Saturday, July 30, 2011

Writing for Free

I am delighted to host author Karen Cioffi on my blog today. This is the final day of her virtual tour, and it has been an exciting one. Karen is going to talk about Writing for Free. She also has some nice giveaways. A warm welcome to you, Karen.

Karen Cioffi is an author and ghostwriter. Her new MG/YA fantasy book, Walking Through Walls, is based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Writing for Free – A Means to an End: Visibility
By Karen Cioffi
I have come to the conclusion that the most time consuming aspect of writing is keeping up with all the useful information that is made available through everywhere from business sites to personal blogs. It seems everyone is offering free information. I have already spent entire days just surfing through sites and reaming ideas, strategies, tips, and so on. It really is endless.

In the writing world everyone tries to and actually needs to keep their work and names visible. Whether you’re selling books, or services, or another product, you need to reach the potential customers. Providing information is a primary means of accomplishing this. The information you provide creates an informational funnel leading readers back to your site/s.

One tool to use to create an information funnel is the blog. New blogs are popping up everyday with free tips and advice. The blog has become a great vehicle to bring you to the reader. It is an excellent way to show readers what you have to offer. The information you provide will hopefully not only draw readers, but keep them coming back for more. Using my own blog as an example, I found that if I don’t offer beneficial information, I lose followers.

Another vehicle to bring you to the reader is the free online magazines. This is where you can write and have your articles published. While you don’t get paid, you do get published. Although it doesn’t have the credibility of paying markets, it is a great way to hone your craft, expand your visibility, and establish yourself as an expert in your niche.

One more source of visibility is writing guest blogs or articles for other blogs or sites. Often the writers are looking for new and fresh content for their sites or newsletters. If the offer arises take advantage of it, or ask bloggers if they would be interested in a guest blog from you.

Every marketing teleseminar and workshop I have been to encourages writers to offer information through blogs or free online magazines. According to marketing experts the name of the game is visibility. Free information draws readers. I can confirm that this is true because I make it a point to attend all the free teleseminars and teleclasses possible. The businesses that offer this free information want to draw you there so they can sell you their services. This is understandable. It is a win-win situation; they acquire some new customers and you, whether you take advantage of their services or not, receive valuable information.

But, to what extent should a writer offer their services for free?

While taking this path of visibility it’s important to remember that submitting to free ezines or guest blogging is not just a lack of financial gain, it’s the time loss incurred while preparing these articles – this is called opportunity costs, the cost of choosing one path over another.

The best strategy is to start out offering free tips and articles until you can provide your own expert information and advice. It’s important to remember that this free information will draw readers and show them that your posts and articles are helpful and needed. Once you feel comfortable enough that the information you are providing is of substantial value you can offer it in the form of ebooks, newsletters, teleseminars, workshops, and/or other means for a fee.

You should be aware that even when you reach this point, it’s still a good idea to publish articles in the free ezines for continued visibility and as a means of drawing new readers/customers to your sites and services. And, don’t forget that while you’re providing free information you can also be submitting articles to paying markets.

About the Book:

Longing to be rich and powerful, twelve-year-old Wang studies the legend of the mystical Eternals. Certain they are real, he journeys to their temple and begins an apprenticeship with the Eternal Master. There he enters a world of magic where not everything is as it seems, and where he learns the magic formula to ‘walking through walls.’

Walking Through Walls should now be available through online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and book stores. If it’s not yet listed, it will be very soon!

You can also order the book today at:

To learn more about Walking Through Walls, its touring schedule and contest, and purchasing information visit:

To learn more about Karen and her books, visit:


This wraps up the Walking Through Walls July Tour; thank you all for being a part of it.Karen will randomly pick nine winners (from those who commented during the tour) and send them their prizes through the mail or online. The names of the winners will be posted at:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A gentle reminder. Two days left in my contest for a signed copy of Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, my YA Historical Novel, a Finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell if you've ever had an experience with a hoop skirt or a crinoline. Drawing will be by Random Org. And please leave your email so I can contact you.

Also, I'm giving away a copy of ny picture book Frankie's Perfect Home at Good Reads. See the notice on the sidebar.

Happy Reading

Monday, July 25, 2011


Quote of the week:  The future belongs to those...who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Eleanor Roosevelt

And now for the big announcement. (I should have posted this sooner, but you know how time gets away from you. At least it does from me.) Anyhow, do you want to win a Kindle? Do you want to win signed books and other swag? If you haven't entered already, hop on over to Young Adult Authors You've Never Heard Of and start commenting. You can enter every giveaway. It's easy and painless. The end is near. Winner chosen July 31. Here's the link.

I'd enter if I could. Good luck.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Oh, I finished "polishing" my Orphan Train story. It's in the hands of the publisher. I hope I got it right.

Friday, July 22, 2011

May I Share My Happiness With You?

In spite of the broiling weather and dried up ponds and no baby fawns that I've seen, I have many things to be thankful for. My family, my nice cool house, and friends, both Online and in person. Today, I'm happy to share the latest with you. Here's a picture of the medal for being a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It's heavy enough to put a crick in the neck, if I wore it for long. The brochure is the one they made and distributed at BEA this year. It contains all the Winners and Finalists.

A reminder too: My contest for a signed copy of Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines ends on July 29. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment and tell if you ever wore a crinoline or hoop skirt and what it was like. Also, if you have a copy of Caves and want a sticker for the cover just let me know where to send it.

Have a nice weekend. I'm determined to finish polishing my Orphan Train story and send it back to the publisher. This story is dear to my heart.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boyfriends, Anniversaries, and Contests

This week promises to be hectic but fun. First, I have a review to share with you.

Pub. Date: April 2010
Publisher: Zondervan


By Nancy Rue

Paperback courtesy of Zondervan and Z Street Team

We read about it almost every day or hear it on the radio or TV. Girl/woman abused by boyfriend/husband. Or it might be boy abused, as well. Many times the abuse has been going on for weeks, months, even years. So why does the victim allow it to continue? Why don’t they tell the authorities, their parents, or a good friend?

Author Nancy Rue’s novel, BOYFRIENDS, BURRITOS AND AN OCEAN OF TROUBLE, deals with the subject of abuse. Through her fictional characters, Bryn and her abusive boyfriend, Preston, the author provides a glimpse into possible reasons people do not report what’s happening to them. Preston is popular, good looking, and Bryn thinks she’s lucky to be his girlfriend. She keeps quiet about his hitting her, until they are in an auto accident and the truth is revealed. When her father insists on pressing charges against Preston, Bryn learns just how far Preston will go to protect his reputation and his future.

Bryn’s mother and sister are away. That leaves Bryn and her father, who avoid discussing what they don’t want to talk about, to deal with what soon escalates into threats and intimidation unless they drop the charges. Can Grandmother Mim who comes to stay until Bryn's mother returns home and gives Bryn surfing lessons while helping her through the days leading up to the trial and the trial itself, a book called RL (Real Life) that tells Bryn stories about Jeshua, and Shaun, a gorgeous new guy, help Bryn overcome her distrust of boys and put her life back together?

The author has written a story that anyone who’s been in the same situation as Bryn can relate to. They’ll understand her reluctance and fear to tell on the abuser. Perhaps seeing how Bryn deals with the situation will encourage them to act. This novel would make a good supplemental reader for classrooms to let young people know they’re not alone and they need to admit the truth to stop the abuse. Also, the book would be a useful resource for school counselors when dealing with their subjects. I recommend this novel for teen readers and their parents, as well.


Next, YAAYNHO (Young Adult Authors You Never Heard Of) is celebrating our 1st anniversary with a huge giveaway. If you like free stuff (I do) find details at  the YAAYNHO Blog. (Prize pack 2) and here for Prize Pack 1. Soon there will be an  announcement of a really big prize. Good luck to all.

Third, I'm having a little contest too. I've mentioned before that 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. I will be giving away a copy of my YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Novella Division. I like simple, so my rules are simple. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell us if you've ever worn a crinoline or lived in a cave. You don't have to tweet it or anything, but you will get an extra point if you do. Please include your email so I can contact you. Thanks.The contest will end July 29.

My story: I wore a crinoline (of sorts) when I was in high school. I went to a school dance in this formal gown that reached to my ankles. My petticoat had a hoop around the bottom. I think my mother made it. She was really good at sewing and made most of my clothes. Anyway, the fun part was that I couldn't sit down because the hoop would fly up when I did. Embarrassing. I had a good time anyway.

I've never lived in a cave but visited Carlsbad Caverns once. It was dark and scary.

I was going to have a 100 follower celebration, but one went away so there are only 99. Some day. :)

Have a good week. Happy Reading and Writing.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life on Hold

This month has been a whirlwind of activity. So much is happening I'm in a daze. Well, that's nothing new for me, since my head is usually in the clouds. I am enjoying every blessed moment. Here it is, the cover for my forthcoming YA novel, Life on Hold, from 4RV Publishing, LLC. Aidana WillowRaven is the talented illustrator. She also did the cover for Just Breeze.

Isn't it gorgeous?
Aidana always captures the mood of the story.

And, I also now have 100 followers. YAY. Thank you all. I've been thinking about having a contest this month for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and so I'm going to combine the two. Check back on Friday for details.

Now I must read the manuscript for final approval and then it's off to layout and printing. Isn't the publishing world exciting?

Happy Reading and Writing.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Cinder and Ella Review

Dance like nobody's watching. Love like you can't be hurt. Sing like nobody's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth. From the country song It's Gotta Come from the Heart, Kathy Mattea.

I just finished a neat novel and would like to share it with you.

Hardcover: 280 pages

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc. (November 8, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1599559064

ISBN-13: 978-1599559063

By Melissa Lemon

ARC courtesy of Cedar Fort and Net Galley

CINDERELLA is one of my favorite fairy tales. When I was a kid I’d listen to it on the radio, where actors read the parts of Cinderella and her wicked stepmother and sisters. Yes, this was before TV. Cinderella was beautiful. And the prince was … in my young imagination he was handsome and gentle and kind. I loved the ending where Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after.

If you’re expecting a sweet romantic story like the original CINDERELLA in Author Melissa Lemon’s novel, CINDER AND ELLA, forget it. The prologue sets the reader straight in a hurry. Ms. Lemon’s story has no fairy godmother, no glass slipper, no wicked stepmother and no wicked stepsisters. Instead, the author tells the “true” story of a family consisting of a father who disappeared several years ago, a mother and four sisters: Katrina, Cinder, Ella, and Beatrice. And what a story it is. There is a handsome prince. Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but he’s, shall we say, not the prince from the original Cinderella. Cinder goes to live in the castle and does fall in love with Prince Monticello, but as for living happily ever after ... Well, I’m not saying, but you’ll be surprised at the outcome, I think. I know I was.

Trees that are linked to the lives of the characters, the sisters’ missing father, and Knight Tanner from the castle (who is in my opinion the true hero of the story) make for a read that will keep you wondering what happens next. The story has a lot of plot twists and turns, so many at times that I had to really concentrate to keep up with them all. Also, the mixed points-of-view, jumping from scene to scene sometimes felt rushed, and I wasn‘t ready to go on to the next scene yet. Of course, those are just my thoughts. There’s plenty in the novel to like: interesting characters, mysteries in the castle tower, secrets revealed, and the discovery that people are not always what they seem. Also, there are many questions to be answered. Will Ella find her father? Will Cinder and Prince Monticello get together? Will Ella and Tanner live happily ever after? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Melissa Lemon has written a novel that should appeal to readers who love fantasy, a bit of romance, and characters that will stay with you for a while after reading the last page. Enjoy the journey and trying to solve the puzzles before the characters solve them.


Friday, July 8, 2011


You may look at the title of today's blog post and think What on earth is ink pop? Even if you aren't thinking it, I'm going to tell you. I'll also give you the link where you can check it out for yourself. So pour a cup of coffee or tea, relax, and take a look at one of the most exciting sites for young people I've seen in a long time. It's great for older folks interested in reading, writing, and other good stuff, too. Here are just some of the activities you'll find at inkpop.

1. Contests: You can read and critique fiction, short writing, and poetry. You pick the ones you like best and at the end of every month, the five most popular projects are selected for review by the inkpop Editorial Board (which consists of HarperCollins editors). You can also enter your own writing.

2. You'll find Forums where you can talk about books and writing, ask questions, and discuss your writing and poetry, among other things.

3. Find author interviews, writing tips, writing contest information, writing prompts and more on the inkpop blog.

4. Learn how to speak Parseltongue and participate in Live Chats.

This is from the FAQ:
Inkpop is a writing site and community dedicated to promoting writing by and for teens. Created by
HarperCollins, inkpop encourages members to upload and share their writing in an ongoing American Idol–style contest. Each month, the top five fiction, nonfiction, and poetry projects on the Top Projects list will be reviewed by a HarperCollins editor.
You have to be 13 years old or older in order to register.
If you're interested, and especially if you know teens who read and write, here's the link: INKPOP So what are you waiting for? I'll see you at inkpop.
Happy Reading and Writing.
Have a nice weekend.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Frankie is Here

July is starting out to be an awesome month. A lot of good things are happening in my world. I hope in your world too.

First, Frankie is here. The very nice UPS man delivered copies  and they are gorgeous.
Even Patches is excited. She's probably wondering what that armadillo is doing in the house.
I'm going to start a new blog for my pb and early readers. Trying to think of a good name. Any ideas are welcome.

Second, I have a change of schedule to announce. On Monday, July 4, Lizzie from Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines will be visiting Darby Karchut's blog. Stop by Darby's place to see what Lizzie has to say. We thank you.

Third, don't forget Tuesday, July 5, when I'll be at Susanne Drazic's Christmas in July. I'll be talking about the difference in writing contemporary and historical fiction. There will be prizes too.

Fourth, since 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a sad time for our country, I'm having a contest this month. Details to follow.

And last, have a nice rest of the weekend.

Happy reading and writing.