Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are Bookstores Doomed?

I was sent this link today about bookstores. The Wall Street Journal discusses if bookstores are doomed like the record stores 10 years ago. The debate over weather eBook readers are going to be the way of life or will people still want to hold a book between there hands is on. I for one think bookstores maybe on their way to downsizing, but being wiped off the map like the record stores of old . . . no! Why? Because too many people still like to curl up in bed, in front of a fire, or under a shady tree while they read. I know I love turning the pages of a book, feeling it in my hands, and dogearing the corner to mark my spot. Think about a child trying to sit on mommy's or daddy's lat reading an eBook. I just don't see it. Plus you can' see the full spread of a children's picture book on an eBook reader. At least not from what I've seen. Yeah, eBooks are cool, hot and part of our life-style. My hubby loves getting a chapter a day sent to his smart phone to read on his breaks. They are popular and becoming mainstream, but books will never completely go away. Even CD's are still around even though people have MP4, MP3, and Ipods. I even know a few people who still collect records. I would love to know your thoughts on this subject and for fun . . . I have embedded the clip from The Wall Street Journal.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How Many Moves Does It Take to Equal Your Age?

Many of my writing ideas come from my childhood. Not the kind of memories from growing up in the same house, friends, and school . . . no, my memories are from moving around a lot. In fact, I have moved so many times that I’ve finally caught up in age to the count I’ve been keeping . . . 35! So this week’s writing prompt couldn’t be more appropriate to my life style.

Moving from one place to another and one house to another, is a big task. Write about one of your most memorable house moves.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Good Story Is A Good Story- August 30th Special Guest Carmela Foster

This week’s show is going to be entertaining as well as educational. Carmela Green Foster will be discussing how being on YouTube can make your dreams become reality. There’s several thing that need to be done that will help sell more books., but book trailer videos which have become very popular seem to be what writers find a very important way to promote yourself. Also Carmela will discuss the two films she has produced "Tell me a joke and I will laugh".

Also on the show we will have April’s Pick which is always one of her favorite TV shows and a discussion, Freda’s favorite old movie FUNNY GIRL and Virginia’s perspective on writing. There’s a new addition to the show. Every show will showcase an author who will be calling in and sharing their new book and briefly talking about their career. Fran Lewis will be giving a mini preview on her new book, Sharp As A Tack. Leave your stress behind and join in every Monday night. You’ll have fun. There's something new going to happen....a contest! We will keep you posted. the link to the show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2010/08/31/rr-tracks--a-good-story-is-a-good-story

Friday, August 27, 2010

It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences

One of my writing buddies sent me this. Of course, I'm sharing it because I feel it is something we can all use. Enjoy!

Subtitle: a writer’s guide to crafting killer sentences

By June Casagrande

Ten Speed Press (2010)

ISBN: 9781580087407

Nonfiction/How-To (Writing)

Contact Reviewer: hojoreviews@aol.com

Buy Link: http://budurl.com/GrammarSnobs

Publisher's Site: www.tenspeed.com

New Book May (Should!) Replace Your Stunk and White!

Grammar Guru Offers Advice Like None You’ve Ever Seen—All in One Place!

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This Is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, Tracings, a chapbook of poetry and the How To Do It Frugally Series of book for authors

Rules. Rules. Rules. I didn’t realize how tired I was of the same old writing advice until this little black book landed in my mailbox. I promised to review it fast, but this It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences book by June Casagrande isn’t a book a serious writer wants to flip though fast.

I could see from the subhead in the first chapter that "best of sentences" would include something better than most. It read, “Thy Reader, Thy God.” What a concept that is! The Reader and not The Rule Book! Ahem! And it got better and better as Casagrande explored all the subjects I knew everything about. Or thought I did. She uses examples so a writer can see the differences between OK writing and acrylic-clear writing.

By the time I got to “Are Your Relatives Essential?” I was really sold. This is a Wow-Chapter, even for accomplished editors. The writing tips she gives in Chapter Twelve for using tenses effectively are just what I need to convince my students that I’m not the only editor/teacher in the world who believes that tenses needn’t match all the way through a story (or even a paragraph, for that matter!). That chapter is called “You Will Have Been Conjugating.”

