Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Joanna Weston's Close-up Look Into Working With a Good Editor

CHANGING THE PLOT, by Joanna Weston.
The main character, Frame, an eleven-year-old girl, in ‘Frame and the McGuire’ has held my attention for almost ten years, through revisions, edits, and three middle-reader novels. I like her. Each book more-or-less wrote itself, driven by the characters, Frame and her brother Ranger.

The first comment I had from the publisher was that the book was more about place than people. I needed to reduce the importance of the place and make Frame front and centre. I went through the book carefully in order to understand what was meant. The place is dear to me as I had lived there but in re-reading I understood what needed to be done and duly set about reducing the setting to its appropriate background place.

The next comment was about the villain: he was too obviously the villain. I needed to introduce someone else, a family member or friend, who would be the bad guy. In my first book, ‘The Willow-Tree Girl’, the rogue is undisclosed until the end; in my second I made it clear as to who was who. But in ‘Frame and the McGuire’, I liked my villainous villain and was unwilling at first to introduce someone else. I put myself in the mind of the heroine and was better able to understand the dynamics for this book. So I did it, and became quite attached to the new villain. It was fascinating to keep an eye on the protagonists as I inserted new relationships into their lives, changed the action, and maintained atmosphere and tension.

I had started my middle reader, ‘Frame and the McGuire’, in the middle of the action. and was asked to start right at the beginning, with the discovery of the body. Here I found the character studies I had made of my heroine and her brother useful. I went back to them and found them willing and happy to come in earlier.

The re-writing, threading new characters and events into the plot, was fascinating, hard work but intensely creative. The lessons learned from an extremely good editor stand me in good stead for future middle readers.

Joanna M. Weston is the author of middle-reader novels and poetry. She's married; has two cats, multiple spiders, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen-houses. Her middle-reader, ‘Those Blue Shoes', published by Clarity House Press; and poetry, ‘A Summer Father’, published by Frontenac House of Calgary. Her eBook, ‘The Willow Tree Girl’ at her 1960willowtree blog and at Smashwords,  "The Willow Tree Girl" .

Read an excerpt from "Those Blue Shoes"
JOANNA M. WESTON A Summer Father - poetry - Frontenac House ISBN: 1-89718105-1 $15.95 Those Blue Shoes for ages 7-12 - $9.95 The Willow Tree Girl - eBook - $1.99

Joanna is also is also a member of Internet Writing Workshop.

"The Workshop is open to all styles and genres of writing: literary fiction, genre fiction, poetry, children's writing, essays, newspaper articles, scripts, you name it. Members do not need to be published writers, only to be serious about writing and about wanting to improve."
IWW also includes Writing, the list where members of all the above lists touch base to discuss writing-related subjects, and post "Yahoos."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why You Should Think Like a Publicist

Possibly the most important facet of promoting your books starts with the advice Penny C. Sansevieri gave on kobo(TM) Writing Life, when her article went live October, 9, 2012: Nine things publicists do that you should, to.

The steps Sansevieri explains make sense and have proven track records.

You'll find Penny’s books and her promotional services by visiting her web site and also find her on HuffPo:

Be sure to also follow her on Twitter: @Bookgal

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Serious Perils in Trusting Your Agent With Your Money

I don't often post this often, however the sooner authors read The Business Rusch: Agents and Money, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, published November 14, 2012, the better. Backed by her experiences plus solid research, Rusch offers excellent advice concerning royalties and agents. Ignore it at your peril.

Innovative Book Promotion

Book promotion, as writers know, must be an ongoing process if they expect to rise to the top in today's competitive marketplace. The following is a classic example of innovation. Rick Bylina has targeted most everyone in his addresses books with his Press Release:


Author Rick Bylina announces the release of two books for November 2012, just in time for holiday shopping season. The first is "All Of Our Secrets," a novel set in the North Carolina piedmont. It is a literary/mystery novel that is getting strong reviews already. The synopsis--His wife's secrets and a relentless cop hinder Bruce Neumanski from establishing his innocence and rebuilding his life after her death. It is inspired by a true-life New Jersey mystery. "All Of Our Secrets" is available on Amazon and via Smashwords for other e-book platforms.

His second release is "Bathroom Reading--Short Stories for Short Visits," This is a collection of sixty-six flash fiction and short stories that can make you cry, laugh, scratch your head, or relieve your constipation in a matter of minutes. "Bathroom Reading" is available exclusively for purchasing or borrowing from the Amazon Kindle Select program for e-books or in paperback from CreateSpace or Amazon. "Bathroom Reading" comes in a 5x8 paperback format and makes a great stocking stuffer for friends and family members who need extra time in the family library.

Additionally, Bylina has updated two previously released novels in the Detective Stark mystery series, "One Promise Too Many" and "A Matter of Faith", to fix issues that often plague self-published authors' first editions. Both books have received glowing reviews. "One Promise Too Many" has been one of the top five rated mystery novels for over a year on the Smashwords site. Both are rated in the high "4s" on Amazon and Goodreads.

To order any of these books in paperback from your local bookstore, call the appropriate store beforehand. The book might not be on the shelf, but all the books are in the appropriate book distribution databases for purchase.

To order books from Amazon:
  • 1. Click HERE and then click on the book you desire.


1. If you buy from Amazon, please do the following:
  • A. Click the "Like" button under the title.
  • B. Scroll down.
  • C. Click appropriate "Tags Customers Associate with This Product".
  • D. Click "yes" on any reviews with which you agree.
  • E. After reading the book, please, please, return and leave a review.
2. If you do write a review, also put it on

3. Want the book on another e-book platform, go to SMASHWORDS.
  • A. Enter the title.
  • B. Click, order, and download the book.
  • C. After reading the book, please, please, return and leave a review.
4. Like a book? Have friends, co-workers, family who read? Forward this email.

5. If you can touch me or the Mrs., we have paperbacks for sale.

6. "All of Our Secrets" makes for great book club discussions? Author available.

Thanks in advance for your patronage.
"I'm so excited; I just can't hide it."

-Rick Bylina
"Rick Bylina"
The only rule: writers write! Everything else is a guideline.
NOVELS - One Promise Too Many, A Matter of Faith, and All of Our Secrets
SHORT STORY COLLECTION - Bathroom Reading: Short Stories for Short Visits
BLOG updated 11/16/12


Monday, November 19, 2012

How To Prepare Your eBook Manuscript Properly

Your book manuscript is perfectly formatted in Word.doc, and you think you're just about ready to publish your ebook. Think again! Go to and read Learn How To Publish Your Book Professionally.

Study the detailed article closely before you make your decisions -- and proceed to publish your ebook. Good luck!

Things I've learned so far on my Odyssey to publish e-books: Smashwords Style Guide and ePub seem to be the two most-praised methods by authors who have successfully published e-books.

1.) You can submit a Word file to Smashwords where it will be convert into multiple formats usable by ereaders.
2.) You can submit a Word file to Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP), which also makes the necessary conversion.
3.) You have to be careful about certain issues with either Smashwords or Kindle Desktop Publishing, such as special characters that don't translate properly.
4.) You have to do Kindle separately since that format isn't supported by smashwords.
5.) Smashwords is also a distribution service, so you can put your book for sale
at a number of ebook stores including Barns and Noble, Apple, and others.
6.) You can take the MOBI file for your book and add it to Amazon yourself. A clean .doc is all that is needed with smashwords, but a web-filtered .doc works better with amazon. It's an html .doc that has all the formatting done in html tags. You can automatically save your manuscript as a web-filtered..doc in MSWord. "Save as" menu has a web-filtered option. MSWord can save the file as either "Web page" or "Web page filtered." You have to select the latter.

 An example of a Smashword tip: To find hidden text boxes lurking in your manuscript, waiting to mess up your e-book: View copy of document as a web layout. Hidden text boxes pop right up.

Also, if you include footnotes in your manuscript, do not superscrit footnote numbers. Instead, first create a Style for a tiny font. Use the style to bracket your tiny font number between parens. ie: (1.) The ePUB format allows footnotes, but few readers support them and the few that do render them very differently.

Also, if you are including photographs that require cutlines (the text beneath the picture describing its contents), first create a Style for the cutline text. You may or may not also wish to indent the cutline you type beneath your inserted photograph, depending on picture placement.

Suggestion: Take a couple of pages of the book, one that includes pictures, and do the conversion on those pages only. Then view them with a reader. This could even be done with one of the numerous smart phones with the correct app for your format type. has a link to instructions for conversion into ePUB if you choose to use it. ePub files can be opened on a computer with various free programs including Calibre, Adobe Digital Editions, Stanza Desktop, and many more.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A quick reminder for authors who have books on Amazon ~~  If so, make sure you use Author Central to post a bio, bibliography, and an author link.

Friday, November 9, 2012

SPECIAL BULLETIN: Veteran's Forum Seeking Volunteers

Special Bulletin

Please send this on to any Vets you know in Spokane, Washington that would be willing to volunteer for this. Please also promote similar action in the area where you live. Our veterans deserve no less from the countrymen they served.
Greetings all:

If you know me, you know that much of my life is dedicated to helping veterans. For the past two years, I've been involved in the Spokane Veterans Forum. I think you'll relate to what we do:

In most cities, many vets who get into fights or drive after having a few beers are reacting in response to PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury. They are sent to mainstream court and sentenced as though they're common criminals. How's that for a big Welcome Home? Not.

In Spokane County, two forward thinking judges (both veterans) realized that there was a problem and they sought to solve it. Thus the  Spokane Veterans Court was born. And to support the veterans coming through the court, the Spokane Veterans Forum was born. The Forum is a network of veterans and Gold Star Mothers who help vets get their lives back on track. Here are a few facts:
  • The Forum is based on Mentor/Mentee relationships, each defendant gets a Mentor who helps him or her work through the System and get whatever community support might be useful.
  • There is a monthly Forum meeting that includes one or two training sessions. One of our regular trainers is Dr. Anna Marie Medina, Chair of the Gonzaga Psychology Department.
  • The Forum is EXTREMELY effective. We have close to a 100% success rate with the vets we help.
  • We are also the ONLY (therapeutic) Veterans Forum in the country! And, we serve as THE model of how a Veterans Forum should be organized.
  • We have a pretty high profile. Our next Forum will have Mayor Condon and City Attorney Nancy Isserli. Cathy McMorris-Rogers will be at one in the near future.
We are currently getting a lot of new veteran defendants referred to the Forum by the court. And, we are actively looking for new Mentors. If you are a vet or Gold Star Mother, please think about it. Search your heart to see if you're motivated to help a veteran as a friend and helping hand. If you decide it's right for you, just reach out to me and I'll help you get connected. We'll also teach you how to be a Mentor and eagerly answer all your questions. I've seen this organization grow into a thriving community. We welcome you! If you're not a vet, but would like to help, ditto. We welcome your support with wide-open arms.
Semper Fi,
Mike (AKA Psycho)--

Saturday, November 3, 2012

In Praise of Traditional Publishing

Dianna Dorisi Winget, author of A Smidgen of Sky shares a close-up look at her experience with traditional print publishing. 

Dianna says,
"It’s incredible how popular self-publishing has become. So popular in fact, that the last several authors featured in Sandpoint, Idaho, have all self-published their books.  I can’t help wondering why so many are choosing this route. 
While I understand self-publishing may be the perfect choice for some writers, it bothers me to think they may be choosing this option simply because they feel there are no alternatives.
Maybe they’ve been told their chance of being traditionally published is one in a million, or that it’s just too hard. So why bother? Well, I’m here to show you the other side of the equation; to assure you that being traditionally published IS an option, and to share a few of the many advantages.
Everyday, all year, agents are being found, editors are accepting manuscripts, and deals -- many involving debut authors -- are being made.
So what’s required?
A measure of talent, the willingness to work on your craft until your writing is truly of publishable quality, and then an enormous dose of perseverance.
I’m not going to delve into the craft of writing in this post, because there’s an abundance of information in print and online. However, if you’re not willing to bring your work up to the highest quality possible, you shouldn’t be publishing, period.
What I can tell you about is perseverance. It took eight years to find the right agent and sign a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my debut children’s novel, A Smidgen of Sky, which will be released on November 6, 2012. So was all the work worth it?
The biggest benefit of being traditionally published is that the publishing house will pay YOU for your book, instead of you paying to have it published. An advance often involves several thousand dollars even if you are a debut, or first time author. Though most marketing and publicity efforts fall on the author nowadays, reputable publishing houses carry a lot of clout. They will support you in many ways.
A good editor will offer revision notes, proof read, fact check, copy edit, line edit, and do countless other things to elevate your book from good to great. He or she will also guide, direct, and champion you as one of their authors. The old adage about being overworked and underpaid surely fits most editors, and a good one is a true friend and ally not to be taken for granted.
How do you find an editor like that? Your chances go up exponentially if you have an agent to help you. But wait, you say, do I really need an agent? Not in every case. There are still some publishing houses, especially small ones, which accept unsolicited manuscripts. Nevertheless, more and more are closing their doors to all but agented submissions.
Frankly, there are so many advantages to having an agent I’m not sure why anyone would want to go it alone. Here are just a few:
    1. Agents stay on top of the constantly changing publishing industry.
    2. They know what individual editors like and are searching for.
    3. Agents keep your manuscript out of the infamous slush pile and get it read much faster.
    4. They believe in your work and “get” what you’re trying to say.
    5. They offer encouragement when you feel like giving up.
    6. They negotiate the best contract, usually a significant improvement over the boilerplate contract offered to a writer without representation.
They do many other things as well, but you probably get the point. So how do you go about finding the right agent? The tried and true method worked for me. I bought the print version of the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents, by Chuck Sambochino. Using the index in the back I made a list of agents who handled children’s novels. Then I visited the websites of these agents to learn more about their history, backgrounds, likes and dislikes.
When I’d whittled my list to thirty agents, I began to query them in batches of five, being careful to follow the submission guidelines of each. A few didn’t reply, most politely declined, and some expressed interest and asked to see a partial manuscript. One of the latter was Mary Kole, who was then with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
I ended up signing with Mary, and sixteen months later she sold my book. I’m not sure which of us was more excited! Mary writes an award-winning blog for children’s writers. Even if you’re not specifically aiming for kids, it’s chock full of great writing advice. She also wrote an article detailing the effort it took to sell my book, formerly titled, Fly a Little Higher, Piper Lee. A number of authors have found the story encouraging. Let me know what you think.
It’s hard to describe the enormous satisfaction that comes from being able to say, "I did it. Someone considered my work good enough to pay me for it."
My second children’s novel, True As Steel, is currently under consideration by my Harcourt editor. Harcourt made my experience with traditional publishing so satisfying I’m hoping I get to stay with them.
So before automatically deciding to self–publish, at least give some serious thought to being traditionally published. And don’t let anyone tell you your chances are one in a million ... the odds are far better than that!"
Saturday, November 10, 2012, Vanderford’s Books and Office Products, 201 Second Street, Sandpoint, Idaho, is hosting an author event and book launch party for A Smidgen of Sky, from noon to 2 p.m. Please join the fun—free gliders for the kids, and cookies for everyone.

A Smidgen of Sky is available at: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , Indie Bound , Books-A-Million  and at