Thursday, August 11, 2011

Your Story Flash Fiction Writing Contest

In the Your Story flash fiction writing contest writers of all genres may vie to place by submitting their original flash fiction manuscripts (300-500 words) for a $10 entry fee, writing their stories using one of these inspirational phrases:

"love poems for a girl"
"best chocolate in the world"
"romance village"

1st Place Winner: $200 & publication of submission on Your Story

2nd Place Winner: $150 & publication of submission on Your Story

3rd Place Winner: $50 & publication of submission on Your Story

4th Place Winner: $25 & publication of submission on Your Story

5th Place Winner: $25 & publication of submission on Your Story

Honorable Mentions: The option of having their submission published on Your Story. All non-winning entries will receive feedback from the judges to help them hone their craft.

Check it out at:

Our amazing guest judges are Crymsyn Hart, Ashley Blade, and Erica Ridley.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to Get an Agent and Other Bits of Advice

Randy Peyser is a book coach. I listened to a very informative interview with her this past weekend through a website that is called the Author Summer School. The interview was very enlightening in terms of the process of going about getting an agent and of getting published in this day and age.

Agents Receive 15,000 Manuscripts a Month!

First off, agents are very busy people. Did you know the average agent receives anywhere from 15,000 manuscripts a month? How can your manuscript stand out amongst the rest of the mush that is headed straight for the slush pile?

Peyser says you can go to writers’ conferences, where you can pitch directly to agents. But, even there, you’re probably going to be in a line with at least 50 other eager-to-be authors in front of you.

This is why you need to demonstrate what is so compelling about your book. According to Peyser, too many aspiring authors make the mistake of thinking it’s their story that is going to sell their book. The story is important too, but what agents, and publishers for that matter, are looking for is that you already have a publicity machine in place. In the end, it's all about numbers.

Social Media Following

In other words, an agent and a publisher want to see that you have an established social media following, in the form of a blog, Facebook presence and a twitter account.

If you are trying to sell your manuscript, also expect that an agent will want a synopsis of your story. And they will want three different versions of this synopsis: a five-page version, a three-page version, and a one-pager.

Peyser left one really good piece of advice. She said to call on all of your contacts to help you once your book is out. Her advice is to email everyone you know and to ask if they would help you by sending out an email to everyone in their address book once your book is released. This way, you might find that you have even more contacts that you ever imagined.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good Article About Not Using Flashbacks in Screenplayss

I found this article in Script Magazine. I thought it said some great things about not using flashbacks in screenplays.


Used properly, flashbacks can be a great asset to a screenplay. So, why am I suggesting that you avoid including them in your script? Because, if you’re like the vast majority of aspiring screenwriters, you don’t use them correctly. Here are two common examples of the wrong way to use flashbacks:

  1. For exposition, as in: “Oops! I forgot to tell you this important information about the story or my character’s background, so I think I’ll pick up some of this stuff along the way, using flashbacks.” Quite simply, this results from lack of adequate planning before writing the script.
  2. To create audience sympathy for your main character, especially in a drama. For example, showing us in flashback that he was beaten up by the school bullies back when he was a kid. We don’t need to see this.

Remember, it’s always best to start your story as “late” as possible in the trajectory of your main character’s life — right before he undergoes a major dramatic change and he’s confronted with a crisis that is the central dilemma of the story. Start in the present, and stay there.


Read the whole article here:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sacred Ground & Holy Water: Twisted Vagabondage Tale From Petra Jordan

Recently I have been guest-blogging on Mexico-based author, Lyn Fuchs', blog. I write a column called Vagabondage: For Travelers Who Like It Rough.

In the column, I am serializing many of my different wild journeys around the world. My most recent column chronicles my trip to Petra, Jordan, where the climactic scenes of Indiana Jones were shot.

