Monday, November 24, 2014

What Interstellar Can Teach Writers About World Building

by Michelle Murrain, Author of the Science Fiction Novel, Friends With Wings.

No worries, there are no spoilers in this post. Alongside many science fiction fans and writers, I saw the movie Interstellar. It was a fun movie, with a great story line, and fascinating concepts to think about. It's about a common science fiction trope: Earth is dying, so let's go somewhere else to start over fresh. I've used that trope in my most recent novel, "Friends with Wings." Even though I consider it one of the better science fiction movies to come out this year, Interstellar does have its flaws. There have been plenty of critiques of the basic physics in the movie, and I'm not going to talk about those. I'm going to talk about problems in basic world building in Interstellar. Problems that writers should be aware of.

Movies can get away with shoddy world building much more easily than novels can. Flashy effects and star power make it much too easy to skimp on detailed world building. And also, some flaws in world building are put there just for the drama, which takes away from a movie. Some movies manage to do great world building anyway, but Interstellar isn't, sadly, one of them. There are two specific pretty inarguable world building flaws in the movie Interstellar I wanted to highlight, because they are actually relatively common kinds of pitfalls writers can fall into.

The first flaw has to do with the movie's premise of Earth, and what's happening on Earth because of climate change. In the movie, a blight has killed all of the food plants except for corn. And so for years, all that could grow was corn, and all people could eat was corn (Many years - it seems like more than 20). Sounds interesting, except that everyone would die of malnutrition within a period of months if all there was to eat was corn. It's not a complete protein, and does not provide other necessary nutrients. A population could not survive for years on just corn.

The second flaw has to do with the premise that the world has gotten so bad, that there aren't any armies anymore. The problem with this premise is that based on everything we know about history, the exact opposite is going to happen. When resources get scarce, people fight over what's left. The last thing the US government will do when faced with the ravages of climate change will be to disband the military.

These are just two of the major flaws in world building I noticed. I'm sure there are others. These flaws are based on not really thinking about whether or not a specific premise makes sense, based on what we know to be true - whether it be because of history, biology, psychology, what have you. World building is an art, but it's also a science. You have to do research, and make sure your ideas make sense. You should make sure that things fit, and work, with what we know now to be true.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Friends with Wings by Michelle Murrain

What if you were stranded on another planet? What would do? How would you live? And how would you deal with the intelligent native winged species on the planet?

The year is 2102, the earth is in crisis, and Trina, a gutsy young woman from a poor family, is forced to sell herself into slavery to pay off her family’s debt. To her surprise, she ends up being sent into space to help colonize a star. Her future seems bright until crisis strikes the colony – leaving Trina the only human being left alive on Planet Johannes. Another spaceship is slated to arrive in a decade, but how will Trina survive alone for ten years? And even if she does, how can she keep the next colony from meeting the same fate?

Read an excerpt here


Michelle has been writing science fiction since 2006, and has been an avid reader and fan of science fiction since she started to read. She has been both a scientist and a technologist by trade, and she even went to seminary. So as a polymath, her interests span a wide range of topics, including science, technology, religion and spirituality, philosophy, history, culture, politics, race, gender, and sexuality. She brings all of these to bear in her science fiction writing. She specializes in stories of culture clash and/or first contact, and her work has numerous strong female protagonists and characters, as well as a lot of diverse characters. She lives in Sonoma County, California with her spouse and 2 cats. Find out more about Michelle here:

Thanks so much for this wonderful guest post, Michelle. You’ve made some excellent points and given us some terrific writing tips to consider.

I’ve got family coming in for the holiday all week, which means I probably won’t be online much from here on out for a couple of days. Happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating. Mine will be busy with family, food and festivities, something I look forward to hosting every year.

Best to all,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 21, 2014

Organizing Your Writing

by M. J. Joachim

It’s not easy to think about how far behind I am with organizing my blogs. Filing, I’m not sure anyone likes to do it, especially when there’s such a huge stack to be filed and put away. Still it must be done, so visitors to our blogs will find what they’re looking for more quickly and easily. Our search buttons give us a small reprieve, and yet, it would be so much easier for visitors if we made everything readily available to them, without hoping they’ll take the time to play seek and find on our blogs.


Pages are a wonderful way to organize our blogs. Give them a clear title and link everything that remotely fits on them by title and description. If you’re like me, you write about a lot of different things and you have quite a few posts. It’s okay if you add the same link to more than one page.


Layout has numerous gadgets and widgets you can add to your blog. Keep it clean and uncluttered, but don’t be afraid to add a few that might highlight your work and the work you do to help others. We can learn a lot by listing our popular posts. We also have an opportunity to make those same posts more popular when people see them on our blogs, or find out the trends as other posts surpass them in the ranks.


Pages and Layout are the two things I find most helpful for my actual blogs. There are other things that go on behind the scenes. I keep a WIP folder on my desktop. If I’m currently working on something, it’s in there. My blog docs are all in there separately, so I can add to them when inspiration comes and needs to get out in a hurry.

I also keep a photo folder on my desktop. When I take or find pictures I may need, I document them and keep them at the ready, noting their copyright information as necessary. I have a folder of books to review and books I’ve reviewed for easy access too. With so many books to read, it makes it easy to know where to look for ones in queue.

The Writing

Outlines work well for a lot of people. I use them for more technical works, but not so much for stories and blog posts. That said, it’s important to keep notes. I’m always copying and pasting things to my notepad. Research links, random thoughts of things I don’t want to forget to include, photo links, quotes, references and resources, it’s all in there on a note, organized according to the project it refers to.

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to writing, so I believe in writing raw and uncensored until the proofing and editing process begins. Writing organization is more important than you might think in this regard. Rough drafts are rough drafts. Proofreads are proofreads, editing is editing and polishing before publishing is vital and essential.

  • Rough Draft
  • Proof
  • Edit
  • Polish

Organizing your writing is never a matter of slapping up those first thoughts that entered your brain and got written in your rough draft. There is a true organization process that needs to take place. Being organized in all areas around this process makes it much easier to see this process through in the most professional manner.

Audiences appreciate a well organized writer. They don’t have to know what takes place behind the scenes. All they have to do is read the completely ready for publication article or book. It’s like watching a play. The obvious is when the actors stumble over their lines, the scenery and background look thrown together in a rush and the costumes are hazards waiting for a mishap to happen. Our writing reflects everything we do behind the scenes, without giving details about what it is we are doing.

I’ll be spending some time in the background soon, filing, sorting and filing some more. It’s not the most fun part of being a writer, but details matter and make all the difference in our work.

Thank you for visiting, commenting on and sharing this post today. I wish you every success with your writing!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved   Photo credit: Archivo de cabildo, Gusvel, GNU Free Documentation License

Thursday, November 20, 2014

To Schedule or Not to Schedule?

by M. J. Joachim

To schedule or not to schedule blog posts? That is the question I ask of thee. 

In a perfect world, they’d all be scheduled way in advance. Those books we promised to review would not be sitting in a stack, as we slowly finish reading one at a time. Those posts that flurry into our minds would be written perfectly every time, without the added insult of forgetting half the words before we put a towel around ourselves after taking a shower. What? Doesn’t everyone’s brain explode with new and exciting ideas when they’re relaxing & scrubbing in the shower? Surely I’m not the only one.

Yes, in a perfect world, everything would be…
Well, um…

But this is not a perfect world, and I know far too many bloggers who feel hurried and frustrated with the lack of perfection they feel torments their blogs, and the time they have to devote to them. It’s written about all the time, mentioned in comments when they are praising other bloggers they perceive are better than themselves, and felt by so many of us who do what we can and leave it at that.

I don’t schedule blog posts. I sometimes write a few of them in one day, because nothing else seems too pressing that day, or because they simply need to be written before my brain explodes from all those thoughts merging at once to get through.

I hate smart computers that fix so many words I’m typing fast, btw. Admittedly it looks like I’m dyslexic when I’m typing this fast, but I do my proofreading diligently and with "with" being spelled like wight or some other word changing itself to beth - like I’d be able to figure out the same typo I make almost every time when that happens, it's just frustrating. I know my typos, so it’s very easy to fix them when I proofread, without having my own too smart for me computer doing it for me, leading to utter confusion when it’s time to start my editing process!

Back to what I was saying now…

I draft my post in a text document. I don’t schedule them. Then I draft them in the blog. I still don’t schedule them. Then I publish them when I’m ready. So yes, I pre-write quite a few posts, but I don’t actually schedule many or any of them. I tried that, but they aren’t as easy to circulate that way. I’d rather publish them when I want, and spread the word about them via social networking at the same time.

That’s what works best for me. What works best for you?

As always, please comment, share and email me with your thoughts on this. I’m eager to hear from you and appreciate it more than you know!

Oh, and before you go, check out this guest post I wrote for Pat's other blog. Can you solve the mystery I pose there? Or at least share your thoughts and ideas about it?

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Wikimania 2007 Schedule, Kat Walsh, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hold It! Stop Everything! Write What You’re Thinking Right Now!

by M. J. Joachim

Well, wait until you finish reading and commenting on my post first, please. That’s what I meant to say in the title, but it would have been way too long…

I was in the middle of vacuuming the couch cushions when suddenly it hit me. I had a brilliant blog posts entering my brain, and if I didn’t sit at my computer and start typing, it was at risk of evaporating into thin air. I couldn’t let that happen, so I put the vacuum hose down, walked over to my computer and started typing about writing guest posts for other blogs.

I’ve done this before on numerous occasions. It’s how I write. The writer in me insists on it. I’ve dropped plates heading for the dishwasher right in the middle of the kitchen floor, only to sweep them up after the writing was done. I’ve shoved things off the kitchen table, because I needed room to create the original crochet pattern I would post on my blog.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee, something those who know me might not believe, all because the words came, inspiration happened and I wanted raw, unfiltered bliss to get them out before they went away.

It’s happening right now, in fact. Not less than five minutes ago, I was drafting the post about writing guest posts for other blogs. It’s done now, and this one is being typed above it. Today could be a banner writing day. The couch won’t be any worse for wear, though it does need to finish getting vacuumed, and that will happen today no matter what.

I’m a little bummed though, because as I’m typing this post, another is fighting to break loose, and I can’t stop typing this post to get it down above this one. Perhaps it will come when I start vacuuming the couch again. Poor couch was supposed to be done days ago, but I was busy typing as fast as the ideas would come.

Writers must write. They must set priorities and make it happen. If they don’t, they lose. It’s not about practice. It’s about doing. I don’t practice writing or crocheting. I write and crochet. I don’t practice cooking either. I either cook or I don’t. It’s a choice because these are things I’m good at and I don’t need to practice them anymore.

Stop saying you want to be a writer and be one. Have confidence in yourself and know that it happens every time you sit at the keyboard and type, whether you publish what you write or not. Get in the zone and believe what you already know. You are a writer and you either write or you don’t. That’s all there is to it at this stage in the game. It’s about doing what you do, or wondering why you didn’t.

Thanks so much for stopping by, commenting and sharing this post today. Your visits really make me smile. You can’t see the personal reaction, one of the drawbacks of working on computers, but if you could, it would make you smile too. Yea, it’s contagious, just like when you smile at someone in line at the grocery store. Most of the time, they just can’t help but smile back.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Vagrant Thoughts, Nabakishorec, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writing Guest Posts for Other Blogs

by M. J. Joachim

How you think about writing guest posts matters as much as getting your name out there to help promote yourself and your work. Think of it as an opportunity to share a sample of your writing with another group of possible fans. If you write a guest post for the sole purpose of self-promotion, with no meat, no guts, no glory, you won’t be doing yourself any favors.

Guest posts should be written with the blog owner in mind. Study the blog you want to guest post for, to get a feel for the tone and style of writing there. Chances are this blog already has a fairly nice following and quite a few fans of its own. Your guest post should rightfully be tailored to this group, showing not only that you are a good writer in your own right, but also that you are versatile, flexible and able to write words that inspire, educate and reach the masses.

It’s not as difficult as you might think. Consider the blogs you already follow, the ones you visit regularly, whether you leave comments there or not. These are the blogs you are naturally drawn to, so you already know how to write guest posts for them. 

Now think about the blogs you’d like to get to know better. Start visiting them more frequently, so that by osmosis you pick up on some of their traits. Incorporate little things you’re learning into your own style of writing, for the sole purpose of changing things up a bit, to provide a little added flavor to your own work.

Finally consider the blogs that are completely out of your comfort zone. You’d never want to write for them in a million years, but that shouldn’t stop you. Think of it as an exercise in creativity, a challenge to learn to be a better writer.

Now start writing - not for your blog, but for each of the blog types mentioned above. Write three guests posts, one to submit to each of their audiences. Look them up, see how to contact them and ask if you can send a guest post for their blog.

Most bloggers are thrilled to receive guest posts. I know I am. I drop everything and get them published as soon as possible, because I appreciate the extra content for my blog. My posts are the ones that get put on hold, while their posts go out right away. Not all bloggers can put their own work on hold so quickly; perhaps they’re in the middle of a series or something. However, many bloggers would jump for joy to receive extra posts for their blogs.

Think of blogs like mini-magazines. Get to know them and what they do. Learn their style so you can do it too. Query them to see if they’d be interested in receiving a guest post from you. Then send it asap, so they have it at the ready. Hey, if they decide not to use it, you always have extra content for your own blog this way. What’s stopping you? Write a guest post today!

Please pass this one around so we can generate a lot of guest posts out there. I hear they are very good for marketing and promotion, as well as building lasting and treasured friendships here in Blog Land.

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips. Your guest posts are always welcome here, and your support is way more than appreciated.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Boston Public Library, You’re Invited…, PD-US

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Road to Writing and Self-Publishing

by S. J. Hermann

The journey begins roughly a year and a half ago with a simple scene that repeated in my mind like a skipping record. A teenager using supernatural powers to choke another while his best friend watches in horror, begging for him to stop. From that one scene my novel Morium came to be, but it had to have more substance than just two teenagers with supernatural powers running rampant.

I knew I had to have strong characters, without strong characters the story I wanted to tell would fall flat. Drawing from my own experiences back, and I won’t say just how far back, when I was in high school I wanted to tackle a tough subject to write about - bullying. Being heavily bullied during my school years I had a foundation to draw on, to bring the emotions that my two main characters, Lexi and Nathan, were feeling and the psychological effect that bullying had on them. Not only did they have to deal with the torture they went through at school but also home problems. Nathan’s parents put work before their only child, while Lexi lost her mother and her dad struggled financially.

