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Middle Grade Author Carmella Van Vleet On Using Swag Effectively

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 25 October 2016 · 0 views

Most authors will agree that the creative part of the job is where we excel, the business and marketing side, slightly less. It’s lovely when the two can meet in the form of SWAG – Shit We All Generate. I’ve invited some published authors to share with us their secret to swag… little freebies that can sell a book longer after the author is no longer standing in front of a prospective reader. In order to create great swag, you have to be crafty – in more ways than one.

Today's guest for the SWAG is Carmella Van Vleet author of the MG novel ELIZA BIG IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER. Carmella also writes a variety of children's non-fiction titles (you can see them all here) and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Finding something that represents your book and hasn’t been played out by a million authors before is difficult. What’s your swag?

I carry a box of random things to book signings to lure unsuspecting…er…I mean to give to readers. Most of them are trinkets that have to do with my books in some way but don’t necessarily have my book titles or website info on them. (I know, I know. Bad author.) 

The trinkets include things like: plastic gold coins with dragons or hacky-sacs with the ying-yang symbol and smiley-faced bouncing balls. But I also have things with my web address, too. This include: silicon bracelets that say “Don’t Quit!,” temporary tattoos with the Egyptian eye on it, and sheets of space shuttle stickers. 

I also have bookmarks, of course. But I tried to do a little something different by making them interactive. For my middle grade novel, Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter, the bookmarks say “I won’t quit until I - ” and then there’s a blank line for kids to fill in. I also give away a variety of scratch-n-sniff bookmarks (with my website stamped on the back.) These are a huge hit with both kids and adults.  

Something new I’m about to try are Tyvek bracelets. Those are the temporary sticker-tab bracelets you get at special events. These would be easy to transport, inexpensive, and different. I plan to have a custom design that simply says VIP Reader. Then my web address will be stamped on the back. I’ll have to keep you posted on how it works out. (I’m a little worried about the ink wearing off.)  
How much money per piece did your swag cost out of pocket?

Oh, man! You want me to do math? Grrr. 

The tattoos were - if I remember the price/quantity correctly - were around .30 a piece. 

The silicon bracelets cost roughly .30 a piece.  

The custom bookmarks were around .11 a piece.

The scratch-n-sniff bookmarks cost me .6 a piece. (My best investment!) 

And the space stickers were .25 a piece. 

The Tyvek bracelets will be about .20 a piece. 

Does your swag draw people to your table at an event or conference?

I think swag can definitely help draw people over. (But then again, it could the candy I also set out…) I’ve found that even adults like to pick up the bracelets, the temporary tattoos, and the scratch-n-sniff bookmarks. I’ve made them “generic” enough that they’re not in-your-face promo items. For example, my web address in on the inside of the bracelet. 
What do you think of big item swag pieces versus cheaper, yet more easily discarded swag like bookmarks?

I like using bigger swag items. I think they tend to get more attention. BUT  I’m not sure they make a huge difference in sales and so they’re hard to justify cost-wise. They’re mostly just for fun or for bigger, giveaway promotions.  

From my own personal preference as a reader-consumer, I’ll pick up things that are more book or reading related. For instance, a funny button or poster. If something has someone’s website in giant letters all over it, that’s a turnoff for me so I don’t do that myself. Outside of my bookmarks, nothing has my book covers. 

What’s the most clever / best swag by another author?

I know this’ll sound like I’m kissing up, but I always thought you using water bottles with custom labels for Not A Drop To Drink was brilliant! I’m sure they were a pain to drag around, though. But it was a perfect marriage between swag and book theme. 

I also got a sparkly, silver pen from Ingrid Law that said “What’s your SAVVY?” (Her book is titled Savvy and ink plays a special role in the story.) I used that thing until it ran out. Apparently I tend to like more useful or consumable promo items!

And the biggest question – do you think swag helps sell books?

Honestly? Probably not that much. But it’s fun, and it’s really nice to be able to hand a kid something even if they’re not ultimately buying your book. You’re putting positive energy out into the world and that’s always a good thing.  




  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Amy Trueblood's Blog, 21 October 2016 · 34 views

              If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors […]



Blog Tour: YA Paranormal Paranormal Romance THE DECISION (Everlasting Trilogy, Book #2)

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 20 October 2016 · 40 views

Title: The Decision
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Author: L.K. Kuhl
The Decision is the second book in The Everlasting Trilogy

Tag Line: The Decision’s made. The choice is simple. Or is it?

Back Cover Blurb:
The guests are invited. The cake is all set. In just a few short hours Sophia Bandell will be saying “I do” to a guy she isn’t sure she loves. But where does she go from here? She feels her life is headed in a downhill spiral. Her first and real true love, Tate Forester, is a ghost. But he’s the man she wants to be with…the one she can’t live without. Sophia is faced with the toughest decision of her life. Does she forget about Tate and marry the egotistical lawyer, Aaron Stuart? Or does she take the plunge and join Tate to be with him for eternity?

