Thanks for stopping by at our blog. We wanted to lend voice to a collaboration of writers who are at different stages in their careers, from published down to those penning or editing their first novels. So wherever you’re at in your writing, here’s a place to stop and refuel, find information and get retrofitted with new ideas.

Be passionate. Be bold. Pick up a pen. Find your journey in ink.

Write us at inkiesrus@yahoo.com

May 11 marks a year since I’ve been writing on that blog. I’ve done a lot more reading than the reviews reflected there, but anyway, I thought I’d do something special to mark my upcoming anniversary.

I’m giving away some books I’ve read during the past year or so. I have a couple in there that I haven’t read in that time and I keep adding to the unread pile each time there’s a past-their-use-before-date (aka slightly shopworn) sale at the bookshop. Rather than letting them gather dust, I’m throwing them in too.

What do you need to do to win one of these books? Add yourself as a follower of The Readers’ Suite.

  • Ensure you comment on that post so I know you’re in the competition. Please let me know if you’re interested in any particular book.
  • Help me spread the word by tweeting this post for an additional entry. (Not a requirement)
  • Or you can grab the badge in the sidebar for your blog, which gives you another entry.  Just let me know if you do. (Again, not a requirement, simply a goodwill gesture.)

Without further ado, here are the prizes.

If you need help making up your mind as to which book you’d like, I’ve added a little information on each at The Readers’ Suite so hop on over there now.

Stay tuned for my next giveaway, which will run concurrently with this one as at May 1, 2011.  My second book Dissolution will be released on May 20, 2011. I’ll be giving away copies @ The Character Depot.

Good luck to all!

Planning a Blog Tour

The last time I posted here I was talking about my virtual book release party for Secrets of Eden (Solstice Publishing Aug. 2010). When that book came out, I tried a gimmicky approach to getting sales. I offered a free book with each purchase and even a drawing for a free Kindle. Well, now that it has been a few months, I can officially declare that venture a failure. I didn’t even have one person enter into the drawing. Not one! I still don’t know how book sales went that month but they probably weren’t great.

But, I’m not out of sorts about it. I just took a step back and analyzed what went wrong before planning the release of my new book Priscilla the Great (WorldMaker Media Dec. 2010). My first mistake with Secrets of Eden was trying to plan a book release party for a book that was only available as an ebook. Many people do not want to buy ebooks. So many review sites I went to said specifically that they do not review ebooks. It’s hard to get the word out about your book when it’s in a format that many in your audience do not read. Instead of targeting traditional readers, I should have been trolling kindle boards and other electronic book sites. That’s where my readers were. Those were the people who would actually buy an ebook.

I’m not giving up on Secrets of Eden, I’m just going to wait until it comes out in paperback and try again. By that time, I should be almost an expert at marketing after what I’m doing with Priscilla the Great.

So what am I doing? First of all, I’m working very closely with my publisher in marketing the book. They are sponsoring a contest that will be featured on several website in which the prize is an eReader. Newsletters about the release of the book went out to my subscribers, plus they will be sending it to theirs as well. But I think my biggest endeavor with this book is my blog tour. In researching, I found that these can be very effective. But they have to be wide reaching. A small blog tour will not be very successful.

I considered paying a company to plan my blog tour for me, but I decided against it. For one thing, I didn’t have an extra $400 to throw away. Yes, I said $400. I did find another company who offered a blog tour service for $50 but I decided against that too. Having someone else contact each blog seems impersonal. Plus, I think it’s a good idea to only go to blogs that will be genuinely interested in your book. With a predetermined blog tour, what happens if a stop on your tour is not to enthusiastic about your book?

So, I decided to plan this tour myself. This was a huge endeavor. I found a website that listed over 300 YA blogs. I just started going down the list and contacting each one individually. First, I check out their blog to see if it would be a good match for Priscilla the Great. I am still no where near through the list, but I’ve had some great responses. Thirteen blogs have agreed to review the book and I have another 18 stops on my tour for guest posts or interviews. I’m aiming for 50 total blogs. Here is my schedule so far.

Dec. 10th – The Mortal’s Library
Dec 12th – YA Bookie Monster
Dec. 13th – MarjoleinBookBlog
Dec. 14th – Write Like Authors Do
Dec. 15th – So many books, So little time
Dec. 16th – The Bookish Type
Dec. 17th – Books From a Shelf
Dec. 18th – Closet Space Musings
Dec. 18th – Book Speak Blog

Dec. 19th – To Life!
Dec. 20th – Grace Elliot
Dec. 21st – Manga Mania
Dec 22 – Books are Like People

So, hopefully, the blog tour angle will be more successful than my virtual release party. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a story idea, an idea that seems compelling and interesting but could never be grand enough for a novel, try condensing it into a bite-sized flash. Take that story idea, build it as you would, then burn and carve away anything unnecessary. The basic structure should remain. Choose words and sentences that say much more than what’s written. Every word must be essential. The fewer the words, the greater the impact.

The purpose of flash fiction is to deliver the basic elements of a story—main character, conflict and resolution—all with an economy of words and a punch at the end. This final punctuation can be a twist, a chord of irony, a humorous note. The story can appear to be one thing only to be illuminated in the finale as quite another.