I could go on and on, chapter by chapter. What isn’t new to a writer or what doesn’t elucidate will remind and amuse Casagrande’s God, The Reader. For those who know Casagrande’s work, this book isn’t as funny as her first one, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (www.budurl.com/GrammarSnobs). Nevertheless, the reader will still occasionally get a good laugh. For chuckles read Chapter Nine, “Antique Desk Suitable for Lady with Thick Legs and Large Drawers.”

For Casagrande, the lesson is always that grammar needn’t be dreary. Why should it be when we love writing? How could it be when grammar is the nails and tacks, the color and structure of what we love? Writing.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This is the Place, has won eight awards.

Her book of creative nonfiction Harkening, won three. A UCLA Writers' Program

instructor, she also is the author of another book essential for writers,

USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't.(www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo). The second in the HowToDoItFrugally series, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor) covers writing successful query letters and includes helpful hints from twenty of the nation's top agents. Her book Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy (www.budurl.com/WordTrippersPB) will appeal to the same crowd that falls in love with Casagrande’s books. Learn more about Howard-Johnson at her new site http://HowToDoItFrugally.com.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program Web site: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Help! I Need More Hours in a Day!

My heart is trying to break out of my chest. I can’t hear due to the loud thumping sound ringing in my ears. My eyes try to focus, but tears keep coming. What am I going to do? Time is speeding up and my legs can’t keep up with Father Time.

Help! I shout, but nothing escapes my mouth. The words stop in my throat. Beads of sweat cover my brow. Is this all really happening? Can I seriously survive this? I stop, take a deep breath, and close my eyes. I let the calm darkness enfold me.

“Okay, I can do this,” I softly say to myself.

“Bye . . . Mommy!”

I look up into to see my five-year-old daughter disappearing through the glass doors on her first day of school.

Yep, I am down to one child at home. Now you would think after sending one child to school for the first time fourteen years ago I would be totally okay. Nope, I cried like a baby when I got home. My hubby laughed at me because I was so upset about my daughter not wanting me to walk her into the school. She just jumped out of the car, stood on the sidewalk of the drop-off zone, put her backpack on, and shut the car door. She did wave good-bye to me and called out a good-bye, but still . . . she’s my little girl who’s been at my side for the last five years every day.

Okay, so that was the end of last week and one reason why I haven’t been so great about posting here daily. With back-to-school, my house has been a bit nuts. All right . . . really nuts. Of course, I can’t just let the craziness of school starting be the only thing going on. For some strange reason, I have this problem of adding to the stress levels in my life. You would think between a six month old, my five year old starting school for the first time, and my oldest going into high school would be enough on this writing mom’s plate . The answer is . . . no.

I just had to add a few more things to help fill those hours of silence in my home, besides doing the mommy school thing with the kids, being a backup crossing guard for my city, and helping my son’s fencing club by writing forms and putting together a handbook for the students. So, this week, I’ve put the call out about Stories for Children Magazine reopening and have been spending my free time chatting with possible new SFC Team members. I think I have spent more time on the phone this week than I ever did as a teenager. Okay, maybe not as many . . . but almost. I am happy to say that I have some great people willing to help. More than I have jobs for really, so the tough decisions are about to begin.

I am also excited to announce I will be doing a weekly column for Suzanne Lieurance in her newsletter on all things Stories for Children. She will also be writing a monthly column for my newsletter SFC Newsletter for Writers. On top of that, I had an interesting call about a wonderful opportunity. I can’t say much now since everything is still being worked out, but I hope to soon.

So many things are going on from being a co-host on A Good Story is A Good Story to the reopening of Stories for Children Magazine. I am excited about it all, but wonder if maybe Father Time will grant my upcoming birthday wish about adding more hours in the day. If not, I might become a chicken with my head cut-off, but not before I add even more to my list of things to do, I’m sure.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writing Prompt: Weird is only a frame of mind

Sorry everyone this is a couple of days late. I've been so busy with a lot of exciting things I will be sharing with you all on tomorrow's post, but until then . . . Here is your writing prompt for this week. Write about a weird day in your workplace, home, on a vacation, or anywhere else. Keep in mind that your perspective on what is considered weird may vary from another.