Sometime through the night, Tate’s kisses woke me. They landed on my cheek like a soft sigh. He began on my cheek and traveled down my neck, resting delicately on my shoulder. But each one felt like he was snuffing out a candle flame. I knew that this would be the last time I’d ever feel him again. He was telling me goodbye in the gentlest way he knew.
I held in my sobs but couldn’t stop the silent tears from sliding down my cheeks. They spilled to my neck and pooled there in the deep, hollowed indent above my clavicle. Tate kissed them away, and wiped a wet strand of hair from my face.
“Don’t cry. I was hoping I could slip away without waking you. I need to go. Aaron will be home soon.”
My throat ached. I grimaced and tried to swallow away the soreness, but it had its claws dug in too deep. There was no way to release it, to ease this massive tumor that kept growing inside of me each time it was time to say goodbye.
“This is the end, isn’t it? Your kisses told me everything you can’t say. So do your eyes.”
“It has to be. It’s time.”

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon CA:

Author Bio:
L.K. Kuhl is the author of the Young Adult Paranormal Romance Series, The Everlasting Trilogy. The Decision is book two of this trilogy. She has also penned Chasm, a Romantic Suspense novel. Chasm was released in May of 2016.
L.K. lives in Nebraska with her husband Gene of twenty-nine years, young son, Nathan, and Greg and Will, their furry dog kids. She has two older daughters, Morgan and Brittani and son-in-law, Trevor. L.K. has been writing for over twenty years. She first began writing children’s books and poetry, moved on to writing music, and is now writing Young Adult and Adult novels. She loves spending time with her family, vacationing, writing, reading, and taking long walks. It’s the characters who write their own stories in her novels, and she is just their messenger, sharing it with the world.

Author Links:
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kuhlreads
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01BXDJGIY    



Ella Carey & Writer's Block

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 17 October 2016 · 39 views

Please welcome Ella Carey back to the blog today!

Thank you once again, Jemi for having me here.

I want to write about something a bit different today.  I want to write about it because it’s annoying, but important. If I can give you some techniques to brainstorm in order to overcome this problem that we all might face at one time or another, then I hope that this will help you deal with what can be quite a frustrating thing.

Writers’ block.

So what is it and how can you cure it? I think I’ve found out a way of dealing with it that works for me- it may not work for you. It’s only a suggestion. But, I can honestly say that I’ve had a light bulb moment this week.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced writers’ block. I don’t know whether you believe it exists. Well. Either way, this is how it went down…

I spent five days at my computer. That was normal. But in that time, I wrote one paragraph. That was it. Didn’t get any further. I was stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I kept re-writing the paragraph. But I just couldn’t make it work.

Now, you see, this is extremely odd for me. I’m a 1,000 words per hour sort of person when I’m on a roll, and that is most of the time… I write every day.

And I love my work- in fact it’s not work, it’s just the best thing. The bees knees. I adore it. I am so grateful that I get to do this and earn a living from it. It’s perfect. I’m in my zone.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you felt the same way about your writing. If you are fitting writing time into a busy schedule without any anticipation that you are going to be paid to do so, then you are probably a born writer.

But what do you do when the words dry up?

I’ve realized that this has happened to me twice. Twice in the last five years. Which isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a good track record.

But when I just couldn’t get the words out, I had no idea why. And then I realized something. It wasn’t anything to do with my writing. I hadn’t forgotten how to write. It was something else entirely that was bothering me, and until that was resolved, my writing had stopped. That was it.

So, if ever you experience this strange phenomenon, just stop. Take a look at what’s going on with you, and check it out. If you don’t know what the problem is, then maybe brainstorm a list of things that are bothering you and see which ones you can resolve. It never ceases to amaze me how intertwined all the aspects of our lives are… if one thing is troubling you at any level, it could just affect something else… your health… your work. It’s as simple as that.

Of course you can’t go around solving all your problems before you write, but if you do get stuck, maybe try brainstorming what else is going on, work out what’s on your mind and what you’d like to resolve, and try to do so. It’s as if your subconscious is niggling you- you can’t write until you’ve sorted it out.

Thank you Jemi…

Ella xx

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music, majoring in classical piano, and English, majoring in nineteenth century women's fiction and in modern European history. Her debut novel, Paris Time Capsule, has captured global attention and her second novel, The House By The Lake, was released in March 2016, remaining in top 100 of all kindle books in the US for six months. Her third novel is From a Paris Balcony and is releasing in October, 2016. She lives in Australia.

Ella Carey on the web:        Facebook        Twitter        Author Page    Website

From A Paris Balcony

Heartbroken and alone, Boston art curator Sarah West is grieving the recent deaths of her parents and the end of her marriage. Ultrasensible by nature, she’s determined to stay the course to get her life back on track. But fate has something else in mind. While cleaning out her father’s closet, she finds a letter from the famous Parisian courtesan Marthe de Florian, dated 1895. The subject? Sarah’s great-great-aunt Louisa’s death. Legend has it Louisa committed suicide…but this letter implies there’s more to that story.
Determined to learn the truth, Sarah, against her nature, impulsively flies to Paris. There she’s drawn into the world of her flatmate, the brilliant artist Laurent Chartier. As she delves deep into the glittering Belle Époque to unravel the mystery, Sarah finds that her aunt’s story may offer her exactly what she needs to open up to love again.
Following Sarah in the present day and Louisa in the 1890s, this moving novel spans more than a century to tell the stories of two remarkable women.
Buy on:
Amazon Kindle         Amazon Paperback         Book Depository      B&N
You're very welcome, Ella - always glad to have you visit!