Sacred Ground & Holy Water: Twisted Vagabondage Tale From Petra Jordan: "To get to Jordan from Israel, we took a taxi from Eilat, an Israeli beach town on the northern tip of the Red Sea, inhabited by a tribe of ..."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Awesome Post About Self-Publishing

What's your opinion about the future of self-publishing? Read what thriller author Joe Konrath has to say about it in his wonderful blog post:

The Tsunami of Crap

Some people believe the ease of self-publishing means that millions of wannabe writers will flood the market with their crummy ebooks, and the good authors will get lost in the morass, and then family values will go unprotected and the economy will collapse and the world will crash into the sun and puppies and kittens by the truckload will die horrible, screaming deaths....

Read more here:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tips for Marketing Your Books

As you all know, writing your book is only half the battle. Whether you decide to traditionally publish or self-publish your work, you are still going to have to sell it.

But how? Set up a website. Blog. Tweet. We’ve all heard the tips. But what exactly are the nuts and bolts of book marketing? That’s where book coach Judy Cullins comes in.

Judy specializes in non-fiction book marketing. She calls non-fiction the books that fiction authors write to make money before they’ve made it. I recorded an excellent interview with Coach Cullins, which will be available on the Writers Radio Resource soon. But in the meantime, here is a synopsis of what we talked about.

How Does Your Book Benefit the Reader?

Judy says an important marketing technique is to let your audience know about how they will benefit from reading your book. In short, what will they learn? And, if this is a fictional work, what kind of experience will they receive? What kind of emotions will the reader feel when reading your work?

And for non-fiction writers... What need are you filling for your audience? It sounds simple enough, but people need to know what you book affords them before they buy it.

The Purpose of Blogging

Yes, we’ve all heard about the importance of blogging as a marketing technique. But, according to Judy, it’s not enough to just provide information about your books on your blog, or just to talk about yourself, as an author. According to Judy, your blog’s real purpose is to entertain and engage the audience. One way to do this is by asking questions. Write a post, then ask your audience to comment on the entry.

Or for fiction writers, provide a sample of your book where your main character is dealing with a particularly tough obstacle. Then ask the readers to comment about a time they have had to surmount their own obstacles.

HLAs, Huh?

HLA stands for High Level Activity. Judy told me that you must be performing three HLAs daily for you to successfully market your book. This means, each day, you must chose three marketing activities. It could be sending out an email promotion about one service, writing a blog entry, then tweeting about it. But regardless, Judy asks that we be specific. She said to write what HLAs you plan to do the night before— then do them! The more specific you are, the more apt you are to actually do what you say you’re going to do.

The Importance of LinkedIn

According to Judy, not all social media is considered equal. LinkedIn is actually one of the best social media outlets. This is because, on LinkedIn, your audience is very specific, tailored to exactly what you are selling. This is especially true when participating in all the groups on LinkedIn, which Judy said is important. In the groups, you can participate in different discussions, always adding in your URL to link people back to your site.

Your Website

Another thing Judy said is important, if you are selling a book, is to have a website. Create a website, then make it so that readers can buy your book there. If you expect readers to sift through all of the different books on the biggest ebook websites (aka Smashwords), good luck. On your website, Judy also recommends having a business that is related to your book, since you won’t really make as much money in book sales as you will through the business.

Of course, I am only scraping the surface here. We get much more in-depth in our radio interview, which I will post soon.

In the meantime, for more information about Judy Cullins, her informational blog and book-coaching services, please see her website:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paying Readers to Read Your Book?

Yup, you heard it right. But this is just part of one writer's creative marketing plan.

You can see for yourself what Boyd Lemon, the author of Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, has to say in his message to readers:

Many of you have expressed that you intend to read Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages this summer. In the spirit of some summer fun, I am offering A Blatant & Transparent Incentive for all of you who have not yet read the book – the winning Reader will receive a $200 gift certificate to a restaurant of YOUR choice.

Is there a catch? You bet there is! But it’s as easy as 1-2-3 to qualify!

1. Purchase your copy of my book (Kindle or print edition), DIGGING DEEP, either from Amazon, or directly from my website by Sunday, July 31, 2011.

2. Read the book.

3. Write a review (it doesn’t have to be long or erudite), post it on before August 14th, and send a copy of your review to me at; if you bought it from Amazon, be sure to include a copy of your purchase receipt or order confirmation as well.

That’s it! I will draw the name of the WINNER-READER on Monday August 15th.