Article Wednesday: The 3 Most Common Motivational Factors

Different motivational factors are required to inspired people into taking actions they may otherwise not take. Some people may not be motivated to maintain a fitness routine while others can be compulsive about doing so. On the other hand the same people who display a lack of motivation towards fitness may be more 'career driven' than a fitness enthusiast. The point people get motivated for different reasons and these reasons can as much as personality types. No matter what it takes however everybody including even the most unmotivated amongst us however has something that can stimulate them into taking action. Here are three of the most common motivation factors any of which has the capability to stir a reaction out of even the most unmotivated. Fear This factor is probably the most influential of all others due to the fact that it is deeply rooted in a very primal emotion. Fear has the ability to make even the most lackadaisical people get motivated, and in a hurry! The loss of life, limb, a loved one or even money can and usually will stir quite a reaction out of just about anyone. This type of motivation often times is more a reaction than it is a calculated and well thought out plan. Desire The influence this factor has over someone is based more upon the ability to be self-motivated. What stirs a desire in people is dependent upon their particular 'hierarchy' of priorities. These desires are based more upon personal wants or 'urges' and not necessities. If something is important enough to someone, they need to get motivated by their own inner drive. Need This factor ranks right behind fear as the second most influential of the three we are discussing here. Whereas, a desire, as we spoke of above, is fueled by a 'want' or 'urge' a need is based upon something of greater urgency such as food or shelter. Even though this factor is capable of helping anyone overcome a lack of motivation it is not quite as strong as the primal reaction that fear can stir. Although, it may take different motivational factors to stimulate people into taking action most everybody can be motivated. Some people may not place a high value on health or money but can be motivated to collect stamps. Others may have a lack of motivation to own a pet but still may enjoy a day at the zoo. The fact is that almost everybody has certain motivation factors that may affect them more then others. The three factors we discussed here today are the most common and likely strongest reasons people get motivated. The source of a person's motivation is typically a reflection of their priorities. So what motivates you?

About The Author

TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. To learn more about how certain motivational factors can bring out your best and to also receive a free instructional manual that teaches valuable niche research techniques simply visit: http://blogbrawn.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23rd on A Good Story is A Good Story

This is going to be an exciting show. Special guests this week are Jan Britland and Mike Swaim. Jan is the author of the Rodger Doger series and Mike is the illustrator. They are a great team and they will each be taking about their careers and how they met and created such a colorful series of children’s books. Audience participation is always a plus. Please feel free to call 646-595-4478 with your questions. Also on the show we will have April’s Pick which is her favorite TV show and a discussion, Freda’s Favorite old movie and Virginia’s perspective on writing. There’s a new addition to the show. Every show will showcase an author who will be calling in and sharing their new book and briefly talking about their career. Leave your stress behind and join in every Monday night. You’ll have fun. Join us at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2010/08/24/rr-tracks--a-good-story-is-a-good-story

Friday, August 20, 2010

Interview Friday with Karen Cioffi

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and reviewer. She is on the team of DKV Writing 4 U; manager of VBT – Writers on the Move; co-moderator of a children’s critique group; and an acquisitions editor intern. You can contact Karen at:

karenrcfv AT yahoo DOT com.

VS: I want to thank you, Karen for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I know being a parent and writer can be hard, but you do more than just write and raise a family. You also host authors on your blog and run a virtual blog tour group, so to start here is the first question . . . how many children do you have and what are their ages?

Karen: Hi, Virginia, thank you for featuring me; it’s certainly an honor. As far as question #1, I have two grown daughters, 30 and 34. And, I have two grandsons, 4-years-old, and 20-months-old. I babysit them two days a week, so I’m still in the trenches as a writing grandmamma. J During the summer, my 10-year-old great nephew is in the mix also.

VS: Wow, sounds like you are busy with kids even after yours have grown-up. What is a typical writing day like for you?