That's such great advice! Life is always crazy busy here and I've definitely been stalled in my writing because I was just too exhausted to be creative. 

How about you? Have things BESIDES the writing stalled you in your writing process?



The End of This Chapter of Life

Posted by JordanTheNinja in JordanTheNinja's Blog, 11 October 2016 · 57 views

I have trouble with holding on to things. I have a tendency to linger more in my past than the present. I hold on to people who have gone, I hold on to memories that should simply stay memories, and I hold on to periods of my life where I was happy. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a bad thing; what’s wrong with holding on to the past if it made you happy?

I need to admit something: I am not happy. Every person’s definition of happiness varies, but for me, I can say that I have not truly been happy for a long time now. My pre-existing knack for clinging to the old, the better times, is kicking in but it’s not enough now.

Since I’m the writer of my life, I’m choosing to end this darker chapter of my life now. I need to get myself back to the place I used to be in. I yearn to feel the same excitement and elation that comes with a new bout of creativity—I feel that, slowly, it is inkling back into my life, bringing revival with it.

The scariest part is deciding when enough is enough, and that you cannot settle for unhappiness. Life is way too short to deprive yourself of the things that bring you joy. The best growth I’ve ever experienced during these times is that you can choose to change your situation. You have the power to vanquish its hold on you. So, if you are going through a dark chapter in your life, consider writing its ending, and starting on a much happier chapter as opposed to just waiting for it to end.

As writers, we’re powerful. We craft whole stories, breathe characters into being, create entire universes. We can implement our power to alter our lives, and make it into something unbelievable. No, you may not be the richest or the most famous, but you can be the happiest you’ve ever been, and I’ve quickly come to learn that happiness is one of the most valuable things one can have.


Be Thankful for FREE Books!

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 05 October 2016 · 57 views

October 10th is Canadian Thanksgiving and the entire month of October Canada Post is offering me free shipping on Tuesdays within Canada. (I’m Canadian.) That means giveaways! Yay!

Here’s the scoop: I will randomly be drawing names throughout the month and sending these winners surprise packages–a signed book.

Is this giveaway open to readers from outside of Canada? Yes. While I only receive free shipping inside Canada this month, I will randomly draw the odd international name as well–names from outside of Canada. These winners, to keep costs down, may receive a book straight from the printer’s which means it will not come signed. (These winners can request a signed book plate sticker from me (Jean Oram) to place inside their book.)

Click to fill out the entry form below to enter in the book giveaway. All names and addresses will be kept private and will not be shared or made public. They will be deleted at the end of the giveaway.

Enter to win a signed book from romance author Jean Oram

Good luck!

P.S. Must be of legal age to enter. No prize substitutions or cash value. Duplicate entries will be removed. Giveaway runs until October 25th–the last day Canada Post offers me free shipping on Canadian orders. 🙂

In the meantime, don’t forget you can get a free book from me right now–Sweet Treats! This is a limited time offer as I’m writing a NEW book for my newsletter subscribers so snag this one before it’s gone!

The post Be Thankful for FREE Books! appeared first on Jean Oram.



The Bliss of An Uncluttered Day

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 24 September 2016 · 45 views

calendar, agenda, planner, notebook, meeting, business, office, desk, meeting, workingI started to turn off my alarm this morning, but then I remembered that I have nowhere to be until 7:15 tonight, which means I am free for the entire day and I didn't want to miss any of it. I did lie in bed for about twenty minutes just enjoying the fact that I didn't have to get up and be ready to go somewhere. But then it was up for tea and devotions and browsing the Internet while I let my thoughts on my blog gel in a meandering, leisurely pace. I read a little, had some breakfast and another cup of tea, and here I am, two hours later, writing my post. After this, I might read some more--I'm getting to the good part of my book--or I may FINALLY get some writing done.

I have been thinking a lot about retirement lately. Trying to decide at what point I'm going to hang up my teacher spurs and turn to writing full-time. Despite the fact that I'm just in love with my kids again, there are times when I yearn for the ability to do this regularly. Get up early because I want to. Read. Write. Promote. Exercise. As my old friend Dan Daniel always used to say, make every week six Saturdays and a Sunday.

clock, timeBut then I think about just how much I was looking forward to today. A single uncluttered day in the midst of calendar slots filled with school activities and writing activities and church activities. And it takes me back to the summer, when I had great long stretches of days with literally nothing requiring my time. I took them for granted. I took no great joy in them. I failed to take advantage in the way I should have. I mean yes, I did travel a good deal and spend time with people I treasure, but I didn't get nearly the writing done that I could have and I definitely didn't read as much as I could have. Why? Because I had all the time in the world. If I didn't get 5,000 words written today, that's all right--I have tomorrow. Until I didn't. And then I looked back on all that time I didn't use how I could have. I'm not on a guilt trip. It was a good summer. But what I'm saying is that I tend not to appreciate free time unless I don't have it. Intellectually, I know that it's finite, but I'm not always intellectual. Sometimes I'm lazy and unfocused.
nature, outdoor, green, grass, forest, trees, plant, road, path, sky, wood, peaceful
But not on days like today. Today I'm like a laser. Reading. Writing. Cleaning up my room. Enjoying the fact that tomorrow, when it's back to the rat race of church and school and ClutchMOV stuff, I'll be able to look back at a day spent well.



