My Office Minions take one pot of boiling and bubbling writing craft along with one teabag of writing talent to brew up a great cup of a story. @ 2015

I tell newbie writers that talent will only take you only so far and that it is in learning the skill, the art, and the craft of fiction-writing techniques and devices that enhances the talent they have. Some are gifted writers. Some struggle with just understanding what a sentence is. However, both have stories they want to share with others. And then, last month, I came across this phrase by author, screenwriter, and game designer Chuck Wending:

                                            Talent dies without skill.

That struck me as so profound. After all, what good is having a writing talent if you cannot communicate ideas, characters, and stories to another human mind using words strung together in coherent sentences? Words that help a reader form a movie in their mind of exactly what the writer envisioned?

And then I recalled the words of author and writing teacher Janet Burroway “…the desire to write in all its modes…bears no relation whatever to ability.”

Over the years, Burroway has seen students with talent who never follow through and become authors. She’s also seen many more students who have seemingly little talent, but who cultivate that talent, who learn the craft, who learn the skills of using words, and who communicate with a reader. Those are the ones whose desire, coupled with perseverance, enables them to become the storytellers readers look forward to reading.

For writers to succeed in today’s ever-changing publishing world, it means honing skills to enhance talent and to write well and tell a story well.

After all, even a world-class gourmet chef had to learn to boil water before they tackled a souffle. Why should becoming a writer or author be any different?

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Posted in Catherine's Cup of Tea! | 6 Comments

Chatting on Twitter

What is a Twitter chat?

While many descriptions abound, I like the following: Imagine a business networking event without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar.

Or to be more precise…

A group of Twitter users meet at a pre-determined time to discuss set topics using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. The moderator of the chat poses questions (Q1, Q2, Q3,…) to prompt responses from participants (A1, A2, A3, …). Each chat usually lasts an hour.


When I first joined Twitter, I shied away from participating in chats. To be truthful, I found them intimidating. I tried to follow the flow of several conversations and wondered how anyone could keep up with the constant flow of information. I had read somewhere that participating in a Twitter chat is like trying to navigate rapids while white water rafting. Not something I’ve ever tried or even considered.

After several weeks of lurking, I decided to jump into the conversation. Once I got into the flow, I didn’t find it that difficult to keep up with the others. I was able to join conversations and retweeted several tweets. I was thrilled when other people retweeted my tweets.

Since then, I have become a regular participant in the following chats:

#SpiritChat – Kumud Ajmani moderates this chat at 9:00a.m.ET on Sundays. The primary focus is on spirituality (not religion) and moving forward on the path to spiritual growth. Last week’s topic – Intelligence and Spirituality.

#PoCChat – Bobby Umar moderates this chat at 11:00a.m.ET on Mondays. PoC stands for Power of Connection and the focus is on leadership, relationships, and development. Last week’s topic – Building Thought Leadership.

#DaretoBe – Andrea Sanchez moderates this chat at 8:00p.m.ET on Tuesdays. A new chat first introduced in November 2014, the focus is on challenging participants to think outside the box. Last week’s topic – Dare to Dream Big.

#PFWChat – Katia Millar moderates this chat at 11:00a.m.ET on Thursdays. PFW stands for Positive Fabulous Women and attracts participants who intend to live their passions and make a difference. Last week’s topic – Creating Your Epic Love Story,

Some tips for newbies…

  • Find a chat that meets your interests here.
  • Give your Twitter followers a heads-up before joining a Twitter chat and share an invitation. E.g. High tweet alert ahead. Join us at #spiritchat.
  • Inform everyone that you are new to the chat. More seasoned participants will welcome and include you in conversations.
  • Use Twitter handles when answering a specific question from another participant.
  • Keep tweets under 120 characters. This will make it easier for others to retweet.
  • Include the chat hashtag in all your responses.
  • Feel free to dip in and out of a Twitter chat. You don’t have to stay for the entire hour.
  • Use a chat tool if you have difficulty keeping track of all the tweets. Get more information here.
  • Follow up with people after the chat if you wish to build more connections.


Posted in What's Up With Joanne! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Social Media, not so scary after all: By Rose Lange

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” ~ Mark Twain

My brainchild is turning six months old soon, and as I continue on this journey of being a published author, I got to thinking how much has happened over this past year. How far I’ve come out of my comfort zone, not only in social media, but in my writing as well.

I remember signing my contract with Soulmate in the fall of 2013, and how excited I was. Heck, excited doesn’t even begin to describe it. I was over the moon, ready-to-shout from-the-rooftops, throw confetti in the air, thrilled! Then I heard around from other authors that I needed a “social media platform,” and my excitement slightly deflated. Mainly because I had no clue what that was. Come to find out, I needed my own web site, Facebook fan page, Twitter, Goodreads…wait a minute, I thought to myself. How will I find the time to write with all this piled high on my plate? Not to mention I was terrified by the thought of putting myself out there. Literally, scared to death. I honestly would have been happy just writing, spending quality time with my characters, and forgetting everything else, because I’m naturally the shy type. Most of the time anyway.