Karen: My typical writing day is spending an awful lot of time on the computer, except Tuesdays and Thursday (they are my babysitting days). After watching my grandsons for 8 or 9 hours, I often just crash.

On most days, I try to take care of household chores in the morning when I have some energy. Then, I go on the computer. First I check my email (including my groups’ daily digests), and respond to mail that needs to be answered; I also look into any interesting newsletters or information.

After that, I spend my time writing one thing or another; with ghostwriting, editing, copywriting, and my own articles for my blogs and article directories my day flies by with writing and research.

VS: After reading what your day is like, I had to go take a nap. LOL. I totally understand days flying by with writing, research, and taking care of kids. I think it is great you watch your grandkids. My mom helps me out as well when I need a break. So is your family supportive of your writing and other ventures?

Karen: My husband is very supportive of my writing, although every now and then he feels I’m on the computer too much. My girls are supportive, but for some reason they always laugh when I say I’m busy working. And, my 4-year-old grandson is starting to become interested in my writing. He recently asked if I write books, and wanted to write one with me.

VS: That’s wonderful to hear. I think husbands sometime view our writing as a hobby. At least mine did until was paid for my work. He doesn’t say much now about how much I’m on the computer because he’s on more than me. However, if the kids are climbing the walls . . . he has no trouble pointing out I need to get off. J Have you had any training to become a writer?

Karen: In college, I minored in English Literature, but no real formal training to become a writer. After I became disabled with multiple sclerosis in 2000, and had to give up my accounting career, I entered the writing arena. First, I took several years to get healthy enough to function better. Then, I joined The Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club (CWCC) with Suzanne Lieurance. My training, in respect to writing for children, is through Suzanne and her instruction, guidance, coaching, and motivation. I’ve been a member for over 2 years now, and I know I wouldn’t have gotten this far without Suzanne.

I also put in the time and effort; I did, and still do, a lot of research and reading about learning to write and marketing.

VS: That is so amazing Karen. I have to tell you I forget you have MS. You do so much and never seem to slow down and I’m sure Suzanne is there motivating you every step of the way. She’s great and her programs from what I hear are wonderful. I haven’t taken one yet, but I do get her newsletter and chat with her from time to time. Okay, so what type of books do you mostly write?

Karen: I seem to be all over the place. J I started with children’s picture books, then moved on to children’s chapter books (which I really like writing), and I’ve written 3 nonfiction e-books on writing and marketing; the most recent one is over 100 pages. And, I know I have a novel in me somewhere . . . someday.

VS: I think it is great you’re trying all the different genres. I think one should never limit their choices and once you find the niche you do best in . . . really hit it hard. Karen, I would love it if you would share with us a little about your current book.

Karen: My current book, Walking Through Walls, is a children’s chapter book geared toward ages 8-11. It’s in contract with 4RV Publishing, and is in edits. It takes place in China around the 15th or 16th century, and is loosely based on an ancient Chinese tale. I want to start on a sequel to it, but with my workload right now, it’s difficult.

I also have another children’s chapter book in the works (on the back burner for the time being) about two boys lost in space and a children’s pb (also on the backburner).

VS: Your book, Walking Through Walls, sounds interesting. My family live books based in other countries. You’ll have to let me know when it is out. I also know what it is like having WP’s on the backburner. I finally pulled two of my pb’s out of the drawer to start working on them again after two years. As I mentioned before, you don’t only write, but also host and run a blog tour group. Can you share a little about this group and what a blog tour is?

Karen: Yes, VBT – Writers on the Move. I started this group in October 2008, as a direct result of the 2008 Muse Online Writer’s Conference. I participated in a workshop with Denise Cassino that prompted the group.