My Telegraph (obit)

Posted by Terence Park in T.P. Archie's Blog, 01 September 2016 · 112 views
Writing Groups, My Telegraph and 1 more...

My Telegraph was a blogging and commenting platform hosted on the Daily Telegraph servers (the DT is a national UK paper published daily). It was a free service with an interface that used aspects of Wordpress and Disqus and was provided as is. There were some 20,000 + registered usernames. Many of these participated in the user groups and back in 2010 with my first draft to my first novel handy, I was ready to engage. I headed straight for Creative Writing. It quickly became apparent that the group was headed for oblivion — it's members needed organising so I re-jigged its competition. In 2012, the DT began promoting a new group, the Short Story Club. We had no idea what would happen when it was introduced — how it would run and whether it would replace Creative Writing... in the end, with the inputs of author Louise Doughty, it became a success. There was a back story, however. The DT promoted this new group but the landing page was hard to navigate and there was no supporting infrastructure, this left those wishing to take part not knowing what to do — and there were thousands of them. For several months it was chaos — hundreds of joiners each week, many of whom leaked over to the Creative Writers Group — we helped where we could — some stayed. It took a while to sort things out.


Late on in 2015, the Daily Telegraph began changing its main site. Commenting disappeared from some articles. By Easter 2016, virtually all of DT had moved to a new look and feel. The blogging platform, My Telegraph, remained untouched. It was legacy and obviously low priority, a system ready for the chop. This was a hidden community that could have been much more user groups such as Rugby, Finance, Book Club, Job and Careers, Expat, Corduroy Mansions, The Archers Messageboard, Politics,Travel, Technology... there was much potential but these groups just withered for lack of attention. The DT didn't respond to questions about the future of the platform. Users speculated and began to make plans. It was only a matter of time before the plug was pulled, which happened June 2016. Usernames, blogs, groups and platform all disappeared, lost in the final dark of: no servers, no data. History. Ah yes, I forgot History. The link is of course dead.


As a social site, users were prone to petty acts of spite – they had vendettas and ganged up on each other. Doubtless this helped convince DT of the wisdom of closing it. The community became a net diaspora and survives on Facebook and WordPress. There is a closed group at https://www.facebook...12280382310342/ and several WordPress presences.

For old time’s sake, here’s a memory:

Posted Image

More info on DT's My Telegraph.


Once Upon a Typewriter

Posted by thebookworm in thebookworm's Blog, 15 August 2016 · 90 views
Preface, typewriter, preteen

Once Upon a Typewriter

Once Upon a Typewriter:

It was a lovely sunny day, on a quiet street tucked away from the world, where Delilah came across a shed, abandoned by time. She cautiously approached the shed and was surprised to find all of the trinkets and treasures before her eyes.

Page 1 (with illustrations)

As soon as Delilah placed her hand on the dusty old typewriter, she knew she had to have it. “Was it stealing?” she thought to herself or was it hers to keep? Delilah decided to that she couldn’t possibly part with her new found treasure. After exploring the run down structure for some other forgotten treasure, she headed home, typewriter in tow.

Page 2 (with illustrations)

Delilah darted through the living room, up the stairs to her room, slamming the door with excitement. She gently placed the typewriter on her desk, clearing space for the new toy. Some of the keys on the typewriter had faded over time, so Delilah would have to do some research on how to properly clean and repair this new gadget.

Page 3 (with illustrations)

As soon as the new typewriter was polished and good as new, Delilah was finally ready to write her very first story. Sitting quietly at her desk, gazing out the window of their old farmhouse, Delilah could see a shadow cast by the full moon that gently touched the trees, yet appeared to be a castle, it was such a lovely illusion. Snapping to it, Delilah knew the topic of the new book!

Page 4 (with illustrations)

“I know!” Delilah gleefully gasped as her fingers started to dance over the keys, as if the story was flowing out of her, with an unstoppable driving force. Starting on page 4, she was so enveloped in her writing that Delilah failed to notice her surroundings changing. She could not believe her eyes when she finally realized what happened. Delilah was IN her story!!

Page 5 (with illustrations)

“What is going on?” Delilah quietly thought to herself, “This MUST be a dream”, panic set in and she felt lost. “Ok, pull yourself together” she shouted to herself. This was all so real. Delilah slumped down on a rock, overlooking a beautiful valley full of flowers, just like in her story. It was just as Delilah had imagined it would be.

Page 6 (with illustrations)

After the initial shock of what just happened passed over her, like a fog lifting. Delilah had a plan but first she would need to find the typewriter that was responsible for this phenomenon. Walking through the tall grass over-shadowed by a massive castle that seemed to reach up past the clouds, Delilah could see something glistening in the warm summer sun, could it be? Was it the typewriter? Running through the field, Delilah eventually came upon the typewriter and typed herself home.

Page 7 (with illustrations)

Book 1 of many!


Summer Reading Prize Pack Giveaway

  Posted by MarcyKate in MarcyKate's Blog, 01 August 2016 · 97 views

Happy Summer! I have very fond memories of lazy summer days reading on the porch or under a tree. It was a favorite past-time for this introvert bookworm. So, since it’s summer and I just announced my next middle grade duology last week, how about a summer reading giveaway? And since my books have that creepy fairy […]



Internet Fixed

Posted by LWFlouisa in LWFlouisa's Blog, 26 July 2016 · 164 views

So now I can do research full time now. Sometimes the Internet is still a little slow.

