The Three Rs: Reading, wRiting, and Roaming

June 10, 2019

What a treat to talk with Greg Renz about his book Beneath the Flames. Last week I included my review of his debut novel as part of my bi-monthly wrap of great books. If you missed that, please take a moment to see why I LOVE this book below before we jump into the interview with Greg. 

Beneath the Flames begins with one of the best first chapters I have ever read, pitching us directly into the kind of action and raw emotion rarely found in a debut novel. Our heart aches for the main character Mitch as guilt drives him to seek distraction, purpose, and redemption by joining the Milwaukee Fire Department. His life on the farm and as a small-town volunteer fire fighter hasn’t... Continue Reading

June 3, 2019

In the last two months I’ve read a wide variety of books from picture book to romance and everything in between. Some of these books are not recent releases but were mentioned during sessions at recent conferences. I’m currently reading my way through this list along with my normal ‘just for fun’ reading and will bring you those that I highly recommend. 


Where Did the Sun Go? by Karen Franco

Franco writes a sweet story that teaches all ages how weather can affect someone on the autism spectrum. Smart details make this book an asset for classroom learning, inclusion, and acceptance. I particularly appreciate the endnotes about... Continue Reading

May 28, 2019


Big Changes at MailChimp

How 5 Great Writers Got Started on Their First Books


What You Need to Know about MailChimp’s Recent Changes

I have been a big fan of MailChimp. I use it and I often recommend it to other authors who are looking for an email subscription/newsletter management system. I dread the idea of moving to another system, because it takes time to set up all of the emails, templates, and automations that make my life simpler every time I want to send a newsletter to my subscribers. HOWEVER, the recent changes at MailChimp are important to note, particularly if you have a growing subscription list. MailChimp remains free to use if you have 2000 or less audience members. The change that’s most... Continue Reading

May 21, 2019

How S.M.A.R.T. goals support a writer’s plan

Summer is here! (Well, given the gray skies and chilly air, perhaps that claim is a stretch.) But busy summer days are around the corner. That means picnics, parties, and family vacations. How does a writer stay on track?

Just as it’s difficult to stay on an exercise schedule during the warm months, it’s difficult to maintain a writing schedule. I spoke with an exercise instructor about how he stays on track. He establishes S.M.A.R.T. goals for himself and his clients to achieve success. His expert advice easily translates to a writer’s life. Whether goals are related to exercise or writing books, they should be specific, measurable, attainable,... Continue Reading

May 14, 2019

We often discuss the free ways to achieve attention for your books through social media and traditional media publicity. But what about paid advertising? Is this ever a good idea?

Yes, paid advertising can give your books a sales’ boost. Particularly, after the buzz of your book launch has died down and you’re trying to gain some traction with sales. However, there’s a lot to know, and it’s important not to spend your advertising dollars before you’ve done your homework.

The SIX most important things to do or know before you start spending money on ads:


Make sure your book description and cover copy are enticing and well-written. (Ideally, you will have done this before hitting the publish button; however,... Continue Reading

May 7, 2019

From April 5 to May 5, I taught at three writing conferences, hosted the 4th Anniversary of the Books and Beer book club, and led a writing workshop for a total of twelve “event” days. Frankly, I’m a little tired, but I’m also grateful and rather excited to edit my work in progress and start a new project. Here’s why . . .

Writing conferences, workshops, and bookish events are always a good idea for writers, no matter your experience level. You get to chum around with other writers (sometimes rather famous ones), make new friends, and remind yourself that even if you spend most of your days in front of your computer in your pjs (guilty), you ARE part of a bigger network. These folks are your PEOPLE! (And for the readers in the group, they also write awesome books . . . simply... Continue Reading

April 30, 2019

I'm pleased Amanda Zieba is able to join us again. Amanda is an author, a word nerd, a mom, a wife, a teacher, and so much more. Today she discusses plotting your story or writing by the seat of your pants, aka being a pantser. Amanda originally published this article on her website. The question of whether a writer should carefully plot out a story or whether it is okay to write by the seat of your pants is one that is asked often at writing workshops and conferences. I hope this article helps to guide you. I use both techniques now, after firmly believing I'd never be a plotter. 


Plotters vs. Pantsers... Continue Reading

April 23, 2019


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Choosing BOTH Amazon KDP and IngramSpark for Print-on-Demand Titles


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Lee Foster writes a summary about the world of publishing in its current state for The Book Designer website. This article is a quick look (based on his print book) at how publishing best practices continue to evolve. In Part 2, he focuses on an author’s website, social media, promotional activities, and marketing. Read the whole article:

... Continue Reading
April 15, 2019

April is my birthday month. So it follows that I’d offer ideas about gifts. There are many great sources for special items including Writer’s Digest—that typewriter keyboard is a hoot—and I especially like this list from New York magazine. Who can resist those floating book shelves? The Christmas season always is a source for cute ideas, too. But I’m on a mission to declutter my office this year. I have computers that need to go, a desk that needs to be cleaned, and files that need to be tossed... Continue Reading

April 9, 2019

We all want a shiny gold sticker for our cover! With more and more writing contests popping up every day, it’s important to determine which ones are reputable, whether entry fees are acceptable, and how to spot dangerous terms that infringe on your copyright.

For a more detailed discussion on this subject, you may wish to take my course: Are Writing Contests Worth the Fees? It is a 30-minute video, including how to make the most of a contest win, along with a resource sheet for $25.

Why Enter?

As an indie published author, I wanted to differentiate myself from... Continue Reading