However, I knew and understood how important all these things would be in my career as a romance writer. So, I took the advice of a fellow, veteran author. She told me to “start small,” with a website and Facebook, and then to slowly add more platforms as I got more comfortable.

I’ll be honest; I never thought I would be adding more, because I didn’t think I’d be very good at it. Or that I’d be any good at creating my own web site for that matter! Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to pay a professional to design one for me, but for now, that just wasn’t in my budget. Not to toot my own horn, but I surprised even myself by how well it turned out. I sleighed one dragon, and now it was on to a Facebook Author page. Ugh, I thought, another daunting, scary task. Well, I persevered in that feat as well, as I slowly built up my fan page.

Now, almost a year later, I have a web site, a Facebook Author page, Twitter, and my own personal blog, which I recently added to my arsenal. I never thought I would be comfortable enough to put myself out there, be comfortable enough to step out of my comfort zone. Well, in my mind, I not only stepped out of it, I took a huge flying leap! And what made it less scary from the beginning, was the support of my writer friends, and fellow authors/editors at SMP. Anytime I had a question, or needed help building my fan page, anything…they were there for me. I want to thank each and every one of you in the SMP family, because I couldn’t have made that running leap without you all holding my hand. This newbie author thanks you, from the bottom of my heart. :)

Facebook: Rose Lange, Author

Twitter: Rose Lange @writingdiva82


Posted in Rose In The Garden!, Soul Mate Publishing | 8 Comments

A Blog on Blogging, by Suzanne Quill

Finally, I have entered the second decade of the twenty-first century and am participating in a blog! For those of you who have been blogging incessantly since the inception of blogging, Kudos to you! However, some of us are not so ready to jump onto every new technological bandwagon that comes along. Remember the dot.coms? Well, I bet some of you are much too young.

Anyhow, you’d think this would be pretty easy for me. I started my career many moons ago in data processing and was quite the computer programmer in my day! Then I went back to school and became a certified interior designer where I eventually ended up pubic speaking and writing interior design articles for national design trade magazines. Anyone heard of Drapery and Window Coverings? Window Fashions? Of course not. They’re not on the local newsstand and are written for those of us who are designing draperies and the other accoutrements of home interiors.

So, all I have to do is write an article, right? Well, what on? Let’s see… no politics, no religion. That should make it safer. And I’m a published author now so maybe it should be on writing. Since I am a woman of many opinions surely I can opine on something about writing.

Hmmm. Well, there’s blogging. Are any of you familiar with Georgette Heyer? I’ve read quite a few of her books. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but I understand she was quite the recluse. She did not go out and promote her current book, last book, pretty much any book. Of course that was before the computer age but still she was a popular novelist and publishers do like their book signings and interviews by their bestselling authors.
And yet, she was a bestselling author. What did she do right? Why can’t I become a bestselling author without all this promotion that takes time away from what I really want to do…WRITE!!! Surely there are a few other authors that feel the same way. Are you out there? Please, let me know.

Now for those of you who want and even love the promo side of this business I need help.

1. What do I do first? Where do I spend my time?
2. I have a website though I don’t update it often. How often do I need to update it?
3. I have a Facebook page and an author page. How often do I need to post there?
4. I have a Twitter account. Do I need to tweet a lot? I have to say, all this tweeting makes me feel like a twit.

There you have it. A new year starts and I’m already boggled by the blog blues because I feel bogged down trying to learn how to blog. Do I really want to grow up to be a blogger?

Do I even want to admit to it?

Suzanne Quill writes Historical Romance and is multi-published with Soul Mate.
Her romances:



Posted in A Soupçon From Suzanne!, Historical Romance | 4 Comments

My Particular Lack of Promotion

Why do I punish myself . . . I’m a masochist. Masochism is an eponym — a word named after a person. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was an Austrian writer in the nineteenth century who described the gratification he got from his own pain and humiliation. There are many self-proclaimed masochists out there today.

Oh glee! The word was named after a writer. That explains it.

I cause myself pain. Not for any sexual gratification, but for some warped belief that I must worry, berate, exhaust and embarrass myself endlessly. Daily. Hourly. I must get my book out there. I must sell. I must become a best seller. I must or DIE.

I’ve become a beggar, a madam of books, and the worst; a salesperson. Ugg! If you have a blog, I’ve talked to you. No, I’ve begged you to feature my book. I’ve posted the link on my Facebook page ad nauseam. I can no longer look my friends in the eye.

My author friends have gone so far as to create ads for me so they don’t have to look at the same cover over and over again. Sweet.

I’ve spent our vacation money on Facebook advertisement. Seriously, who does that? I’m hoping my royalties will replenish our savings. Laughing hysterically. Picking myself up off the floor. My royalties may get us into the local museum. If we’re lucky, a stop at the local fast food joint after our outing. Oh, Yay! The rewards of endless late nights, pouring my heart out. Fast food is evidently why I do this?