Just finished Hemato Tomato: Bloodlust. Not sure how I feel about the finished product. I still feel like the story is only half way told, so I may end up writing 10,000 more words on this.

This was my first experiment in Historical Futurism, where historical characters play a role in science fiction setting with plots that cross over between science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance in a very that makes you feel really strange.

It's like suddenly meeting Charlotte Corday at your local Star-bucks without any implication for time travel, and the reader is just suppose to take the plausibility of the romance for granted. They are stalked by magic wielding robot police, and the you have a grand ole adventure.

A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.


Do Agents and Editors Support Diverse Books?

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 25 July 2016 · 136 views

Hi all! This is my first post after a seven month hiatus (wow). I'm so happy to be back!

There's a big push in the publishing industry for "diverse" books (and I put "diverse" in quotations because I'm not a fan of that word - it leads to tokenization of writers and characters of color). Agents have been actively asking for "diverse voices", "diverse characters", etc. Which is great! It is signifying a real shift in the publishing industry.

Or is it?

Whenever I am unsure about the efficacy of an action against racism, I look to the "white gaze". This, I define as the culture that dictates that literature and art that must meet the approval of Whiteness.

The Whiteness I talk about is not just Trump-like confederate flag culture. Whiteness is liberal racism. Whiteness is white feminism. Whiteness is quoting Martin Luther King Jr. out of context. It is idolizing Jon Stewart for saying what Black people have been saying for decades. It is this Whiteness that pervades the publishing industry, and so it is this Whiteness that I am talking about.

Whiteness is a mostly-white industry asking for diverse books and diverse writers while pushing little to diversify their own industry insiders.

Now, I'd like to move the anti-racism rhetoric to something that I hope the publishing community will follow. The problem for writers of color is not only that the publishing industry is made up of predominantly white employees - although this is influential. "How removed from Whiteness is the operations of the industry?" is the question we should be asking.

Even if, in some magical step, the publishing industry hires hundreds of people of color, people of color are not a monolith. They are not interchangeable. The ideologies of the people of color who make up the industry matter. Are the people of color anti-racist or are they yes-men to their bosses? Will they speak up? A better question might be: if they do speak up, do they have reason to fear reactions and discipline from their bosses and colleagues? Are the "radical" people of color not hired by the industry?

Whiteness is when a race-related novel hits an agent's desk and the entire industry's initial instinct is "How will white people respond to this book?" instead of "How will the communities depicted in this novel be impacted by this book?"

Something as simple as "How will the market respond to this book?" has layers of ramifications that can be deconstructed with pointed questions concerning race: "What populations make up said market? What responses are you afraid of?" When race-related novels come to play, the supposed colorblindness of the market that the publishing industry always focuses on is revealed for its whiteness.

When I look at the publishing industry, I see some publications that I trust to be pretty removed from the white gaze (such as AC Thomas's THE HATE U GIVE). However, these are far and removed. A view of the publishing industry structurally reveals that the white gaze is ingrained into every layer of its culture and operations. The race books that are published must be "respectful" enough to not upset white people too much. With white fragility, this goal is almost impossible to achieve.

(Sidenote: the task to publish an "not respectful" novel about race is not impossible. There are a few ways to accomplish it. 1) If the author glorifies the pain of people of color - especially Black people - which people crave to consume and which distracts from their constructive guilt. 2) If the author of color has credentials that no white author would be expected to have (see: Ta-Nehisi Coates). 3) If the book is written with such a high degree of technical expertise that no white debut author is expected to write with. All these reasons should not exist.)

When I look at the publishing industry's anti-racist work through the lens of the white gaze, I am less optimistic that true subversive and anti-racist change is occurring. The white gaze has not been addressed, confronted, or deconstructed; it has only ever dictated which novels can be published and which novels cannot. Whiteness has been the gate-keeper of the publishing industry since its origins, and it has not ended yet; it has simply morphed into liberal racism. The present era of colorblindness has indeed led to the publication of novels about race and writers of color; most of this literature still continues to be dictated by the white gaze.

I think about all the authors of color who did not get published. The books of color which got rejected. The books of beautiful color which got revised into books of beige. What did the editor's red pen scratch out?

Do agents and editors support books that will upset white people because they aren't written for white people? Do agents and editors support books that talk honestly about the rage people of color feel towards Whiteness and white people? (Because God forbid that people of color being brutalized and beaten by Whiteness ever dare to say, "Fucking white people.") Do agents and editors support books that engage with anti-capitalism, books that refuse to say "Not All Cops", books that have Assata-supporters and radical queer activists of color that reject the white gaze?

I guess my point is, do agents support diverse ideas or do they support diverse faces speaking the same White ideas? It is a masterful tactic of white supremacy to have its ideas be spoken by a person of color (see: Ben Carson, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal). The same white gaze that uplifts these people also shuts down those of color who dare speak ferociously against it.

I know the main criticism of my assertion: the profitability of the market dictates what books are published or not, not race. To that, I have three responses.

1) Why not both? The publishing industry, with bookstores and libraries disproportionately in white areas, has structured a market geared towards white consumers. Yet the truth is: people of color buy books too.

2) Why assume white readers won't read books outside the white gaze? If the publishing industry seeks to engage in allyship, it cannot babysit its readers.

3) The profitability bottom-line must be confronted. In a Western world where white people are the plurality and hold most of the wealth, the publishing industry can not say it is anti-racist without troubling its profitability idolization.

So I guess I come back to my initial question: "Do agents and editors support diverse books?" And by this, I mean diverse ideas.

If any agent or editor is reading this, please feel free to comment, Tweet, respond, etc. with #YesIDo. I am SC_Author on Twitter. I want to create a list of agents and editors (right below!) so that writers who seek to find supportive agents might find someone to query.

1. Your name here!

Writers need to know which agents and editors will support them - if any. It's scary to speak. In my own personal case, I've decided that there's no point to me being a writer if I have to swallow what I want to say. So I'm speaking, I'm pushing, and will continue to do so.

What do you think? Please feel free to comment below, and share!

This has been a post part of the Write Inclusively campaign. I'm planning to change its name soon, but if you would like to be up-to-date with the campaign, sign up for the newsletter. We do not email much - in the last  two years, only two emails have gone out. We were responsible for #BigFiveSignOn.




Who Do You Write For from Bishop O'Connell

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 12 July 2016 · 77 views

As writers we often have one eye on our intended audience as we write, even if it isn’t conscious. Like a lot of art, if you ask a writer about his book, either you or he will compare it to something else: “It’s Harry Potter meets A Tale of Two Cities.” Inadvertently, or perhaps quite intentionally, this book’s audience has been identified. It is the very small but dedicated group of readers who enjoy books about child wizards during the turmoil of the French Revolution. Most of us don’t intend such comparisons to define our intended audience, but it happens and permeates what we write. No matter your genre—including literary fiction—odds are you have a set of preconceived notions that go with your selection of an audience.


Almost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.

Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?


As a fantasy writer, I tend to take for granted that my readers will know that elves have pointed ears, dwarves are short and bearded, magic spells are cast by wizards, and countless other small things. I’m assuming those readers will have enjoyed other fantasy novels, particularly what is considered the canon (Tolkien especially) and thus have some context. But, our assumptions can cut both ways. Experienced fans of our genre might read in a mystical explanation to something completely mundane. Conversely, the uninitiated might be completely mystified by something that is a given to most fantasy readers. How do we as writers prevent this?

For me, the answer is simple: assume your reader has never picked up a fantasy novel before. That’s right, nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. This has two benefits. The first is that you prevent any confusion or frustration on the part of your reader. The second is that you’ve just opened your book up to countless readers outside your genre. That’s not to imply this is an easy feat. What is easy is to be so proud of the complex world you’ve created that you can’t wait to show your reader and you inundate her with information. In my post, Too Much Information! Knowing What to Reveal and When I went over the “how” of exposition. What I will delve into, is the “why.”

Let’s ignore the obvious: you don’t want your reader to be bored by a dissertation before getting to the story. That’s important, of course, but what I want to discuss here is the second reason. I take Ms. Rowling’s lead and assume ignorance on the part of reader and that opens my books up to a broader audience. Really, in the end, don’t we as writers want our stories to be read, and enjoyed, by as many people as possible? I certainly do. I’m sure there are those who think of themselves as purists and unless you know the arcane details you’re not “worthy” of reading the story, but that’s not for me. I want my tales to be enjoyed by anyone who picks it up, even if their usual preference is romance, mystery, biographies, printer manuals, math books, cereal boxes, newspapers, well, you get the idea. I believe if you strip out the supernatural aspects out of my novels and replace them with mundane aspects, the plot and characters still hold together. At least, that’s what I strive for. That, and no readers left scratching their heads when they’re done.

This is something all of us should strive for. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a book about faeries, or the Founding Fathers of the United States. After all, your readers might not be American or aware of American history. See? There I just assumed the readers of this piece were mostly American. I could’ve deleted that line, but I think it serves to show all of us that we have to strive, constantly, against those sorts of assumptions. Don’t limit yourself, or your work, by not inviting someone in to enjoy it. Be a good host and make your party as inclusive as possible, and ensure each guest is as welcome as possible. I hope if you’ve read my books, you found them so welcoming, and if you haven’t, consider this an open invitation.


Bishop O'Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed "visionary" of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.

The Returned ebook

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Just playin' with preview.

  Posted by Rick Pieters in Room to Wonder, 22 June 2016 · 173 views



9 Simple Ways to Get Outdoors as a Family

  Posted by Jean Oram in It's All Kid's Play Blog, 23 May 2016 · 109 views

Posted ImageSo many schools are reducing recess–outdoor play–due to budget cuts and hopes of boosting test scores. However, studies show that increased recess time results in better test scores compared to increasing time in the classroom. Yikes!
But here’s something you may not have heard about in the argument for keeping recess. Outdoor play–and specifically, recess–helps our kids eyesight. I know! Wow, right?
On the website All About Vision, they quote several studies that found all sorts of interesting results. Here are a few quotes I found particularly interesting:

The researchers calculated a 2 percent drop in the risk of developing myopia for each additional hour children spend outdoors per week. “This is equivalent to an 18 percent reduction for every additional hour of exposure per day,” they said.
Compared with children with normal eyesight or farsightedness, children with myopia spent an average of 3.7 fewer hours per week outside.

In other words, more time outside means you’re increasing your child’s chance they WON’T need glasses. Think of all the money you’ll save!
In favour of recess:

The study authors concluded that outdoor activities during recess in elementary school have a significant protective effect on myopia risk among children that are not yet nearsighted and reduce the progression of myopia among nearsighted schoolchildren.

The 12-year-old children who spent more time outdoors had less myopia at the end of the two-year study period than others in the study.

There you have it.
Let’s get outside and play! What do we do in the Oram household? Well, first of all we got a dog. Why? Because not only does it teach our kids empathy and responsibility for others, but our dog gets us outside daily. We walk the dog, the kids ride their bikes alongside or walk too. It’s great exercise for all of us!

The brain is better able to pay attention, hold things in memory, and show self-control after it has been outdoors.
–Gabrielle Principe, Your Brain on Childhood

Getting a dog isn’t your thing? It doesn’t have to be complicated or strenuous. How about these simple activities that will get you outdoors:
9 Ways To Get Outside as a Family

Watch the Sunrise / Sunset
Does the world seem different at this time of day? What colors do you see in the sky?
Find Cloud Animals
Lie on your back and look at the clouds—whoa! Is that a giraffe?
Draw on the Sidewalk with Chalk
Try and Catch Your Shadow
Can you catch it?
Water Fights
Ring Toss
Make your own rings out of plastic container lids. Then shove a stick into the ground to toss them onto!
Play CatchPosted Image
Eat Outside
Picnic, BBQ, simply taking your meal out on the deck–it’s still outdoors and you’ll still get the benefits of being out in nature. Both for your soul and your eyesight.

Thanks for playing! See you next time. And if you need more activity ideas don’t forget to check out my book, 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas. It’s reasonably priced so everyone can play.



BOSTON KNIGHTS - A Story About A Little Gold And A Little Love

Posted by AK Paladin in AK Paladin's Blog, 29 April 2016 · 174 views
Love Gold Treasure

This story was inspired from two directions. The first was the discovery of two unusual keys at the Flinder's Market in Adelaide. The second was two ladies that I have known for many years that do everything together. And no, there is nothing of me in this story. Well, very little that I will admit to anyway.

This story practically wrote itself. The keys were discovered the first weekend in February, the story was finished and through the first critical editing by the second week in March.

The teaser for Boston Knights follows:


The discovery that some ancient stories handed down in the families had more truth to them than fiction sparks a hunt for the real truth of the stories. Told as bedtime stories, three individuals find themselves working together to find out more about their ancestors and where they might have hidden some gold, or if it was after all, nothing but a hoax.

The adventure begins with Steve, whose elder brothers work in construction. Having found an old desk amidst some demolition work of theirs, they call their brother to salvage it and see if perhaps he might want to restore it and some other bits and pieces.

As Steve is an antiquities restoration expert, he is definitely interested. Within the desk, behind some well locked drawers, he eventually finds hints that the stories he was told as a kid, may have been more than just stories. In his pursuit of answers, he finds members of two other families that heard the same stories when they were children.

This begins a delightful adventure that finds the three of them embroiled in more and more details that lead them further and further from their homes.

Eventually, the puzzle pieces begin to come together in Ayr, Scottland when they make the acquaintance of some more members of the extended families, only to find their hopes dashed when they discover any gold that may have existed was quickly squandered. Moreover, any additional clues seem to have been destroyed.


This is what I would call a light romance and adventure. At a somewhere over 63,000 words, it is a quick and easy read aimed at young adults and romantics looking for something a little different.

I will 'clean up' my teaser as I get this book through its final editing. It is, by the way, a finished manuscript ready for presentation to an agent/publisher.

I'm still looking.


Batman v. Superman A Movie review

  Posted by Utsav M in Pineapple Lightning, 16 April 2016 · 124 views

Wassup peeps. Last week has been a bit busy, so this is a little late. I meant to watch and review this movie earlier than this but even though I did manage to do the watching part, I did not feel like reviewing it. Why you ask? Because they messed up a potentially epic movie.

Starting off Batman as a seasoned crime-fighter is great. It gives us a perspective few super-hero movies do. However, even though they make him a grizzled veteran, they cannot but help show his origin story of parents dying and falling into a cave of bats. Make that the first scene and we are already into 15 minutes of logos (yeah, call out to cinema sins) and a story shown in a much better and detailed manner in Batman Begins a decade ago. Batman is portrayed decently by Ben Affleck, who has found his acting chops since the horror known as Daredevil- the movie. Thankfully both Affleck and Daredevil seem to have moved on to bigger and better things.

As far as Superman goes, I have never liked Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and I did not like the movie either. I am glad they kept continuity from the movie and turned the mass destruction of Metropolis into a plot point but the story feels hollow even with the bone-structure of a great movie. Superman is conflicted but not conflicted enough to hang up his cape. Lois is ever present and irritating (I cannot believe I said that about Amy Adams) and is supposed to be his human anchor but again feels forced.

Luthor - well...sigh. While they alluded to the fact that this is Alexander Luthor not Lex Luthor, I wonder why they would not pull the trigger on one of the most iconic villains of all time. With the story backdrop, he would have been perfect as a foil to bring down Superman. Instead, we get a Joker ripoff trying to build Doomsday and kidnapping Superman's mother to goad him into a fight with Batman. Talk about lame and cliched.

As far as the fight is concerned, it is a good fight but the end of the fight is contrived and feels...you guessed it...forced. I mean, who in their right mind would say, "Save Martha", instead of  "Save my mother"? I want to slap the guy who came up with the cool realization that both Batman's and Superman's mother share a name and would be a cool plot point to use that to stop their fight.

The only breath of fresh air is Wonder Woman who is mysterious and understated and her reveal is very well done. She looks every bit Superman's equal in the fight against Doomsday. The fight was well done and Superman sacrificing himself was a good twist...except that it wasn't.

Everyone and their three next generations know a Justice League movie is coming and Justice League cannot not have a live and flying Supes. Ending the movie without showing his casket move would have been brave for the new Justice League. Let it be formed without Superman. Let him join in a dire hour. Make his return monumental. But nah...DC has no cojones.

And as far as the random teasers for the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman sprinkled throughout the movie, they feel ...gah...yes ...forced and unnecessary. They could have just mentioned their names without having video trailers for each of them. Learn from Marvel, Thordamnit!!

Anyhow, I am disappointed even though I never had much hope to begin with, which shows how poor a job they have done. And I am forced to stop myself from ranting.

Signing off,




Query Review Request

Posted by KellyMoore in KellyMoore's Blog, 12 April 2016 · 217 views

AS IT SHOULD BE, a women’s fiction novel of 81,000 words. Emily’s marriage crumbles when she discovers her husband’s secret love nest – filled with the furnishings she has carefully stored away for their future vacation home; and on the heels of their divorce, due to an unexpected night of passion during their estrangement, she finds herself expecting the child she has always longed for. When her ex-husband, Tom, marries his new lover, Emily escapes her heartache by making a new life for herself and her child in a place that stole her heart long ago - the captivating village town of Seaside.

As It Should Be is the story of a woman who finds herself with the chance to redirect her path from that of one who is tossed aside and struggling against bitterness, to a woman with new hope - and fresh new purpose for her life. It is a tale of transition: from a seemingly secure marriage, to the awkwardness and uncertainties of singledom; from a life without the responsibilities of children, to the wonders and challenges of pregnancy and motherhood; from the familiar comforts of home - to the possibilities of life and love in a bright new place.

I am happy to forward all or a portion of my manuscript for your review if you are interested. Thank you sincerely for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
Warm regards,
Kelly Moore


First Things First!

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 04 April 2016 · 144 views


Today I am sharing a guest blog post I shared on Books a la mode this past week. It is on the importance of first lines. I’ll post the beginning of the piece here and you can finish reading it on the Books a la Mode website. Also, add a comment in the comments section to be entered to win a copy of WHEN I’M GONE!


Screenshot 2016-04-04 06.15.33

Excerpt from Books a la Mode:


Sometimes when you are writing a book you feel incredibly powerful. “I, authoress Emily Bleeker, created this world…these people…these emotions and lives!!!” And then other times you feel completely at the whim of outside forces. “I, secret writer EmilyB, wrestle with writer’s block…plot holes…rebellious characters and self-doubt….” Both of these personas are there, living inside of me (in the healthiest possible way for multiple personalities to exist). But, moments of great power and weakness aside, there is one part of the creative process that I refuse to leave to the whim of my power/humility struggle and that is—the opening line.

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to first lines in books. I always take special note of which sentence an author chooses to share with the world. All my favorite books have my favorite first lines: Pride and Prejudice, Tale of Two Cities, Gone With the Wind…I could go on. Before I became an author I don’t think I even noticed those first words, at least not in a conscious way. I’d jump into a book and not really understand why it pulled me in, called to me. But now I understand how those first glimpses of your story, your tone, your characters—are incredibly significant and honestly quite fun to create.

For both Wreckage and When I’m Gone I knew the first lines of these stories before I had even worked out all of the major plot points……READ THE REST AT: Books a la Mode! 



Must read 'Pursued'

Posted by arielle99 in AuthorGSW, 12 March 2016 · 274 views
love, romance, thriller, fiction and 3 more...

Must read 'Pursued' Attached Image

It's finally here! At last, I know the wait must've been very crucial and long but it is done. Just want to thank my AgentQuery FAM for making this dream come true, thank you so much for your kind DM and loving words, it was much appreciated! Could not have done it without you all! ❤️😭🙈❤️ *** Did not know where to post this,, but wanted to thank everyone for their everlasting support and kinds words*** Being a new author is difficult, props to all authors, but I would really appreciate if you all could spread the love, word around social media !! Thanks a million AgentQuery FAM

SUMMARY: Arielle Platinum, CEO of Gregory Industry, has everything she ever asked for–until she witnessed the death of an exotic dancer. Thought to be a liability by the mob, a hit is placed on Arielle. Now on the run, Arielle finds herself alone and scared. Her life was nearing its end. About to give up, she is rescued by the last person she ever thought of, Jason Hampton-a man she had not seen since he dropped out of high school. Jason, now a wanted criminal for previous crimes, asks her to trust him and together they will defeat the mob.

Blog with the first 3 chapters: Whisperingit.wordpress.com

Lulu link: http://www.lulu.com/...t-22602699.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co...C/ref=r_soa_w_d

iBooks: Coming soon

social media insta: @authorgsw

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