IWSG 89: It’s All Marketing


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Kim Lajevardi | Victoria Marie Lees | Joylene Nowell Butler | Erika Beebe | Lee Lowery


What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb? Book titles and book blurbs are all about marketing. Their purpose is to catch your perfect reader’s eye and encourage them to begin to read.

Book Titles:

I find these the simplest—mostly—because when I started, I went with a traditional indie publisher and I knew they would change my title if any of them sucked.

Some examples of my titles: Symbiotic Slip, Minor Error, White Light, Mexmur, the huntress + Dragon Eye (same world), Season Change, Time Piece, Witchery, Edge of Mine, Who’s the Monster?, Standing Up, Rags to Bitches

I only have one rule, and that is to do an internet search on the title before committing to it.

Book Blurbs

I’ve heard there are recipes for the perfect blurb.

That might work for some, but I prefer to answer The Query Shark’s question: why do I care?

I think about my perfect reader and write two paragraphs—of no more than 150 words—they imply the genre, age of audience. But my real focus is on who their perfect hero is and who is getting in their way. What are the consequences if they fail and the cost if they succeed.

My goal is to make the reader care or curious enough to read my first line…

My Question to You

Do you have a magic recipe for your title or blurb? Tell me. I’d love to hear it.


Book Launch: Shattered by C. Lee McKenzie

I always think I’ll remember the steps it took to come from idea to book between covers, but I never do. There are so many twists and turns along that path, and even when I keep notes and old versions for reference, I can’t piece the process together. It’s always a jumble. I know that’s what my thinking process looks like–kind of messy, definitely non-linear, and quite confusing. It’s a wonder I get a book at the end.

As I was getting ready to write this post, I tried to remember where my “side-kick” character, Harley Cassiere, came from, so I went back to the first time she appeared in the story and discovered she didn’t materialize until the second draft. I’m so glad she did because she’s exactly the spirited young woman I needed–determined, feisty, and funny. In fact, I can’t imagine the book without her, so why did she arrive only after I’d written the first draft? I’ll never know.

The mystery element of the story was vaguely in the “plan”, and at first, I didn’t set out the scenes as separate chapters to develop it. Instead, I kept the plot unfolding through my main character’s eyes–Libby’s thoughts about her accident and the deductions she made. The separate chapters appeared in draft 2.5. That’s right. I stopped mid-way on my second round and decided the way I’d written this crucial part of the book was too dense. I needed to re-think how to weave it into the plot. Once I’d made the decision to change the structure, it was easier to finish the third draft.

No matter what book I write, I stumble across a major challenge when I write it. In Shattered it was writing about people adapting to physical disabilities without making the story tearfully sentimental or tragically sad. I wanted readers to relate to a larger idea–the idea that those with disabilities are people first. They’re like everyone; they have needs and desires, they have roles in their families and their communities, they have good days and rotten ones.

Another major challenge with this book was that I wanted to make it entertaining–something people would keep reading–but I couldn’t do that at the expense of being honest about what my main character faced. Libby’s story had to ring true to those who might relate to her, but it also had to appeal to a wider audience. To do that, I relied on the tone a lot, especially the interactions between Libby and Harley, but also on the internal thoughts that Libby had. Her thinking had to arc from fear, anger, and despair to acceptance, determination, and a new understanding of herself.

I hope I’ve succeeded on all fronts. I’m sure readers will let me know.

Thanks for letting me post here today, Anna. I so appreciate the generosity of bloggers who are willing to help me get the word out about this new book.

Shattered by C. Lee McKenzie
Buy on: Amazon . B&B . Kobo . Smashwords

Nineteen-year-old Libby Brown is on her way to the winter Olympics for her shot at the Gold. But on a last practice run, an out-of-bounds snowboarder collides with her, and she wakes up in a hospital unable to move her legs. Terrible accident they say, but was it? Or did someone want her off the U.S. slalom team? Libby must find the truth or remain shattered forever.

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Website . Goodreads . BookBub . Instagram . Twitter . Facebook . LinkedIn

I’m a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I write most of the time, hike and practice yoga a lot, and then travel whenever I can.

In my young adult books, I take on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. My Evernight Teen Publication, Double Negative was voted as one of the best top ten Young Adult books, 2019. My other books, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Sliding on the Edge, Sudden Secrets and Not Guilty are out to four and five-star reviews.

If you visit my website and sign up for my Email Connect (emails two times a month)there’s a free short story for you! Please stop by.

IWSG 88: It’s How You Say It


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Jemima Pitt | J Lenni Dorner | Cathrina ConstantineRonel Janse van Vuuren | Mary Aalgaard


In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

Personally, I draw the line at disrespecting any living thing.

Professionally, if there is such a thing for me, I draw the line at what my readers find offensive and where my truth, passion, or theme falls. Hopefully, it lands somewhere between the two.


,,,can be a huge deal. Think middle grader, or young adult. I want my characters to be authentic and real to my readers. But gatekeepers and publishers are on the lookout for the inappropriate, and I don’t blame them for being careful.

I know that if the language I use is iffy, then I’d better have a good reason for it because they are not about forgiveness in the name of art. Our children are precious and grow up way too fast as it is.

Controversial topics,

…however, are for any age group.

 “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”–Winston Churchill

This train of thought is worth considering when writing anything.

The thing is that kids learn by example, and writing stories that get the kids thinking about their lives and how they want to live them is a good thing IMO.


Topics are controversial because we all have opinions, and we all have a right to a point of view. What makes some of us different from others is the level of respect we offer when we share.

 “I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.”–Voltaire

Make a stand if it’s important to you, but be warned there could be blowback.

Some publishers love hot topics, and if you’re submitting, consider the submission pages of your favorite publishers to discover where they stand.

My Question to You

It takes all kinds to make up the world we live in. Do you have any tips on how to approach a controversial subject in fiction?

Gleaned from:

IWSG 87: Capturing Truth


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Rebecca DouglassT. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman | Natalie AguirreKaren Lynn | C. Lee McKenzie


How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Successful Writers…

I don’t think any of us woke up one morning and said, “Writing is easy money. I think I’ll do if for a living.”

However, many of us have woken up bursting with inspiration and crafted something meaningful—possibly beautiful. Something that had to come out. Not to share. Not to become a star. It was simple, sharp, and so personal that tears glimmered, and throats ached.

At that moment, a truth of raw humanity was written down.

“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do.”—Unknown

As a youngster, I captured my truths in poetry. It was dark, dripping with loss and attempting to reach through the barrier between the living and the dead. The spirits that haunted me were beyond my reach. Familiar and comforting wasn’t what followed my readers home and hid under their beds.

I still am an acquired taste.

Successful writers have the ability to reach in and find the truth. Beyond that, they express it in poems, songs, short stories, novels, plays—screen and stage, and through freelancing.

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”—Walt Disney

Successful Work…

Making money is about the work. If your work is successful, you’ll find an agent or publisher. Your work breaks into the industry, and you go from writer to promoter.

Then swing back to writer until your next work is ready to be published or preformed.

 “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”—Albert Schweitzer

Whichever road you take, there are degrees of success.

Are you holding a copy of your printed work? Who wouldn’t be thrilled! Congrats.

Are you out promoting your work? Yay! You’ve adjusted to the spotlight and are moving forward with your marketing plan.

Are people lined up to enjoy your work? You’ve found your fans! I can’t think of anything sweeter.

Personal versus Professional…

Success is in the beholder’s eye. Celebrate all your achievements and remember, you’re one in a million.

What does your eye behold?

IWSG 86: Heart the Writing Craft


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



 PK Hrezo | Cathrina ConstantinePJ ColandoKim Lajevardi | Sandra Cox


What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something, or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

This question has opened a can of worms. I’ve read over forty… maybe, fifty, or more books on how to write. I’ve even read books that had nothing to do with my genre and still learned something new.

Honestly, every how-to-write manual has something worth discovering.

I started, probably like you did, and read On Writing by Stephen King. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s an easy and inspirational read by a writing legend.

Which led to more questions and more books.

A course in itself

Writing Fiction: a Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway

For the writer that has limited access to writing courses and wants a deep dive into writing fiction, this book is for you.

It touches on all the basics, with in-depth examples and detailed explanations on each facet of fiction writing.

I learned so much and landed up adding to my reading list from her recommendations in Appendix B.


It’s an older book called: Techniques of the $elling Writer by Dwight V. Swain

Like Burroway’s, Swain’s book covers the basics. He also dives into the Motive-Reaction Unit and offers a deep explanation of Scene-Sequel Pattern that controls the story’s pace.

Characterization and POV became easier once I learned about the MRU.  It took practice, but now I automatically choose one or all of these reactions: immediate instinct, first thought, physical response, dialogue.

Each character gets a turn, and it makes the characters come alive. The drama reads as organic, and I love how it plays on the page.

Pacing in a project can be challenging. No drama, drama, drama or yawn, yawn, yawn. Using the scene – sequel pattern comes naturally to me now. It made my work less exhausting for my readers.

You’ve heard that each scene needs a protagonist with a goal which is blocked by the antagonist, creating conflict. When the protagonist doesn’t achieve their goal, the scene ends in disaster.

The sequel portion of the pattern is where the protagonist takes a moment to process their reaction, consider their dilemma, and decide what they’ll do next. This, of course, gives them a new goal which leads to another scene.

Building blocks

The internet was a great place to find grammar and punctuation advice. I have a few go-to sites like: uToronto, Purdue OWL.

I had all the grammar, punctuation, and fiction writing facets covered. What I needed after that was a way to express myself as a writer. To build expressive paragraphs, everyone needs to create beautiful, descriptive, sentences.

Artful Sentence: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte was how I learned to leave the simple to-be sentence behind and embrace the complex.

This book was not an easy read for me. The vocabulary had me looking up word after word. Inside, you’ll learn about every type of modifier, and their placement.  This book is the how-to in building the complex sentence.

It turned me into an artist in my own mind. Yes, I’m making fun of myself.

Seriously, I feel so much more comfortable getting my words down now that I dug into her book.

Have you guested my secret?

I’m obsessive!

Most of my non-fiction books are how-to-write manuals. Yes, like you, I have a bookcase full of them. They inspire me. I’ve never gotten through a chapter without jotting down an idea or thinking through some new angle.

What about you… What makes you obsessive? You don’t have to stick to writing on this one. Is it gardening? Your kids? Pets? Yeah, I want to know.

Additional Note: For each comment left, I visited your blog. However, my comments were sometimes blocked by security. Sorry about that.