Those in the know, the authors who’ve got Best Seller linked to their names, advise the wannabe’s to write. Please, explain to me when I’m supposed to write when I’m too busy offering my soul and my body to anyone who will give me space for my book.

I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever I’ve done in the past doesn’t work so I’ve turned to a more unorthodox method. I light candles, I chant, and I’ve built a pseudo offering to – Seshat an Egyptian goddess of writers and her male counterpart; Thoth, the Egyptian god of scribes and writing. It’s a fairly new approach. Results are pending.

thCAX5HRRKHowever; my new techniques are very relaxing. I lump them into the same practice as yoga. If nothing else, I’m calming my butt down and smiling instead of wearing the scowl that always graced my face. That’s a step in the right direction.

At least the new methods take no more than thirty minutes a day. Plenty of time to start my next book. And best of all, I can look my friends in the eye, again.

What’s my point? I don’t have one. I guess that’s my point. There are no set rules. Do what you can live with, not what kills you or makes your life a miserable hell. Write because it makes you happy. Get off the roller-coaster that’s propelled by nervous authors who promote everything in all ways remotely connected to the masochistic practice of self-promotion as if it’s a sure fire way to a best seller.

Posted in Pausing For Pat!, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Finding the Perfect SWAG by Beth Carter

Little did I know when I came up with the title for my debut women’s fiction, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, that the title itself would help with my SWAG purchases. Once I started researching ideas and considering the appropriate tie-ins for my novel, it was fairly easy to come up with suitable give-aways for launch parties and book signings.

For example, I purchased:

* Coconut lip balm (Get it? Coconut?) And it’s AMAZING. Creamy and luscious, plus my book cover is on the tube. I was able to choose my lid color and the tubes are sealed.

coconut lip balm standing

*Coconut roll-on cologne. It smells like you’re at the beach! Again, with the palm fronds on my cover and the name of my novel, this is a perfect fit.

coconut cologne for Th At Coconuts

* Tote Bags – I decided to go with black totes because everyone chooses tan. They really highlight my book cover. I’m having a signing soon and I plan to use them as an incentive for the first 25 people who buy my novel! Think big, I say.

Tote Bags for Th At Coc

* Bookmarks – I included my name, genres I write, website, and a QR code that goes directly to the buy link on Amazon.

Bookmarks for Th At Coconuts

I have a couple of other things that I plan to use if I ever have an in-person launch party and they’re a surprise for those folks. But, see, you don’t have to go with the same old pen, although every author (and reader for that matter) uses pens so they’re not a bad idea. I encourage you to think outside the box when you’re considering buying author SWAG. I tried to stay under $2 per item and less than $1 is even better. I did purchase a small shipment of coffee mugs and I dropped two off at a local restaurant that uses local companies’ mugs on their breakfast tables. Free advertising!

I used several vendors including Zazzle, Discount Mugs, Cafe Press, and The Book Swag Shop on Facebook. Just Google “author swag” and you’ll be off and running. Good luck and have fun when choosing your SWAG.

GIVEAWAY!!! If five people download my book, show it to me on your device and you can pick any swag item you’d like. (U.S. only, please. Sorry.) Bookmarks are free. Here’s the buy link:

thursdaysatcoconuts 850x1275HIGH

Posted in Beth's Blogging Today!, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Character Creation

When I seriously considered writing a book, I knew that in any story, characters have to become alive, invoke emotions, reactions, and thoughts from readers. Whether the character is the main one in the story, or secondary in a subplot, it doesn’t matter. All the actions and dialogue coming out of the character have to be convincing. I had a general idea of who the characters were, and how they interacted with each other. Developing the specifics of how they went about their daily lives, their views of the world they lived in, and their convictions became my true challenge.

It is important to pin that down to create a character that readers could connect to, if not personally, then to someone they know. Real people, with quirks and shortcomings, weaknesses and strengths, dreams and aspirations, successes and failures. Even if the plot doesn’t call for all the details, writing them in brings the character closer to the surface, to be understood, accepted or rejected, despised or fevered, whatever the reaction from the reader maybe, a reaction nonetheless. I found as I developed my characters, they pushed me to a different angle, a different scene or a new problem that wasn’t in the plot to begin with. This approach may not work with all genres, and every writer has his or her method.

It was also very important to pin down the physical image of the character. I’m one who doesn’t cut out pictures from magazines and stick them to a board or in a sketchbook to help with images, though I think that is an effective way to go about it. I’m one who keeps everything in my head, which may explain the lost look I sport around when I’m developing a scene. I got in the habit of observing people. Wherever I am, I take in details: facial expressions, hair styles and colors, manicured fingernails, scruffy beards, the way a tall man walks, how a plump lady tries to cross her legs, the small gestures between couples they try to hide in public, yet fail. To me, it’s more than hair and eye color, skin tone and body structure. It’s more about how the characters carry themselves, and most importantly, what they try to conceal.

Taha is the author of Shadows of Damascus, a novel inspired by current events in the Middle East. Follow on Twitter @lilastaha and like on

Posted in A Lingering Line From Lilas! | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments