Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Revision – What Works for Me

Whoever said revision is what makes your book is, in my view, correct. I like to write the book quickly. I do plan the plot first, but I find that it changes as I write, and for me, that's a benefit.
However, it leaves me with a manuscript that is far from publishable.

These are the three steps I use to clean up the manuscript:

  • First, I print the book and read it as though it was a published book. I mark the places that don't work and note any corrections that leap to the eye. This usually identifies places where I lose the thread of the plot; where scenes are lovely, but don't contribute to the forward motion; and where I lose focus on the characters.
  • Second, I remove the chapters or scenes that don't work; rewrite where necessary; and add new scenes or chapters. I usually find that I have to add more than subtract. I have a tendency to race through the plot leaving out scenes that the reader needs to understand the ending.
  • Third, I do a thorough reread and make editorial changes. This is the place to fine tune wording, make sure typos are corrected and generally clean up the manuscript.

I don't know if this method would work for everyone, and I'm not completely consistent. I'll make wording changes on the first reread, if I think of them, and on the third pass, if a scene doesn't work, it goes.

The process is time consuming and makes you think of your work as if you were asked to critique someone else's, but that's the important point. Once you've finished the ecstasy of initial creation, the rest is work, and lots of it. Characters need to be consistent. Scenes need to add to the flow of the story, typos must be corrected. I find this works for me. Tell me about your revision strategies.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

What are Your Promotion Goals?

I recently read Carolyn Howard Johnson's The Frugal Book Promotor. I loved the book, but I came away slightly dizzy thinking about all the things I could do to promote my books. Like most of us, I have a limited time for marketing, if I want to eat, sleep, clean house, and most importantly – write, so I can't do them all. Helpfully, Carolyn pointed out that I don't have to try them all, she's already done that for me. That's great, but how do I decide how to focus my energy. The answer, difficult as it is, is that I have to set goals.

Goal setting is constricted by several factors which make it both harder and easier to set goals for yourself.

  1. Where you live – I happen to live in a very rural area. Book signings are great, but we only have one bookstore. With only a few thousand people in my immediate area, I'm not got to get many sales unless I branch out. Therefore, I have to rely primarily on the Internet.
  2. How much money you plan to make – The sad fact is that unless you have a blockbuster novel, tantalizing non-fiction, or are a celebrity, you're not going to get rich. On another group, someone quoted the statistic that a really successful writer without a publisher, or with an indie publisher, can expect to make $300.00 a month at the high end. Probably more realistically it's less than a $100.00. Those kind of numbers mean I can't send a lot to advertise my book unless I want to use income from another source to subsidize it. So I need lots of free advertising.
  3. What sort of a book have you written – Most of us are, I suspect, writing genre novels: romance, mystery and scifi. Therefore, we have to get to where the readers are. Other writers are one source of sales, but probably not as great as fans of the genre. Therefore, we need to be involved in groups devoted to the type of fiction we want to sell. We may not be able to do crass marketing there, but we can get out names in front of readers. On-line retailers are another source. Amazon does a good job identifying the types of books their customers are buying and making suggestions. Plus there are Amazon lists and other tools for getting your work noticed.

As a result of this analysis, I decided to concentrate on on-line activities: book reviews, yahoo groups, and on-line marketing. Or course, I have a website and blogs, but these are areas I have branched out into.

What are your thoughts about your goals for marketing? I'd love to hear your plans.

Nancy Famolari
          Nancy Famolari's Place
Latest book: Winner's Circle available on

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Way to Improve Your Writing – Book Reviews

Writer's read a lot, or at least we should, and we should read critically. But how many of us do this? Part of reading is escapism. When we want to relax we sit down with a book and lose ourselves in the other world. This is great, but does it improve our writing?

During the past year, I have been doing book reviews for several publishers, and it has changed the way I read. Now I'm looking for how the writer opens the novel. Does it grab me, or do I have to fight my way through the first fifty pages? Is there too much, or too little dialog? Does the author use description to enhance the story, or does she get lost in the beauty of her own words? When you really think about these things and critically evaluate them in someone else's work, it makes you more aware of what you're doing in your own writing.

Another advantage of doing book reviews is that you have to write down what you've observed. For me this is a critical step. If I write it down, I have to think about it. I have to make sure my views make sense and that they're fair to the other author. It adds another step to thinking critically about writing, and when I've written it down, I remember it.

You don't have to go into book reviewing as a career. I have to admit that sometimes it becomes a bit hectic keeping up with all the books, but you can review books in your personal library, review books for friends, or review books you buy. I think you'll be surprised at how much you gain from it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can You Survive Getting Everything You Want?

Mary Lynn and Jackson are living the life they always dreamed of: an historic home in Charleston, social acceptance, money, talented children. For Mary Lynn, something is missing. She is increasingly drawn to the religion of her childhood. On Christmas she attends church and wishes the whole family could share in her awakening. Then an amazing thing happens. Jackson finds Christianity and it takes over his life. It's not the polite church on Sunday religion Mary Lynn has found. When Jackson experiences a conversion, he wants to live the Bible literally. This creates an enormous distance between them putting the survival of their marriage in doubt.

Charleston SC is on of my favorite places. Beth Webb did an excellent job drawing her readers into the setting. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the book. The book starts very slowly with lots of back story. The characters are introduced in their affluent life style, but realistic tension is missing. In fact, the story doesn't take off until after Jackson's conversion and Mary Ann's horror at the change in their social status.

Although I think the premise is an interesting one, how fully must a Christian live their faith, I found the treatment in this book lackluster. The characters weren't particularly interesting, the narrative was fully of flashbacks and internal monologue as well as back story, and the ending while satisfying from the standpoint of resolving the main character's issues felt rushed and unrealistic.

I can't really recommend this book unless you love reading about Charleston, SC.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Delightful Retelling of a Chinese Folktale

Wang wants to be a rich man, but as the son of a poor farmer what chance does he have? The Eternals know magic. Wang believes that if he can learn magic, he can become rich and powerful. The story traces Wang through his adventures: finding the temple of the Eternals, becoming an apprentice, and after a year, feeling the work is too hard for his objective of becoming rich. The climax of the story puts these elements together to show how Wang develops and his heart finally shows it's goodness.

I enjoyed the tale. The characters and setting draw you in. I particularly liked the illustration of the dragon on the cover. The writing is clear. Children should have no trouble reading the story for themselves. The author provides activity suggestions and questions for use in a group situation. I also enjoyed the historical appendix that discusses the Ming dynasty and how the Chinese lived in that era.

I highly recommend this book. It makes an excellent selection for group discussion.

Author Bio: Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing and marketing information visit

and sign up for her free newsletter, A Writer’s World. To find out where you can get a copy of Walking Through Walls click on the link:

Karen Cioffi is an author and ghostwriter. Her new MG/YA fantasy book, Walking Through Walls, is based on an ancient Chinese tale.

The book will be available through online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and book stores by July 15th.

You can preorder it through Walking Through Walls today at:

To learn more about Walking Through Walls check out some reviews:

To find out more about Karen and her books visit:

If you have any questions, please ask.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Walking Through Walls Tour Schedule


CONTACT: Karen Cioffi-Ventrice

Author, ghostwriter, freelance writer



For Immediate Release

Chinese Tale: Walking Through Walls travels on a majestic virtual tour

Patience and fortitude are essential attributes to achieve life as an Eternal

(New York, New York) – The ability to slip into different eras and cultures through reading is the most glorious way to enjoy literature. Travel along through cyberspace to learn more about this 16th century ancient Chinese based tale, Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi when it releases July 15, 2011.

To celebrate this unique ancient Chinese tale’s book release, we welcome your visit and encourage you to follow along through the below tour. Leave a comment with your email address and automatically be entered at a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate, Writing for Children One Step at a Time e-Book, or Writing, Publishing, and Marketing – You Can Do It e-Book.

July 1 - Kelly McClymer - Book Review

July 2 – Renee Hand – Book Review

July 5 - Deb Hockenberry – Book Review and Interview

July 7 - Kathy Stemke – Book Review

July 8 - Donna McDine – “An Effective Book Marketing Strategy: Joint Ventures”

July 9 - Dianne Sagan – “Writing for Children: Finding Age Appropriate Words”

July 11 - Stephen Tremp – “Rewriting a Folktale”

July 13 - Heidi Thomas – “Book Promotion: The Foundation”

July 15th - Nancy Famolari's Place – Book Review

July 18 - Kristin Johnson – “Is Your Character One, Two, or Three Dimensional?”

July 19 - Elysabeth Eldering – Book Review

July 21 - Susanne Drazic – Book Review

July 23 - Margaret Fieland – “Writing Focus, Determination, Perseverance, and Positive Thinking”

July 25 - Maggie Ball – “Successful Writing Strategy: Know Your Intent”

July 27 - Susanne Drazic – “Storytelling – Keep Your Reader Engaged”

July 28 - Farrah Kennedy - Book Review

July 30 - Beverly McClure – “Writing for Free – A Means to an End: Visibility”

Title: Walking Through Walls

Author: Karen Cioffi

Illustrator: Aidana Willow Raven

Genre: MG/Tween/YA

ISBN: 978-0-9826594-7-2

Publication Date: July 2011

Pages: 61

Price: $14.99 paperback

Publisher: 4RV Publishing


Full Media Kit, Headshot, Book Cover Art and more are available upon request.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jennifer Gladen - Author of Theresa's Shadow

Jennifer Gladen is a children’s author, mother of three and teacher who lives and writes in Pennsylvania. She has written several children’s books, stories and articles, and started her own Catholic e-zine titled My Light Magazine. When not writing, teaching or mothering, she enjoys singing in her local parish choir on Sundays.

I asked her some questions about her picture books.

  1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a mother of three, a teacher and a children’s author. I have written several stories, poems and articles which have been published in a variety of venues. I have two picture books published through Guardian Angel Publishing titled A Star in the Night and Teresa’s Shadow. In addition I am founder and Editor-in-Chief of My Light Magazine.

  1. What inspired you to write Teresa’s Shadow?

I was inspired to write the story after watching my kids at bedtime. There was always a noise, or thought which sparked their imagination. Then, the “what if” questions started spinning around in my writer’s mind. Before I knew it, I had the basis of Teresa’s Shadow.

  1. Do you have a favorite character, if so tell us why?

I really enjoyed Corky. He’s the loveable, furry, funny, friendly monster who Teresa meets on the night of the story.

  1. Tell us a little about your writing schedule. What do you find most difficult, easiest?

I most often write on weekends and evenings if I have time. The most difficult thing is juggling my personal writing with organizing and publishing the magazine. The easiest thing is once I get started I am usually on a roll and I get tons done.

  1. What are your future writing plans?

I have another picture book under contract now titled Angel Donor. It is a story close to home about a girl who is awaiting a liver transplant. It was inspired by my middle child who had actually went through the transplant process. I have several other manuscripts I’m working on now and perfecting.

Jennifer can be found at:

Author Blog and VBT Hosting Blog:

Other Blogs/Columns:

Random Thoughts about God

My Light Magazine:

Catholic Mom:

Tiber Reviews:


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meet JR Turner

Award-winning author J.R. Turner lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She began writing in high school, and after a decade working as a commercial artist, started her first novel in 1999. Aside from crafts, camping and cooking, she loves holidays. A favorite is Halloween, a combination of spooky supernatural fun and chocolate. Visit her at to learn more!

JR Turner is the author of a series that will appeal to middle grade children:

All over, American children are crying out, "I don't like to read!" Many of them simply cannot read. On March 1, 2011, Echelon Press will launch 'Electric Shorts' for reluctant readers.

Electric Shorts is a pilot program for reluctant readers. Each series contains six short stories presented once per month as electronic downloads (eBooks), much the same as a television series. Geared for kids between the ages of seven and seventeen, each short story will include relevant material to attract and captivate the young and reluctant reader. From historical settings to future fantasy, across all genres, Electric Shorts will strive to satisfy all interests.

"By publishing the Electric Shorts as eBooks we can cut back our contribution of paper waste and perhaps save a few trees while we're at it," says Karen Syed. Echelon Press has been offering their titles as eBooks since the company formed in February 2001. "No heavy books to carry, nothing to clutter the shelves, and eBooks really are cool," Syed says.

A group of authors from across America have signed on to the project. The Electric Shorts will be released every Tuesday, with a new installment of each series appearing once a month. At only $.99 each, the short stories are affordable for all walks of life. Once the pilot program proves successful, Echelon will open to general submissions for the new imprint. Plans to create affiliate programs with schools and other literacy advocates are in the works, including a summer reading program to keep kids on track during vacation.

To obtain a complete listing of authors, concepts, and series please contact Echelon Press.

For advance review copies and requests for interviews and author events for any of the participating authors, contact Karen L. Syed at Echelon Press

Here's an overview of the series:

Delbert Dallas turned twelve and got the coolest gift ever, an electric guitar. His father is a cartoon composer and his mom is an officer in the United States Army. His older brother Damien is a know-it-all who has to go first and his younger brother Dougie always gets his way. To escape them both, he’ll learn to play his guitar like a rock star and free Barbecue Bob, the dragon, living inside.

Walter Wheeler is mad. Held back two grades, ignored at home, he wants to take over the world. When he gets a magical viola for his fourteenth birthday, he finds his own dragon, Firebrand, one he can ride to anywhere, and to any time. If he changes the past, he could change his future, but most of all, his present.

To unleash the dragons and travel through time they must play the exact right melodies. Only an immortal, a mage, a man called Matthew has the sheet music that will take them all on wild and dangerous adventures through time.

#1: Voyage to Viking Island—Release Date: March 22nd.

When the new guitar Delbert Dallas got for his birthday turns into a dragon named Barbecue Bob, the adventures are just beginning. First stop—Viking Island where Prince Rolloff is running away from his wedding—at the age of twelve. A Viking afraid of a girl? Even more shocking is Rolloff’s new best friend.

Walter Wheeler, a bully held back two grades, has discovered his own time-traveling dragon, Firebrand. When the prince offers a bag full of gold to get him off the island, Walter happily accepts, once he hears the plan is to escape on the royal longboat. Not only will he take Rolloff’s gold, he’ll take all the treasure on board.

Can Delbert convince Prince Rolloff that Walter Wheeler is no valiant Viking in shining armor? How do you explain a dragon named Bob to a Prince? What will happen when the rival dragons meet snout to snout? Find out in the first adventure of Delbert Dallas and the Dragon Diaries.

Each story in the series will be released on the 22nd of each month:

#2 Civil War Skirmish

#3 Viva La Francine!

#4 Meltdown in Marathon

#5 Don’t Dis the Danish

#6 Genghis Kahn Do It!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meet Jenifer Wylie

Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

I asked Jennifer some questions:

  1. Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I'm a stay at home mom of two darling boys. When I'm not reading or writing (or editing) I putter about with various crafts. Otherwise I try to to be Supermom and keep my chaotic house in some semblance of order. I suppose I should also note I live in Ontario, Canada. Yes we get a lot of snow. I dislike snow. :P

  1. How long have you been writing?

I started writing in public school, but really got into it in high school. It was just something I wanted to do, needed to do. I have so many stories in my head and they need to come out. I did go to university and got a degree, however things happen, as they tend to do, and I ended up being a Mom rather than finding a career. I wouldn't change that for the world. I didn't write for a number of years when the kids were little but once they were a bit older, and my brain started functioning again, the need to write came back. Writing is something I can do from home, so I certainly lucked out there. :)

  1. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction from a very early age. I had barely reached my teens before my mother had me reading Pern books. So far I don't think I have the technical savvy to write sci-fi, so all of my stories are some type of fantasy.

  1. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Plot? That word sounds familiar... :) I don't write things out, or do story boards. I will imagine scenes in my head, like a movie, until they are perfect, and then write them down. Occasionally near the end of a book I will jot down a sentence or two of notes, mostly to make sure I don't forget to tie up lose ends.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your work?

I had read about Echelon Press online and found them interesting. I started following them on Twitter and had some nice tweets with Karen there and also in a comments section on another's blog. I checked out the publishers website, and also the books they'd published so far and thought they would be a great publisher for me. I have been very pleased with everything!

  1. Can you to tell us about your current writing projects?

I recently finished a young adult fantasy book which has been submitted to my publishers. I'm currently working on a sequel to it. I'm also puttering at a few other books and short stories. I sometimes almost wish my mind would stop coming up with ideas for a while so I could get caught up. :) My second short story to be published in March is currently in edits, so that has been keeping me busy as well.

  1. What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

The hardest part is stopping. There are so many things which can happen it is easy for a book to go on forever. I often have trouble finding an ending, even when I am planning a sequel. Many of my books have turned into a series, at least in the planning stages.

  1. What kind of research have you done for your stories?

If I need to research I do so with the most wonderful Google. I rarely research in advance, but do it as I go. Since my books are all in worlds of my creations there often isn't very much I actually do have to research.

  1. What advice would you give beginning writers?

Always keep writing. You can always improve, and practice helps this. Not only do you need to know how to write, but to edit. Research editing online, make sure you are using correct grammar and punctuation, be wary of being repetitive in your word use. If you can find readers or editors to go over your work then use them. Fresh eyes are always helpful.

If you are searching for a publisher I definitely recommend you create a web presence. Most either require this or it is an added bonus. Have a website, twitter, facebook, blog. Even if you aren't published yet you can gain followers over time. It is also an excellent way to meet authors, agents and publishers.

  1. Who has inspired you as an author?

I don't really have any inspirations. I've just always loved reading and writing and it just comes to me. I have too many favorite authors to count, and too many supportive loved ones and friends to mention. :) I'm a lucky girl I guess.

  1. What’s next for you?

Editing, editing, writing, editing... My next short story, The Forgotten Echo will be released March 1, and my fantasy novel Sweet Light in May, both through Echelon Press. I've a number of shorts and another book also submitted, and am writing away whenever I have the time on new work. I'm currently looking into getting a clone so I have time to mop the floors.

Jennifer is the author of Jump, her debut short story.


If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you?

Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk and a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.

Jump is available at :


Barnes & Noble


Take heed of that warning above! This is a fast and hot short by an awesome writer who knows how to keep us enthralled. From the very first sentence I was holding my breath, trying to figure out how this girl got herself in this particular situation. This is a review, so I won’t give away any details, but I think my favorite part (other than the hot guys) was how Ms. Wylie brought the whole scene together; wrapping up the end to match the beginning, bringing the story full circle with non-stop action. I felt close to the MC. If I were in her position I wouldn’t handle it as well as she did though, but I loved how she not only handled it, but did so with humor, keeping me entertained. This is a wonderful short story by a promising writer. Jennifer has a book coming out soon, Sweet Light, you can see my interview with here, so you should ‘jump’ on the opportunity to read her first published piece! Jump also reached #3 on the publishers best sellers list within the first week!

Review by Trisha Wolfe, short story author

This is one of the best short stories I've read in a long time. It has drama, it has intrigue, it is absolutely hilarious. Jen Wylie has a great voice and a sense of humor she's not afraid to use.

You won't want to miss this one. I mean it. If you do you have no one to blame but yourself because I told you.

Review by Karen Syed, author, publisher

What a great little short story!

Told in female first person, this story takes you on unexpected twists where I got pulled in wondering where the author would take me next.

I enjoyed the internal dialogue as it gave me insight into the characters motivations. She had humor in the face of adversity and even with all odds against her, she manages, in a most unique way to not only deal with what is happening to her, but triumph on a level that I would have never expected.

A fun, cute, but also dangerous read.

I'd definitely like to see more from this author!

Review by Daryl Sedore, author of Paranormal Precognitions

Links for Jennifer:

My website:

My blog:

Please visit me tomorrow at I'll tell you why I think romance novels are so popular.