With a small spiral notepad next to me at all times I would jot down ideas as they filled my head. If I was out doing my daily business and an idea hit me like a brick, I would use my phone to type it out. When I first sat in front of my laptop, that notepad was filled in an unorganized mess of words. With the second book I cleaned up my process by using simple index cards to organize each chapter to get a good flow to the story.

I wrote, then wrote more, and wrote even more until I hit what I call the 20,000 word wall. This is a wall that I had never been able to climb over with any story I had started to write. That wall blocked my vision and clouded my mind with thoughts if the story was worth even continuing. I didn’t know what was on the other side; a calm, bright sunny day beckoning me to finish or a mixture of ridicule, negative thoughts and panning from reviewer’s swirling around in a tornado. I climbed each letter on that wall until I was able to see the other side of my doubts. There they were, Lexi and Nathan waving for me to join them, for they felt it important enough for their story to be completed. I ran, not jogged, towards them after I jumped off that wall and greeted them with a smile. Together we walked off onto the screen of my laptop and for the first time I climbed over that dreaded wall and pressed on.

After weeks of editing re-writes I had reached that point of hitting the publish button on Amazon. I can’t remember how long I sat there staring at the publish button deciding if this was the right thing to do. I don’t know if you could call it butterflies, or even a knot in the stomach, but there was self doubt. I had gone through the entire book so many times that it didn’t even makes sense to me anymore. My beta reader’s enjoyed it but was that enough? Oh, there were some bad thoughts; what if my precious baby that I have nurtured and cared for gets bashed with every review? Worse yet, it gets called the worst book on Amazon. It was at that point I shut off the computer and walked away. I pondered for a few days and came back to that publish button, but this time I did not hesitate and pressed publish. I still don’t know what came over me to do it.

I sent out reviewer copies to anybody who would read them and waited. Waited for negative to flood in, for that’s all I could think about. I knew that there is no such thing as a perfect book, or will there ever be. After a few days I received the first email from a blog that did a review. This is when the butterflies fluttered wildly in my stomach. There was sigh of relief as for the review was positive, highlighting that the characters were very relatable. With each review I received each one commented on the strengths of the characters, while the latter reviewers also added how they liked the flow. Well, I thought, I did something’s right. I know that not everyone will like my books, there will be flaws that people will point out, but that is the only way that I will become a better writer. That is the way anyone will become a better writer.

If I were to give advice to anyone who is considering writing a book I would say to them, “Don’t let anything stand in your way. Don’t let self-doubt get in your way. There will be bumps, and yes, even some detours on the way, but navigate through them and you will reach your destination of being a self-published author.”

Hermann’s first novel, Morium, was published on Amazon this past September 20, 2014. Hermann prefers to write supernatural, horror and science fiction stories, but is working on some stories that fall outside of these genres. You can find S. J. Hermann on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Blogger.

Thank you, S. J. for sharing the process you went through to publish your first novel with us. Bullying is a tough issue. It’s important for authors to address society’s issues from time to time, raising awareness about them through our work, so I applaud you for taking this on and trying to make a positive difference for those who are bullied.

On another note, the Effectively Human Community is hosting the 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive on December 4 - 6 this year. Please mark your calendars and save the dates. You can read all the details, as well as my own back story about starting this with Tina Downey last year, on the Effectively Human Blog. I hope you’ll join us and I hope you join our community too.

Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and sharing this post today. It’s always important to give first time authors encouragement and support for their work, so I’m sure your attention to this post is making S. J. smile.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bring on the Weekend

by M. J. Joachim

The day’s been kind of crazy
In a normal sort of way
First I woke with bed head
Had fun with that today

Then I did promote it
Updated Follow Me
Visited a few folks
Vented at Rhymer’s sea

Vacuum was too dusty
Washed it in the sink
Explained someone a pattern
Boy she made me think

Clouds are getting heavy
Rain may come our way
Weekend on horizon
I’m so ready to play

Best of the weekend to all,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Direct Hit, Ernst Vikne, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Real Writers Just Do It!

by M. J. Joachim

It’s been quite a whirlwind today! First we overslept which prompted my husband to work from home. I still cleaned the bathrooms, something I’ve been trying to get to for two days now. Sometimes you need to make things happen, because in the case of the bathrooms today, you’d be too grossed out if they didn’t. 

A normally quiet and boring day (save for the dogs), suddenly turned into an energetic, buzzing atmosphere because even the kids’ schedules allowed for extra activity on the home front. Amidst the noise of computer games, blaring music and action adventure movies playing in the background, I steadily worked on one solitary article, a piece that took so much longer than I expected.

The microwave interrupted my Internet signal as it always does, so right when I was about to post, all things stopped on my computer. Don’t even ask me how my posting happened. I never had so much trouble formatting blogger in my life! Meanwhile, I was exchanging emails with a fellow blogger friend trying to solve the mystery of not being able to send him some promised information. 

When the Internet wouldn’t work, I tried to work on a crochet stitch for that blog. Of all the days to be all thumbs, I ended up all tangled up in knots - twice. I’m determined to succeed and make a crochet post today, so we’ll see how it goes.

Then my loving and supportive husband asked me how work on my books is going. I guess he thought I’d been working on them all day. “Oh my gosh! I haven’t even started working on those yet today, and I’m so close to finishing the one for proofreading too!” 

The more I wound up, because I wasn’t really stressed, just a little rattled, the less the words (or stitches, as is the case with my crochet) would come. They still haven’t come, which is why I’m taking time to use this post as an example. 

If you expect me to explain what I mean by that, reread the last sentence of the last paragraph, beginning with “They still haven’t come.” I’m looking at the word example and trying to finalize my unfinished thought and statement. It escapes me. 

Writing tip for the day…

Just write it already! Persevere and make something happen. If you want to be a writer, if you want to put your words out there for everyone to read, write, publish and write some more. You are the only stumbling block in your way if you don’t. You can be your biggest and best writing advocate in the world, or you can be the one who sabotages it all. Write when the words are readily there and write when the words won’t come. Write when the house is quiet and write when it's ablaze with family activities. That’s how you fulfill your dream of being a writer!

Here’s to lots of noisy keyboards!

Best to all,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Annaviis, Kiidos, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just Being a Writer Today

by M. J. Joachim

Today started slowly as I sat on the couch drinking my coffee. Thoughts were racing through my brain. By rights I should have been sitting at the keyboard getting them out before they disappeared, but today was not a good day for that. I needed to embrace my thoughts, mull them over and let them simmer. 

It wasn’t about being productive, something I’ve been working overtime on for the past few weeks. It was about waking up slowly and just being in the moment, knowing I had way too many things I should be doing today, realizing I probably wouldn’t finish all of them anyway and being okay with however the day played out, because being a writer isn’t always about sitting at the keyboard, typing and publishing the words. Sometimes being a writer is about just being.

“Just” is one of those words I try to catch myself using, because frankly, I think I just use it way too much in my writing, so I just try to catch it and avoid using it, but it just so happens that “just being” is the most accurate description of what I’m just trying to say right now.

I also need to just thank Alex for mentioning me on his blog today.

And I just need to invite all of you lovely people to join a new group I just started in the Google+ Communities. It’s called Effectively Human, because it’s about us and people matter. I do hope you’ll check it out, join and maybe just share it with whoever you know who might just like to join too.

There now, you see what just sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and just embracing the moment can do for a writer. The words just flow, and then I just type and publish and everything is just swell.

Remember, your posts and work promotions are always welcome here. There’s no way I can read all the books I receive asking for a review in a timely manner, which is why I’m opening up this blog to all of you. You work hard writing, publishing and marketing your books. I know that, because I’ve written and published a few of my own. This is just one more avenue for you to share and promote your work, because I appreciate you and it’s one small way for me to give back to all of you for your encouragement and support of my work here. Please send your posts to:

Thanks you so much for visiting, commenting and sharing my blog today. I hope to get to know you even better in our Effectively Human Community.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Brown Leghorn Rooster in Austrailia, Fernando de Sousa, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

5 Tips to a Better Marketing Strategy

by Elizabeth Cooper

Marketing, the absolute worst part of writing a book. We get into writing to write not to be a sales person, but all of us inevitably find ourselves marketing our books. When I think of marketing I think of poison ivy, it's itchy and annoying and never goes away. As a self publisher, marketing should always be a part of your thinking process.

When I first started writing my book, I knew I was going to self publish, but I didn't even think about the marketing aspect. I never took into consideration I would need to be my own sales person and unfortunately I knew nothing about selling. I did a lot of research through the process of beginning to sell and launch my book, I made plenty of mistakes and successes. I want to share these tips with you, to make your marketing journey go a little smoother.

Part of marketing is just getting yourself out there, making your name known to others, sharing your opinions and building a community. The best way to do this is to start a blog. Find something you enjoy talking about and share it with others. Let people know you want to help them.

Tip #1  Start a blog and start it early.

As soon as you are thinking about writing start writing a blog. This will help get your name out there and build a community. Also add a like page to your Facebook account, let others know you’re a writer/ starting a book. Have fans before your book is even on sale.

Tip #2  Pick a social media site and stick to it.

There are tons of social media sites to be a part of. The problem is, finding the time to keep up with all of them would be nearly impossible. Find a few that work best for you and stick with them. Update them regularly, share articles that will help others or tips on your trade. I choose to use Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Google+.

Tip#3  Ask and you shall receive.

Don't be afraid to ask for likes or shares on your social media platform. People are 70% more likely to like your page when asked.

Tip #4 Keep with Community.

Remember your success is because of your community and followers. Make them a part of what you are doing. When you post something ask their opinion, ideas or thoughts. Say WE did this together, WE made it possible. This will help make your community feel involved and a part of your work.

Tip#5 Free is always better.

Admit it, people like getting things for free. Limit the amount of times you post asking someone to buy something. Give away most things for free (ie your blog posts). Maybe write a short story or have a marketing plan to giveaway when subscribing to your blog. When I use social media platforms like Instagram and post about a book release, I usually keep it up on my sight for a few days and then delete it. That way when someone searches for me or scans through my posts they're not turned off by seeing my marketing. We know marketing is something that needs to be done, but it doesn't mean we always like to see it.

So get out there and market yourself and remember to start early. Starting early will save you a lot of time in headaches in the long run. I was a procrastinator and was forced to cram, do yourself a favor and don't wait like me.

If you would like to learn more on the topic, or would like to have a personal conversation with me on marketing or book writing in general. Message me on my website. Feel free to leave a comment or question. I love hearing from you.



It is such a pleasure sharing Liz’s experiences of writing and marketing with you. We all know marketing is part of what we authors do, so being able to learn from each other is vitally important. Thank you, Liz for taking the time to be a valued guest on Writing Tips. 

I think “community” sums it up pretty well. We are all one big community, whether we are writing and promoting, reading and subscribing or offering moral support for the journey. Without each other, we’d get nowhere too fast. With each other, even when it seems we’re taking two steps back, for each step we move forward, at least we know we’re going in the right direction.

Liz is the author of Numbers, Where Their Story Begins, a book that has two 5-Star reviews stating it is a must read, an excellent book that is difficult to put down. Her book is available in paperback and ebook formats.

You can purchase Liz's book in both paperback and ebook formats on her website . It is also available on Amazon - paperback & ebook

Liz also shares many more writing tips on her website and blog.

Please help me help Liz. Comment, share and show your love for fellow writer and author, Liz Cooper!

Best to all,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Business Feedback Loop, Tomwsulcer, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Few Words about Writing Sex Scenes by Suz deMello

by Suz deMello

From my writing treatise, Plotting and Planning…

Scenes are the building blocks of your story, for acts are comprised of scenes. They're nothing more than events, most often interactions between your characters. Scenes should fulfill at least one or two of the below purposes—best if you can include all four.

•Advance plot
•Reveal or develop character
•Complicate or resolve conflict
•Express setting, mood, theme

Everything in your manuscript should have a function, even every comma or em-dash.

How does this apply to the writing of erotica?

Too often, sex scenes are shoehorned into a story to increase the word count or the heat level, while those scenes don't fulfill any other function. To quote from Plotting and Planning again, Everything in a story should contribute to it, from the biggest monster to the tiniest comma.

If a scene doesn't contribute to the story, it doesn't belong there. It doesn't matter how well-written it is. It doesn't matter how hot it is. It doesn't matter how much you, the author, may love the beautiful prose or the scorching hot, kinky sex.

There's a piece of writerly advice out there: Kill your darlings.

No one's quite sure where this phrase originated, but it's been repeated often, by such notable authors as William Faulkner and Stephen King.

But it doesn't matter who originated the phrase--it's great advice. We often fall in love with our prose and are loath to cut it, especially when we may have slaved over a particularly well-turned clause or exhaustively researched, say, the eating habits of the lesser lemur of Madagascar.

But fiction is no place to be a smarty-pants. Leave that for term papers, book reports and theses.

In terms of writing sex scenes, what do we leave in and what to we cut?

We leave in those scenes that fulfill at least one of the above purposes. Ideally, a well-written, thoughtfully planned encounter will fulfill more than one purpose.

Here's a brief example, from a story I wrote called Gypsy Witch. The backstory is that the heroine is dating a cop.

Ben propped himself up on his elbows to better see the naked woman beneath him. Sheened with sweat, Elena’s lush curves glowed in the reddish half-light of her bedroom, curtained in exotically patterned swaths of gauze and silk. A curl of smoke from a lit incense stick scented the air with sandalwood. Otherworldly New Age music flowed out of a boombox in the corner, irritating the hell out of him. 
Though the paragraph is very sensual, there’s quite a bit of characterization and even a little conflict—and this is only the first paragraph. We see that Ben is very “feet-on-the-ground” while Elena, his lover, is exotic and New-Agey. So character is described, setting is related and the romantic conflict is shown.

If you like what you read, find the story here.

I am a romance novelist and believe firmly that erotic scenes should never be gratuitous. If a writer keeps the purposes a scene must fulfill in mind while writing, the sex is never out of place but is a seamless part of a well-written story.

About the Author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Check out Suzie's site:
And her blog:

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing important writing tips relating to romance and sex scenes, Suz. It's a true pleasure to have you visit us here. There are several tips in this post that can be applied to any writing. I particularly like the phrases, "Everything in your manuscript should have a function..." and "Kill your darlings." Thorough editing is so important in our writing. Without it, our work can be very difficult to read, regardless of what genre it falls into.

Thanks to all my visitors here. It's obvious Suz spends a lot of time and effort on her writing. Your comments and shares are always appreciated to help give her some extra kudos on her work.

Wishing you every success with your writing, 

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved  Photo credit:  Suz deMello ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: Soul Searching by Shaheen Darr

by M. J. Joachim

Poetry speaks a language all its own, often stirring unrequited emotions destined to reach the depths of our being, as they engage us in the ever challenging journey to live and let live. Soul Searching by Shaheen Darr explores a vast world of human emotions through her poems. She touches on humanness in all its forms - searching for hope, destined for greatness, powerless and fleeting, healing and embracing, living and dying. 

Each poem written by Darr in this book has the ability to punch you in the gut, encouraging you to open your eyes and see the world around you, not just as a place to live or exist, but a place where people depend on people, evil has its due and love can conquer all. Very real issues are explored, things like prejudice, famine, gender bias, health and wealth.

Soul Searching is a book to tend to, reading its poems time and time again. Though I read it from cover to cover for this review, it is a true poetry book, the kind where you keep it around, open it to any particular page, read a poem and reflect on how it speaks to your soul. It is a book I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys poetry and this journey we call life.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today. May verses inspire you and love keep you whole.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Poem of the Soul, Louis Janmot (1814 - 1892), Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, PD-US

Friday, November 7, 2014

I Want Your Writing Tips and Author Promotion Post

by M. J. Joachim

It’s true, I’m accepting author guest posts on my blog. All you have to do is copy and paste an informative writing post in an email addressed to me. Your post can be about anything writing related. I’m not fussy, provided your post is written well and includes information my audience can use in their own writing.

What I don’t want are book and author advertisements. I won’t publish those at all. However, if your post gives my audience valuable information to make their writing easier, or even some solid food for thought, I’m happy to include a paragraph about you and your books, along with links, in the post. It’s a win/win for both of us, since my audience gets the content they deserve and you get a little extra promo for your work.

Go on now, share what you know and email it to me:

You know you want to, and I want to promote you and your work too!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin (1699 - 1779), National Gallery - The Yorck Project, PD-US

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comfort Zones and Writing

by M. J. Joachim

Comfort zones make things easier for us as we go about the business of daily living. Some of us go to great lengths to preserve our comfort zones. Some of us go with the flow, allowing our comfort zones to be flexible within reason, and some of us fly by the seat of our pants, not defining our comfort zones at all, until we end up out of them by chance, and then we simply cannot cope at all.

I’m more of a flexible type, going with the flow and dealing. I suppose it’s the mom of three grown kids in me, or maybe it’s because I’m #8 of 8 kids in my family. You sort of had to deal in that crowd, because if you didn’t you’d surely end up at the funny farm. Speaking of which, a sense of humor helped a lot in that crowd too. Then again, a sense of humor helps in just about every crowd I’ve ever met.

Comfort zones and writing aren’t that different from any other comfort zones we have in life. Writers like their space, their solitude and the worlds they create in their manuscripts. They enjoy familiar surroundings where they can focus on the task at hand, writing.

As I type, delete, type some more, delete some more, I realize I’m out of my comfort zone today. I’m dealing, and I’m pushing myself to make this post for you. In the process I’m realizing that it wouldn’t hurt to test and stretch my limits a little more often.

Comfort zones can get boring in writing, making our words sound like broken records. Changes of scenery and environments might well be a good thing to keep things fresh in our writing. Discussions with new people, dining at different restaurants, tasting new and unusual foods, all these play into those comfort zones and ultimately can be used to express ourselves in our writing, preventing it from going stale.

Today I’m working on the patio. The men and their machines are tearing up broken flooring in the kitchen. It’s strange looking in at the kitchen, instead of out at the backyard. It’s even more strange trying to type with the clatter of tiles and buzzing of sanders on the other side of the wall. New perspectives give us new things to write about, provide different scenes for the characters we create and heighten our sense of awareness in everything around us. We know familiar, until we’ve looked at it from the other side of the window and wall. For it is only then that we get a glimpse of looking at our comfort zones from the outside, allowing us to understand what makes them so comfortable in the first place.

Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing my post today. Here’s to being comfortable.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Penny snuggles, Michael R. Stern, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Welcome Distractions when Reading, Writing & Reviewing

by M. J. Joachim

My husband looked at me with curiosity, as he was heading to the kitchen to peek at dinner on the stove. I shrugged and said, “I probably would have put this book down and not finished reading it at all, if I hadn’t promised to review it.”

“That bad, huh?” he said

“Not great, okay I guess,” was my reply.

Whenever I read slow, opting to put the book down for any welcome distraction, I know it’s not going to get the best review from me. As I continue reading it, I almost plead with the pages, “Please, say something, anything that will surprise me and make me give this book one of the best reviews I’ve ever written.”

Lazy writing will ruin a book for me every time. These are the books that may have been proofread, but not with an editor’s eye, the one’s where a minimal number of typos are scattered here and there. Minor words are missing, probably in the rush to get the thought out. I always notice those. Small details are to be assumed by the reader. I don’t assume anything when I’m reading, because it’s the twists and turns that often make a story come alive.

I’m going to keep reading this one. Maybe it will surprise me by the time I finish it. In the meantime, I’m going to welcome the distractions and take my time reading. I’ve done that before, and it was always better for the author in the long run.

Thanks for visiting, commenting on and sharing Writing Tips today. Your encouragement and support of this blog is always appreciated.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: A cow at Odem Forest Reserve, Ronen Rothfarb, Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Organizing Your Book

by M. J. Joachim

Life has a natural flow to it, where things seem to gently go along, following the course they are meant to travel. Sometimes there’s a glitch or bump in the road, but for the most part, the journey is steadfast and sure, pointing to a direct destination, regardless of the twists and turns it takes to make it there.

So it is with your book. There’s an easy button for it - a natural path that makes perfect sense. The formula is pre-written. Some things must happen before other things will ever make sense. You can’t have someone die, without having that same person live first. You can’t make a conclusion with nothing to base it on.

When you organize your book, the first thing you must do is write it. You must get your scrambled thoughts out, before you can fine tune them to make sense of them for your readers. Organizing your book takes place during the writing process, but it is also a very necessary part of the editing process. 

Your Table of Contents is one of the last things you should write, in my opinion. There’s a reason for this, of course. If it doesn’t flow smoothly in the Table of Contents, it sure won’t be natural in the final draft of the book. By putting the Table of Contents together in the later stages of preparing your book for publication, you can easily catch that seemingly minor misplacement of chapters, that interrupts the overall flow of your book. 

Speaking of the later stages of preparing your book…

They often take longer than the actual writing of it, because it’s in those later stages that writers must proofread, paying attention to every little detail. No detail is too small or insignificant. It’s not just about catching typos. This is about rewriting paragraphs, rewording things that could easily read so much better, if you take the time to rack your brain and push your limits. It’s also about deleting things you might really like, but in all matters of publishing a professionally prepared manuscript, don’t do anything for what you’ve written. (It could be an emotional attachment, something you might be better off sharing on your blog, as opposed to including in your book.)

Organizing your book is a big deal, and it takes time. It’s not something you slap together after you’ve put so many hours into writing your book. It’s something you work hard at and strive to achieve, because how you organize your book matters to your readers, even though they aren’t judging your organization skills, which is why organizing your book should be seamless, appear effortless, because you took the necessary time, toiled over the absolute correct placement of each and every chapter, each and every paragraph in each and every chapter, each and every word placement…

It truly does matter, and it can be the difference between a great book and an okay book. Here’s to lots of great books! There are plenty of okay books already out there.

Happy reading and writing everyone!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Lamp Flow Chart, Booyabazooka & Wapcaplet, GNU Free Documentation License

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My New Book is Live on Amazon!

by M. J. Joachim

You know that feeling when you’re almost finished with something you really want to complete? You dive in and go gangbusters, taking all the necessary steps to get it done. I was there last week and this is the finished result, Guide to Hot Water Bath Canning. It went live on Amazon late last night.

There was a bit of a learning curve. I’ve never made a book directly on Amazon through Createspace before. My other books were published through Smashwords. I’m not even sure how to include them in my Amazon Author Profile page, which I made this morning. Amazon does distribute them, so I’ll have to look into that a bit more and get them added.

While I was finishing up this book, I also was working on another one. Plus, two or three days ago, some sort of story idea came flooding into my brain, through the pen and onto the paper. I didn’t have much time to keep it going, but it’s going to get written in the not too distant future too. First up though is this other tutorial book I’m working on, which I’ve been working on for a few months now. It takes time testing everything to make sure all my steps are included and written clearly.

Anyway, here’s the finished product of my latest book on Amazon. I’ve got a pantry full of canned goods to show for it. I was processing vegetable broth when I was making the cover of it. It’s been a busy time and the adrenalin rush is positively energizing!

Happy Saturday to you! My daughter brought the baby for her first visit to Grandma’s house this weekend. I’m around, but I’m also holding a sweet bundle of joy as much as I possibly can.

Feel free to share my new book link. I’ve never really done anything quite like this before and now I honestly don’t know why, because it was so much fun to make. Here’s to writing and publishing more books, for all of us. If you haven’t done it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Best to all,

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved