Thursday, April 30, 2009

The CEO of Outskirts Press Coming to WITS Podcast in May!

Adventures in Publishing (ISBN: 978-1-932672-33-6) was written by Brent Sampson, the CEO of He will be our podcast guest on May 8 and I believe self-publishing authors interested in learning more about book marketing will be delighted to hear him. In the meanwhile, I suggest you get a copy of his book after reading the review below written by Sarah Moore for WITS.

As someone who works on a regular basis with authors who have entered the self-publishing world for the first time, I understand the concerns and hesitations that come with determining the best way to put your written material out for public consumption. Which publishing company will be the best fit for my type of book and my specific needs? What about my concerns that the final product will not match the vision I had for my work when I started the process? How do I go about promoting my book in the most effective ways possible? Writing a book is a very personal process and authors want some assurance that their hard work will be taken seriously and given the care it deserves. With his new book, Adventures in Publishing, the CEO of Outskirts Press Brent Sampson shares the steps in working with his self-publishing company, and his wonderful creation will undoubtedly bring great comfort to new writers.

From the moment a potential reader takes one look at the cover to Adventures in Publishing, she knows that an imaginative and beautiful reading adventure lies within its covers. The author has created a gorgeous piece that has the appearance of a children’s book, with the purpose of primarily appealing to authors of children’s books and other full-color publications, but contains substantial information that is essential for anyone hoping to see their name in print. Each page addresses a different element of the process at Outskirts Press as explained through rhyme. What aspiring author cannot relate to the following concepts, “Her adventure didn’t start easy because she didn’t know where to turn. Traditional? Independent? Full-service? It seemed too hard to learn.” Sampson then uses the next twenty pages to take the readers through his character Mindy’s Outskirts adventure and the growing sense of excitement that she feels as her dreams of being a published author move ever closer to fruition.

Obviously, this book is intended to serve as a marketing piece for the services offered by Outskirts Press. One of the most effective ways in which Sampson accomplishes this task is through the gorgeous illustrations that appear on each page of Adventures in Publishing. The pictures are striking in their color, detail, and relevance to the accompanying text. Children’s authors who are considering Outskirts Press for their publishing needs certainly will enjoy letting their imaginations run wild with the possible visuals that Sampson’s company may provide for their own stories. Sampson plays up the illustrating component of Outskirts by displaying the various options that are available for authors and touting the impressive pricing for the beautiful pictures.

Sampson not only takes readers through the publishing process experienced by the fictional author Mindy, but also introduces us to several real clients who share wonderful testimonials about their experiences with Outskirts Press. These author pages, which are included throughout Adventures in Publishing, each display a photo of the happy author, some words of appreciation for the service that Outskirts Press provided and the covers of the author’s published novel or novels. I appreciate Sampson’s effective weaving of actual clients into his book, as there is no more persuasive marketing tool for a company than the words of satisfied customers. After reading the testimonials, I came away with the strong belief that Outskirts Press is a business that is committed to meeting the needs of each author and that works tirelessly to make sure the publishing process is as smooth and enjoyable an experience as possible.

Once authors finish reading Adventures in Publishing by Brent Sampson, they will be familiar with every aspect of self-publishing as offered by Outskirts Press. From being assigned a representative to selecting a layout for the book to working with a marketing coach to reach as many potential readers as possible, new authors will be able to track the steps they can expect to follow when they are ready to offer their writing for publication. Links to specific information at the Outskirts Press Web site are printed throughout the book so authors can turn to their computers and automatically learn more than what is already covered in this introductory book. The message of optimism that is conveyed through every detail in this book, such the encouragement embedded in the text and the bright colors that jump off the pages, will likely inspire many new authors who had previously been hesitant to take that first step towards publication. Through Adventures in Publishing, Brent Sampson and Outskirts Press have produced a piece of which they should be proud, and one that I hope all aspiring authors will take the opportunity to read.

Purchase Brent's book on Outskirts Press!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writing for Parenting Publications

© 2009 Kris Bordessa, Teri Cettina, Jeannette Moninger

Your kids are an endless source of funny stories and often inspire you to get creative about your parenting skills. So why not share these stories and ideas with other parents, and earn some extra money at the same time?

Kris Bordessa, Teri Cettina and Jeannette Moninger, successful freelance writers who contribute to national magazines like FamilyFun, Parents, Parenting, and Real Simple Family, recently released a how-to e-book. Cash in on Your Kids: Parenting Queries that Worked, is a guidebook for parents interested in learning more about working as freelance parenting writers.

Here, they answer some common questions about freelance writing:

Is parenting writing something I can do part time or on a flexible schedule?

Absolutely! However, when you need to do an uninterrupted telephone interview or a deadline is looming, it’s smart to have a back-up plan: A neighborhood babysitter, a supportive fellow mom, or a drop-in after-school program that will watch your kids while you work.

Can I write about my own kid or my personal parenting experience?

Often, yes. But first study the magazine you’re pitching to see whether they use first-person anecdotes in their stories (i.e., “When my child was 2, he shoved a penny up his nose…”). If they don’t structure stories that way, craft your pitch accordingly. And remember: Even if you write about your family’s experience, you’ll still need to provide research and/or advice from experts.

Do I need to be a professional writer to break into writing about parenting and kids?

Not necessarily. However, before you write for national newsstand magazines, you must have “clips,” or samples of other articles you’ve had published. Weekly or monthly community newspapers are often open to new writers, as are regional parenting publications.

What should I send an editor: A completed article or just a proposal?

Most editors want to see a proposal (a “query”) before they decide whether to assign an article to you. The exception is an essay--a first-person account of an event, without interviews or quotes from experts. Editors prefer to see completed essays before they decide whether they’ll publish them.

How do I learn more about publications that run parenting articles?

Start with The Writer’s Market ( You can pay a monthly fee for the online version, or see if your library carries the book. Cash in on Your Kids: Parenting Queries that Worked also lists American publications that accept parenting articles, along with e-mail codes for reaching editors.

How much can I make writing about parenting and kids?

Local parenting publications pay less than national magazines but writing for them is a great way to develop a portfolio of your work. These “clips,” as they’re called, are crucial if you want to break into larger, better-paying magazines. National magazines—like Parents and Parenting—pay anywhere from $250 for a short item in the front or back of the magazine to more than $3,000 for longer features.

For more tips on writing for parenting publications, along with samples of actual writers’ queries, read Cash in on Your Kids: Parenting Queries that Worked ( or

Teri Cettina,
503-239-6923 (Oregon) or
Kris Bordessa,
530-295-0887 (California)

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Week's Podcast Focuses on an Inspiring Journey

Please join us this Friday for our weekly podcast when our conversation will be with new author Dao Huynh. Ms. Huynh will be discussing her new book An Unknown Journey, in which she shares the story of a girl (also named Dao) who leaves war-torn Vietnam to discover a new life in America. From Dao's escape as one of the thousands of "boat people" to escape war in the 1970s to her yearlong stay in Malaysia as she waited for passage to her life of freedom to her struggles with a new language and culture once she reaches America, the story is one that is sure to evoke emotion from its readers. And, while Dao Huynh writes An Unknown Journey as a work of fiction, she does share that much of her life story can be found within its pages.

Ms. Huynh believes that An Unknown Journey will be particularly meaningful to others who fled Vietnam on those boats, the children of parents who left war-torn countries, or immigrants of any circumstance who have had to adjust to a new life.

Click here to purchase An Unknown Journey.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: An Unknown Journey
Author: Dao Huynh
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3083-3
Genre and Target Market: fiction; memoir format; culture
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 219

I was a history major in college, and I have always had a particular interest in reading the stories of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. We all know that Marie Antoinette exclaimed, “Let them eat cake,” but how did the mother of hungry children feel when she heard those words? What was going through the average New Yorker’s mind as he looked up and saw a plane flying full-speed in the World Trade Center? Young girls around the world are fascinated by The Diary of Anne Frank because she loved her family and had crushes on boys, but this average teenager had to face a terrifying reality. When I am presented with a book that shares one person’s journey through a historic moment in time, I am automatically drawn to the story. Hopefully, I can transport myself into imagining how the characters must have felt going through these experiences. An Unknown Journey by Dao Huynh is a new work of fiction that provides insight we could not get from anyone else.

Dao Huynh came to the United States from Vietnam two decades ago, and she has used her knowledge of both cultures to develop a lead character that, I believe, is based on the author herself. Huynh tells the story of a girl named Dao, one of the thousands of “boat people” who escaped from Vietnam in the 1970s. Before reading An Unknown Journey, I shared the same images of Vietnam and that era of history as most Americans. I think of the girl who was photographed running from her burning village, the protests on the home front which tore our country apart, and the throngs of Vietnamese who tried to grab a place on helicopters as American forces fled Saigon. But, I must admit, I did not know a lot about the daily lives of the Vietnamese people or the struggles those who managed to leave faced during their travels and after reaching the United States.

The author lays out a vibrant description of life in South Vietnam, sharing Dao’s desire for a great education that will open doors and how this goal contrasts with a sense of duty that she feels to stay close to home and care for her family. Dao has a typical childhood, filled with changing friendships, school work, and family tensions. This world is turned upside-down, however, by the Communists’ victory following the departure of the Americans. Dao’s father is sent to a re-education camp and her brother whisks her away when presented with the chance to flee their fallen homeland over dangerous waters. The riveting chapters of the book then begin, with details concerning the months Dao spent at a refugee camp in Malaysia (where she reunited with a younger sister who had escaped a month earlier) and then the experiences she had as a new immigrant to the United States with limited English skills and a set of values very different than those promoted by the culture around her.

The most stunning component of An Unknown Journey is the details that Dao Huynh is able to incorporate into her storytelling. She recreates seemingly commonplace conversations with childhood friends, shares a thorough description of the aid workers in Malaysia, and mentions the songs that pass through Dao’s mind when remembering a college love with whom the relationship was left unrequited. I could sense the fear and doubt Dao must have felt when making the decision to step on the ill-equipped boat and leave her family behind in Vietnam, perhaps forever. I could feel the desperation she experienced when she wanted to learn English and searched for support on an overwhelming college campus. By providing such specific information about her life, Huynh allows her readers to immerse themselves fully in this adventure.

An Unknown Journey is a captivating new novel written in memoir format by Dao Huynh that likely reflects the experience of many immigrants who have left challenging circumstances and made the choice to resettle in America. The author is a gifted storyteller who realizes that some of the details that may initially seem mundane are really the essential pieces that create a complete picture for her audience. The entire book is a powerful testament to determination, the importance of education, and the love of a family. As Huynh reminds us as An Unknown Journey reaches its conclusion, there is no end to our travels. In fact, she leaves us as Dao is contemplating a decision that could take her down two very different paths. Perhaps we will be fortunate to read more about this amazing journey in the future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Today's WITS Podcast Introduces a New Young Heroine

Author M. Carol Coffey joins team member Sarah Moore today to discuss her new release Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery. Zoe Lucky is a teenage girl who moves into a new neighborhood and quickly meets an interesting assortment of characters. She also discovers that someone is up to no good and that her own life may be in danger. Zoe calls on her new crush, a wise professor, and several birds with their own insight to solve the mystery that surrounds her. Zoe is a strong heroine who is certain to become a favorite of young readers everywhere.

During the conversation, Carol will share why it was so important to her to incorporate much of her hometown of Pittsburgh into the storyline. As a lifelong bird lover and member of several organizations related to bird preservation and education, Carol also will discuss how two species of birds play crucial roles in unlocking the Green Gables' Mystery. And, listeners will learn why Carol thinks that a realistic female character is needed in the fiction available for preteen and teen readers today.

Click here to listen... to the entire interview.

Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery can be purchased at the Amazon website.

Watch the trailer for the book here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is the Write Idea the Right Idea for You?

by Mark David Gerson

There are many good ideas out there in the ethers: ideas for books and screenplays, ideas for songs, articles, and poems. Your friends will suggest them. Your partner will suggest them. Your logical mind will suggest them.

You'll see something or hear about something and you'll think, "Wouldn't that make a great story?" Maybe it would. Maybe it's yours to write. Maybe it's not.

There's a difference between a good idea and the right idea, between an idea that is anyone's for the taking and one that is uniquely yours, one that's right for you, right now.

Before you launch into a frenzy of research and writing, ask yourself: Is this what I’m called to write? Is this the call of my muse, the story only I can tell? Or is this anyone's? Is this another good idea or is this the right idea for me?

Anyone can take a good idea and give it shape and substance. Some can do it better than you, some not as well.

Nobody can take the idea that sings to your soul and perform the kind of alchemy on it that you can. Only you can transform that idea into the one-of-a-kind gem it longs to be. That is why it, through your muse, called to you...chose you.

Accept that you were chosen. Perform your magic. Let the right idea be the idea you write. Right now.

Mark David Gerson has taught writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for more than 15 years in the U.S. and Canada. Author of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (from which this article is adapted) and of the award-winning visionary novel, The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy, Mark David has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion, a 2-CD set of guided meditations for writers. Mark David's screenplay adaptation of The MoonQuest is now in active development with Albuquerque's Anvil Springs Entertainment. You can reach Mark David, access his blogs, and read more about his books through his Web site, His books
are available at selected U.S. bookstores and online through and

Monday, April 20, 2009

WITS Podcast on Friday Will Feature a Teen Sleuth and Her Bird Sidekick

Join the Writers in the Sky podcast later this week when team member Sarah Moore will interview author M. Carol Coffey about her new book Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery. Zoe has recently moved into a new apartment with her mother and quickly meets an interesting cast of characters. She also becomes suspicious of some of the mysterious activities that begin to happen around her. With the assistance of her pet bird Paki, her young crush, and other accomplices, Zoe becomes an impressive teenage sleuth.

Throughout the novel, Coffey shares with the readers her love for birds by making the animals' personalities an integral part of the story's plot. Coffey also pays homage to her hometown of Pittsburgh with descriptions of many of the landmarks and neighborhoods of the city.

Carol Coffey has written a monthly column while serving as Editor for Pittsburgh Women's Magazine and has previously published two works of non-fiction. She is a bird lover, and therefore is an active member with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. Carol has been a public speaker for twenty years. She also has entertained and sang professionally and been a guest on radio and TV programs.

Click here to purchase Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables’ Mystery
Author: M. Carol Coffey
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3190-8
Genre and Target Market: fiction; mystery; teen
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 148
When I was in elementary school, I formed a kids’ detective agency with a couple of close friends. After the other students had gone home, we would revisit the ground on which we had all enjoyed recess just a few hours before. We searched through the sand for artifacts, read the graffiti on the brick walls, and created probing questions that only we could answer. When I took to my room in the evening, the Nancy Drew mysteries and Choose Your Own Adventure books were always among my favorite reading choices. I supposed I enjoyed the idea of a young hero, particularly a female one, solving a crime that had stumped even the most experienced adults. Therefore, I am excited to have discovered a young modern-day heroine by the name of Zoe Lucky. She is the creation of author M. Carol Coffey and in her new book, Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables’ Mystery, she carries on the tradition of Nancy Drew fans and playground sleuths everywhere. Except, in Zoe’s case, the crimes and the consequences are much more serious.

Zoe is a thirteen-year-old girl who recently moved to a new apartment with her mom following the tragic death of her father, a police officer who was shot in the line of duty. Zoe doesn’t even have time to adjust to her surroundings before she finds herself amongst a cast of fascinating characters, some of whom with motives more sinister than they first seem. As the story unfolds, Zoe befriends a wise neighbor, draws close in puppy love to the cute boy from the pet shop, and finds herself in a position to uncover crimes ranging from burglary to arson to murder. Although the mystery that develops is frightening and quite serious, the author always manages to keep the perspective of a young teenage girl in her writing. Zoe is a girl who pieces together her clues through skilled work on her Blackberry and by the art of instant messaging … she is smart and prepared to unlock criminal mysteries with a uniquely adolescent and 21st century style.

One of the most engaging aspects of this new novel is the great importance of birds to the development of Coffey’s storyline. Zoe’s pet African Gray parrot, Paki, specifically and all feathered friends in general play pivotal roles in ways that the humans involved in the situation could never manage. Paki is able to sense the true character of people who walk into the Luckys’ apartment and tries to warn his young friend through less-than-subtle name calling. The crows that congregate outside of Zoe’s apartment building maintain a long memory concerning those who have harmed them, and use their great abilities as guides to lead authorities to the man who had been the sources of so many wide-awake nightmares for Zoe and her family. With this aspect of the book, the author beautifully incorporates her love for birds and other animals. Coffey is a member of the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, and her knowledge of animals and their capabilities adds a unique dynamic that readers will not find in other books of this genre.

The fast-paced format and starring cast of characters in Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables Mystery come together to create a book that will be a popular choice in the Young Adult section of the bookstore. M. Carol Coffey does a magnificent job in appealing to an age group of readers who we all know can be difficult to please, but who are the most loyal fans once a relationship is established. I certainly can see Zoe Lucky emerging as a favorite heroine of young girls everywhere. However, I think this book will rightfully find an audience in readers of all ages. Coffey’s writing is smart and complex without being painfully obvious about the process. She slowly reveals details about her characters that will keep readers turning the page to discover more. Also a talented illustrator, Coffey adds sketches throughout the book which add a great visual element. Her ability to create suspense will have readers guessing and perhaps sitting with their mouths dropped open in shock (as mine did) as the story reaches its climax and reveals some amazing twists. M. Carol Coffey has promised that more adventures are in store for Zoe Lucky, and I am looking forward to reading them with my daughter. Perhaps she will be inspired by Zoe to set upon her own mystery adventure, just as I was prompted by Nancy Drew!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today's Podcast Interview Features an International Story of First Love

Join us today for a special treat as the owner of Writers in the Sky Yvonne Perry interviews Storyheart, the author of the new novel Across the Pond. This book shares a story of first love that captures the innocence of the relationship without minimizing the very real feelings involved. When Fred Squire flies from England to spend part of the summer with family friends in America, he never expects to find a girlfriend living under the same roof. As the romance unfolds, the author shares a lighthearted examination of the differences in the two cultures as well as adds some elements of mystery and conflict.

During the discussion, Storyheart will discuss his own background as a transplant from England, his decision to write a love story geared toward a younger audience, and how he developed his main characters. He also will share his personal experiences with the self-publishing process and offer some advice for first-time writers concerning both the development of a story and the work needed to get the completed product published.

Click here to listen... to the entire interview.

Across the pond can be purchased on You can read more about the book and its author at the Web site dedicated to Across the Pond.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


PROMO DAY makes its return in 2009 and promises to be the best yet. Mark your calendars for Saturday 9th May 2009!

An all day, online, international event for people in the writing industry packed full of tips and advice along with a variety of opportunities for writers, publishers, editors etc to promote their work and services. Readers are also welcome to drop in and get to know the authors better in the online chatroom, view the video trailers or read the sample chapters on site.

Founder and Organiser of the event, Jo Linsdell, had this to say “PROMO DAY came about because I was looking for opportunities to promote my books using the internet at little or no cost. After attending the Muse Online Writers Conference back in 2006, I searched the internet for similar events aimed at what to do after you’ve written the book and found none. I decided to fill the void and so PROMO DAY was born. PROMO DAY is a great opportunity to network with other members of the industry, take part in online workshops and promote and best of all it’s FREE”.

New features for this year is the Official Blog for the event,, where everyone can keep up to date with new announcements and information regarding the event and the official PROMO DAY book, packed full of information and resources, which will be available to buy during and after the event.

Visit the website for more details of how you can be involved.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Places to Get Your Book Reviewed

Reviews sell books, but authors need folks to write book reviews for them. Are you interested in providing book reviews for authors? If you love to read books and give your opinion about them, I can direct authors to you. They will send you a complimentary copy of their book, and, in turn, you will provide a book review by posting it on or sending the digital copy directly to the author.

Simply leave a comment below this post and give us your blog URL. Then, make sure your blog has a way for people to contact you such as a Twitter connection, an active profile, or information that directs people to the contact page of your Web site. (I don't advise you to leave your home phone number or an exposed email address on the Internet.)

Are you an author looking for someone to review your book? Here is a partial list of people or companies that provide book reviews. I will add others as new reviewers volunteer. These are provided at no cost unless otherwise indicated.
Here is a good format to follow in setting up and writing your book review:

Give your book review a title
Book Title: In bold Italic font
Publisher and pub year
Reviewer Byline (your name or short bio)

Your credibility is enhanced when your reviews are a blend of balanced opinion and concrete example. Please offer your reader an idea of what the author intends to share and a recommendation of whether or not to read the book.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Writing Life: Word Game

by JJ Murphy

What do the following words have in common? The bold first letter is a clue.


I confess, I stared at this list for several minutes, gave up, and came back to look at it later.

Once you get the answer, I expect your response will be, “Oh, how obvious.” But until then it’s a bit of a brainteaser.

I’ve been contemplating the amazing flexibility and resulting confusion of the English language as a response to cabin fever this past winter.

It has been impossible to cross country ski or snowshoe on ice, so I’ve spent a good deal more time indoors than I normally would.

I enjoy word games and puzzles, especially when I learn new words or new ways to use words. So, have fun, take your time, and see if this little puzzle suddenly reveals itself.

I finally gave up and peeked at the answer, so you’re ahead of me if you can figure this out for yourself.

Give up? Here’s the answer:

Take the first letter in each word and place it at the end of the word and then spell the word backwards and you’ll have the same word.

JJ Murphy is a freelance nature writer, photographer, blogging hiker, forager, locavore, and tree-hugger with more than 50 years of eco-centric living experience. Visit if you need relevant content that captures your personal style and tone.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This Week's Podcast Will Feature an International Love Story!

Be sure to join the Writers in the Sky podcast interview this Friday when our guest will be Storyheart, the author of the new release across the pond. In this novel of young romance, teenage Fred Squire is sent by his parents to spend time with family friends in America. During the flight from England, he holds nothing for resentment towards his parents as they enjoy their own vacation in Australia. But, these feelings change when he meets Brittany and finds love in the very home he will be staying. Storyheart takes the readers through a story that is filled with the very real emotions of first love, amusing discoveries of cultural differences, and a fight for a girl's honor.

Storyheart is popular for narrating his stories on local TV or as a guest on other media stations, where his wit, oratory, and old-fashioned English charm make him a popular interviewee. across the pond is his first publication aimed at a younger audience.

Click here to purchase across the pond.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: across the pond
Author: Storyheart
ISBN Number: 978-1-4363-7176-6
Publisher: Xlibris Press
Genre and Target Market: young adult; romance; fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Book Length in Pages: 114

There have been a number of books that have been published over the past decade that are primarily geared towards teenagers but have come to enjoy great appeal with their parents as well. Both the Harry Potter and Twilight series of novels come to mind when I consider works that would fit into such a category. Mothers can claim they waited in long lines at the bookstore for the sake of their young daughters, but I know the truth is they could not wait to get their own hands on the next installment of these popular young adult novels. I think it is wonderful when reading a common book can create conversation and a shared interest between generations. Author Storyheart, who is already an accomplished writer of online romance stories and a previous book for adults, has just published a novel about teenagers that I believe will become one of those special books that can bridge age gaps in a home. Across the pond is an innocent love story that I thoroughly enjoyed even as a mother in her thirties. It reminded me of the young adult romances I used to swoon over when I was in junior high. A charming boy from a foreign land protects you from bullies, is adored by your friends but completely loyal to you, and meets complete parental approval after proving himself to be an upstanding young man? What could be better?

Storyheart is a native of England who left his country almost a decade ago to be with the woman who would become his wife. He uses his own upbringing to bring to life Fred Squire, the main character in across the pond. Fred is sent by his parents, who do not have room for him in their travel plans to Australia, to vacation with family friends in the United States. He is initially unhappy with being cast away to spend a couple of weeks with strangers, but his attitude quickly changes when he is introduced to the teenage daughter of the house, Brittany. The author of across the pond perfectly captures the overwhelming series of emotions that only occur during that first blush of young love. Every brush that a hand makes against your crush’s leg, the sideways glances that are given to see what your new boyfriend is doing, and the endless self-doubt over every word spoken are fundamentals of any young romance, and this book has them all. The two adolescents quickly become confidants and what then transpires is a touching, modern … and refreshingly age-appropriate … love story.

The author has a lot of fun throughout the novel playing up the unique cultural features on each side of the Atlantic. Most notable is his inclusion of Fred’s school project, in which the British student must keep a journal of how the Americans and the English use different words for the same object (nappy vs. diapers, trolley vs. cart, etc.). These shorts lists are posted throughout across the pond and should make for a fun point of discussion among readers. The author also creates an entire secondary plot around the sacred American pastime of baseball. After Fred catches the ball which marked the 500th run of a star player, the media and fan chaos that ensues proves utterly confusing for a young man who just minutes before had been discussing the rules of cricket. These storyline components, along with subtle comments made about the large portions of food that Americans eat and the mega malls with every store imaginable, provide interesting insight into how visitors to our country may view their surroundings. Across the pond takes the common tactic of introducing a charming stranger with a romantic accent and goes a step further by creating a smart integration of cultural awareness.

Across the pond is a new novel for young adults that celebrates the innocence and very real nature of first loves. The author Storyheart shows his obvious background as a writer of romance stories and does a masterful job of adapting the genre to a juvenile audience. However, despite the target age group, I believe that readers of all ages will be drawn to the characters in this book and the strength that they show through a wide range of emotional situations. This is the first effort by Storyheart to join the already crowded offering of teen romance novels that can be found at your neighborhood and online bookstores. The compelling story created by the author will quickly separate across the pond from the pack. If Storyheart chooses to publish more novels that bring back sweet memories from my youth, he can know that I will be reading them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music

Janet Riehl, the author of Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music Is coming to Nashville and you can meet her at her book launch party! Here’s a note from Janet.

Listeners at my poetry readings and talks of "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" told me that my reading added so much. So, last spring, when I went down to Nashville to visit blogging buddies Yvonne Perry and Hal Manogue, I also began the 5-month process of making an audio book of "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary."

We'd recorded 40 songs in my father's SW Illinois parlor; I recorded all 90 poems in a 2-day stretch in the home studio of my sound engineer Scott Kidd. Scott turned out to be a stalwart collaborator that stood by me throughout the recording, editing, mastering, licensing, and production of the 4-CD-set that became Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music.

As part of our spring launch for the audio book, this April I'll be celebrating in Nashville with all the folks on the Nashville team who made this audio book a reality: Yvonne Perry, Hal Manogue, Scott Kidd and Greg McNey. We'll dine together at The Sportsman Grill to celebrate our particular big game we bagged.

Sightlines audio book is now available through CD Baby:

Want to listen to a sample of the poetry and music on our audio book? This month we're offering a 10-minute audio clip of 8 tracks from disc three. This disc roughly corresponds to section four called "Homeplace" in the poetry book. If you already have the book, you can even read along as you listen.

The clip includes four songs as interludes between the poems. The three poems I read are: “Window Frame,” “Knick-Knacks,” and “Crazy Sewing Box, Sorting.” These poems all relate to our home place, Evergreen Heights, but have my mother, Ruth Thompson, in mind. Mom died after the book came out; I've always been glad I wrote these before she left us.

Go to to sign up for a 10-minute audio download of poetry and music from our new audio book Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music.

Friday, April 10, 2009

WITS Podcast Today Features Discussion on Creating Balance in Life

Speaker and writer Jay Greenfeld joins WITS team member Sarah Moore today to discuss his new book My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life. In this new release, Greenfeld shares his research into achieving a greater balance in the four pillars of life -- physical, emotional, social, and professional. He encourages readers to use the information as a tool for determining solutions that work well for their individual situations. Jay Greenfeld believes in the power of taking control of one's own decisions and destiny through information and thought.

In today's discussion, Jay and Sarah will talk about the metaphors and practical examples that are used in My Choice My Life to make the information accessible to every reader. Jay also explains how the material, which is geared towards younger readers in their teens and twenties, can be used by both high schools, colleges and parents to assist new adults through the life transitions of this period. And, he will share how his educational background has prepared him to write such a book.

Click here to listen... to the entire interview.

My Choice My Life can purchased through the Amazon website.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Warm Up To Writing Folktales

by Karen Pierce Gonzalez

Writers of all levels can jump right into writing family folktales. Because folktales are based upon the people, places, and things of your life, you already know something about whatever you choose to be your writing topic. Understand that they come out of your memories, which include feelings and sensations, and are not necessarily bound by the statistical data that genealogical accounts require. The folktale is the result of your perspective and your relationship to the topic.

In order to get the most out of your writing experience, it’s a good idea to warm up your writing muscles. This is especially true if you are new to writing or haven’t taken up a pen for quite some time.

Here are four simple tips to help you get the writing flowing:

1. Warm up is practice. It is not supposed to result in a finished piece. The goal is to build up your ability to write whatever you want to write.

2. Start by writing longhand. Writing with a pen or pencil and paper allows your mind to slow down so that it can synchronize with your body to get on the same page, so to speak. This reduces the push and pull of trying to rush the remembering and writing process. You become more involved in the writing process itself and in the long run that produces a strong connection between your stories and your ability to recount them.

3. Unlike what can happen when using the tools of modern technology (e.g., computer, laptop), you will not be distracted by spell checks, inserting or deleting changes, or even the way the folktale looks on the page (i.e., monitor). You are less encumbered and that frees you up to spend all of your attention on the writing itself.

• Note: However, if you find using your computer or laptop is easier for you, then do so. At least try to write your first draft by hand, so that you know what that more relaxed process feels like.

4. You will also need a timer. Set the timer for anywhere between five and fifteen minutes, and before you start writing, take a few deep breaths to clear out thoughts and concerns that may be occupying your attention. This is not the time to be wondering about what to cook for dinner or how to answer a business call. Tell yourself you can address these items after the writing session is over. You’ll be glad you did.

When choosing a warm up topic, consider writing about something that is easy to write about. This could include a magazine image, a postcard, a line from a favorite song. After a few warm up practices you may choose as your topic an heirloom or favorite relative. Keep the pen to paper even if it feels like nothing is happening. Even a laundry list of words or phrases can, over time, be developed into a complete folktale.

Whatever you write, it’s important to remember that the goal is to warm up your writing muscles much like you would do if you were going to an exercise center. Some muscles warm up more quickly than others so allow yourself a chance to get into the habit of using those muscles. After all no one knows your family folktales like you do.

Karen Pierce Gonzalez is the author of the newly released e-book Family Folktales: What Are Yours? and the workbook Family Folktales: Write Your Own Family Stories which will be available this summer from FolkHeart Press (

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Recovered Addict Shares His Book to Encourage Others

Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services is part of the virtual book tour to promote Darryl Hagar's new book, The Man Overboard, How a Merchant Marine Officer Survived the Raging Storm of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. This book is a vivid account of one man’s tumultuous 25-year round-the-world odyssey, shrouded in the haze of drugs and a sea of alcohol, punctuated by indulgence, abuse, fear, illicit sex, violence, and frequent jail time. Clean and sober for four years, and retired from the shipping industry since 2005, Hagar has dedicated his life to helping others find the path to recovery through public speaking, and leading group sessions in colleges, churches, high schools, prisons, hospital recovery centers, and other settings.

Writers in the Sky: Tell me something about yourself and your writing background.

I navigated 900 foot supertankers around the globe for 20 years including re-fueling the US Navy during two Persian Gulf wars. Unfortunately while attending Maine Maritime Academy my dad committed suicide and instead of seeking therapy I succumbed to numbing the pain with drugs and alcohol for 27 years.

My memoir, The Man Overboard, shows how alcoholism and drug addiction starts, progress, and destroys one’s life. Fortunately for me I believe God had greater plans with my life and lived when I probably shouldn’t have with all the risky dangerous behaviors.

I have devoted the rest of my life to helping others combat this disease and I decided writing a book was the best way to reach the most people. I was an avid reader and writer as a younger man.

Writers in the Sky: What is the title of your book? Give us the basic story line so we’ll know what it’s about.

The Man Overboard, How a Merchant Marine Officer Survived the Raging Storm of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

Here is a brief summary of my memoir:

Darryl Hagar is a man who on the eve of losing custody of his son, refused to give up. Call it kismet, eleventh hour grace or the gentle hand of fate, but Hagar, a hard drinking, aggressive merchant marine, learned that the power of a father’s love and an incredible will to survive was within him all along.

With demons at the helm, his life spiraled out of control after his father’s suicide. Somehow he made it through the maritime academy to serve as a ship’s navigator and first mate. As an officer, this drunken sailor was charged with the daunting responsibility of safely navigating 900-foot supertankers carrying millions upon millions of barrels of petroleum through the dangerous and unpredictable oceans of the world—all while living a double life. With a professional life of discipline and order, Darryl led a clandestine, chaotic existence of alcoholism, drug abuse and crime.

Today, he and his son are proof that through the darkest tunnels of addiction, one can survive, thrive and sail to peaceful shores. Share in Darryl’s personal triumph as he entered a life of sobriety that includes his personal mission to instigate powerful social reforms and reverse the hidden reality of the widespread epidemic of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Writers in the Sky: What inspired you to write this book?

I am very passionate about helping others recover from drug abuse and alcoholism and also in going to 12 step meetings, a sponsor; sponsee whom I direct and help stay sober. I'm very close to God and when I finally surrendered I made a pledge that if the good Lord helped me get sober I would help others do the same. Thus The Man Overboard memoir.

I worked on my sobriety every day going to 90 meetings in 90 days. Sometimes I would attend two 12 step meetings in one day. I learned to pray at the foot of my bed asking God to keep me away from a drink and a drug for that day. I got a sponsor and started to work the 12 steps and cleaning up the wreckage of the past. I began to journal every day putting down all my drinking mistakes and who I needed to make amends to.

I attended therapy for two years and at that point my head really started to clear and I began dreaming about writing my memoir that would detail my horrific life of alcoholism and drug abuse while all the time operating 900 foot supertankers. I verified in the book all my stories with police reports, United States Coast Guard letters, medical paperwork detailing broken bones, medical surgeries, 1st hand eye witness' accounts and finally a drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

After talking about my chaotic life in the first half of the book including my dad’s suicide and the birth of my son when I was intoxicated, I then wrote about my recovery. I detailed everything I did, how diligent I paid attention to my recovery, and all the actions I took to get and stay sober and clean. I believe this book, The Man Overboard, will be used as a guide in how to conquer severe alcoholism and drug addiction. I thought if I wrote The Man Overboard and showed how low I sank and still recovered, others would be inspired in their own lives to give an alcohol and drug free life a chance.

Writers in the Sky: Is this the first book you have written

Yes, it is and it took all my energy, all my patience, all my courage, and all of my strength. The Man Overboard took two years to write and caused me many sleepless nights.

Writers in the Sky: How long did it take to write this book? Any interesting tidbits about your writing method or how the book developed?

It took two years to write this book because it was so intense writing and almost re-living all of these stories that took place in my 27 year battle with drugs and alcohol. I worried of legal problems, personal shame, and embarrassment to my family, friends, and former employers. I felt the pain of writing down my life’s journey was worth the sacrifice in helping other people struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Many times I had to write in spurts walking away from my computer when the pain got to be too much. I would walk away periodically and pray to God to empower me to finish the book.

I took a huge poster board and broke my life up into two year columns and wrote down all the major events in my life including all my arrests, ships I sailed on, death of father, medical operations to repair my broken body, birth of son, sobriety date, baptism date, etc etc.

Then I went to 9 different police departments, 7 or 8 hospitals and doctors, and collected all the police and medical reports. I then interviewed 5 or 6 1st hand witness to different events i.e. (my jet blue pilot neighbor who witnessed me running into the side of my house drunk on my 35th birthday) and wrote the book. It is all true and all verified.

Writers in the Sky: How did you publish your book? Tell me about your publishing experience and what you learned from it?

I published The Man Overboard through booksurge which is an Amazon company. It was fairly affordable and self published so I had the freedom to include 142 images, 50 actual pictures of 50 foot waves and 900 foot supertankers, me intoxicated in uniform, me working hard on the ships sober, my baptism, my son, as well as 55 full page pen and ink drawings of what is taking place in that chapter.

I learned to always check the editors, publishing company, and everyone else involved because there are always mistakes, especially with a 604 page book. I have spent many hours getting things perfectly correct.

I also learned how much perseverance is involved in getting a book from your mind into the book store shelves. It’s an incredible undertaking.

Writers in the Sky: Did you work with an agent? If so, how did you find the agent? Was it beneficial to you?

I have not worked with an agent. I think there’s obvious plus’ and minus’ using an agent. I do intend on finding a good agent in the future to help book sales.

Writers in the Sky: Where is your book available? Do you have a Web site or blog where we can learn more about you or your book?

The Man Overboard is available on as well as on my website

If people buy it through my website I will mail a signed copy to them. There is a lot of information about alcoholism and addiction on the site as well as 11 graphic novels, which are very affordable at $7 each. They are two illustrated chapters directly out of the book and drawn by Glenn Chadbourne, one of Stephen King’s artist. also has many articles for free to help you or your loved ones struggling with substance abuse.

Writers in the Sky: As far as marketing, do you do more online publicity or print/radio/TV promotion? Tell me some ways you have promoted your book. Give examples and links to any sites you feel might help other authors.

I have done a little of everything including RTIR ads which brought me significant amount of free radio interviews. Also Nikki Leigh’s Virtual Blog Tour has been very good promoting my book and website.

I’ve recently found that making a press kit and making phone calls to magazines, newspapers asking for a book review really gets an author’s book out there to the masses.

Writers in the Sky: Have you hired a publicist to help promote this book? If so, what was your experience like?

I have a publicist called PromotioninMotion which has been helpful landing additional radio spots and book signing events. They are quite affordable and would highly recommend them. Irwin Zucker is the owner one of his guys, Brad Butler, has been working with me closely.

Writers in the Sky: Any other comment you would like to share?

No matter what, no matter where you've been or what you have been through, you can still recover. Read my story, I'm living proof. You have to admit the problem and then take action. Nothing changes if nothing changes.


1. The wise still seek him.

2. I am willing and able to help anyone that asks. Go to my website and just send me an email and I will respond. God Bless you all.

Writers in the Sky:
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you and learn about your book. I wish you well in your journey as an author.

See Darryl's virtual tour schedule

The Man Overboard
Darryl Hagar
Trade Paperback
590 pages; 6” x 9”
Pub Date: March 24, 2009

Drawn in by the compelling tales and sometimes exotic settings, readers will be shocked at this glimpse into the little-exposed epidemic of addiction at sea, and will come away amazed there aren’t more shipping disasters like the Exxon Valdez. But it’s the drama when Hagar returns home and his struggle through recovery that makes the book real and easy to relate to. A broken relationship, nearly losing custody of his son, and alienation from his family and friends are just some of the costs Hagar pays and portrays faithfully in his 500 page memoir The Man Overboard.

About the Author, Darryl Hagar

Darryl Hagar is passionate about his recovery and committed to helping others find the strength and support needed to reclaim their lives from the insidious affects of addiction. As a motivational speaker, Darryl has addressed hundreds of groups and shared his message of empowerment and responsibility. Today, Darryl adds the title of author to his resume with the release of his memoir, The Man Overboard How a Merchant Marine Officer Survived the Raging Storm of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

A graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, class of ‘85, Hagar went to sea as an Able Body Seaman with Military Sealift Command where his role focused on ship maintenance, maintaining mooring lines as the ship’s cargo was loaded and unloaded, and steering the ship in and out of port. After a year-long stint with Crest Oil Tankers, in 1987 he moved on to Maritime Overseas Corporation and gained the designation Third Mate where he was responsible for standing the bridge watch, supervising the able body seaman, ensuring shipboard safety practices were adhered to and was in charge of running the ship’s pumps and valves during the loading and unloading process. Promoted to Second Mate in 1990 Hagar attained his professional goal of becoming the ship’s navigator. The navigator’s primary role is laying out the voyage, maintaining charts, radar and other electronics and includes the responsibility of ship’s radio operator. Moving on to Alaska Tanker Company in 1999, Hagar earned Chief Mate status. He retired from the industry in 2005.

Darryl Hagar is a native Mainer and a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy. He rose through the ranks to attain Chief Mate of Motor and Steam of any Gross Tons Upon Oceans. Clean and sober for four years, and retired from the shipping industry since 2005, Hagar lives in recovery and hopes to reach people in crisis and help them on their voyage to sobriety.

Each time a blog visitor comments on any or all of The Man Overboard blog tour stops, they will be entered in two random drawings. The first is a weekly drawing. Weekly winners have the chance to win one of Darryl Hagar graphic novels Commenters who participate on the tour also will be placed in a random drawing to win a copy of Darryl Hagar's book. One copy will be given away midway through the eight-week tour and the second at the conclusion.

Use the comments feature below this post to share your thoughts and comments with author Darryl. He is passionate about his recovery and committed to helping others find the strength and support needed to reclaim their lives from the insidious affects of addiction. He will check in throughout the day to answer questions. You’ll learn more and have a chance to win a graphic novel or a copy of The Man Overboard. You can order his book at

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Writers in the Sky Editor's Corner

by Yvonne Perry

This column, which was called Author's Corner, is now called Editor's Corner. It is part of Writers in the Sky Newsletter, which comes out tomorrow. While I am both an author and an editor, most magazines and newsletter have an editor in charge of publication, so I’m catching up with the times and christening this new name. Champagne, please!

As spring is budding so are my four pregnant daughters! The first baby is due by C-section on April 10. Please keep Katie and her baby boy in your thoughts and prayers as she is a high-risk case due to health concerns. I’m making quilts for each grandbaby and you can see photos of my handiwork here:

I have two more to go: one for Ryah and Fred's baby due in October, and one for Sarah and Nathan's baby due in September.

WITS has been busy with a lot of great new and returning clients and I have personally been doing interviews. I’m especially thankful for Book Marketing Maven Dana Lynn Smith and the Q&A she posted on her blog. It’s all about authors working with editors, and I think you will find it informative and beneficial—especially if you are trying to decide whether or not your book should be edited before going to print.

On that same thought, I have written an article about the literacy rate being affected by authors who send poorly-written material to be published where it will be read by the public market. I'm not talking about a few typos; everyone makes mistakes. I'm referring to material that is below an acceptable level when it comes to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and overall development. I've seen plenty of those kind. I certainly intend no hard feelings to my POD friends, but in the article, I have given everyone something to think about. Feedback is welcome.

That leads me to introduce my POD friend, Tracy Lucas, who is the editor at
Published by Westview. Tracy believes in publishing quality books at a reasonable price and getting them into mainstream circulation through Ingram. Tracy is also a columnist (Writing Careers) for the Nashville Examiner and she interviewed me about WITS. You may read the article here:

Speaking of partnerships, Irene Watson and I have been in strategic alliance and have networked on several projects for the past three years. Irene’s company Reader Views hosts an annual Literary Awards event for which WITS is a sponsor. The 2008 winner of WITS’ $100 cash prize for best creative writing is James Earle McCracken for his book general fiction book, Rue de la Pompe: A Satiric Urban Fantasy (ISBN 9780595485055).
Three WITS clients: Carl David, author of Bader Field (Nightengale Press); Dawn Menge, author of Queen Vernita's Visitors (Outskirts Press); and Linda Ballou Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai'i (Star Publish), won honorable mention in Reader Views Literary Awards this season.

Another strategic alliance I want to mention is our affiliation with Full Circle Admin. Owner Mindy Schwartz is able to assist clients with administrative needs such as calendar management, data entry, Excel spreadsheets, job search services, letter writing, typing, and transcribing. Other specialties include: coaching and mentoring to set up and maintain a high-traffic and sales-effective blog; stock, event, and product photography; link building; SEO writing; social networking and creating/posting trailers for books and businesses. Mindy and Sarah Moore work together as part of the WITS to give authors excellent customer service and a strong online presence.

Lately, clients have been coming to me asking me to serve as their writing mentor or developmental editor. I am delighted to be working with six writers on an hourly basis. Whenever one gets an article or chapter completed and is ready for me to look over it, I am able to offer a constructive critique either by phone or email about how to improve the piece. I would be glad to help you, too! You can hire me to work as few or as many hours per month as you wish, so why not invest in yourself and improve your writing skills with personalized instruction?

I’m co-writing a book with an author who needs teen or adult children of military parents to take her survey about being raised in a military family. Typical questions include: How many times did you move as a child of military parents? Did you live on a military base as a child? What was the highest rank achieved? Were you/your parent injured in conflict? If your parent was in the armed services, or if you are a parent serving in any branch of the military for any country, please go to and answer a few questions. Thank you for helping provide stories for this book.

WITS Web site:
WITS Blog:
Phone: (615) 884-1224

Join WITS online:

April 2009 Issue of WITS E-zine is now Online

Welcome to spring and another issue of Writers in the Sky Newsletter/E-zine. If you are subscribed, you will automatically get your copy delivered to your inbox today. If you are not subscribed, you may join the list now!

Some folks ask why our publication is called both a newsletter and an e-zine. Well, it’s really too long to be a newsletter, and it isn’t laid out as a magazine; however, it has characteristics of both. It’s delivered electronically, it has news, articles, and announcements from our readers, and it has its own place on the Web ( So, it’s both an e-zine and a newsletter. What do you think of the idea of changing the name to Writers in the Sky News-zine?

Regardless of what we call it, the April issue is ready for your reading pleasure at

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tune In This Friday for a Discussion on Balance and Health in Life

Be sure to join the Writers in the Sky podcast this Friday when team member Sarah Moore sits down with author Jay Greenfeld to discuss his book My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life. Stress management and well-being expert Greenfeld writes about the four pillars in our life--physical, emotional, social, and professional--and how to make positive choices in each area. He stresses the importance of each person taking ownership over his or her decisions and regaining a focus and balance that will make for a happier life.

Jay Greenfeld holds degrees from the University of Winnipeg, New York University, and is currently studying at the University of Iowa. His research primarily focuses on integrating exercise and other health-related behaviors into everyday life. Due to his educational background and his ability to make material relevant to our lives, Greenfeld is a popular speaker on stress management and overall health.

Click here to purchase My Choice My Life.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: My Choice—My Life: Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life
Author: Jay Greenfeld
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3331-5
Genre and Target Market: health; stress management; young adult
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 205 (including appendices and references)

I went through a period in my life when I opened self-help books just looking for an answer. Whatever my current challenge might have been, I just wanted a professional to give me the exact steps to fix it. Somehow, the guaranteed solutions never seemed to provide a perfect remedy to my unique circumstances. How could one single approach ever work for the millions of different personalities that exist in this world? I have since come to appreciate the books that, instead of asserting the only possible answer, provide guidance to the readers as they take control of their own progress and improvement. Jay Greenfeld provides just such a book with his new release My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life. In his first offering as an author, readers will learn concrete steps of action involving all areas of life and the questions to ask when determining appropriate choices.

While any reader can benefit from the self-reflection that is prompted by Greenfeld in his book, his writing and situational examples apply primarily to a teenage and twenty-something crowd. He addresses issues such as choosing healthy relationships, dealing with the pressure of drugs and alcohol use, and handling the stress that comes with a major change in one’s life situation, such as preparing for college or being organized at that first real job. I worked for many years as first a high school teacher and then as a college advisor. While reading My Choice My Life, I kept thinking about what an important resource this would have been for my students. I can easily see this book finding its place on the syllabus for a health course or perhaps even given to students to read as part of an orientation program. By valuing the personal responses each reader may have to the text and not talking down to his readers like an unreachable authority figure, Greenfeld can be very effective at capturing the attention of an age group that is often difficult to reach.

Greenfeld opens the book with a detailed analogy in which he compares life to a game of Monopoly. Each side of the board is one of the four critical aspects of every person’s life – physical, mental and emotional, social, and academic or professional. We all must decide on the aspect that deserves our time and focus at any particular moment. What about those Chance cards which always make us nervous? These are the uncertainties that get thrown into every person’s life once in a while. Greenfeld also shares his developed symbolism for many other aspects of the popular board game, with the result being a great visual that sticks with the reader as chapters unfold to discuss each piece of the analogy in detail.

Greenfeld uses important reference tools in each section of the book that involve the reader. Each chapter ends with a bulleted list of “Quick Points” which highlight the key pieces of information. If a reader feels drawn to work on an area discussed in a particular chapter, these summary notes can be a good list to copy and keep somewhere nearby. The author also draws in his readers by questioning them about what they are learning. He leaves a notes page to write down thoughts and intended actions. I always appreciate such an inclusion in this genre of books, as I believe that readers must take the material while fresh and apply it to their personal situations. Also, whenever Greenfeld shares a to-do list concerning a particular area in life, he asks the readers to add to the ideas. With all of these pieces, Greenfeld stimulates his readers to brainstorm and take ownership for their own goals.

With the new book My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life, author Jay Greenfeld has created a wonderful reference tool for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the many directions and choices we are given in life. Greenfeld does not pretend that all of us fit into the same cookie-cutter mold when it comes to our handling of stress and daily responsibilities. Therefore, he provides general hints and suggestions that can apply to every reader and then encourages us to adapt the ideas to our own situations. With its primary focus on younger generations, I believe that Mr. Greenfeld has taken his great experience as a lecturer and published a work that will be tremendously helpful to those who are encountering some of life’s major changes for the first time. Any young adult, or parent of someone in this age group, will benefit from reading and then discussing the lessons that Greenfeld has to offer.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

5 Shortcuts to Writing with Clarity

by Karen Reddick

I believe that no sentence should ever require a second reading, unless the writing captivates to the point of re-reading for the sheer joy of it.

Sort, rearrange, and refine your prose until you can say what you mean, and mean what you say with as few words as possible.

Here are five shortcuts to writing with clarity:

1. Read your rough draft aloud. Confusing sentences become obvious when you hear your copy spoken.

2. Add some periods. Clearly written sentences don't ramble needlessly. Modify your wording to create additional sentences.

3. Think about context. Help your readers understand concepts by placing them in historical, geographical, or categorical context. Don't jump around from one thought to the next without making clear the who, what, when, where.

4. Attach your pronouns. Puzzling pronouns play a large part in clouding your meaning. "It" and "they" are among the worst offenders. When polishing your rough draft, pause every time you encounter either "it" or "they" and check to see what it's supposed to represent.

5. Watch your tenses. Be careful not to flit from one tense to another. Nothing confuses a reader more than switching from past tense to present tense and back again. Simple past tense is most commonly used and is recommended for most writing

Happy Writing!-- Karen Reddick, The Red Pen Editor

Reference: Hart, J. A Writer's Coach, 2006, New York: Pantheon Books


It's here! The Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition of Grammar Done Right! available at

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Easy Fitness for Writers

By VH Melville

It's hard for writers to keep weight off. We sit for long periods of time and often have a difficult time pulling away from the computer to exercise. These fitness tips have writers in mind and most are easy on the budget.

1. A walk is not only cheap but can help us come up with lots of creative ideas for stories. If your neighborhood is not safe or if the weather is bad, walk indoors at the mall.

2. If you are on book tour, a pair of three- to five-pound weights can fit into your luggage to use once you arrive.

3. A good book on strength training is essential. You do not want to injure yourself.

4. Dancing to old music in your own living room. Nothing can get our creative juices flowing like good music.

5. A Wii with fitness titles. Try “Wii Fit” and “Your Fitness Coach.”

6. Be a kid again. Do you have an old hula hoop or jump rope that you can safely use?

7. Avoid protein bars; most protein bars may have more calories than candy bars. They are for body builders, not weight loss. Besides, they taste disgusting.

8. I overeat when I let myself get too hungry. Eat before you feel starved!

9. Like Oprah, I struggle with weight. I give myself permission just to do my best.

VH Melville
Lives in the state of confusion and has a novel Death Toys for Quasar published by Diskus Publishing.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Today's WITS Podcast Features a New Collection of Short Stories

Writers in the Sky team member Sarah Moore welcomes author Jeff Roberts to our weekly podcast today. Jeff is joining us to discuss Little Stories, a collection of short stories that was written largely during his undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa. Every page of Jeff's stories is filled with those heart-wrenching emotions that we all experience at some point in life. He tackles first loves and the heartbreak that follows, birth and death, and simply our unending desire to love and be loved. Jeff captures a snapshot in his characters' lives in just a few pages and leaves his readers with personal reactions that will last long after the book is closed.

In the interview, Jeff will discuss how he draws on personal experiences when developing his stories, his thoughts on the short story format, and how his writing has evolved since those initial offerings he created for a first-year writing class.

Click here to listen... to the entire interview.

Little Stories by Jeff Roberts can be purchased through the Amazon website. Listeners also are encouraged to check out the author's web page at the Outskirts Press site.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Meet Author's Assistants Sarah Moore & Mindy Schwartz!

WITS team members Sarah Moore and Mindy Schwartz are our author's assistants. Together, they help authors get their books in front of a wider audience through consistent blogging of quality content, writing and submitting media releases and articles, and by using social networking and bookmarking to raise an author's visibility in search engines. Also, by joining together, they offer the strength of two members who will work side by side to help authors achieve their goals. In this day and age it is hard enough to get one person to help you along with your project. Through the joint efforts of Sarah and Mindy, you will always be able reach one assistant if the other is not available.

Sarah is in charge of scheduling author interviews for our writing podcast and creating media kits that get the attention authors need to promote their books to radio and TV stations. Ms. Moore has written numerous high-quality bios, press kits, articles, book reviews, and content for Web sites. She writes the press releases for the WITS podcast, where her public speaking experience is also put to good use as one of the weekly hosts who interviews WITS clients and authors about their businesses and books.

Mindy's specialties include: coaching and mentoring to set up and maintain a high-traffic and sales-effective blog; stock, event, and product photography; link building; SEO writing; social networking and creating/posting trailers for books and businesses.

Mindy Schwartz is also the Owner and Project Manager for Full Circle Admin Services.

As a virtual assistant, she is also able to assist authors with administrative needs such as calendar management, data entry, Excel spreadsheets, job search services, letter writing, typing, and transcribing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Network with Us April 2009

Add your announcement or brag about your writing accomplishment. Tell us about your book or business. Share information and ideas or send articles or advertorial for the next issue by contacting us on our Web site Here are some announcements from our readers this month:

Creative (Right-Brain) People Can Attain their Goals!

Have you ever wondered how creative people attain success—and not only in their artistic field, but in other areas of their lives as well?

So many writers struggle with attaining goals, even after you've taken the time to list them, break them into actions, and set completion dates. You get frustrated with yourself, which powers your negative internal voice, which only leads to less motivation and more failure.

The UPositive Guide to Goal Attainment for Creative People leads you, step by step, through a system for success with writing. It can also be applied to other areas of your life.

The main problem for writers and other creative people in goal attainment is that most of the process of setting, tracking, and timing goals is left-brain (logical), while you're spending your time using the right brain (creative, emotional, etc.).

According to author Batya D. Wininger, LCSW, MSW, KAP, Rev., the best way for you to attain writing goals is to use both sides of your brain, trading off activities that lead to goal attainment. She explains that even though the right and left hemispheres of your brain have different jobs to do, they actually communicate with each other!

Through The UPositive Guide to Goal Attainment for Creative People, you'll learn how to have your right brain guide your left brain in setting up winning activities for the right brain to accomplish! Sounds like a see-saw? That's exactly right!

With easy-to-understand exercises, step-by-step directions, and plenty of encouragement, you'll be re-inspired to work toward your dreams, creative and otherwise; you'll know exactly what next steps you need to take; you'll be able and ready to take them; and you'll succeed quicker and easier than you ever imagined.

For more information, or to order the eBook, go to:

After ordering the eBook, email Let her know about your order and that you read this article through Writers in the Sky. You'll receive a special, free workbook to accompany The UPositive Guide to Goal Attainment for Creative People.

Pamme Boutselis recently joined the management team of a brand new poetry Web site, and invites writers to check

Friday, March 6, Steve Ouch may have made Twistory (Twitter History) by selling 200 copies of SteamPotVille, enough to reach #208 in Amazon’s ranking system, just behind one of Rick Steves’ travel books. What inspired the push? Steve’s banker had promised him a book tour loan if he could sell200 copies today. So that’s just what he did.

SteamPotVille is at the heart of the eclectic and magical world, with its costumed animals and bright swirling landscapes. Preparing for his publishing debut in May, Steve used March 6 to get the word out. He remained on Twitter for fifteen hours and made hundreds
of posts pushing his book. With over 10,000 followers, he only needed 2 percent of them to buy. And they did. He Tweeted when someone made a purchase and promoted that person. He excerpted lines from the book. Suggested adults would love it as much as kids. Offered it as a St. Patrick’s Day gift idea. There wasn’t a sales angle he missed.

If you want to learn something about marketing and self-promotion, follow Steve Ouch on Twitter. Or feel free to ask him, he's always accessible.

Frankie, the partially-paralyzed dachshund of author Barbara Techel, was inducted into the Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame on February 28, 2009. Barbara wrote Frankie’s story, Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog after realizing the powerful lessons Frankie taught her about overcoming challenges. Frankie was recognized for bringing a positive face to all animals with disabilities and proving that they can live a happy, fulfilling life if given the chance.

Frankie continues to share her upbeat message by visiting areas schools, nursing homes, hospice and hospitals. For more information, or to watch Frankie's inspirational video visit Kids will especially enjoy

Author Fiona Ingram has just completed The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. A 5,000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events, pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to
survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another! Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on

Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

T-shirts, mugs, and Stones of Power are available as well. Readers can purchase The Secret of the Sacred Scarab on, B& or Barnes & Noble Bookstores, as well as many online stores. Find out more about Fiona on

Dawn Menge’s book, Queen Vernita’s Visitors, made the finalist list for the EVVY award! The book is also one of the three semi-finalists in the 2008 literary awards for Reader Reviews. See the book video or listen to this author’s interview with Sarah Moore on WITS Podcast. Yvonne Perry has edited Dawn's second book to be published by Outskirts Press in 2009.

Virtual Assistant to Businesses and Authors

Mindy Schwartz is able to assist with administrative needs such as calendar management, data entry, Excel spreadsheets, job search services, letter writing, typing, and transcribing. Other specialties include coaching and mentoring to set up and maintain a high-traffic andsales-effective blog; stock, event, and product photography; link building; SEO writing; social networking and creating/posting trailers for books and businesses.

On the Letters from 2030 series, my book ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day the Lights Went Out - Our Future World is non-fiction. It contains many facts that the general public doesn't know or understand about finite resource depletion and climate change. It was writtento alert the general public to these issues and written in plain languagethat is easy to understand. It simplifies the science and I believe inspires the reader to become involved in being part of a solution to the many urgent challenges we face.

Trouble is if you haven't got a person’s attention (with many issues facing people today ; economic, jobs, U.S. recession, etc) you haven't got the audience. How the Letters from 2030 came about was to use many of the facts about now and the immediate future, but to fictionalize it as how it will be in 2030. By then, and I won't scare you with the details here, the world will be well past the point of no return and we will leave a legacy of our present actions for those who come after us to deal with. They won't find it very pleasant.

So, what I'm looking to do is to connect with writers who wish to become involved with the ongoing series Letters from 2030. It can be viewed at Along with a number of other contributors, I see those wishing to be involved fictionally positioning themselves as a character in a location in 2030 that still supports population / outposts. Have a look at the blog and read the initial post first. It is proposed that the blog will become both a book and submission for a TV series.

Interested writers should write a letter as a fictional character and email it to me. I'll slip in some facts if appropriate then post it to the blog as if it were happening in 2030.

Bob Williamson,
Founder & Chair
Greenhouse Neutral Foundation

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful art of poetry or to write a short story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream. Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes. All works must be original.

Don't suffer with book proposals. You can be a pro withan investment of only twenty minutes and 49 cents with CarolynHoward-Johnson's Great First Impression Book Proposal Short on

Susan M. Heim is pleased to announce the publication of her new book,Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More. This is Chicken Soup’s first book about the growing world of twins and multiples.

Twins and More provides stories that highlight the special bond shared by twins, the joys and challenges of raising multiples, the unique circumstances of their arrival, the "double trouble" that twins get into, the "multiple blessings" of being a twin or having them in the family, and adventures in raising triplets, too! Twins, parents of multiples, relatives of twins, or anyone interested in twins, triplets, and more will enjoy these inspirational, humorous, and touching stories.

Ever since I started giving talks and workshops around the country about Sitelines, people have told me how my reading the poems adds so much to their experience and that they'd love to have it in audio. So, Daddy and I have been working hard to make that dream come true. Tell you more about that one, later.

In the meanwhile, you can read my most recent Creative Catalyst post on the Story Circle Network blog (Telling HerStories: The Broad View) by clicking this link. Catch up on the entire Creative Catalyst archive here. This column is written in collaboration with my dear friend Stephanie
Farrow of Albuquerque. We're assembling them in themes written in cycles of three posts. Later, these will be available in an e-book and a printed book as well. Love for you to comment on the new post; also, if you have questions or suggestions for a topic, please write me at

Janet Riehl

Multi-published romance author Kari Thomas is happy to announce two new releases for March 2009! Seducing The Hero, from Eternal Press is a romantic humor with a touch of paranormal. It is available at the publisher site or can be purchased in

print at the end of April on Her Heart, His Soul, from Bookstrand-Siren is available in e-book March 17, and in print late August 2009. It is a darker paranormal romance.

Free pages from any of her books are available by request. Visit her Web site for more info. Free PDF:

I'm forever grateful to Yvonne Perry for pointing me towards her son-in-law, Scott Kidd, as my sound engineer. He's not only a thoroughly competent professional, but he also intuitively understood what this project needed and did it brilliantly. He made thisfive-month process of making the audio book as pleasant as possible, even in the dips. And, often a highlight of the best collaborations I've ever had.

I've gotten great feedback at my poetry readings and talks of Sightlines: A Poet's Diary. Many folks say that the sound of my voice reading the poems added so much. Thus, we introduced our new audio book. If we haven't had the pleasure of meeting at one of these readings in person, perhaps you'll enjoy this audio clip of eight tracks from disc three. Click on this link or copy and paste this into your browser address bar. Once there, you can play the audio or RIGHT-CLICK to download it to your computer (CTRL-CLICK if you are on a Mac). The three poems I read are: Window Frame," "Knick-Knacks," and "Crazy Sewing Box, Sorting." Disc three roughly corresponds to section four called "Homeplace" in the poetry book.

If you already have the book, you can even read along as you listen. The ten-minute clip includes four songs as interludes between the poems. We recorded this music in my father's parlor on the homeplace. Daddy's music group is affectionately known as The Thompson Quartet.

Janet Grace Riehl

Jack Woodville London's debut novelFrench Letters -- Virginia's War: Tierra, Texas 1944 made the local bestseller list in Austin, Texas last month.

Dennis Martin’s books (except for Love and Passions) can be purchased at Books purchased here are about $4.00 cheaper than when purchased from one of the online bookstores like Amazon, B & N or Borders. The links on his Web site will take you to my storefront on Lulu. Much of my work can be viewed on my blog Visitors can leave comments and posts.

His latest book is intended for anyone who has a fondness for rhythmic, lyrical poetry. You've already seen some pieces from this collection over the past few months in this newsletter. Since many of the pieces in this work were done with specific artists in mind, usually country artists, he hopes that someone in the music industry is seriously looking for new, fresh lyrics for recording. Dennis says, "There are a few good drinking/honky tonk songs, a number of love songs, love lost songs, far-from-home songs, and a couple of buddy songs. As usual, the tunes are in my head, but I am neither singer nor musician."

What he needs is a collaborator. Any musician interested? Contact Dennis.

Need to convert technical information into content for the general public? I can do just that! I have developed technical manuals, sales literature, training guides, online help menus, and other documentation for businesses and organizations. Cohesive, consistent, and concise content is essential for delivering your desired message to your target audience!

Marichelle Rocha, Business Writer,

Need a ghostwriter for your fiction book or screenplay? Contact Taryn Simpson.

Do you know what your publishing options are? Do you have a publishing plan? You will when you follow the simple steps in this user-friendly action guide. Publishing Possibilities: 8 Steps to Understanding Your Options & Choosing the Best Path for Your Book by Cheryl Pickett can help.

Linda Ballou is proud to announce that Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai’i has been selected by Reader Views as a finalist in their Literary Awards in their historical fiction category. Click here for complete review.

National Hispanic Cultural Center is hosting the 2009 7th Annual National Latino Writer’s Conference at the NHCC campus May 20-24. At BronzeWord’s Blog, interviews with the faculty are up every Saturday. Visit NHCC to register for the conference.

Your announcement could be here. Check out the submission guidelines and send us your blurb.