This blink-of-an-eye exercise forces you to create a snap shot in time and build suspense and the element of surprise with harnessed language. If you can wield tension powerfully in a flash fic piece with 500 words or less, just think what you could do in long fiction.

Try it out, be creative, have fun and aim for a knockout. The bloodshed and thrashing of your work, though brutal, will produce a beautiful piece of art.

My publisher sent out a letter not long ago. They were contacted by Hollywood a few months back asking them to provide romantic suspense novels to be used as props in their upcoming Bruce Willis movie, RED. The movie has a great cast, including Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich,  Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine. So The Wild Rose Press sent out their entire Crimson Rose line — what they had in stock, anyway. And since my novel is a Crimson Rose, and was most likely in stock, it is quite possible that Sleeping With Skeletons has been on the set of a Bruce Willis movie for the last few months.

In the movie, Bruce Willis’s girlfriend likes to read romantic suspense novels. And if you watch trailer #1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMCh4etBbkU, you’ll see Sarah reading one of our books in the scene where Bruce Willis calls her at work. Unfortunately, the title can’t be seen, so I have no way of knowing if it’s my book, but the odds are only 1 in 160 that it is.

It looks like a great movie. I intend to go see it when it comes out, which will be October 15th. If you go see it, I hope you’ll help me look for my title, Sleeping with Skeletons.

You can read more about this and see another one of the trailers at my publisher’s website. http://www.thewildrosepress.com

The other day I watched a free webinar about How to Make Your Book a Bestseller. Though by the end of it they were just trying to sell me an expensive seminar, I was still able to take away some valuable information. The most important thing I learned was the need to have a book launch party. Now the theory behind this is to have a giant party celebrating your book in order to get the sales rolling. Hopefully, once the sales get going, they’ll continue to grow because you’ve written such a great book.

The strategies addressed in the webinar were for nonfiction books. Things are somewhat different when trying to publicize a fiction book. Even within the genre of fiction, I have a more difficult job because I write YA. It’s hard reaching a young audience online without feeling like a pedophile.

My book, Secrets of Eden, is being released with Solstice Publishing in the next few weeks. It is a small publisher and I have to do most of the marketing. Thus, I have started to plan my Virtual Book Launch Party. Each day I add to the list of things I want to do in order to create buzz for my book. This is what I have so far.

1. Freebies.

Everyone that buys my book within the first two days will receive as many awesome prizes as I can think of. So far I will be offering a free copy of my book AIN’T NO SUNSHINE which I will be publishing on Smashwords and Amazon in the next few days. I will also give away some free downloadable music from my musician friends. Anyone who buys the book in the first two days will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an autographed CD from a very well known singer whom I will name later (gotta keep some suspense) and a Kindle. Yes, a Kindle. I’m going all out. I’m using my couponing ways to get one really cheap. (In case you didn’t know, I’m a couponing fanatic. I talk about it sometimes on my blog Writer’s Lounge. Check it out.)

2. Blog tour

I plan on developing a list of thirty to forty blogs where I can provide a guest post and then slip in something about my launch party.

3. Email lists

I plan on sending an email to as many lists I can think of including newsletters from all the former schools where I was a student or teacher.

4. Former students

This is just an idea and I don’t know if I’ll do it or not, but I have hundreds of former students who still love me and chat with me on facebook. I was thinking of starting kind of a chain letter type thing entitled “Help Ms. Nelson Be a Bestseller” that they can forward to all their friends to advertise my launch. (Of course, it would probably have to be titled “Help Nelly Be a Bestseller” since they have given me the nickname Nelly. Not sure if I want to do that or not because I’d feel like I’m exploiting my students. Maybe if I only do it on facebook. I’d feel less like a stalker. Oh, I could start a page! And the ideas just keep flowing.

Well, that’s all I have right now. What do you think? Once I have a specific date, I’ll post all the details and then let you know how it turns out.

Finishing a novel is a great feeling. I just finished my sixth novel.

Unfortunately, only the last two or three have been any good.

There’s a lot of editing to do once that first draft is out of the way, but the hardest part for most writers isn’t the writing or editing, it’s the search for an agent or a publisher.

Here is a small list of publishers that you can submit to if you don’t have an agent:












A great place to find information on an agent or publisher is http://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php. They can teach you which ones are good and which ones to avoid. 

The next two will help you find literary agents — who accepts queries and what genres they work with. Also, you can find some publishers at the second one below.



If you’re in need of help with your query letter, this site offers some great samples.


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this. But don’t. It’s not as hard as it looks. Just do a little each day, and you’ll have a good idea where you want to submit and what they expect from you and you manuscript.

What are some of your favorite resources as a writer?

Happy submitting.

Congratulations to our resident blogger Sybil Nelson for winning The Strongest Start Competition at TheNextBigWriter.com with her middle grade entry, Priscilla the Great. She also has a movie deal for it. Now all she needs a publisher to realize the awesomeness of Priscilla The Great.

To get a sense of Priss’s voice, check out her blog Prissy Fit and the way-cool Priscilla The Great website. You can also get Twin Shorts FREE, a short story collection about Priscilla’s devil twin brothers written by Priscilla via the masterful pen of  Sybil The Great Nelson.

~ CV