Basically, we are a group of authors and writers who use cross-promotion to increase visibility. Our strategies include ongoing blog tours, promotion of the tours, link exchange, twitter retweets of not only the tours, but any other blog post a member requests we visit and comment on (I call it Marketing Plus), and a group blog site where contributors have another site to post content. I don’t think I’m forgetting anything, but can’t remember at the moment—let’s see, I can blame it on my age, or the MS. J

A blog tour is a strategy for creating or increasing visibility. I wrote an article a while ago explaining tours and VBT; it’s more detailed than I can add here. Anyone interested can check it out at:


VS: VBT is such a great group. I’m really enjoying being a part of it. It does take a lot of work, but it is worth it. Now you also do ghost writing. I’ve looked into this kind of work before, but wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to try. Can you share with us what it is like working on someone else’s book?

Karen: I like ghostwriting. To me it’s a win-win situation – the author gets a story and you paid for it. J I usually work from an outline or rough draft provided by the author.

As long as you don’t have the need to have your name on the book, it’s a practical way to earn money from your writing. I’ve done several children’s books so far, and turned down a paranormal novel because I’m not familiar enough with the genre. I’m currently working on editing/rewriting a 320 page memoir (once some rewriting is involved I consider it a form of ghostwriting). The key is to make sure you get paid enough for your time, and sometimes you don’t always know how involved, or how long it will take.

VS: Yes, I can see that being a downside to ghostwriting. Besides writing your own books and ghostwriting . . . you also do reviews. What do you like about reviewing?

Karen: The first is the reading part; I’ve read so many interesting books from reviewing. The other thing I like about reviewing is helping authors out by bringing attention to their books through reviews. Unfortunately, with my workload, I have slacked off on reviews.

VS: Totally understandable. You do a lot Karen, so slacking off on a few things is bound to happen. One reason why I took a break from Stories for Children Magazine last year. Okay, with all that you do what type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

Karen: Without hesitation, article marketing for article directories and my blogs works.

Readers want information or entertainment; providing what readers want draws traffic and creates visibility for what you’re offering, whether it’s your books or your services. This is why in the VBT tours I’m trying to steer the members toward featuring more guest articles rather than pure promo.

VS: A very smart move indeed. What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Karen: There are two bits of advice that I think are invaluable to a writer, and both came from Suzanne Lieurance:

1. Don’t compare yourself to other writers and their accomplishments.

2. Persevere.

VS: Great advice Karen. It is so true that what works for one writer may not work for another so comparing yourself to others is just asking for failure. Sine you mentioned persevere, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?

Karen: YES! I struggle with this all the time, and my personal writing time is losing big time. But, as a freelance writer, you need to take the jobs when they come.

VS: I’ll second that! Okay, a publishing question for you . . . the world of book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?

Karen: I think self-publishing is an option, as long as you take the necessary steps to make your book ‘publish ready’ (professionally edited, and if it’s a pb, professional illustrations). And, with e-books on the rise, and more and more companies such as CreateSapce, Smashwords, and Lulu, it’s easier than ever to create a book.

But, whether right or wrong, I think there’s a certain feeling of accomplishment when your manuscript is accepted by a publisher. And, book promotion is a lot of work, even if you’re traditionally published, with self-publishing it’s even more difficult and time consuming.

VS: Yes, I think a lot of writers who take the self-publishing route don’t realize how much hard work marketing is and more so because you don’t have a publisher’s support (most of the time.) Karen, what would we be surprised to learn about you?

Karen: I’ve been promoting myself for almost two years now; you all probably know more about me than I remember myself. J

Okay, I’m not sure if anyone knows this, but I recently joined the staff at 4RV Publishing as an acquisitions editor intern.

VS: That’s wonderful news. Congrats! Karen, is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

Karen: I think in closing, I’d just like to emphasis that anyone interested in self-publishing should take the time to do it right. I’ve read a number of self-pubbed books for reviews, and it was obvious the authors jumped in without learning to swim first.

VS: Karen, thank you again for sharing your busy writing mama life with us. It is always a pleasure to have writers like you who are so multi-talented on The Writing Mama.

To sign up for Karen’s free monthly newsletter, A Writer’s World, and in the process get two free e-books: The Self-Publisher’s Guide, and The Blogger’s Checklist. Go to:

http://karencioffi.com or http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com

To learn more about Karen’s book Day’s End Lullaby visit:


You can learn more about Karen and her books at: