Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th. 


Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.

Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.

Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process. 

I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints

How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?

Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time. 

Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?

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The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.

On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.

I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.

And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”

let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given  so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life

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About the Author/Poet

Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.

In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.

A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.

Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.

Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.

Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.

What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.

The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.

Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.

About Lydia Selk 

Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating  analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her  lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart

Guest Post: The 7 Ways to Improve Your Day-to-Day Routine by Writer Samantha Rupp

Has your day-to-day routine become daunting? Maybe you’re always in a hurry, or maybe you dread waking up for work every day. While many of us make small changes to try to make our daily routine better, we typically get no results and can’t seem to make those changes last. Unfortunately, we only get 24 hours a day, but some people are more productive than others. How do they do it?

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The answer isn’t that they do not have other things going on. We all have tons of things we have to get done during a single day. These people just use their time better and have a daily routine that invigorates them instead of putting them down. A routine can simplify your home life and help you stay stress-free. 

With your willpower, you can use our tips to make the most out of your routine and improve it so that you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start your day. 

  1. Optimize Work

Most of us spend ⅓ of the day at work, which means we have at least 8 hours that we must dedicate to work. The best way that you can optimize your work is by changing things up a bit. Try breaking up your workday by switching tasks periodically. If you have a task that you know will take you a few hours and smaller tasks that have to be completed, break up the large task every hour or so by moving to the smaller tasks. This will help keep your brain awake since you will be doing different things throughout your day. 

You can also begin your day with the task you want to do the least. If you have a project that you’re not excited about at all, start your day by working on it so that you can work on the tasks you enjoy the rest of the day and stay motivated even after lunch. 

  1. Set a Schedule

Most of us have at least morning routines that center around our jobs, which can help set up schedules around other tasks. To minimize time lost on transitioning from one thing to another, make sure that you know what you should be doing and for how long. 

Humans thrive when they have habits, so if you start doing something at the same time every day, you’ll get used to it and be able to improve your routine. For example, if you clean the house or do the dishes at the same time every night, you’ll get used to it, and it will easily become a part of your routine whether you enjoy the activity or not. 

  1. Start Your Day Off Right

Your daily routine should start on the right foot every morning. You can start by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier to give yourself enough time to sip a cup of coffee on your porch, walk the dog around the block, or try out your new skin care routine. This will allow you time to wake up on a good note so that you can start your day feeling refreshed. 

If you’re someone who sleeps in and wakes up only to get dressed for work and leave the house, you may find that waking up early so that you can begin a stress-free, rush-free routine can help you improve how you function throughout your entire day. 

  1. Start Exercising Daily

Yes, there are only 24 hours in a day, and all of yours are jam-packed with activities. However, once you begin optimizing your tasks by making schedules, you’ll be able to fit in 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t need to go to the gym for an hour every night after work. Instead, use the time you’d be doing other things and replace them with exercise. 

For example, if you have a lunch break at work, instead of sitting in your car or going out for fast food, you can nibble your lunch throughout the day and use your break to go on a walk around the building or outside. 

Exercise is good for you and will help you stay energized after lunch when most of us tend to slow down. 

  1. Maintain Productivity

In a busy world, everyone needs to be productive to get anything done. This is especially important if you work in a distracting environment like your home. To maintain your productivity, set aside a workspace that’s just for work. That means that if you work in a cubicle, try not to eat lunch or play games on your phone while you’re there. Instead, save those activities for outside the cubicle so that you can get yourself in the right mindset. 

Additionally, make sure that your workspace is a healthy place for you to sit for 8 hours a day. You should have tons of light to help you feel awake throughout the day and a chair that’s comfortable and ergonomic. 

A healthy work environment is necessary for productivity, but it’s also important to maintain that productivity. You can do this with the help of a schedule so that you know what you’re working on and when, with an online tool that can help you keep track of tasks. 

  1. Break the Day Up

Everyone has to do something that they don’t necessarily want to do, especially when it comes to working. If you have a project or a chore at home that you simply don’t want to do, break it up into smaller chunks to make the task seem easier. Let’s say, for example, that you have to clean your entire home for a small gathering you’re having. Instead of seeing the chore as one big activity, break it up into smaller chunks. You can begin in one room and work your way through the entire house, and take breaks to do other tasks in between so that you feel motivated. 

  1. Break Up Your Week

Just like your day, you can break up your week into different themes or duties. For example, you can start Monday off with a theme of “Catch-Up” that allows you to catch up on all the emails and chores you didn’t get to over the weekend or the previous week. Tuesday, could be all about a certain project that you have to finish, Wednesday can be Management that includes all of the tasks you do, where you manage a project or team, and so on. These themes will vary from person to person, so find what works best for you and stick to it. 

Find What Works for You

Improving your routine is a personal experience, which means no two routines will be the same. Some people enjoy waking up early to sip a fresh cup of coffee and watch the news before work, while others prefer to sleep in and grab a coffee on the way to work. There’s no right way to improve your daily routine. The best thing you can do is find what works for you and will yourself into continuing the best parts of your routine until you no longer have to think about doing them. 

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Samantha Rupp

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

Guest Post: How To Teach Your Kids To Become Great Writers by Linda Mills

Writing permeates every aspect of modern life and is an essential skill regardless of profession and interest. Even businesses cannot survive without good writing at their core and it is a vital part of effective online and print marketing and promotions. Teaching writing to children whether it is a report or technical writing or creative writing has a number of key benefits for their healthy development and prosperous future. Among other things, excellent writing skills mean they will learn to express themselves, consume more reading material and perform better in most academic parameters.

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Atmosphere Dictates All

Writing is considered a challenging prospect by children especially if they are younger than middle grade because it seems complex and they might have trouble retaining good vocabulary or expressing themselves. As a parent, you need to identify issues (also ruling out the chance of dyslexia or other learning disorders) and solve them in imaginative and interesting ways. Create a safe space for the child to practice their writing like a desk or a spare room and incorporate inspiring décor ideas like scrabble tiles or framed quotes.

Next, buy them books on subjects they like such as sports or stories. As you build up their reading skills, ask them to jot down new words they have learned in a separate notebook. You can also test them on the meaning and uses of these words using colorful flashcards. Never underestimate the value of consistent practice as it often counts more than simply talent in a particular area.

Switch The Tables

One of the key aspects of being a great writer is the shifting of perspectives. Skilled writers can write for a variety of audiences to suit each and every purpose. Teaching tone and style is therefore very important. Encourage your child to imagine various scenarios and how writing would differ in all of them and help them to find examples online or in print as well. For example; writing a news report is different from someone writing a story and that is different from someone trying to sell you an item.

To Each His Own

Each child has their own favorite type of writing to read and therefore write. Is your child interested in keeping a journal or scrapbooking? Do they prefer to write travel logs? Do they like tales of fantastical lands and beasts? Encourage them to practice the kind of writing that makes their heart sing. When they are able to get a starting point this way, they’ll be more conducive to doing school work for types of writing they perhaps don’t enjoy as much such as reports or work assignments.

Equip Your Child

Make sure you have purchased all the equipment your child needs to become a formidable writer in their own right. Pencils, books, practice books, a desk, etc all matter and impart a sense of purpose. Furthermore, if you’ve consistently observed your child struggles with words and sentence formation and will benefit from English tuition, then that is a worthwhile investment. Not to mention good tutors can also be hired online with ease! You can also take them to libraries and bookshops and build up the reading habit which is in fact the greatest teacher when it comes to becoming a better writer.

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Listening Helps

Listening to audiobooks or documentaries and even podcasts is a great way to better your writing. Listening translates into better sentence structure and formation when you sit down to write. Encourage your child to listen to educational and interesting material when they are playing outside, going for a walk, simply want to lie down, or are doing anything generally unproductive. This will add to their passive learning and impact their writing in the long run.

Templates And Tests

Writing is a skill like any other and part of developing it in children is periodic testing. Look up tests online you can either use as they are, or tailor to your requirements and have your children take those tests on weekends and so on. Make sure they are short and creative so they don’t add to the school workload each child has to undertake. You can come up with story prompts or even templates and give them to your children to work from. Seeing available examples and starting points always helps with writer’s block.

To make your child keen to practice their writing more, you can even consider starting a blog or something similar from where you and he/she can track how well you are progressing. Not to mention it is brilliant motivation to keep writing and improving.

Guest Blog Post: Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World By H. R. Conklin (author of The Eternity Knot in the Celtic Magic series)

In stories as varied as legends about local animals to tales of fairy creatures, there is tremendous cross-over in the symbolism used by cultures around the world. By studying these stories, we are reminded of the universal truths about life. The salmon, a transformational fish known for being of both salt and freshwater, has stories which teach new generations to show respect for the food that nourishes them. Tales of mermaids tell of the hardship of living between two worlds, no matter the original culture. Fairy tales about a girl growing up in painful conditions teaches how a person can earn a chance at a new life through being kind and honest. What we eat, the trials we go through, and how we act are all taught through the symbolism in these ancient stories from around the world.

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People who live close to the land, who have lived in the same places for centuries of generations, have a connection with nature to be envied. It’s through such a connection that the salmon came to be touted as the bestowers of knowledge upon anyone who eats them. Such wisdom was passed down generation to generation until finally verified by modern science. Salmon, after all, contains Omega 3, a brain food. Certainly, such a creature deserves to be revered. The legends of salmon coming from countries in the Atlantic or the Pacific always hold the salmon in the highest esteem. The Ainu of Japan say salmon is a gift from Paradise. The Haida of the Pacific Northwest, like so many Native American tribes in that region, teach that salmon must be respected in their story of Salmon Boy. The Celtic people of Ireland tell the story of Finn MacCool, a man who gains unlimited intelligence by tasting the Salmon of Knowledge. Revisiting the legends of the creatures living where we live can teach us a lot for how to respect nature.

Mermaids, being both human and fish, live between worlds and symbolize transformation and longing. They are ocean creatures, but they long for the land of their human half. This is not unique to Ariel, the Disney version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. When the cast for the live action The Little Mermaid was announced, and Halle Bailey was cast as the key role, there was backlash about how mermaids are supposed to be white. This was repeated over and over in heated debates, and the comeback was that there are black mermaids, too. There are the stories of Mami Wata, a mermaid tale that originates in Africa and was passed along through the people captured into slavery, and still circulates today throughout the USA, Haiti and other former slave destinations. Unlike most African deities, Mami Wata is not an Orisha. Her name originates in Egypt. Like Ariel, there is longing for the seemingly unattainable land. Yet Mami Wata is no simpering child. She is powerful, almost more like the character of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Someone to be feared. In Celtic stories of mermaids who drag their suitors to the bottom of the ocean floor, so do the African mermaids who serve Mami Wata. A creature to be feared, in symbolizing living between worlds the mermaid serves to teach us to learn to do the same.

Not only has the world of Disney shown just one version of the mermaids from around the world, so too has there been but one view of most popular fairy tales been told. Cinderella has many versions of the same story in a multitude of countries worldwide. Original versions of Cinderella (under different names) are found in the east as far back as 618 AD during the T’ang dynasty of China and even in some Native American tribal stories out west. The stories are always similar; a young girl is mistreated by her family and through telling the truth she is united with a powerful man. Truth may be symbolized by a clothing item such as a golden sandal or an anklet as in the versions of the Eastern countries, or it may be represented by the Cinderella character being able to see the truth where no one else can as in Native American stories. Either way, truth overcomes poverty and pain, giving the girl a “happy ever after” story she has earned through her kindness and honesty. Recognizing that this story is not only a European construct but belongs to all the people of our planet helps teach us that we are all capable of being good citizens worthy of a happy life.

It is because of these varied stories offering connecting symbolism throughout a multitude of cultures and countries that I was inspired to write my final book, The Eternity Knot, the way I did. We are more alike than we realize. Our stories, centuries old, have shown us this over and over again. If we study these ancient stories, we can also learn the simplicity of taking care of our world. Knowledge and respect of nature, learning to live between worlds (e.g. technology and nature), being kind and honest; these are some of the traits we would do better to exhibit and they are taught to us through the symbology within the stories of our world. 

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About the Author

H. R. Conklin grew up in the rural mountains of Northern California where her mother gardened and her father played the bagpipes, as well as spending long hours in the theater where her parents were a dancer and an actor. This undoubtedly led to her overactive imagination and love for nature. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two adult children, and three dogs. She used to teach kindergarten at a public Waldorf charter school in which she told many fairy tales to the children, and made up stories in her spare time. Now she is a Story Circle Leader and guides parents in homeschooling at a private Waldorf school.

 Keep in Touch – Sign up for Conklin’s Newsletter

Find out more at: 

Website:  https://wildrosestories.com/welcome

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/wildrosestories/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wildrosestories

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wildrosestoriesandcircles/

Purchase The Eternity Knot on AmazonWaldorf Books, and/or H.R. Conklin’s website: Wild Rose Stories. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Buy Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Knot-Celtic-Magic/dp/B096TTR9PK/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=celtic+magic+h.+r.+conklin&qid=1625601403&s=books&sr=1-2

Waldorf Books Online: https://earthschooling.info/thebearthinstitute/product/celtic-magic-book-4-the-eternity-knot/

Wild Rose Stories: https://wildrosestories.com/shop

Blog Tour Calendar 

July 19th @ The Muffin

July 21st @ The Faerie Review 

Join Lily at the Faerie Review as she shares her review of H.R. Conklin’s latest book The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic Series. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a modern take on myths and fairytales! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

July 29th @ The Knotty Needle 

Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review with readers after reading H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot – part of the Celtic Magic Series. Don’t miss Judy’s insightful review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

July 31st @ Author C.K. Sorens 

Fellow Author C.K. Sorens shares her review of The Eternity Knot – the latest release by H.R. Conklin and part of the Celtic Magic series. Don’t miss today’s peer review! 

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

August 1st @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen 

Wisconsin entrepreneur and educator, Cathy Hansen reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Cathy has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com

August 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina 

Fellow author Anthony Avina shares his review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. This book is part of the Celtic Magic Series – readers of all ages will delight in this special story! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com

August 3rd @ A Storybook World 

Readers at A Storybook World will hear from guest blogger H.R. Conklin on the topic of Symbolism in Fairytales. Conklin just release The Eternity Knot – another 5 star book in the Celtic Magic series, but she’s taking time to share her author expertise with readers today! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to learn from Conklin! 

http://www.astorybookworld.com

August 4th @ Author Anthony Avina 

 Earlier this week, readers at Author Anthony Avina’s blog read Anthony’s review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. Today readers will hear from Conklin herself as she shares a guest blog post titled:  “Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World” . Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic series! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

August 5th @ The Knotty Needle 

 Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review of The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This is book 3 in the Celtic Magic series and it is guaranteed to delight readers of all ages! Don’t miss Judy’s review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

August 6th @ Beverley A. Baird 

 Today’s guest post for readers at Beverley A. Baird is written by H.R. Conklin. Conklin is the award winning author of the Celtic Magic Series and she recently released her latest title: The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to read today’s guest post titled: “Parenting Wisdom Shared Through Storytelling”.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

August 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles 

Nicole just finished reading The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin and can’t wait to tell readers at World of My Imagination all about it. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole to find out more about this title as well as the others in the Celtic Magic Series! 

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

August 8th @ Word Magic; All About Books with Author Fiona Ingram 

 H.R Conklin pens today’s guest post about fairies and mythology as she visits fellow author Fiona Ingram at Word Magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Conklin and find out more about her latest release: The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic series! http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

August 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto 

 WOW! Blog Tour Manager, Crystal Otto reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Crystal has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her 5 star review with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 10th @ Bring on Lemons with Libby 

 Libby is a young artist who enjoys many genres of books – she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons today – her deep thoughts about The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This book is part of the Celtic Magic series and Libby is excited to read all the books. Readers will delight in her youthful perspective and her energy! 

 http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

August 11th @ Lisa Haselton 

 Lisa Haselton interviews H.R. Conklin about the Celtic Magic series and her latest release The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to become better acquainted with this talented author! 

https://lisahaselton.com/blog

August 18th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog 

 Today, readers at Jill Sheet’s Blog will hear from H.R. Conklin on the topic of “How Symbolism in Fairy Tales of Old Help Us Today”. Stop by to learn more about The Eternity Knot (part of the Celtic Magic Series) and learn from this talented author. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

August 19th @ Wildwood Reads with Megan 

 Readers at Wildwood Reads will hear from Megan as she reviews The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic Series and this latest release! https://wildwoodreads.com/

Guest Blog Post: The Story I Needed To Tell by Cheryl Wilder

The Story I Needed to Tell

I’m not sure who said it, but there’s an adage that goes something like: A first book is the one the author needed to write. This statement is true for me, though not for all the themes found in my first book, Anything That Happens. Hm. That may not be accurate. Let me begin again.

I came to writing through a side door. At the end of my senior year in high school, my English teacher pulled me aside, a stack of my creative assignments in his hand, and urged me to keep writing. “If you enjoy doing this, keep doing it,” Mr. Langford said, making me look up and into his eyes so I could see his serious face. He knew I was an adrift teenager about to be released into the world. I imagine him crossing his fingers as he gave me the “life raft” that is poetry.

My poetry has always been personal, tied to the exploration of emotion. I believe it’s a response to the practical, non-communicative environment where I grew up. The stack of papers Mr. Langford held were poems about friendship and trust, my mom making a new home with her husband-to-be, my father’s absence, and me coming to terms with … my future? 

Since I had little direction, and I enjoyed writing, I took Mr. Langford’s advice. But, I didn’t know how to live like a writer. And I believed “experience” would make me a writer. (Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention in class when we talked about Emily Dickenson’s life.)   

So, when I moved from California to North Carolina at nineteen years old, I was embarking on “life.” I uprooted, hoping for new, enlightening experiences. Nine months later, the event—a car crash—I would eventually need to write happened. 

The irony is that after the crash, I couldn’t write. Then, I wouldn’t write, not seriously. Not for years. I believed it was wrong to make a good thing from my bad act. And since I wanted to become a poet, I kept myself from it, accepting my due punishment. 

The thing about needs is they don’t disappear. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, I was a poet, and a poet needs to write poetry. There’s no escaping it. (Oh, thank goodness.) 

I first gave myself permission to write about the crash in a fiction class. I had returned to college at twenty-seven years old and majored in creative writing. Fiction provided me the distance I needed to write the details of the night, from my friend’s phone call to being handcuffed and put into a police car. In the “story,” the crash was happening to someone else. 

That first step was monumental: I was in the writer’s chair. 

Two years later, during my last poetry workshop before graduation, I wrote my first poem about the crash, the original version of the “Slipped” series that’s in the book. It was the story I wrote in fiction, but this time, I was once again in the driver’s seat. Placing myself there gave me a better vantage point to tell the story, and not only the drinking too much and car wrapped around a pole story. The pieces of the story only I knew: the emotional and psychological impact.

The crash was the story I needed to tell. “Emotional and psychological impact” is the inherent slice of all the stories I tell, like when I tried to understand my father’s choices compared to my mother’s back in high school. 

The main narrative of Anything That Happens is the car crash and its aftermath. But there is also the death of my mother, the birth of my first son, struggles of parenthood, and underneath it all, ever-present shame. There’s no doubt the car crash heightened my interest in how one action can affect someone else. When I wrote about the relationship with my parents and how I felt about becoming a mother, I did so through the lens of cause and effect—the impact of choosing what not to do weighing as heavily as choosing what to do. 

The impact of writing the story I needed to write is just coming to fruition. The book is only two months old. My desire to write hasn’t lessened. Now, I get to work on what I want to write. I don’t know what that looks like yet. Sure, I have ideas and dreams. Okay, I even have projects I kept putting to the side while I finished the needed-to-be-told story. But that’s the “work” of being a writer, and I’ll get to it. For now, I’m still living the piece I’m most interested in, the emotional and psychological impact of having told the story I needed to tell.

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About the Author

Cheryl Wilder is the author of Anything That Happens, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection (Press 53, 2021), a collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Her chapbook, What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press, 2017), explores the frailty and necessity of human connection. 

A founder and editor of Waterwheel Review, Cheryl earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

STRESS: AN EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING BOOK “THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY” BY AUTHOR BARRY SHORE

I am so proud to share with you all this amazing excerpt and article from author Barry Shore, from his upcoming book THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY. I will be reviewing this book tomorrow, but in anticipating for the May 11th release date I wanted to share this excerpt. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for anyone who knows me, you know that mental health awareness is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please take the time to read this book and share this post, and look for my review of Barry’s book tomorrow. Now, enjoy this exclusive excerpt. 


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An Excerpt From

“The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy”

By Barry Shore the “Ambassador of Joy”

______________________________________________________________________

The Problem: STRESS…Kills!

Not directly. More like death by a thousand sighs.

It’s insidious. Invidious, invasive, and, if continuous and not stopped, will ruin Your physical, mental, and spiritual being.

Stress is a common occurrence. While You can’t remove every stressor from Your life, it’s possible to manage and reduce stress and maintain your health. This is important because chronic stress can cause mental fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, obesity, skin ailments, heart issues, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.

Yes, that list of symptoms observed across the population tells You that You’re not alone in this battle.

But even when You know the physical and mental effects of stress, You may be unaware of the different stages of stress, known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). When You understand the different stages of stress and how the body responds in these stages, it’s easier to identify signs of chronic stress in Yourself.

I’m writing this in the year 2020. The world is beset with panic, disease, and economic and societal ruin.

Right now, the most searched word in the world after Covid (and its related causes/cures) is STRESS. It’s affecting everyone.

STRESS is an acronym that I use to describe how to deal with the effects of untoward circumstances. Essentially there are three factors that cause STRESS.

These are and have always been:

• Money

• Work

• Home

Yes, these are universal and constant. Even in the best of times.

There are however two divergent ways to deal with STRESS, both revealed in my insights.

STRESS can stand for: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Sabotage.

There is little need to go into depth regarding each of the three stressors above. It is self-evident that money issues can and do cause tremendous pressures. The same for work. And, certainly, for home/family. Often in times of recession and disaster, these factors are intertwined and exacerbate one another. They truly cause a stomach-turning reality.

STRESS can also mean: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Success.

Same exact situation/s dealt with in a different way/s. Your response to the stomach-turning reality makes all the difference. Struggling is the continual and real test of life. And it’s something we all face every single day.

How You deal with the reality of these issues determines how Your physical and mental wellbeing will be affected. Certainly, You can’t be cavalier. Yet You can utilize practices, tips, and tools to enable You to direct Your mind and guide Your body to avoid falling prey to a pity party which can lead to the use/abuse of medications, alcohol, or to other aberrant behavior.

Mind is the master. Once You grasp this fundamental fact and leverage this powerful tool, You can and will achieve success under all circumstances and vicissitudes.

How do You maintain inner strength during stressful periods?

Consider a submarine. As the ship goes down, the pressure (strength) inside needs to increase to counterbalance the pressure outside. Likewise, when we are in stressful situations, we must make sure our internal strength is adequate to offset the external forces pushing against us.

Anger also produces stress. Have You ever known people whose lives seemed to have a thin veneer of civility and calm, yet once the surface was scratched, anger bubbled up like a volcano? Stress and anger go hand-in-glove.

We also know that there are two types of stress: vertical and horizontal. The vertical is healthy because it pulls You up. Think of a flower on a stem. Without turgor pressure, the stem droops. Without the fluids pushing through the cells, the flower dies. We can grow limp as well. A useful example of the sort of pressure that pulls us up is the sense of awe or reverence of God.

Horizontal stresses pull us apart and create damage. Designing our lives to meet others’ demands and standards is horizontal. All the current talk about self-image leads to horizontal stress. I do not mean that we should have no concept of self-worth. But we want to have a clear definition of self-worth that comes from knowing we were brought into this world for a purpose. That knowledge is a settled knowledge and doesn’t change just because of what others think or say.

In our competitive society there is another prevailing stress—the fear of losing. The specter of losing by our choosing stresses us. When we make one decision, we give up other options. These are the “Y” points. Marriage and career are two of the biggest examples. One of the pitfalls of our current day is buyer’s remorse. “If I choose the left fork and it grows dull, I opt out and choose another road.” This is a mistake. The stress of always looking around for the better option steals the joy of commitment.

The true test of life is never in what happens to us.

It is always in how we choose to respond to situations.

As we’ll learn later in the 11 Strategies, the six most important words You can learn and internalize are:

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

Repeat this. Often. Think about it. Internalize and utilize.

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

“The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” by Barry Shore is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

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About the Book

“The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is your passport to being healthier, wealthier, and happier in a time of unease and misgiving. 

Part journal, part memoir, part activity book, it’s a timely guide to slay stress, beat burnout, and cope with life, post-pandemic. Author Barry Shore reveals 11 strategies that you can use to slay stress and be happy….no matter the circumstance. Imagine standing up in the morning fully healthy and in the hospital, that evening completely paralyzed; and not from a car accident or a spinal injury, but from a rare disease. You’ll join the journey as Barry moves from paralysis to now swimming 2 miles per day, 6 days a week. All with a SMILE.

  • RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2021
  • GENRE: Healthy Living, Emotions and Mental Health, Journal/Workbook, Memoir, Motivational Self-Help, Nonfiction, Self-Improvement.
  • PUBLISHER: Joy of Living Institute Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-930376-15-1 
  • PURCHASING INFO: Available for Pre-order on Amazon or on Apple Books or by visiting https://www.barryshore.com/book 

About the Author

Known as the “Ambassador of JOY,” Barry Shore is a mental health activist, philanthropist, multi-patent holding entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, and former quadriplegic. After a rare disease paralyzed Shore from the neck down, he created the JOY of LIVING Institute™ (a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation), Keep Smiling (a movement that has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of “Keep Smiling” cards worldwide), and Changebowl (a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah Magazine.) Barry’s podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has over two million downloads. 

Barry’s latest book, “The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

Guest Blog Post: Why the Title of a Story Matters By Jennifer Zhang

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. 

“Potentially the difference between a blockbuster and a flop, kid!” Hollywood answered, chewing on a cigar and pouring two fingers of scotch.

In all seriousness, it is unfortunately true that more than a few cinematic gems have been buried by their lackluster titles. A good title, by contrast, can get someone to click on a trailer, read a two-sentence description that can clinch the deal, or fill a theater seat on the power of the curiosity it has inspired alone. 

At the very least, a good title gets a moviegoer to ask, “tell me more”… and a really good title gets a moviegoer to say, “Okay, show me.”

And this is why Blake Snyder emphasizes in Save the Cat! – his methodology that revolutionized the language of storytelling – that you are not tasked with simply coming up with a title for your movie. 

You’re tasked with giving your movie a killer title.

It’s a mission so important—so absolutely paramount—that we hammer it home in great detail in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course. We also offer an arsenal of tips and pointers because, after all, imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a story for the ages, pulling every string to get it into the hands of a decision-maker (or at least an intern) at a production company or major studio, only to have them look at the title, and with a “meh,” toss it onto the “maybe later” (maybe never) pile.

Tragedy! One that would ruffle even Shakespeare’s… ruffles! So let’s prevent it!

“Legally Blond”

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

“Fight Club”

We all know a good title when we read one. But what makes a title good? 

Years ago, Blake offered us an important clue to cracking that case. He pointed out that “a good title must say what it is! and yet give us a fresh, intriguing invitation to your party that gives us a hint of the type and tone of the festivities we’re about to attend. And that’s some tight writing right there.“

So as you can see—and as many of us have had the displeasure of experiencing—it’s no easy task, nor is it a small one. And to prove that it’s a task on which even the biggest films may stumble and fall, allow me to share the example we use in the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” course:

In 2014, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called Edge of Tomorrow, which was phenomenal by both audience and critics’ accounts with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The premise was basically Groundhog’s Day in the middle of an alien invasion. A man with no combat experience is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can figure out how to thwart a devastating extraterrestrial attack. 

The problem was, none of the excitement of that premise was hinted at or captured with the title “Edge of Tomorrow,” slick as it sounded. And one of the most vocal lamenters of the title’s failure was Doug Liman, the film’s director. He openly blamed this title, which was forced on the film, for the movie’s disappointing box office returns. 

“I ended up having to call the person (the Warner Bros. executive) and apologize for pointing out that they were wrong,” he said. “And they started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat. But they tiptoed around it, and when we make the sequel, it’ll be permanently titled Live Die Repeat. The sequel will be Live Die Repeat and Repeat.”

Guess what? That’s a title that says what the movie is. 

Hopefully, you’re now fully convinced that a title matters a great deal, and you’re mentally running the “Say What It Is” test on your current script titles.  

And if you still only find yourself on the edge of inspiration, we’ve packed our online course with wisdom and tricks to tip you over.  

Happy writing! Or shall we say… live, write, repeat! 

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BIO:

Jennifer Zhang is a screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote, produced and sold her award-winning debut feature “The Evil Inside” shortly after working with Blake Snyder and adopting Save the Cat! storytelling principles in her screenwriting. She is the instructor featured in the Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course, and has most recently garnered early festival buzz for her feature-length independent thriller “Charon” which has picked up multiple official selections and “Best Writer” nominations.

About Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!® is the bestselling story methodology introduced by screenwriter Blake Snyder in 2005 with his first book, Save the Cat!. Snyder’s acclaimed ideas, methods, and software have provided thousands of writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels.

Save the Cat!’s

WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF Cracking the Beat Sheet

&

Story Development Cards

Tour Begins February 22nd

First, what is Save the Cat!®? 

Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation. 

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at https://savethecat.com/

About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel. 

You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to… 

• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story 

• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist 

• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability 

• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch 

This Course Is for Those Who… 

• Want to troubleshoot an existing story 

• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one” 

• Are ready to write but not sure how to start 

• Are determined to finish a half-written story 

• Want to learn 

This Course Includes… 

• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production 

• 9 downloadable worksheets • 3 reading assignments (book not included) 

• 4 homework assignments 

Course Value: $59 

Find out more information about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course by visiting https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet.

About Save the Cat! Story Cards

Introducing Save the Cat!®Story Cards, consisting of Save the Cat! Beat Cards and Save the Cat! Scene Cards, all designed to outline and develop your story. 

Save the Cat! Beat Cards 

Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story. 

Save the Cat! Scene Cards 

Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them. 

Cards Value: $10.95 

Find out more information about Story Cards at https://savethecat.com/story-cards

More information about Save the Cat!:

Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet

Save the Cat! Website

Save the Cat! Best-Selling Books

https://savethecat.com/books

Save the Cat! Story Cards

https://savethecat.com/books

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– Blog Tour Dates

February 22nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us today over at our blog, where we launch another blog tour for Save the Cat! We talk about their online course and their story cards, interview the Save the Cat team, and host a special giveaway you don’t want to miss.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

February 23rd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Join Cathy as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. Perfect if you want to finally outline your novel!

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

February 23rd @ And So She Thinks

Join Francesca and read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. You don’t want to miss this!

https://andsoshethinks.co.uk/blog/

February 24th @ Chapters Through Life

Visit Danielle’s blog as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course.

http://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.co.uk

February 24th @ Margay Leah Justice

Join Margay as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Story Cards.

http://margayleahjustice.blogspot.com/

February 25th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he shares a Save the Cat! guest post about why the title of a story matters.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

February 26th @ Writer Unboxed

Join Therese as she reviews the Save the Cat! writing course Cracking the Beat Sheet. Don’t miss it! 

https://writerunboxed.com/

February 27th @ Jessica Samuels

Join Jessica as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://jessicasamuelsauthor.com/

February 28th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and shares her insights into the Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com

March 1st @ Michelle Cornish

Join Michelle as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

March 1st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Kathy shares the Save the Cat guest post discussing stress testing dialogue and scene.

https://www.krpooler.com/blog/

March 2nd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards! Find out how this item will help you storyboard your novel.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

March 3rd @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

March 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Visit Anthony’s blog where you can read his experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

March 5th @ Quill and Books

Visit Kathryn’s blog and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

March 7th @ Sioux’s Page

Join Sioux as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/

March 7th @ Help Me Naomi

Visit Naomi’s blog today and you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards and the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://helpmenaomi.com/

March 8th @ World of My Imagination

Guest writer, Stephanie Anne, reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and Save the Cat! Story Cards on Nicole’s blog World of My Imagination.

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

March 9th @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books

Visit Cathy’s blog again where you can read a guest post from the Save the Cat! team about why structure is a friend, not a formula.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

March 9th @ Sandy Kirby Quandt

Sandy shares her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://sandykirbyquandt.com/

March 10th @ Brooke’s Reviews and Sweeps

Join Brooke as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

http://www.brookereviewsnsweeps.com/

March 11th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and check out her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

March 12th @ Finished Pages

Join Renee as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

http://finishedpages.com/

March 13th @ Writer Unboxed

Visit Therese’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards. You’ll want to check these out if you want to storyboard your novel!

https://writerunboxed.com/

March 14th @ The Margate Bookie

You’ll definitely want to catch today’s guest post where Save the Cat! discusses the power of the writer’s board.

https://margatebookie.com/news/

March 15th @ My Heart is Booked

Join Danielle today where she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! story cards.

March 15th @ LM Harley

Visit Laura’s blog and check out her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

http://lmharleywriter.com/index.html

March 18th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes

Join Cathy as she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://c-c-hall.com/

March 19th @ One Writer’s Journey

Visit Sue’s blog today as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

March 21st @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

March 22nd @ Mint Miller Writes

Mint Miller treats us to a review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards. Don’t miss it!

https://www.mintmillerwrites.com/

March 23rd @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen as shares a Save the Cat guest post discussing the benefits of using a board.

March 25th @ WOW’s Editor Blog

You don’t want to miss WOW’s editor-in-chief, Angela Mackintosh’ review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://wow-womenonwriting.com/

March 26th @ World of My Imagination

Writer Kate Mahony is a guest reviewer at World of My Imagination and she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

March 27th @ Joyful Antidotes

Visit Joy’s blog today where you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.

https://joyfulantidotes.com/

The Book eNewsletter Industry: Connecting Readers and Authors | Women on Writing Blog Tour

I ran a small press for seven years and published 13 books, including three New York Times Bestsellers, three Hoffer Award Winners, and a book that was optioned for a film. We averaged 6,000 copies sold of each title—including two titles that sold more than 20,000 copies each. 

To put that in perspective: the average U.S. nonfiction book sells fewer than 250 copies per year and fewer than 2,000 copies in its lifetime. The average author-published book sells 250-300 copies in its lifetime. Sales of 5,000 copies of a book is considered respectable by a Big Five publisher, and a “home run” by a small publisher.

We achieved success without traditional distribution and on a shoestring budget. And one of the keys to our success was using e-newsletters and websites that promote books. 

There are dozens of book promotion newsletters (more than 100 by some counts), and I used many of them as a publisher. Earlier this year, after having used these newsletters for many years in my marketing efforts and after having done extensive market research on the industry, Kathleen Meyer and I launched LitNuts, an e-newsletter to bring the “Best of the Indies” to booklovers. 

Today, I want to give you a quick overview of the industry, and tell you why readers should take a closer look at book promotion newsletters and why authors and publishers should include them in their marketing plans. I’ll also tell you why we decided to launch LitNuts despite the crowded playing field. 

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The Book e-Newsletter Industry

You are probably familiar with some book promotion e-newsletters. Some of the more prominent ones are BookBub, Bargain Booksy and eReader News Today. And for every large one, there are many other smaller ones like Book Basset, the Choosy BookWorm and the Frugal eReader. Beyond industry giant BookBub, there is a group that would best be described as mid-sized family-run businesses, and then there are a bunch that are produced by individuals. 

They all follow a similar business model in that the e-newsletters are free to subscribers, and authors and publishers pay to have their books featured in the e-newsletter. The cost to be featured ranges from as low as $10 (even less in some cases) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars (in the case of BookBub). 

The newsletters are great for readers. In addition to being free, the newsletters mostly focus on bargains, and everybody loves a bargain. 

The only problems from the reader’s perspective are 1) the focus on bargains means a limited universe—not every great book is $2.99 or less, and 2) uneven quality because the only requirement for most newsletters is payment—they are not looking at quality, which means there’s a more-than-middling possibility that the 99 cent “bargain” you just downloaded isn’t worth the time you spent to download it, let alone read it. 

There are additional problems from the perspective of the author or publisher, including convoluted promotion “packages,” tiered pricing structures, and a maze of sometimes complicated order forms.  

Despite the problems, newsletters are a great way for readers to “discover” books, and a great way for authors and publishers to get their books out there for “discovery.” But obviously, there’s room for improvement. That’s why Kathleen and I started LitNuts: we felt we could do some things a little different—and ideally, better.

What Makes LitNuts Different?

One thing that makes LitNuts different is our focus on indie books. No other newsletter has this focus. While the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster) and their ~250 imprints focus on million-dollar deals and the next big bestseller, indie publishers are nurturing new authors and emphasizing quality and innovation over profits. In addition, books from independent, university, small and micro presses have been professionally edited and designed, ensuring a level of quality. (Note: We will also feature author-published works that rise to that same level of quality and meet our standards.) 

Another thing that makes LitNuts different is that while other newsletters focus on bargains, LitNuts features books at all price points, including lots of new releases and award winners. In addition, we feature collections of short stories, essays and poetry—forms of writing that most newsletters exclude simply because collections don’t usually sell as well as book-length works. 

Finally, we’ve made things easier for authors and publishers: no convoluted “packages” to analyze…no tiered pricing…no waiting to see if the date an author wants for a book promotion is available. It’s a very affordable $25 to be featured in LitNuts, and our simple order form allows you to select the date of your book promotion.

Submitting Books to Promotional Newsletters/Websites

Another thing that can be complicated from the author/publisher perspective is coordinating promotions. A lot of times, an author or publisher is planning a sale and will want to schedule multiple promotions in conjunction with the sale. You can do it yourself, but if you want to run multiple promotions at the same time, be prepared to spend lots of hours at the computer filling out order forms. 

There are some economical services that will handle submission to multiple book promotion newsletters and websites if you are giving away free, promotional copies of an e-book:

  • Taranko1 on Fiverr: Will submit free e-books to multiple promotion services for as little as $5.
  • Book Marketing Tools: Will submit free e-books to multiple services for $29. 
  • Author Marketing Club: No charge, but they don’t submit for you. Instead, they have consolidated on one page links that take you directly to the order forms of multiple promotion services. You still have to submit the books yourself, but having all of the order forms in one place will save you time. 

That said, when it comes to submitting books that are on sale for $0.99 or more, you’re pretty much on your own. Which is fine…you can do it! It just takes time. But I will tell you about a service that I recently came across called Book Rank, which has two options: 1) “We Build It” Promotion Services, in which they select the book promotion newsletters/websites for you, and 2) “Build Your Own” Promotional Services, in which you tell them which venues you want to use. 

I’ve not used Book Rank, and the “We Build It” prices are not cheap. But the “Build Your Own” service looks pretty reasonable. It’s $50 plus 6.9% of the total cost of the sites you want to submit to. You can choose from 33 book promotion newsletters/sites (soon to be 34 when they add LitNuts), and your cost will be $50 + the total cost of doing a promotion with each newsletter/website + 6.9%. That’s not a bad deal. But you need to know which ones to use. 

Which Book Promotion Newsletters to Use? 

There’s a good list of book newsletter/promotion services on Reedsy and an even better one on Kindlepreneur—but be careful. Many newsletters don’t generate enough sales to cover the cost of doing a promotion with them. Here are a few that I recommend trying: Bargain Booksy, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Hot Zippy, Book Basset, eReader News Today, The Frugal Reader, Choosy Bookworm and, of course, LitNuts. Kindle Nation Daily can also generate sales, but they also have some of the most convoluted (and expensive!) promotion options. If you use KND, go for one of the lower-priced promotions. 

And then, of course, there’s BookBub. BookBub is expensive, but it gets results. The catch is that you have to apply to be featured in their newsletter—and they are very selective. They only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted to them. Some of that has to do with price; BookBub requires that “your book must be discounted to at least 50% off the predominant recent price” and “your book cannot have been offered for a better price in the recent past.” In other words, you essentially need to price your book at the lowest price in its history to have it included in BookBub. 

BookBub looks at everything else, too: book cover, professional reviews, online reader reviews, awards, etc. BookBub doesn’t give a number, but I tell people you’d better have at least 25 reader reviews averaging 4 stars or better on Amazon or Goodreads before submitting to BookBub (some say 50 reader reviews averaging 4.5 stars). 

If you think your book will qualify, submit it to BookBub. Prices range from as little as $113 (to promote a free e-book to a very small audience) to as much as $4,000 (to promote an e-book that costs more than $3 to a large audience). The average price to promote a 99 cent e-book is currently $600. That’s a lot—but you will sell hundreds, if not thousands, of e-books as a result of doing a promotion with Bookbub.

Conclusion

Book promotion newsletters are a dynamic component of the overall book industry. They are a boon to readers, bringing you a wide selection of books to consider for your next read. And they are a boon to authors and publishers, and should be part of any marketing plan. But as with all things, proceed with caution. Readers need to be wary of the disproportionate focus on “bargains” that may not be bargains at all, and authors and publishers need to do their homework on which newsletters actually get results and which ones are just taking your money. 

Ideally, book promotion newsletters bring readers and authors together…providing readers with more choices, and authors and publishers with an economical way to share new titles. And ideally, the book promotions will generate enough sales to at least pay for themselves. But even if an author or publisher just breaks even on a promotion, I think you can regard that as a “win.” You got your book into the hands of more readers, which should lead to more online reader reviews (worth their weight in gold) and more word-of-mouth marketing (the Holy Grail of book publishing).

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About LitNuts

For Readers

So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!).

For authors, you’ll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers. 

For Authors

LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and create positive word-of-mouth. 

Toward that end, they are building a subscriber base of booklovers who want to hear from indie presses. And we are focused on keeping things simple and flexible for authors. They offer a flat price of $25, so it’s simple. No tiered pricing or convoluted advertising offers to analyze.

At the same time, they give authors the flexibility to advertise short story, essay and poetry collections, to link to your website so book lovers can purchase directly from you, and to set the price of your e-book according to your needs.

About LitNut and owners Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary:

LitNuts is a woman-owned, family-run business founded by Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary, who share a love of literature and reading. Kathleen is an avid reader with 10 years of marketing experience, including with Dream of Things, a small press founded by Mike in 2009. During its 10 year history, Dream of Things published three New York Times Bestsellers, three winners of the Hoffer Award, and one book that has been optioned for a film. Kathleen and Mike drew upon their experience of publishing and marketing books on a shoestring budget to create LitNuts, in the hope of helping other indie presses achieve success. 

Authors and readers, visit LitNuts.com to sign up for their newsletter, where you can hear about incredible books from indie publishers that you wouldn’t hear about anywhere else. 

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

— Blog Tour Dates

November 2nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us WOW’s blog The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of LitNuts.com. Follow along the tour for excellent guest posts written by the owners, reader their interview with us, and enter a giveaway.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 4th @ Caroline Clemmons

Join Caroline as she features LitNuts and their guest post about what kinds of books readers will find at LitNuts.

https://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Visit Megan’s blog where she spotlights LitNuts and tells you all about their book newsletter.

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

November 5th @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen Brown Tyson as she features LitNut’s guest post about how to market yourself as a writer.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

November 7th @ Michelle Cornish
Visit Michelle Cornish’s blog today and you can read a guest post about a closer look inside the world of publishing. 
https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

November 10th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Blogger Ashley Hubbard shares LitNut’s experiences with some of their favorite authors. A fun guest post you don’t want to miss!
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

November 11th @ Literary Quicksand

Jolissa will be interviewing the LitNuts founders, and discussing everything you’ll want to know about this amazing new bookish newsletter.

http://www.literaryquicksand.com/

November 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Come by Linda’s blog today where she interviews the owners of LitNuts.com

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

November 15th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can get a deeper dive on LitNuts and what makes it so different from other book newsletters.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 18th @ Create Write Now

Visit Mari’s blog today where you can read an informative post about how to sell 5,000 books in 6 months.

https://www.createwritenow.com/

November 19th @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy Hudgins as she features LitNuts and everything they have to offer readers and authors.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

November 20th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he features LitNuts and their guest post about the book eNewsletter industry and why you want another newsletter about books.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 21st @ LM Harley’s Blog

Join Laura as she features a few excellent book recommendations from LitNuts.com.

https://lmharleywriter.com/blog.html

November 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rozelyn as she shares LitNuts’ guest post with some excellent book recommendations you’ll add to your reading list.
https://thefrugalistamom.com

November 24th @ Editor 911

Join Margo as she features the LitNuts guest post about how to launch your book on a shoestring budget.

https://www.editor-911.com

November 25th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole will be featuring LitNuts on her blog and discussing what readers can expect from this amazing newsletter.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 27th @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Join Deborah today where LitNuts features a collection of writing books that you will want to add to your reading list.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/blog/

November 30th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathleen as she features the LitNuts guest post discussing advice for booklovers on finding good books.

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Guest Post by Roje Augustin

I first learned about Sarah Breedlove — or Madam C.J. Walker as she would come to be known — in my early 20s. I remember it clearly because when I read her story in A’Lelia Perry Bundles’ wonderful book Madam C.J Walker Entrepreneur, my jaw literally dropped. Prior to reading her book, it never occurred to me that a woman like Walker could even exist. African American history, such as it was taught in my early school years, was biased and flimsy at best. That her life story was not a standard part of the curriculum was offensive to me.


I was taught about Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Joan of Arc… But where my people were concerned, all I learned was that we were slaves and one day a slave named Harriet Tubman chose to devote her life to freeing her follow slaves from bondage. An important and inspiring story no doubt, but as a black girl, it would have been so edifying to have learned about Madam C.J. Walker, too.

After discovering her, I devoured everything I could find about Madam Walker, which included a second biography, On Her Own Ground The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, also written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Perry Bundles. There were also a handful of other biographies and two novelised accounts of her life.

Fast forward to 2018. When I started to write Out of No Way, I returned to these biographies as well as material I found on online, namely old Walker advertisements for her hair care products. On Her Own Ground proved invaluable for providing timelines, dates, locations, events, and names, which became the foundation for my poems: the who, what, when, where, and to some degree, the why. But the thing that became clear to me in re-reading the books a second time around was how starved I felt for personal details, for a more intimate voice, particularly with regard to Madam Walker’s relationship to her daughter, A’Lelia, as a working mother. Because of my deep desire for more intimate knowledge of their relationship, the mother/daughter dynamic became the overarching theme of Out of No Way, the lens through which all the poems were written.


Like any successful entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker was driven. How else as a black woman could she have become America’s first self-made female millionaire during one of the most racially violent periods in American history? As a mother myself, I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful working moms. Knowing that great achievement requires great sacrifice I wondered, what were Madam Walker’s sacrifices?


I started with this question, and it led to many more: What did money mean to Sarah? How did her daughter feel about their journey from rags to riches? What, if any, were the drawbacks of their wealth? Did Sarah’s ambitions have an impact on Lelia’s sense of self? Could the death of her own mother when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s more nurturing instincts? And how did they really feel about their hair?

I took all these questions and attempted to answer them through verse. While I enjoy a lot of contemporary poetry, I felt her story would be best served by turning to the kind of poetry that relied on meter, rhyme, and structure. So I re-read a lot of my favourite ‘old school’ poets (Hughes, Cullins, Poe, Angelou, Yeats, to name a few) as part of my research as well.


I then organised the research into themes, or issues, that were relevant to their lives. Then, in thinking about my overarching theme of the mother/daughter relationship, a flash of inspiration hit me. The words Mother and Daughter gave way to a kind of acrostic structure that allowed me to divide the themes into chapters so that the entire book itself became an acrostic poem.


Money

Orphan

Travel

Hair

Envy

Resilience

Death

Art

U…

Generations

Hatred

Transcendence

Education

Regrets

Once I landed on this structure, I had another flash of inspiration — to write each chapter in a different form of poetry. This made the task infinitely more enjoyable. I love working within a defined structure. I am most creative when I have boundaries, and working within the boundaries of say a haiku or a sonnet meant that I had to focus my research into a fine point for each poem, which in turn helped me to stay on theme. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation and respect for poetry and for great poets, from Shakespeare to the rapper Stormzy.


It is my hope that Out of No Way will introduce readers to Madam C.J. Walker’s incredible legacy while also serving as a kind of instructional guide to different poetic forms. At the very least I hope it will introduce young readers to the joys of structure, rhyme, and meter.

About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction. She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. Rojé continues to work as a television producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with her Aussie husband and two daughters.

Add to GoodReads:

Out of No Way

Available on Amazon.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

Enter the Giveaway:

2 copies available (digital for international entrants; print for U.S./Canada entrants) Giveaway ends Oct. 31, 2020.