"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, March 28, 2014

FREE Poetry!

April is National Poetry Month, and for 2014 the Poetry Foundation is celebrating with a trip into Poetry's archives! Individuals, classrooms, and reading groups are invited to sign up to receive a set of back issues of Poetry to read and discuss during National Poetry Month. Submit your request at the link below, and they will select issues from their archives for you to enjoy!

Limit 10 copies per request.

FREE poetry magazines: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/npm

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today's Free Downloads

These ebooks are available for free download for a limited time. The first is a short story by bestselling author and writing mentor James Scott Bell.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Seven Ways to Keep Your Network Alive

Whether you need new freelance projects, you want to strengthen your contact with agents and editors, or cull more readers, reaching out can be a highly effective strategy. Although cold emails or phone calls sometimes yield results, you'll often reap better results by contacting clients you've worked with in the past or chatting with others in your industry who may be able to give referrals. Here are seven ways you can keep your network of contacts alive.
1. Send a card - The holidays may be over, but you can come up with other reasons to send cards. Maybe Easter cards? It's a good excuse to reach out to people you've worked with in the past and wish them the best, plus since emails are the norm it's more likely that your cards will get noticed.
2. Connect on LinkedIn - While LinkedIn can be a great place to track down an editor's name or figure out who to contact about opportunities, it's recommended that you only send invites to people you actually worked with, rather than people you want to work with. But if you notice an editor or colleague is on LinkedIn, asking to connect can be a smart way to subtly remind them that you exist and want to continue the relationship (plus, if an editor or client leaves their current job, you'll still be able to keep in touch).
3. Share an interesting article - Not every email or post has to lead to an assignment or advertise your project. Editors are always looking for the latest, greatest stats, studies, and more, so if you see something relevant that they might not have, sharing helps keep you on their radar.
4. Congratulate your contact - It can be a bummer when a favorite editor or client leaves their job. But it's also an opportunity for you to land a new client! When I read that one of my contacts has been promoted to a new job, I'll often send a quick congratulations email (depending on the relationship, I might also mention that I'm available if they need freelancers in their new position). You can also do this for fellow writers who've scored a a great publication. It's good karma!
5. Share relevant opportunities - When I see a lead that's not quite right for me, I'll share that lead with someone else who might be a perfect fit. I try to help my friends who are searching for jobs. You could do the same thing with your editors or clients if you know them well enough. Say your editor mentions that she's looking for a wedding photographer or a retailer who specializes in vintage clothes. If you know someone great, then hook them up!
6. Invite your contact to meet in person - If you live nearby to your client or editor, then inviting them to lunch or coffee can help strengthen that relationship. Alternatively, if you're taking a trip to NYC or another city where editors or clients are located, this can be the perfect excuse to invite them out for coffee. This may lead to a frequency in work opportunities as yo'll be fresh in their mind. You can also do this with freelancers in your area to swap ideas or leads.
7. Participate in a Blog Hop - In just one week, the A to Z blog hop (see top of sidebar on right) will begin. Blog hops are a great way to connect with readers, or fellow writers. I have connected with some very creative and talented individuals, developed a new system for my blogging, refined my communication skills, and initiated what turned into an amazing relationship with some of my readers! Want more reasons to join a blog hop? Try these 12: http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2012/02/benefits-of-blog-challenge.html
How do you keep your network alive and well?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

Anyone participating in the A to Z Challenge? If so, how would you like to participate in the March 21 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal? Here's what you do...
  • Mark March 21, 2014 in your calendar – as the date on which you will publish a post about your theme reveal.
  • Then, Sign up at the linky here:  http://vidyasury.com/2014/02/a-to-z-challenge-theme-reveal-blogfest.html 
  • Grab the gorgeous red badge above to add to your post on March 21, 2014 and link it to this post and also your sidebar if you like!
  • Tell the whole world
  • On March 21, 2014, publish a post talking about your A to Z Theme, telling us what your theme will be, and why it would be interesting for your existing readers and A to Z participants.
This  is a great opportunity for you to link up with other A to Z Challenge participants, and by the time the challenge begins in April, you’ll have an audience waiting for your posts!
After you publish your post, come back and visit as many A to Zers as you can. Interaction is the name of the game. Make friends. Have a great time. Enjoy!

“So, do YOU have a theme?”

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here are a few writing prompts to help get your Irish flowing...

  • What would you do if you came across a pot of gold?
  • What would you do if you found a four leaf clover?
  • Write a letter to a Leprechaun.
  • Do you have a good luck charm? Describe your lucky keepsake and how it brings you luck.
  • The legend of the lucky Leprechaun. Create a story about the lucky Leprechaun.
  • At the end of the rainbow I found a… 
  • What is your favorite lucky number? Why do you feel this number is lucky for you?
  • A Leprechaun visits and gives you a magical item. What is it? What happens to you when you touch it?
  • What does your family do for St. Patrick's Day? Do you eat anything special? Describe your family traditions.
  • What would you do if you woke up and found that everything that you touched turned to green? Describe how you would feel and what everyone said when they saw what you could do.
  • If you could trap a Leprechaun how would you catch him? What would you do with him once you caught him? Would you let him go? Would you keep him?
  • I feel lucky because...
  • If a Leprechaun gave you three wishes, what would they be?
  • Once I gave a four leaf clover to my friend and ...
  • I once had Shamrock shoes and… 
  • Describe a typical day as a Leprechaun. Pretend you are a Leprechaun and describe all the things that you encounter.
  • Leaping Leprechauns! My Leprechaun lost his magical powers! Describe how it happened and what you did about it.
  • How to catch a Leprechaun. Describe step-by-step how you plan to catch a Leprechaun.
  • Write a poem about St. Patty's Day.
  • Party Tips

    • Celebrate St. Patty's Day with a party! Select St. Patrick's Day recipes and bring in green food or a food that's Irish.
    • Plan activities and games that correlate with the theme.
    • Read the story behind St. Patrick's Day.
    • Bring in your favorite "lucky" item for a show and tell.
    • Don't forget hats and green necklaces to complete your theme.
    St. Patrick's Day Activities and Quick Last-Minute Ideas


    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    Four Keys to Publishing Success

    Whether you write poetry, magazine articles, or fiction novels you need to follow four basic rules in order to achieve success when publishing.
      1.      Know Your Market – Consider your potential customers needs, desires, and their financial status. What do you have to offer them, and what is it worth to the reader? The average Joe is not going to want to spend $20 on your book unless he knows you personally, or has previously loved your work. Also, think about your competition. There are billions of products out there. How can you make YOURS more appealing in the marketplace?
    2.      Quality Counts – This seems obvious, but there are so many books (especially self published) that are not formatted or edited properly. Opinion and reviews can make or break future sales. Make sure your product is the very best you can make it.
    3.      Give Them What They Want - Ask yourself how you can not only meet, but exceed the expectations of your customers. Are you adding to their knowledge, solving a problem, offering entertainment, or addressing something in a unique fashion?
    4.      Make Your Product Live – A writer can’t help putting a piece of themselves in their work. Fiction and nonfiction alike carries a piece of the author when it is something they care about. By sharing your own insights, your reader will achieve a greater connection with and understanding of your topic.
         What do you do to ensure success?

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Coming Soon: Writers' Conferences & Book Festivals

    Here are just a few of the upcoming festivals and conferences taking place in the USA. Sorry, but I haven't kept up on the international conference locations and dates. If you know of any I'm missing (no matter the location), please let me know and I'll add them to the list. Be sure to give me the name of the conference, the date(s), location, and website URL. Thanks!

    March 15-16, 2014 – The Tucson Festival of Books, University of Arizona campus, Tucson, AZ. Free and excellent! http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

    March 20-22, 2014 – The Write Stuff, Allentown, PA. Keynote: Hank Phillipi Ryan. http://www.glvwg.org/conference/index.html

    March 22, 2014- Unicorn Writers’ Conference, Portland, CT. http://www.unicornwritersconference.com/

    March 19-23, 2014 – Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville, Virginia, http://www.vabook.org/index.html/

    March 20-23, 2014 - Left Coast Crime annual mystery convention. This year it’s at Monterey, California. http://www.leftcoastcrime.org

    March 20-23, 2014 - Romfest. Knoxville Airport Hilton, Alcoa, Tn. Keynote speaker is Brenda Novak. www.romfest.com.

    March 22, 2014 - Jambalaya Writer's Conference in Houma, Louisiana. For details: http://mytpl.org/jwc/

    March 27-29, 2014 - The Gulf Coast Association of Creative Writing Teachers Annual Conference, Faulkner State College, Fairhope AL. http://www.gcacwt.com/

    APRIL 2014:

    April 4-6, 2014 - UW-Madison Writers' Institute’s 25th Annual Conference, Madison, Wisconsin. http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/lsa/writing/awi/index.html

    April 4-6, 2014 – Mad Anthony Writers Conference, Hamilton, Ohio. http://writelikemad.com/

    April 11-13, 2014 - Houston Writers Guild Conference, Houston, Texas. http://houstonwritersguild.org/

    April 11-13, 2014 - Missouri Writers Guild conference, Ramada, downtown St Louis. www.missouriwritersguild.org.

    April 10-15, 2014 - The Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, http://www.mounthermon.org/event/212

    April 19, 2014 – Alabama Book Festival, Montgomery. Free. http://www.alabamabookfestival.org/

    April 24-26, 2014 – Las Vegas Writers’ Conference, Sam's Town Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. http://www.lasvegaswritersconference.com/

    April 24-26, 2014 - Arkansas Literary Festival. Little Rock, AR http://www.arkansasliteraryfestival.org/

    April 25, 2014 – Southern Kentucky Bookfest. – Free. http://www.sokybookfest.org/KYWritersConf

    April 25-26, 2014 - Chicago Spring Fling Writers Conference, http://chicagospringfling.com/

    April 25-26, 2014 - North East Texas Writers' 28th Annual Writers' Round-up in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. http://www.netwo.org

    April 25-27, 2014 - Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado. http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/

    MAY 2014:

    May 1-3, 2014 - The Oklahoma Writers Federation Story Weavers Conference, Oklahoma City. http://www.owfi.org/conference.php

    May 2-4, 2014 - Malice Domestic, annual traditional mystery fan convention, in Bethesda, MD. www.malicedomestic.org

    May 3-4, 2014 - Dallas - Fort WorthWriters Conference, Hurst Conference Center, DFW Metroplex, Texas. http://www.dfwcon.org. Twitter: @dfwcon.
    May 3-4, 2014 - Ontario Writers Conference, Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

    May 7-9, 2014 – Nonfiction Writers Conference, virtual. http://nonfictionwritersconference.com/2014-nonfiction-writers-conference/

    May 14-18, 2014– Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Convention, New Orleans, LA http://www.rtconvention.com

    May 15-18, 2014 – Pennwriters, Lancaster, PA. Keynote: Kami Garcia. http://www.pennwriters.org

    May 15-18, 2014 - CCWWP 2014 – Canada’s Writing Conference, UBC campus, Vancouver, BC. http://www.ccwwp.ca/category/conference/

    May 16-17, 2014 - Tallahassee Book Festival and Writers Conference, Tallahassee, Florida. http://www.twaonline.org/ (Jodie is presenting 2 workshops at this one.)

    May 16-18, 2014 - SC Book Festival, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina. http://www.scbookfestival.org/

    May 17, 2014 - Detroit Working Writers - DWW 2014 Writers Conference Clinton-Macomb Public Library, Clinton Twp, MI http://dww-writers-conference.org/

    Friday, March 7, 2014

    Encouraging Reading

    Who inspired your love of reading? What was your FIRST favorite book?

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    Tide and Tempest

    I'm very excited about starting Tide and Tempest the conclusion to the "Edge of Freedom" series by Elizabeth Ludwig. The book officially released today, and can be purchased from most major retailers.

    Two years ago, her fiance perished during their voyage to America. Now she discovers it may have been murder...

    Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

    Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

    Elizabeth Ludwig is also an interesting speaker and talented editor. To learn more about Ludwig and her books, please visit: http://www.elizabethludwig.net/  

    What are you reading?

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

    Ask the Agents

    It's March 1st and spring is just around the corner. Thank goodness, because I'm so tired of this grey winter!

    Today also marks the release of a new Southern Writer's magazine issue, and the beginning of my series "Ask the Agent". In this issue, I talk with four agents to find the answers to some of the questions authors ask most often.

    If you enjoy these interviews (starting on page 16) you can find the second part of my agent series in the May issue.

    To learn more about this magazine or to order a copy, please visit: http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/

    How are your manuscripts or other projects coming along? Are you reading any great books and magazines?