interesting tidbits that didn't make it into the original story. She brought lots of examples including some of her own picture books. 

Her picture book lengths often extended to 48 pages rather than the normal 32. Her back matter included, some, but not all, of those listed above as well as Author's Notes, a closing summary and/or a How To.

Besides adding back matter to the book, what can you do with all your leftover research? The Author's Notes may appear in the book. Otherwise, use them in school presentations. List them on your website. Write another book. Or include them in a magazine article.

Keep all your notes. You never know when they will come in handy.

That brings up another subject. How and where do you save all that information? Some people fill 3 x 5 cards and file them away. Some save on the computer, being sure to back up their work. Others use notebooks. Whatever your method, also keep an idea file of where you might send articles on some of the information.

I have lots of possible back matter for my Charles Russell book. As I research my second book on Frederic Remington, I'll store away the notes. Then I can add back matter to my website later. Guess I'd better get busy. I need to update my website with all that extra information I discovered about Charles M. Russell. I'll post it in the "For Kids" and "For Teachers" sections. Unfortunately, it will have to wait another day or so. My week is jam packed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Out of Town

While out of town, I wrote the following blog but forgot to post it. Sorry.

Looking for writing ideas? Always carry a pen, notebook and camera. Unfortunately I left the camera at home on this quick trip to California. We got here Wednesday and leave tomorrow, Saturday.

No matter that I have no camera. I can still jot down writing ideas. One I discovered yesterday - air plants. Are you familiar with air plants? I wasn't. I bought one. Then I found out I can go online and order them possibly for free. Now there is an article.

Besides a pen, notebook and camera, I take along a notebook laptop. Then if I want to write, I save the article to a flash drive or email it to myself. I can write when all the information is at hand and finish the article at home.

On this trip, I only brought research reading for Frederic Remington. Having grown up with a newspaper publisher father, his writing demonstrates a great writing skill. He told one story of the abduction and capture of a wagon train master's daughter in the Arizona Territory and the father's poisoning of Indians. I can hardly wait until I publish a children's book on Remington and use this story in presentations. It won't fit in the book I plan but will certainly add interest to talks.

Have a good weekend. Investing in a notebook laptop is not expensive; it fits in a purse; and provides an easy writing tool, especially on airplanes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Compress Your Words

Unfortunately, text messaging and email have prompted the everyday writer to compress their words too much. Even so, in Helen Wilkie's writing tip of the day, she suggested getting your message across in as few words as possible. She says most people haven't the time to reread for understanding. She further emphasizes that long rambling sentences and confusing words can obscure your message or even give the wrong message. Make your words say what you mean.

Most writers are limited by word counts for a magazine article and even novels in many cases. My editor at Rocky Mountain Parent or Senior limits my words to 600-650 for most articles. Chicken Soup stories shouldn't be over 1000 and preferably lower.

In other words, write tight.

Tom Chiarella in his book Writing Dialogue sums it up. "Compress your language." Make each word count. Many non-authors think they can write a children's book. "It's easy," they say. However, in children's books, every word must serve a purpose especially since age levels require different word lengths. Besides, TV and movies have shortened attention spans. Bloated writing or dialogue bores children.

When you write, remember to cut, cut, cut. First get the information/story down then go back with a sharp pencil or the computer's highlighter and delete all unnecessary words. I'll read this post several times. Before I publish it, I'll have either deleted a lot or condensed in order to add more important information. I try to keep my posts at or below 500 words. And, that is probably too long.

Here is a tip for writing in spaces that don't provide spellcheck. I copy and paste the writing into a Word document to check spelling.

I've left lots of room for improvement in this post. Get your pencil. Without changing the meaning, see if you can cut it from the current 310 words.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Networking Works

Yesterday I discovered just how much networking really pays off.

As an art docent at the Loveland Museum/Gallery (with more experience than most, if not all, of the other docents), the museum recommends me to teachers for tours. An art teacher called yesterday. Before we ended our conversation I told her about my upcoming book, the proposed book signing at the museum and asked if she could pass on the information. I hoped she'd share the information with a few peers. She surprised me when she admitted she is head of the Thompson Valley School District's art teachers. She suggested I might make a presentation in March or April at a teacher's district meeting. Wow! Was that luck or is Someone watching over me?

I usually refrain from taking advantage of such an opportunity. Guess I learned a good lesson - don't pass up any chance to push your product. Because of just mentioning the book, I now have a possible district teacher's presentation and book sales. Hopefully, those teachers will want copies.

Next I'll contact librarians for the district. I'll also contact other school districts within driving range.

I recently "took the bull by the horn" and queried my editor with another book idea. There again, I was out of my comfort zone. I told her I was beginning a second book for the series "How the West Was Drawn." Neither she nor I had called it a series. I also suggested the series might be called "Looking at Art" to include other artists in other regions.

At any rate, I inquired if the publisher would be interested in a similar book on Frederic Remington. After over a month, she got back to me this week. Yes, they would be interested. The best part of her comments was "We would rather stick with the series name How the West Was Drawn for a while. Should we later branch out to other regions or topics, we can have a different name for a new series." Again - WOW! Those words opened a whole new world for me.

So, I've checked out or purchased several books on Remington. I'm reading and taking notes, choosing possible pictures, and preparing to write this second book. The moral is: Don't pass up the opportunity to offer your editor something new.

Next, I'll send her a synopsis and chapters of "Monkey Madness," an already written fiction book based on a time travel adventure of three boys to Paris through the picture frame of "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. It, too, is part of a series - "Through the Picture Frame."  I hope I'm not getting in over my head!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Take It One Step Farther

With the holiday weekend, I sluffed off on my posting for this blog. After viewing the page views of the blog, looks like others did, too. Hope everyone enjoyed a few extra days off before autumn officially begins.

All you Northern Colorado residents will want to check out the October issue of Rocky Mountain Parent and Rocky Mountain Senior. I have one article in the first and three in the second. Not out yet, but look for it after October 1st.

A new writer contacted me through my website. One of the questions she asked was "Where do you get your ideas?" Ideas are everywhere; we just need to recognize them. For instance, the articles for RMP/S were assigned but I'll be able to write other articles from them. First, was an article on cabins and ranches geared for families. I used the research from the same type of article I did for Seniors. If you don't live in the mountains, I'm sure there are fun places to visit in regional National Parks, around lakes or other types of places in your hometown. For travel articles, teachers suggest you begin writing about fun places to visit in your own town.

Next I did an article on vision and hearing impairments. I was amazed at the wealth of information of new technology I found on the Internet. Everything from talking watches to bed shakers. Any of the items lend themselves to an article.

Next, an article on historic buildings in Northern Colorado leads me to believe I could write an article about each. Perhaps, think about the haunted buildings near your. We have the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Or I could stretch the churches turned into a sculpture studios by a famous artists in Loveland. An article on the National Register of Historic places and its requirements might be of interest to readers of many markets.

The last article listed places to find other seniors with like interests such dancing, playing cards, reading, etc. Use your imagination and find places to square dance, or go into the different kinds of square dancing or new ballroom dancing techniques. Change the focus and market your articles somewhere else.

Whatever you write, take it one step farther and focus on a new perspective for a different market. Of course, that brings up the next question. Where does one sell such articles? The Institute of Children's Literature puts out market books from Writer's Institute Publications. I have "The Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers," "Magazine Markets for Children's Writers" and "Book Markets for Children's Writers." No market book lists all there is. I also purchase the Writer's Digest "Writer's Market." Check the Internet by Googling "Writer's Markets for ....." or "Publishers of Children's Books," or any other types of publications you want.

For me, marketing is the hardest part of writing. There is also the question of should I query before I write the article. Many say that is the best idea. I tend to write the article and then try to find a buyer. Either way has advantages. Do whatever is right for you.

Monday, August 30, 2010


The next step in publishing is the editing process. Late Friday, I received the edits for my Russell book from the editor at Pelican.

She used the tracking system on Microsoft Word. If you haven't used it, try it. Works great for editing or critiquing other's works. In Word 2007 it is found under "Review" and called "track changes." In older versions, it may be under tools or edit. The program draws a line through things to be deleted and color codes things to be added or moved. It was hard to follow in the edits but I managed. The editor suggested I send an email describing the placement of any revisions I suggested.

I thought I'd perfected the manuscript. Wrong! She moved things around, changed words and asks a lot of questions to clarify questions or information in the manuscript and description for the pictures. I liked what she'd done although there is still more to do with what I sent later this afternoon. My deadline was Sept. 3rd and I was determined to send it much earlier. Therefore, I hurried a little too much and missed some things. She wrote back and I finished late this afternoon.

That brings up another subject - commas and lists. Some grammar style books advocate the use of commas between lists until before the "and." They suggest you omit that comma. However, other manuals suggest still using that comma before "and." I've discovered it depends on the publisher. Unfortunately, I didn't realize Pelican requires a comma before "and." I could have saved the editor lots of work had I known their rules. I don't think that was mentioned in all the information I received. Perhaps they will include it for future authors.

Besides the edits, she informed me one of the picture's dpi was too low to use. When I'd downloaded the picture from the original CD, the computer couldn't handle 600 dpi so it downloaded at 96 dpi. Without realizing that, I sent the pictures. Today I sent the original CD with the 600 dpi. Hopefully, it won't get lost or I'll have to request another copy from the collector who sent it to me for free. That might be embarrassing. The moral of that story is check everything twice and even three times before sending it.

Another unrelated subject, I received my copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles this past week. My story is on page 62 even though it states the author as the person who told me the story. CS changed the way they list "as told to stories." I still receive the check and the ten books but am not listed as the author. Bummer!

I also received the rough draft of a press release Pelican plans to send out. Since my editor decided the Introduction should be written to the child readers (a move I wholeheartedly supported), I needed to inform the woman of changes needed in the press release All the staff of Pelican have been absolutely wonderful. I hope to maintain a good relationship with each.

It seems like "when it rains it pours." Today, I planned to dedicate the day to tweaking two articles for Rocky Mountain Senior and writing two others. "The best laid plans of mice and men.......!"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Writing Tips

The Women on Writing, or also known as WOW!, offers a wealth of writing tips. A friend, Kerrie Flanagan, director of the Northern Colorado Writers, contributes articles to their website often. In the July/August, 2010 issue, Kerrie writes on beginnings, middles and ends. Check it out. Log onto the website and read more of the editor's piece "Fiction Writer's Toolkit." She links each separate article so they are easy to access.

Besides beginning, middles and ends, articles include tips on settings and description; creating scenes; voice; pacing; avoiding plotholes; self-editing; agent interview answers 20 questions; flash fiction contests; dialogue tags; author interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; and writing groups. You might want to place this website in your favorites so you can return often.

Now I think I'll take a break from finishing my four-article assignment and this post and check out WOW! Perhaps I'll glean some tips to improve the assignments.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What to do now that the book is sold.

Pelican Publishing asked that I send pictures of any event in which I participated. This week I sent a picture taken at the Northern Colorado Writer's 1st Book Author Panel where I served as one of the presenters. That same day, Pelican posted it to their Facebook page. I'd done the same. Guess that's my first social media promotion. Hopefully, it went out to many people. Now I must concentrate on other Facebook promotions for the book.

One idea in "100 Ways to Market Your Children's Book" suggests getting to know the publisher's marketing team. I have to say, Pelican's team keeps me informed. Past blog posts covered ideas sent from the team. If they don't contact you, contact them with questions, ideas, pictures and a list of your book events. They will appreciate your promotion efforts.

While waiting for the book release, prepare a school presentation. I have permission from Amon Carter Museum to use the pictures from the book in educational programs. PowerPoint programs combine visuals with verbal comments. I don't want to give away the whole book in a presentation, but create enough interest that children will want the book. Even if yours is fiction, you can plan a reading and develop questions to discuss as well as suggestions of ways to use the book. Offer creating a script for a classroom play. Have children research something from the book, i.e., a time, place or event. They can create another place and write or tell a similar or new story. Take a character to the next level. Write a sequel. What did the character do after the end of the book?

On your website, create a teacher's guide. The above ideas form a beginning for your guide. In fact, I think I'll follow my own suggestion and add a few more ideas to my current website teacher's guide.

Most of all, keep writing. Start your own sequel. Most publishers want "right of first refusal" for anything you write after you sign their contract. Start a sequel, companion or new book. Get something to them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Promotion Ideas

My out-of-town company left this morning so it is time to get back on schedule.

Promotion ideas fill my mind and time at this point. Even though the book hasn't been released as yet, I want to be prepared ahead of time. I suggested to the publisher that I make bookmarks with the book cover as well as a few buttons (like political buttons) that I and/or friends can wear. Bookmarks I'll pass out at schools and anyplace else I frequent. Even my hairdresser has my business cards on her counter.

The publisher gave permission to put the book cover on the two items I've mentioned as long as they are given away and not sold. Be aware of such rules before you go to any expense. Postcards printed with the book cover work well for mailings.

Some of the "100 Ways to Market Your Children's Book" article named in the last post included making marketing idea suggestions in your query letter. In other words, don't wait until you have a contract to think about promotion. Publishers today expect authors to promote almost as much as the publishing house. My publisher is small and I understand they may do more for authors than a big house. I'm hoping so.

Others suggestions:

1. Research what other authors have done. Most of my ideas came from Debbie Dadey and a friend who acted as her publicist when Debbie lived in Fort Collins. Since my book is nonfiction, Debbie recently suggested I post a teacher's guide on my website. I've completed that even though the book is not out yet. The activities relate to any art works a teacher might use in her classroom.

2. Keep in close contact with the publishing house's publicist. Find out what in-house promotions they do as well as any social networks postings.

3. Have someone take photos at your appearances related to writing. Then post them online at websites, blogs or social media.

4. Participate in list serves. I belong to a couple of list serves and might research others that fit my needs.

These ideas offer a beginning for your research on promotion. If you know of something that works, perhaps you'd share it with the readers here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Impress Booksellers and more Promotion

My publisher's school sales manager suggested a blog in her newsletter - Breaking Through by Doug Solter. His post, How to Impress Booksellers, is the result of reading tweets on Twitter. You don't have to belong to Twitter to read the tweets; he summarized them for us. Many are common sense, but others offer sound advice.

Another interesting read is an article by Kevin Smokler on publicity with several other links to check out.

The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Bulletin offered an article on 100 Ways to Market your Children's Book. To access it, click the link and then click NEW next to the title for it to come up in your Word document. The second article on that page is the one that actually appeared in the bulletin.

One suggestion to market your books is to write a teacher's guide. Debbie Dadey suggested that to me some time ago. My website now boasts a teacher's guide for HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART even though the book hasn't actually gone to print yet. Many of the suggestions can be applied to other paintings as well as those of Charles Russell.

Another idea says to have pictures taken at appearances and post them in your social networks or website. Look soon on my website for a picture of the 1st author panel where I served recently.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Promotion and Platform

The more I read, the more I learn about promotion and platform and how important they are. Short-handed publishers after many layoffs in the business depend more and more on the author to promote his/her book.

The Promotion Director for Pelican Publishing offered some links to ideas for authors. After the manuscript is a San Francisco Book Review blog which covers many subjects dealing with promotion as well as platform. Building your author platform gives a definition of platform and steps to build your own. Many other articles on the blog will be of interest. Check it out.

I am amazed at the wealth of information Pelican sends its authors. I received another newsletter today from the school sales manager. Both staff members send newsletters which help lead authors down the path to good promotion.

Perhaps you follow a blog on these two subjects that you can recommend for the readers of this blog. Add you comments.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Promotion and Pelican Publishing

I received a long email today from the Promotion Director of my publisher, Pelican Publishing. The newsletter is called Promotion with Pelican. I discovered the more I learn about the publishing house, the more I like them. I feel fortunate they chose to purchase my book on Charles Russell.

Information included links on how to start tweeting on Twitter. I need to get into that social network program and you probably do also. I understand it is very successful for writers. Once I learn more about it, perhaps I'll figure out more about Facebook and LinkedIn.

Twitter information starts with frequently asked questions. Next came Seven tips for marketing through Twitter. For more ideas, check out this quick reference from website Traffic Expert Nick Stewart: How I will Add 1,000 Twitter followers this year.

Other suggestions included:
1. Make one of your book characters a Twitter user name.

2. Make use of hash tags (the # symbol). The symbol identifies searchable terms on Twitter. It makes searching for news about whatever the symbol represents easy. I first have to learn more about Twitter symbols and how to use them. I'm hoping I discover that in the above links.

3. Participate in Follow Friday. Click on this link for an article on Follow Friday from Mashable (whatever that is!).

4. Include a profile photo. Some people believe users will trust a person more if they see how they look. Be sure to smile.

5. Use the bio box! People like to know with whom they speak. You might even include a link to your web page.

Her best recommendation is to start tweeting, shart reading other's tweets and start responding. I'd add sign up for Twitter if you haven't already.

Next post will include more links to her suggested articles on promotion.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Writing Tips

 Ever been caught trying to decide which word to use like effect or affect? Strunk and White's grammar book is great along with many others on the market. However, I learned at an SCBWI schmooze last week a quick and easy way to learn one tip at a time is to sign up for Helen Wilkie's Word Tripper writing tips. Twice a week she sends you a writing tip via email. Recently she sent the following which I already knew but found the Bonus Tip interesting and informative.

Word Tripper for July 15, 2010
"Lead, led - The verb "lead" (with a long "e") means to show the way. "The guides lead a hiking group every Saturday." The past tense of this verb is "led" (with a short "e") They led the hike yesterday"

Bonus tip: When you create an adjective out of several words, whether or not you hyphenate it depends on whether it comes before or after the noun it describes." She uses this example "Send me an up-to-date list." The noun is after the adjective. Now, "This list is up to date," puts the noun before the adjective.

My critique group mulls over these kinds of writing problems often. I'll suggest they join this Word Tripper newsletter. You might gain from receiving it also. To subscribe, click on her name above.

Although my website isn't quite finished, you might like to check it out. You'll see some of my articles along with information about my upcoming picture book, HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART. I also have a teacher's guide for using the book. Just log on to Hope to see you there.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Two Writing-Roads followers suggested where to find more information on networking. Pat Stoltey suggested the following article, She also said Google "Facebook for Writers," "Twitter for Writers," or LinkedIn for Writers" to identify articles on networking through social media. So far, the articles I found didn't lay out a guide for marketing/promoting on social networks. I want to know which groups I should join. How to join them. Basic information. Perhaps you'll be able to find better information than I did.

ProBlogger as suggested by Charmaine Clancy requires paying a fee - something like $5.95 a month. Her profile on her Wagging Tails blog/website lists hundreds of blogs to consider. The link is on this page.

One article on networking I read said not to discuss business at a cocktail party. I disagree. Granted, pitches are not appropriate if not requested and when in a group. However, finding out if an editor is open for submissions is a perfectly good question to ask. In talking with Ben Barnhart of Milkweed Editions, he volunteered information about Milkweed's submission manager and said he was open to submissions. Needless to say, I sent a query/chapters right after the conference.

Use good taste when approaching editors whether it be at lunch or a cocktail party. I sat with an editor from Fulcrum one year at a conference. She asked what I write. I explained it wasn't something her publisher did but she didn't care. She asked again what I write. The next year when I attended her presentation, she commented that she remembered me. Later that day I pitched to her. She gave me extra attention and tried hard to get the manuscript accepted. Eventually it was rejected. But I appreciated her extra effort and told her so.

I've also attended conferences where one person monopolized the luncheon conversation with their pitch. I wonder if the editor felt it was as rude as I considered it. Lunch is a good time to find out more about the editor/agent, not only what they like to read but personal information which makes us writers more comfortable talking to them. We discover they are people just like us.

Even though I've said how hard it is for me to approach editors/writers/agents, I try to remember they are people like me. They have a job to do and are, most often, willing to talk to you. Force yourself to approach them but do it respectfully and with concern for those around you. Pitches are for one on one. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

1st Author Panel

The Northern Colorado Writer's 1st Author Panel went very well last night. I made some good contacts as I believe the other three authors did. Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan are collaborating on a book about Jim's climbing experience on Mt. Ranier when he lost a friend after the two fell through a snow bridge into a crevasse. Lindsay Eland's Scones and Sensibility was released in December, 2009. It's about a girl who thinks she should have been born in a more romantic time like that of Pride and Prejudice. I look forward to reading each of their books and wish them all much success.

After each author related information about their writing and publishing story, the audience of about twenty-five people asked excellent questions. Kerrie had to call a stop or we'd have gone overtime. Then we had time to mingle and network.

Networking is the name of the game whether it be through a meeting like last night, a conference or through online social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter. I have trouble networking in any venue. Thank goodness one school media specialist came up and introduced herself. None of the authors felt they utilized their online social networks enough. I personally need to get better at it.

Another form of networking is following blogs. Following quietly, according to Kerrie Flanagan the director of Northern Colorado Writers, does no good. You must make comments so your name gets in front of other readers. I try to ask a question that encourages readers to comment at the end of my blogs. Once more people get connected to me, perhaps there will be more comments and helpful hint for writers.

At conferences approach editors, agents or other writers during cocktail time or sit with them at lunch. I have forced myself in the past to do both with good results. When I pitched to one editor, she commented she remembered me from lunch the previous year. She asked to see my manuscript and took it pretty far up the publisher's ladder before the marketing department rejected it. Another time an editor, during a conversation at aconference cocktail party, said he was open to submissions even though I'd not given my elevator pitch. In each case you have the opportunity to say in your query or cover letter that you've met the editor/agent and when. They then give you a little more consideration.

I Googled networking but came up with job networking. Of course, a writer is selling himself and his writing which amounts to a job. Perhaps you know of a good article on networking you can share.

Monday, July 19, 2010


A writer must write. Just because one book is sold doesn't mean the author waits for the next step in publishing that book and does no writing. I've started promotion research, PowerPoint presentations and an article comparing the work of Charles Russell with that of Frederic Remington. However, like most writers I need several projects in the works at once. To prevent writer's block (not sure I've ever experienced that), I need motivation.

To read some articles on writer's block go to It lists articles on many writing subjects including writer's block and motivation. These two links take you to specific articles on their website - and

Although good information, none of my motivation solutions were on those links. I first went to the library and checked out several books including children's for research on what publishers are printing and adult for pleasure. Then I cleaned out a few file drawers and found enough to keep me busy for years - old unpublished articles to tweak, possible reprint articles to market, unused research for other books/articles and an idea file. I filled a recylce bin with duplicate copies and old magazines. Course, in the process, I covered part of the floor with stacks of file folders still needing attention, but, I discovered my writing choices are many.

I'm a believer in "a messy office indicates a creative mind." The piles aren't that bad, I can still see the floor and part of my desk's top.

Along with those stacks, I have the piles of reading material from the library or my own book shelves on subjects to consider .I bought several from Amazon on Remington and am trying to find a focus for a book on his works. However, I don't want to fall into the trap of completely duplicating the Russell book. A new challenge. What might my publisher want in addition to what I've sold them?

Here are some questions to ponder about your writing and motivation. By what means do you motivate yourself to write? Do you get writer's block and how do you solve it? Have you recently discovered a wealth of writing opportunities in your own files? Can you remarket old articles? Have you perused the library for ideas? Have you read books similar to what you want to write? Have you looked into new releases and found holes of what might be needed for books or magazines?

Get busy. Publishers are waiting for good material to print.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Promotion continued

How can you promote your book? I'm making a list for HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE'S ART.

I've searched all connections I may have - book clubs, library, museums, golf league, crafts group, relatives and writer's organizations to name a few. Should you do those presentations and signings for free?

Book signings definitely are free with hopes of selling some books. What about other signings? I belong to Colorado Author's League. An email request came through before I had a book contract asking for twelve authors to speak at a school in Denver. The other day I received another call-out for the same school from CAL again. It seems the curriculum coordinator only received a few volunteers. The same day, SCBWI posted her request. Volunteers may be the key word.

In other words, the curriculum coordinator is asking for twelve authors to present - one author a month - for only sales of their books. She advertises, sends out press releases and whatever she can to bring in an audience. The after school program usually draws from 50 to 100 parents and children. Their tight school budget does not allow for payment to the authors. I volunteered.

Some authors never do school visits for various reasons - time, talent, personality or distance. I'm not sure how they help the publisher promote their book or if they have good sales. Each author must promote in her/his own way.

As a first book author, I don't feel I can require a fee. If the school allows book sales, what more can I ask? I've read that the first three presentations should be free and then expect payment. I know if a person doesn't charge for their expertise, they are often considered less valuable. Still, at this point, I can't require each child buy a book or a classroom pay a fee. Although my book offers the tools with which to view other art works in addition to those shared Russell pictures and I want to spread that knowledge, I still can't insist the children buy books. 

Instead, I'll present a teaser PowerPoint presentation in hopes of creating their interest in a purchase. I'll find as many places to present as I can. This book is really not just for children. Adults will glean ways to involve their children with art. I know because when I read my manuscript to my critique group, they were more like children than adults trying to find the hidden objects or answer my questions.

Determine how you want to promote your book. But remember, just like you tithe donations, think about tithing your promotions. For every paid performance, consider giving one away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Author Book Promotion

I've spent the better part of today surfing the Internet on ways to promote my first book. Believe me, there are plenty of ideas out there. Just Google "Promoting your Book." Then choose any of the links. You'll find something you can use whether it is a new book or one you published two years ago. One article told a story of someone making a best seller's list and increasing sales a year after publication.

I'll list a few of the ideas I found. First of all be in contact with your publisher's promotion department. Learn what they plan before you jump in and take over. Many ideas I found deal with self-publishing but some address how to help the publisher promote your book. All ideas work for publisher generated books.

1. Start locally. Contact as many local media as possible. Create interest in an interview with you even if you have to write an article yourself. Don't depend on a press release but pass them a hook that gets them interested in your book.

2. Identify your audience. Before an attempt to promote, decide which audience best suits your book. In my case, audiences include children, parents, museums, elementary classroom teachers, libraries, parenting and senior magazines and history teachers even as high as middle school. Under each of those headings I could add organizations which support the audience - PTA, school media managers, library associations and magazines. There are many more to consider.

3. Make your own advertisements. Create business cards and bookmarks focusing on your book. You could even make bumper stickers with the name of your book or a personalized T-shirt to wear while grocery shopping. Style a license plate holder with the name of your book or your book's website. Contact local bookstore event managers to line up a book signing. Design a button that advertises your book and wear it constantly. One of the Chicken Soup books that carried two of my stories sent each author buttons to wear. They created a lot of interest.

4. Book signings. Don't just sign books. Prepare a presentation to tease the audience into purchasing your book. In my case, I've already planned a PowerPoint presentation. If that isn't possible, I'll take a Russell print and do some of the activities from the book.

5. Be sure you have an elevator pitch ready to answer the question "What is your book about?" On our cruise, several new acquaintances questioned me. I have a short description that I think creates an interest.

6. Network. Don't pass up any opportunity to speak or network with organizations such as book clubs, churches, Newcomers. Drum up your own speaking opportunities.

7. Write magazine articles about your book subject. I've sold articles on playing games in an art museum. I think I'll remarket the articles and include information for buying the book to play some of those games at home with your children/grandchildren.

8. Here is a small list of blogs or websites with information pertaining to promotion - an interview with John Kremer on promotion, platform, networking and speaking - No BS guide to promotion - similar to above but with several focuses - an article on promotion

Whether promoting a new book or an older release, consider bumping up interest in the ways I've suggested or those from the websites.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Home again

We returned from the cruise to Alaska and I can't remember what day it is. Thursday went by in a blur. Got up too late to golf. Friday sped by. I almost fell asleep when the gallery was empty during my four hour volunteer shift. So, here I am - late again - with more information on writing.

I'm trying to learn to operate my website. I've written a bio, a front page and added my new book. Check it out at I have to set up a page for kids and then perhaps I'll be finished for a while. Code Sail Corporation is a friend who is really easy on me. He helps a lot and doesn't get upset when I ask dumb questions. 

Promotion involves communicating with any organizations to which you belong. For instance, I advertised the July 22nd 1st author panel with my SCBWI Northern Colorado group. Meeting is 6:30-8:30 at the Northern Colorado Writer's studio next to Chico's in the Foothills Mall area. I informed my golf group in case anyome might be interested in attending. The price is right - only $10. Any blog readers in the Fort Collins area are welcome. I plan to bring props!

I've also set up my first book signing. The Loveland Museum/Gallery where I serve as volunteer Docent Coordinator will print it in their catalog of events when the time comes. I'll prepare a PowerPoint presentation to go along with the signing to interest more people.

I learned from a teacher friend who I should contact at school districts. Once school starts, I'll work on that. The Pelican Marketing Department will also contact schools. I may be busier than I expected but, hopefully, all my promotion will generate more sales.

Be mindful that publishers now expect authors to help in as many ways as possible. Their staff budgets have been cut so any promotion done by the author is appreciated. Think how you might market your book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pelican Final Submission and more

We returned from our Alaskan cruise tired from late dinners and late night Dixieland Jazz music by three bands. Although we loved the cruise, we now need to recuperate and get back in gear.

The mailbox contained the Amon Carter CD I’d been expecting. That means I’ve worked all day on producing all the documents Pelican Publishing requires for final submission of HOW THE WEST WAS DRAWN: COWBOY CHARLIE’S ART.

Besides the special CD format of the single-spaced manuscript I downloaded, I included the introduction telling how to use the book, dedication, book description, bibliography, timeline, credits page and the pictures. I printed two double-spaced copies of the manuscript and copies of permissions.

I was surprised to learn Pelican listed my “new contract” on their Facebook page. I guess the marketing trail has already begun.

Actually, it will begin on July 22 when I sit with three other writers on a panel of “first book” authors for the Northern Colorado Writers group. I’m hoping for a good turnout even though I haven’t books to sell at this point. I’ll be included in Pelican’s 2011 Spring catalog.

I’d like to also write a flyer of how to incorporate the book into school curriculums that I can hand teachers after a presentation. I have a head start with all my museum docent experience and the introduction I wrote for the book.

I’ve ordered books from Amazon on Frederic Remington. In other words, I’ll be working on a similar book with his art as the subject. As soon as Russell gets underway, I'll querry Pelican on Remington.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone will now show interest in my other children’s books - a picture book on moving toddlers, a fictional autobiography of one year my father kept me against my will in Chicago when I wanted to live with Mom and brother and an adventure fiction book where three kids go "through the picture frame" of Georges Seurat's pointilist painting and encounter many Paris attractions/obstacles while trying to capture the painting's monkey.

Plan now for your future books. Write an introduction, description or jacket flap, dedication and timeline if writing non-fiction.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Writing on a cruise can be expensive. Not the writing part, but the Internet connection. I needed to turn in an article this morning. It costs either $.75 a minute pay-as-you-go or $55 for 110 minutes plus a $3.95 first time connection fee. The wireless connection allows me to check my emails throughout the trip, write offline then log on and send whatever I need. Or, it allows my husband to check his hundreds of emails – mostly junk!

We’ve been on probably twelve cruises since my husband retired in 1996 and one before that time. We ran into Hurricane Gordon on that first cruise. Thank goodness I’d been forewarned to take Dramamine three days before we left. I didn’t feel great in those 48 foot swells but never got sick. Another time we hit the tail end of a typhoon on our way to Japan. Again, I didn’t get sick. However, on this trip to Alaska, I failed to follow the directions and am not feeling great. Once the Dramamine kicks in, I should be fine.

One thing about cruising – on a day at sea like today, I have no place to go and no distractions to keep me from writing. Actually, our 525 group of Dixieland Jazz enthusiasts follow three bands around the ship’s venues for most of the day and night. That means writing time is short or I miss music. Sometimes, a little music goes a long way and I need a break. There are other activities, but I choose to use the time writing.

Excursions offer plenty of fodder. Having taken this cruise before, I won’t need to repeat those excursions. I can write about what I saw on the last trip.

So, rather than spend writing time in a cabin, hotel or other get-away place, I’m looking out the window at sun shining on the ocean as we cruise to Glacier Bay, Alaska. I have two days at sea and plenty of writing time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

away from a computer

Since I haven't much access to a computer right now, I'll post on Monday. Sorry to have missed on Thursday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Publisher requests

I received two emails - one from the Pelican School Sales Manager and one from my editor.

First, they asked when and where I'd like to have my first book signing. Being that it is really early and I'm not even sure when the book will be out, it is hard to think about a first book signing. However, the Loveland Museum/Gallery, where I volunteer as a docent, suggested, when I told them about the sale, that they would definitely have a book signing. Friday I asked if that were still true. We are now planning a Saturday date in May before school is out. Not only will I sign books, but, I'll begin with a presentation on Charles M. Russell, the book's subject. A follow-up on the book signing will appear here closer to the launch date.

Where would you want a first signing? Why?

The other email stated two additional requirements. I must provide an Introduction page on how teachers can use the book and a timeline for the last page. The timeline was easy since one of my resource books has a rather short biography of the artist. I chose happenings that would appeal to children.

The Introduction can include the ways I've interacted with children for looking at art in museum settings and suggestions for incorporating the art into other curriculum areas. I just have to figure out how to make the page short! Introductions are not always required by publishers. Ask early.

I am still trying to get my website filled out and ready to go - another suggestion by publishers. I'm working on the bio. A friend sent an article from Lori Russell's blog which offers ideas for opening leads of a profile, very similar to a bio. Check it out at  Scroll down to the fourth post. In fact, you might want to read a few of her other posts on writing. They are old but pertinent.

I'm hoping to get the bio posted before I leave on a trip this coming Wednesday. Think about your bio. Besides a long version, consider including medium and short ones. If your book is non-fiction, think about an introduction. If a biography related subject, consider making a timeline.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writer's Market

I have a friend who reads the Writer's Market as if it were a novel. Before going to sleep, she picks up the book. I wish I were so dedicated. After receiving this week yet another rejection of a picture book I've submitted several places, I'm in the market for a new publisher.

The Institute of Children's Writers puts out a children's book market along with a magazine market. I prefer to read these as they are smaller. They also publish a Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers which includes adult markets. All are great guides. You can find them on their website at At one time, only previous students could purchase their materials but they've opened the bookstore to all writers.

The Institute also offers correspondence classes for writers. In fact, that was my first class on writing. The instructor encouraged and gently gave critiques - pages of notes. The course costs a bit but is well worth it.

If you Google "publishers" - magazine or book -  you will find so many websites to peruse that you'll hardly have time to write.

Last night at my writer's critique meeting we discussed writing for free. Many non-paying markets are listed in the books I've mentioned. I discussed this before. It is a good way to earn clips if you are a beginning writer. However, it is also a way to "tithe" your writing. In other words, just like you donate to organizations or churches from your income, you can donate to magazines. There comes a time in your career when you need to gain enough confidence to submit to paying markets. But giving away your writing is a "feel good" tithe once your career is established.

Every time I submit to the Lyons Recorder, a small town newspaper, I "feel good." I think I'm helping them build subscribers the paper lost before it was saved and purchased by a friend. I also donated a piece to the Fort Collins newspaper because I felt their paper should concentrate on locals rather than stories about people in other cities doing the same things Fort Collins residents do. Granted, my objective was a little suspect but, judging from comments I received from friends, it fulfilled my goal.

Be sure to check the non-paying markets rights request. Unless the story/article is something you feel only fits their publication and can't be sold anywhere else, don't give up all rights.

The moral of this post is for you to get busy marketing/submitting your articles, finding reputable markets and earning an income. There are many other writer's markets out there. Perhaps you have a favorite you'll share.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Web presence is a must

My friend Debbie Dadey, author of 140 children's books including the Bailey School Series and many others, sent me two websites she thought fit my blog. The first backs up my previous blogs Welcome Author - 6/7 and First Contract Tip - 5/3. Each covers how important a web presence is for an author.

The link above takes the information even farther. It lists free website building software, templates and the same kind of information for starting a blog. She includes if you want to hire a professional to do the work. Then explains what every author's website should have and why.
1. A biography repeated on several pages such as About Me and media pages as well as the home page.
2. A dedicated contact page so editors can reach you.
3. A photo isn't absolutely necessary but best to have.
4. A press or media page
5. Testimonials
6. Samples/clips
7. Buying 101 - where people can buy your books
8. You might include a personal page or information in your about me section.

I would add a page "For Kids" since my website addresses both children and adults. That way kids can find information relating to them and their interests.

The second link,, is an exerpt from The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing  called A Must-Have Online Marketing Plan.
1. Create a strong writer's website (mandatory) and a blog (optional)
2. Get involved with Social Networking
3. Create a video trailer
4. Do a blog tour
5. Get reviews of your book posted online
6. Podcast
7. Become a commenter

I'm not sure I'll do all of those since I haven't the know-how. Besides, most are already in place for me, just need to include them on my website.

Read the articles and start working or changing your web presence for more sales and exposure. Good luck.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sales Department/Fact Sheet

As a new author with the publishing house, I received more information on sales, promotion, appearances and who handles each. This publishing house has state representatives with whom I'll eventually work in several capacities. They request I keep them abreast of my personal travel schedule and any leads for book signings I might have.

As an author, I can order books at a discount and if I order 250 or more books, the discount increases. Course, I believe I lose royalties on discounted books. Any books sold below costs do not receive royalties. I'm wondering if that means those sold at say SAMS or COSTCO. I'll need to check that out.

Another sales incentive is for the author to make up teacher guides for using the book in the classroom. I could do that and will probably look into their process. This book is an interactive "looking" at art book. I've already worked on classroom presentations that take the looking farther than that in the book. I'll lead teachers in integrating the art into other parts of their curriculum.

The publisher will also set up a sales link for my website so books can be sold from it. I appreciate that idea. It isn't something to do now but to consider after the book comes out, or even just before.

Pelican provided more author information in a Fact Sheet. It helps answer any questions an author might be asked such as where can one buy the book. It also explains about the publishing house - which departments do which jobs. Again it emphasizes how important it is to keep them updated with personal travel plans, interviews, presentations, etc.

All in all, the house has answered most questions I might have. Granted, it is a lot of reading, but as a first time book author, I'm glad to have any and all information they offer.

Monday I'll pass on a couple of articles passed to me which cover web presence and some marketing information.