Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Post: 25 Things Writers Need by AE McRoberts

Greetings, padawan! Today I’m so excited to be writing a post for a fellow Ashley. Because us Ashley’s need to stick together…we’re only the number 154 ranked name in the world after all 😂

Today we’re going to dig into one of my favorite sections in Chuck Wendig’s book 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story. Have you read it? It’s a great writing resource, and I highly recommend it. He shares some fantastic insights, and I got a lot from it!

So, let’s go, 25 Things Writers Need:

#1: A good chair

As a writer, we spend a lot of time sitting, so investing in a good chair is paramount to both comfort and marathon writing sessions. But here’s my bone to pick…standing desks. Smart ass scientists have proven that sitting on your tush all day long isn’t exactly good for you, so I say forgo the chair and get a standing desk instead…or maybe a treadmill desk.

Lose weight and kill off characters at the same time, what’s not to like!

#2: A word processing program you don’t hate

Like any opinion, the answer to this varies wildly. Some love Scrivener (I’m in that camp), others hate it. Some use Google docs, others Word. And there are SO many writing programs available out there to choose from.

But my advice, try them all. Experiment. Learn exactly what works for you and run with it. Because at the end of the day, it’s about you, the writer, and the specific program to you doesn’t much matter.

#3: A way to track change

I use a simple numbering system. My first draft is 1.1, my second is 1.2 and so on. Once, I got up to 1.15! As with all these suggestions, do what works for you. BUT, the most important thing I’ve learned as an author is don’t delete anything (anything as in entire stories, I’m not saving like individual sentences…well, maybe sometimes, lol).

I might put a story in my ‘this is shit’ pile, but I don’t delete it. Because you don’t know when and where you can reuse something.

#4: Spreadsheets

Okay, my husband loves his spreadsheets, but I never really learned how to use them. But they are a useful and clear way to organize some sorts of information if that’s your jam. If you’re smarter than me, go for it!

#5: A way to back up your work

Thankfully, being married to a tech-savvy dude has saved me. Because early in my writing career, he drilled home the importance of backing up my work. He got me a Dropbox, and I totally love it. I have my photos, and everything I’ve ever written. Like I said above, I delete nothing so there’s a lot in there!

I’ll stress this: Get SOME sort of backup service, and regularly (or automatically) backup your stuff. Because that sinking realization that you’ve just lost an entire manuscript is the worst feeling in the world.

#6: Another way to back up your work

Proper previous planning prevents piss poor performance. In the military they say “two is one and one is none”, so in this case, assume your one backup will somehow fail, and have a secondary system. Or hey, if you’re extra paranoid, triple down. I always put my manuscripts on a thumb drive as well. They’re a cheap way to ensure that I always have what’s important.

#7: A way to take notes anywhere

Be prepared, padawan, for a story from my past. I was walking my kid to REI, (they have a great slide there), and I was listening to music. When the song “Sway” by Rosemary Clooney came on, I thought (and I still do) the chorus said ‘I can hear the sound of violence, long before it begins,’ but the actual lyric is violins, not violence.

Since I misheard the lyrics, as I walked I began plotting a story where these dudes can actually sense violence. When we got to REI, I whipped out my trusty iPhone and began world building.

It was then that I learned the truth of this statement. Always have something to record your notes, thoughts, musings, ideas on, wherever you are. It can be paper or digital. Always be prepared to follow the muse.

Some go to the extreme and wake up in the middle of the night to record dreams, but I value sleep way too much for that. If it’s good, I’ll remember it again in the morning…hopefully. Lol.

#8 A most excellent pen

I’m almost confident saying that all writers are a little obsessed with notebooks/pens. I love them 😍

Granted, I’m not really into like fancy pens, I’m more of a cheap BIC pen type (remember, “most excellent” just means you like it, doesn’t have to be fancy). But as it so happens, writing engages a different part of the brain than typing, so I always have to brainstorm/plan on paper. I can’t seem to be happy with what I brainstorm when I type. Weird, I know.

Anyhow, having a good pen and paper is inviable to give your musings a little boost.

#9 Whiteboard and/or cork board

This one fills me with sadness, so I might cry a little. 😥

My fam and I are digital nomads, so I travel around Europe, moving every 90 days or so. This means that I live out of suitcases. And unfortunately, I can’t travel with anything very large. I miss my whiteboard so much. It’s such an excellent resource to organize, plan, and structure. I could put up notes and keep track of elements I wanted to. I could write little encouraging notes and pin baby pictures. One day I’ll have an entire wall that’s a magnetic whiteboard, and that will be bliss.

You haven’t plotted a book until you’ve done it full scale on a whiteboard!

#10: The Internet

Both a writer’s best and worst friend: the internet. Between the dictionary and thesaurus, Reddit, and Wikipedia, the internet is a must-have to construct stories, edit them, and publish them.

You could go all Thoreau and write off-grid in a cabin somewhere, no internet, no electricity, but meh, that’s overkill. Having the internet at your fingertips makes writing 1,000 times easier.

And this leads to our next point.

#11: A way to escape the internet

The dangers of the internet are very real, and no, I’m not talking about spending hours and hours browsing pancake recipes. Though, that is a really perilous rabbit hole if I do say so myself.

I’m talking about procrastination.

Spending hours researching the accuracy of one line, or the endless distracting black hole of social media. It takes some self-control not to spend every moment of writing time doing something other than writing, but once you strengthen that muscle, it gets easier!

Flow helps a lot also, because once I get into the flow of writing, social media doesn’t seem as appealing. There are some tricks you can do, like website blockers and full-screen mode, but mostly it’s just self-control.

#12: A website

Every author should have one. Period. Even if it’s just a pretty picture and your name. Because once you publish, you’re going to want to have a nice place to showcase all your books and merchandise. It should be easy to remember and spell. Ideally, it should be your name (or pen name). I was lucky enough to get Super simple, and it’s me!

You don’t need to be tech savvy either to have a nice site, you can easily throw up a nice template via WordPress or build a one-page site in in a matter of minutes. But your website will be the spoke of your digital presence, and your publisher will expect you to have one, so chop chop!

#13: Books and Stories

I’m of the firm opinion that a writer should also be a reader. It comes with the territory.

You can’t write good stories if you don’t read extensively, because creativity requires seeds of inspiration! So, all authors should collect favorite books and stories. I have easily fifty super-duper favorite books that I can read over and over. The good news, this doesn’t have to mean shelves and shelves of traditionally published paper books. This means fanfic, audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited, and even little kid stories!

The more widely you read, the more idea sex you can have. 😊

#14: Music and other art

This one is a little obscure, sure, but relevant. Authors are creators. We imagine and daydream and harness the muse. As creators, we should collect and appreciate material from all sorts of other creators. This means artists and musicians, sculptors, performers, you name it. The muses aren’t just limited to writing. They are that piece of you (or anyone) that urges them to go make something new!

#15: Healthy snacks

As discussed above, writers spend a lot of time sitting. That means not a lot of time spent moving. Which means that you shouldn’t be cramming artificial sugars down your throat, cause that’s a recipe for becoming corpulent, very corpulent.

But here’s the catch: brains use glucose, so sometimes to get your brain really working, you need brain snacks. That doesn’t mean go straight to some factory processed shit. Grab nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit.

#16: Blood flowing to your brain

This, Padawan, is important. Your brain is a highly efficient and complex organ. Sitting on your ass for hours at a time isn’t an ideal recipe for success At least once per hour, get up and move! Do squats or pushups. Go for a short walk. Do something to get the blood flowing.

Fun fact, I do squats as part of my prewriting routine every day. It tells my brain that I’m about to get creative and it works wonders!

#17: A good shower

I’m a shower girl. I love showers, even more than a nice hot bath. It’s the feeling of water hitting my skin and washing everything away. But when you do something routine, something familiar, that frees up your brain to think about other things. That’s why showers and driving can be so important to solving problems. So next time you’re stuck, take a shower!

And think of me while you do it. 😉

#18: An afternoon pick-me-up

Afternoons can be a slog. They drag on, you get lethargic, and sort of blah. But that doesn’t have to be the case! No!

Take some time to do something invigorating. Listen to some screaming punk music, or go for a run. But it doesn’t have to be something major. Turn on some opera and sing your heart out. Recite dirty limericks to yourself in the mirror. Mix it up. Live a little.

#19: Other writers

Writing isn’t entirely a solo sport, it’s actually very much a team effort. It takes lots of people to bring a story to life. Sure, one person might write it, but there are so many more involved in the full process.

There are alpha, beta, and gamma readers. There are editors and proofreaders. There are cover artists and formatters. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a kid., it also takes a village to make a book. So, go out and find others!

This one is hard for me because I’m an extreme introvert. Between my husband and kid, I get enough human interactions to last me forever, so it can be a little challenging to reach out. But it can be worth it!

#20: People who have absolutely nothing to do with writing, ever

Stories are about humans surmounting challenges and obstacles. To really learn how humans would react/interact, you need to have some experience with people. Experience people and all they offer, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the most excellent 😊.

Every single person you encounter, in real life or media, is a potential source of character and story inspiration!

#21: An editor

The best writers need great editors. The worst writers need editors. Editors are the saviors of the written word (cough, like me, cough).

You should have a strong relationship with your editor. They should understand you, get you, and your writing voice. But, you should also trust them enough to listen to their advice, and don’t take every editing recommendation as a personal attack. Find someone who you can strike a good balance with, and who gets you, because a partnership with a bad editor can be as poisonous as poorly prepared pufferfish sushi…well, maybe not quite that bad, but close enough.

#22: A daily writing goal

I don’t necessarily agree with this one. There are some days that I can’t write, because of whatever circumstance, or if I’m taking a writing break. But sometimes authors need that sort of push to motivate them. Stories burn in me. I have to write, and if I don’t, I go insane. Literally. So, to me, a daily goal isn’t needed. But I’m a unique pancake. If you need that motivation, then set it. Make it reasonable and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it, but have clear, simple, and achievable daily goals.

#23: Deadlines

Some perform well under pressure. Others, not so much. So, this one is entirely personal and you should decide what’s best for you (unless you sign a book deal, in which case you have a responsibility to deliver on time, and missing deadlines is no bueno…I’m looking at you Rothfuss and Martin).

Writing should be a joy. It should be fluffy pancakes piled high with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. It shouldn’t be stress and heartache and misery. So, if you work better under a deadline, give yourself one. Or if you work better without a deadline, then don’t…unless you have a book deal, and then see above.

#24: A finished manuscript

It doesn’t matter if it’s shit. It doesn’t matter if it’s poorly written or the best thing ever. Just finish. You can set it aside or polish it to publish. Just finish. I have like ten stories I wrote as practice that are just sitting in my Dropbox, and I’ll probably do nothing with them other than mine them for cool characters or random ideas.

But I finished them. It’s that hard, and that easy.

#25: An audience

I’m of the opinion that you should write about what inspires you, and the audience will follow. But that has a big caution flag next to it. If you write about a demented old man who goes around murdering babies, your audience might be tiny. But generally, there are people who will read anything.

Just be aware that your passion might not translate well if it’s more extreme. I find that it’s harder to write when you’re not burning with the need to write *this* specific story though, so I hope the stories you burn for have nice large audiences 😉

Well, padawan that’s it for Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things All Writers Need. What’s your score? Do you have all 25?

As I’ve said, this list is his opinion and highly subjective, and even with none of these things, you can still be an amazing writer. So, don’t stress about it, take it or leave it as you see fit, and maybe go out to Hobby Lobby and buy all their whiteboards.

Now, go forth and write!


AE McRoberts is a romance/fantasy author and developmental editor who lives out of suitcases and travels Europe with her husband and son. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s reading, gaming, or eating pancakes. You can read more of her writing at, or you can find her on Twitter and Reddit.


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Guest Post: Blending and Balancing Work and Home by Barbori Garnet

This guest post is by Barbori Garnet, author of Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life.

The boundaries between work and home can become blurred, or perhaps even seem nonexistent, when working from home. To help with the balance between work and home, below are some ideas to make that happen.

Try journaling – Start your day or wind down your evening with journaling. It can be an excellent way to focus your thoughts before beginning work or getting your thoughts down to help you relax before bed. Choose a notebook that you like and a comfortable place to settle in, with a cup of tea in hand, for a special time of journaling.

Go outside – It can be as short as 10 or 15 minutes or as long as an hour – or longer – just as along as you get outside for a walk, jog, bike ride, ice skate, or cross-country ski. Getting fresh air and moving your body will help you reset during your work day – such as during your lunch break – or in the morning or afternoon, if you have some flexibility in your work hours or schedule.

Take breaks at home – Even at home, you can implement a few changes that will help establish a clear boundary between work and home. Some things to try include:

  • having a picnic lunch on your porch or in your yard
  • taking quick 5-minute exercise breaks throughout your work day to weightlift, do squats, lunges, or jumping jacks
  • depending on the season and climate you are in, spending 15 minutes in your garden planting, watering, or weeding can help to take a step back and come back refreshed

I hope that, by giving the above suggestions a try and including the ideas throughout your day, you will find more balance between work and home, making both more enjoyable.


Barbori Garnet is a writer and author of Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life (Atmosphere Press, September 2021), artist, musician, and gardener based in Alberta. She
enjoys writing non-fiction and writes on remote work, home offices, gardening, and more.

Barbori has a BFA from Academy of Art University and an MA from Southern
New Hampshire University.


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Open for Submissions!

I’m happy to say that my blog is once again open for submissions! Acceptable topics for guest posts include book reviews, just about anything regarding reading and writing, short fiction, and poetry. Book review requests are closed at the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to that soon!

You can check out my Contact and Submissions page for more information. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I look forward to hearing from you!

* * *

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Guest Post: Poetry by Christo N

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace:

The tree of wisdom beckons

To all who would heed its call

The ancient power of nature

Breathing life into

Our weary souls

Let this fresh knowledge

These new synapses firing

Be a rapturous discovery

Of the healing power

Contained within

The oceans, rivers and forests

As the waves wash away

The pain and longing

And the wind in the trees

Whispers sweet nothings

To nurture peace within

Our tired thoughts

With time

We could spiral upwards

With content and meaningful

Thoughts, words, actions




On the beauty

Found only on planet earth

This blessed world

With all its angels and devils

Has all we need to find

Heaven within ourselves

You just need to know

Where to look

Start with the tree of wisdom

Drink deeply from the springs of knowledge

And never, ever, ever give up

Christo N is a poet/writer from The ACT, Australia who spent 6 years incarcerated in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Whilst locked up he began writing poetry and has continued after release. A lot of his poetry reflects the process of self development that only comes with years of introspection and hardship.  

He uses the metaphor of being lost at sea for the hard years doing time and feels incredibly blessed to be back to the safe harbor of freedom.

You can find his blog here.


Interested in having your work featured here? View the submission guidelines.

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Filed under Guest Posts, Poetry

Open for Submissions!

I’m happy to say that my blog is once again open for submissions! Acceptable topics for guest posts include book reviews, just about anything regarding reading and writing, short fiction, and poetry. I’m also open for book review requests if you’re interested in getting a little more traffic for your novel.

You can check out my Contact and Submissions page for more information. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I look forward to hearing from you!

* * *

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Guest Post: Poetry by Miriam Sagan

An Odd—Large—Painting

in the rental casita
a plump woman
asleep, on a lumpy sofa
bare feet
on a red pillow
despite the green
ferny wallpaper
this is no
her unconvincing
seem faraway
from her head
while her toes
are off the canvas completely

there are days
I’ve felt like this
no Sleeping Beauty
just trying to get through
a hot afternoon
a third trimester
high school
too enervated
to even put ice cubes
in a glass
of tap water

but this is bought and sold, signed
hanging on the wall
the artists’s name
a blur beneath a painted cushion

and the day seems like a to do list
I left for myself
twenty years ago
forgetting to even mention
I love you.



zodiac swam in its round
above the wooden ark
veiled women hid behind
a mechitza of water and blood
if I was a child
I ran among their legs
if I was a child I ran

in the Red Cafe in Kiev
at the teetering round table
in steam and smoke like a railway station
tea served in endless glasses
they are shouting again
those philosophers
too broke to pay
but suddenly I can’t hear them
sound fades, they’re ghosts
and what am I?

in all of history, who can care
about one girl, tired, besmirched
sitting by the coals of a dying fire
who can care
about birch trees—
there are so many…

who can care about rape
about how my eyes turn
a betraying green
or how my fingers curl helplessly
as DNA deforms my hand
the double helix of Vikings, Cossacks, the Rus
come down out of the cold shamanic north
for bad, for worse

ancestors come if I call
smelling like a snuffed candle
and come if I don’t call
smelling of hospital corridors and panic
for the angels are too busy
encouraging each blade of grass to grow
reciting the alphabet
but only from aleph to aleph
they have not yet
reached the first letter
of my name

before this, a wall
before that, destruction
before that, an ark on the deep
a raven a dove, an opinion
about what survives


Rancho de Taos

you think you
have problems…
kept us awake
all night
along with the neighbor’s
barking dog
and the dance music
turned up loud
not to mention
the moon…

magpie feathers float on the air
killed and ate
a bird;
a cauldron, a metal rabbit, a lantern
guard the storeroom
of a different feeling

Taos Mountain is still
the day after Easter
I’d be careful,
breeze ruffles the pages of a book
about grenades and the Chinese revolution

the tiny girl
like a crow
can count
at least up to five
for how mysterious
the hacienda is
that always
has one more bed
than the number
of residents.

* * *

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement. Her poetry was set to music for the Santa Fe Women’s Chorus, incised on stoneware for a haiku pathway, and projected as video inside an abandoned grain silo in rural Itoshima. Her blog is Miriam’s Well.

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Guest Post: What You Need to Know Before Creating Your Book Marketing Strategy

by Hayley Zelda

No matter how well you write, how many followers you have on Commaful or Wattpad, or how many contacts you have in publishing, your book won’t sell unless you plan a roadmap or a marketing strategy. Before you create your Tumblr content or social media calendars, you should have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You also need to determine the opportunities and threats that await you as a published author. 

There are several steps you can take to ensure you have a strong foundation for your marketing strategy. By being fully aware of your brand, personality, and voice, you can easily step up your marketing efforts. 

We will look at some of the matters you need to address as part of your book strategy and author marketing.

Your goals

What do you want to accomplish in three to five years? Goals are a broader statement that focuses on your desired results but does not yet describe how you will achieve them. Think long term. Aspire and aim high.

Examples of author goals include:

  • Publish the sequel to my novel.
  • Build a strong fan base.
  • Get interviewed on a podcast or TV show.
  • Hire a literary agent.

Your objectives

What will success look like in 6 to 12 months? Write down two goals that you know are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). As you write each goal, try to answer the following questions: What do I want to achieve? When? How do I know when it has been reached? How can I accomplish this goal? Does it seem worthwhile?

Here are some example goals:

  • Submit the sequel’s manuscript to a Big Five editor by December 2021. 
  • Set up my Goodreads author listing within the workweek.
  • Write a compelling pitch letter to my researched list of business book summary podcasters. 
  • Email three writer friends in my niche and ask them about recommended agents on Saturday.

Your value

Marketers often ask, “What’s your unique selling proposition”? To keep it simple, let’s rephrase the question: what do you have to offer? What makes you different from other authors? Unless you can identify what makes you unique as a writer, you cannot target your marketing efforts. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. What motivates them to read your work? Why should they read your book and not someone else’s? 

Some examples to get creative juices flowing:

  • My screenplay is just like Jane Austen’s “Emma,” only set in Beverly Hills.
  • My novel is Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” meets fuzzy, cuddly kittens. 
  • A newly crowned king must comfort his people during troubling times. The only trouble is, he stutters very badly.

Your niche

Are you a fiction or non-fiction writer? Do you write short stories, poems, or novels? Or do you write how-to books or creative essays? What genre(s) does your work fall into? Does it have a sub-genre or a niche? Here’s a pro tip: If you’re writing in different categories like young adult fantasy and murder mystery, create pseudonyms for each genre. You don’t want to weaken your brand as an author if readers identify you with several but very different niches. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Dystopian science fiction stories and novels
  • Thriller novels with a female protagonist
  • English haiku about life in New York City

Your audience

Visualize who will want to buy your book. Are they male, female, LGBT, or gender doesn’t matter? Are they kids, pre-teens, teenagers, or older? Where in the world do they live in? What are their interests? What kind of websites do they often visit? What are their pain points? Keep these factors in mind as you both work on and promote your book. 

Examples of audience personas include:

  • Mayumi is a 36-year-old wife and mother of two who lives in San Francisco. She is a second-generation Asian-American and wants to know more about her Filipino heritage. 
  • Billy is a 27-year-old computer game enthusiast. He stays up late at night with his roommates playing fantasy role-playing games, rhythm and music party starters, and retro classics on his custom-rigged desktop computer. 
  • Jeannie is an accomplished 50-year-old entrepreneur who co-owns a local chain of healthy lifestyle retail stores. Her day isn’t complete without a cup of oolong tea, a daily phone call with her career coach, and a 30-minute yoga session. 

Your environment

Environmental factors are elements over which you have no control. Nonetheless, these factors still influence the decisions made when creating a strategic marketing plan. Study your writing environment from a macro and a micro perspective. Think of your suppliers, your customers, the general public, other authors. Analyze what’s going on in politics, law, economics, technology, and business that may affect your writing and marketing activities. 

Some environmental factors are:

  • The strict censorship policies in some countries make it difficult for your publisher to distribute your paranormal romance in different parts of the world.
  • The lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay home for months. As a result, your audience now prefers to buy e-books.
  • Besides being a creative writer, you are the single mother of a two-year-old boy and write creative non-fiction from the home office.

Getting started on your marketing strategy

If you are a first-time author, a fully documented marketing strategy may seem overwhelming to you. If so, you can narrow down the essential information to drive your approach (which we discussed earlier) to just one page. Planning your marketing strategy takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s best to list all the “materials” you will need before putting everything together.

* * *

Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.

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Guest Fiction: Summer and Sunshine by Sharon Chidra Jonah

Everyday she breathes. Everyday she smiles. Everyday she laughs.
It was pretty normal to everyone; no one saw anything wrong. They thought she was overly chirpy. They thought she was the full definition of rainbows and sunshine. Summer itself, just like her name.

But no one saw the darkness and pain that she was quietly slipping into, like it was her safe haven, like it was where she really belonged.

Her nickname was Sunshine. It wasn’t an insult but what they thought she should be, instead of a mere human whose existence will cease to exist someday. The irony.

No one knew what she was hiding until that night. I heard crying, and I followed it to the back of the bar.  Who will be here this late at night? I asked myself, and that’s when I saw her. Her strawberry-blonde hair covered her face, but I knew it was her. Then she looked up and my breathing hitched. Never have I seen eyes as red rimmed as hers, and it struck something in me. I wanted to help her, comfort her, be the reason to bring that smile in her face again.

But, the next morning, she was all smiles again. I remembered her helping an old lady to use the computer, and a whole lot of other people after that. A sweet child, they said. She’s full of happiness, they said. Such an amazing soul, they said. They judged too quickly. Just like I did.

But for the first time, I saw the secrets and pain that were hidden deep in her eyes. I thought she was okay, but I’ve never been more wrong.

She kept that façade for a long time. The smiles, the laughter, the kindness, the everything. She kept them all. Until she stopped them all, together with everything that made her, her. Until her lips turned a deep blue. Until she could no longer say her last words. Until her skin turned pale and her blood ran cold. Until she could no longer do the one thing, she so desperately wanted to.


Until Summer and Sunshine was just a name, not the overly-kind strawberry blonde girl who seemed to live by her name.

Again, the irony.

 * * *

Sharon Chidra Jonah

Sharon Chidra Jonah is a teenage African girl from the Eastern part of Nigeria. Though she isn’t a published author yet, Sharon has always taken a liking to blogging and writing. At a very young age, she began to write and decided to start her own blog where she writes all her thoughts.  Sharon is working on her very first novel, which is currently on the web. Sharon loves reading, writing, and listening to music, and one day she hopes to build something bigger with what she loves doing. You can see more of Sharon Chidra Jonah’s work on Wattpad with the name “Dark Blood.” You can check out her blog, where she blogs about anything and  everything.

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Guest Post: 4 Things to Consider When Designing Your Characters by Marielle Ann Suy

by Marielle Ann Suy

One of the most common challenges fiction authors face is creating “believable” characters. Take note, I said believable. Designing a character is different from designing a realistic character.

You may already be aware that your character needs life. You might have been searching the internet or reading books endlessly on how to make your characters feel alive. But it’s not enough.

Thankfully, I’m here to share with you the same technique I use to create realistic characters.

Artist drawing pencil portrait close-up


  • The Personality

Every human has a personality.

I usually start with knowing their “type.” Are they strong and tough? Are they shy and timid? Are they preppy and fashionable?

The key question here is what are they like?

If you, by some miracle, get the chance to meet this character, what would they tell you? How will they act? Are they initiating active conversations? Do they gossip? Do they talk endlessly? Do they annoy you?

By meeting them, you learn more about them. Not just how they look, but how they act. The more you know them, the better you can craft them.

Here’s an example:

Coal Lockwood is a character from Disappeared (Quesnium). He is a medieval farmer who lives with his childhood friend, Christina Evangeline. Since he’s a farmer, he’s got ragged clothes and a pale skin from all that sunlight. He’s also quite muscular (farming requires a lot of effort) for his age.

Since he was exposed to the hard life of farmers, he’s very down-to-earth. Well, down-to-quesnium, in this case. He knows how to prioritize their needs. Say, there’s no more food in the kitchen and thankfully, he was provided with bread. What he’ll do first is break it into portions. He’ll give one, maybe two, to Christina, eat half of one portion and then store the rest. Afterwards, he’ll find ways to get more food for them.

  • The Goal

Creating your character’s goal is actually easier than you think. The goal is what your character wants.

It could be as simple as being accepted by their parents to as grand as saving the world before bedtime.

The point is that your character must want something. Otherwise, there’s no story.

Here’s an example about Coal:

Coal is a simple man. With his social status, his only goal was to survive the day and the next and the next. He’s devoted to farming. During harvest season, he stores some for himself and Christina, the others for sale. He uses the coins for various needs, like seeds for the farm, food for the livestock, and for future repairs.

The better you can visualize their goal, the better they will move towards that direction.

  • The Motivation

Motivation, in its simplest of terminology, is what inspires your character to reach their goal.

Every human has a motivation, whether or not they realize it. Say, your character wants to graduate. Their motivation is their family. Perhaps, they want to give their family a better life – a better future. That’s why they want to graduate. They want to work soon to be able to support their family.

  • The Humanity

Flaws don’t make us weak, only human.

Everyone has flaws. There’s no such thing as a perfect human (unless he’s a cyborg). Making a human with superhuman strengths and no weaknesses is close to impossible. Even Superman has a weakness.

Whether it’s an object, a hidden trauma, or a person, each character must have a weakness. At the same time, they must also have strengths. Try to balance these when assigning traits to your character.

For example, if your setting is a palace in the sky, your character may be afraid of heights, but they may also have keen senses. In a thriller, action, or adventure story, keen senses are necessary.

And there they are. Those are the 4 things you should consider when designing your characters. Happy writing!

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suyA lover of fairytales and the mystical, Marielle Ann Suy is a storyteller and author. She has published two short stories. Both stories are about the sun’s disappearance, hence entitled “Disappeared.” “Disappeared (Earth)” is about a solar eclipse and how it affects the world. “Disappeared (Quesnium)” is about the sun’s disappearance and how it affects lowly farmers. A novel based on the same characters and the same premise is on its way. Stay tuned in via social media or by subscribing to her newsletter.

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4 Self-Publishing Essentials That No Author Can Publish Without

by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Self-publishing gives authors exciting degrees of freedom over their work. We can choose how long our books can be, what to put on the covers and *squeal* how much to charge for them. When we’re bound to publishing contracts, these important elements are left in the hands of editors and graphic designers who haven’t nurtured your manuscript the way you have. Despite this, in the hands of a publisher, all the costs of producing our book babies are covered. Self-publishing freedom is not without its expense.

Indie authors aren’t known for their riches, so sometimes we might feel tempted to cut corners. While we can take steps to be frugal, there are some things we just can’t sacrifice for the sake of cost. Before you self-publish your book, take a look at the self-publishing essentials you can’t publish without:


As indie authors, we tend to have a great network of author friends who are ready to beta-read our manuscripts for some cold, hard feedback. Ouch, right? While this is hugely helpful in creating a polished manuscript, beta-readers just can’t replace real editing by a seasoned professional. Without proper editing, you could quite easily publish an error-riddled book to your adoring fans.

No matter how many times you pore over your manuscript, something – nay, a lot of things – are going to slip under your radar. Editors may cost a pretty penny but the polished manuscript you receive from them is priceless. Even if you have to save a dollar at a time, hire the darn editor.


A Professional Book Cover

First impressions matter more than we like to think they do, and that could not be truer than of books. The front covers of our novels are the first things our readers see and are the first excuse to say “no” to our books. You might be quite artistic, but the chances of creating a fantastic book cover without some real graphic design experience are slimmer than an intern’s paycheque.

Your book title plastered across a free stock photo in sans-serif isn’t going to wow readers who have probably seen one hundred better covers that day already. Investing in a good book cover is arguably even smarter than hiring an editor, because the cover is what gets your readers to the first page. Forget about Canva and Pixabay, and start researching some good graphic designers. Your manuscript deserves the best.


This question has bounced around Facebook writing groups since time immemorial. Does a writer have to read to be a good writer? The answer is yes. Is it possible for a musician to compose good music without listening to any first? Only if they have superpowers.

Some writers insist that their writing is often complimented and they never read. Here’s the thing: a good writer isn’t just someone who can write at an acceptable level and gets themselves a few hearty congratulations from Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Tom. A good writer is a writer who is constantly improving, and there’s no better way to do that than to read regularly and write regularly. The best dishes come from the chefs who do their homework.


This writing deal really does test us, sometimes. Writing is, by and large, an introvert’s profession. We like holing up in our studies and creating in peace and quiet; no people, and lots of coffee. Bliss. So networking isn’t at the top of our to-do lists, but if we want to get our books under the noses of our ideal readers, we need a helping hand (or several).

The good news is, since the marvelous invention of social media, we don’t have to meet anyone face to face. Don’t tell me that’s not ideal.

Authors need each other to help host their book launches, to share their giveaways and to recommend their books. Without a solid backing, indie authors struggle much more to get their work noticed. Go and say “hi” in a few writing groups, and write a thank-you e-mail to your favourite indie author. You might just find friendships worth keeping.

Whether you enjoy socialising or not, we need allies on our journey; a journey we can all make together.

Whether we like it or not there are some things that we can’t do without. Books, friends, and the dastardly red pen, among other things. If you want your writing career to be a successful one, try out these ideas and see if you can take the next step towards that bestseller list.

* * *


Rosie Wylor-Owen was born in Worcester, England at the height of baggy jeans and boy-band popularity. Her work has been featured in the literary magazines The Fiction Pool, Anti-Heroin Chic and Ariel Chart, and the Manawaker Studios Podcast. Her short story “Arm-in-Army with Alchemy” was accepted for publication by Otter Libris for inclusion in the anthology “Magical Crime Scene Investigation.” In February 2018 she won third place in the Fiction Writer’s Global flash fiction contest for her story “In Exchange for Your Sins.” (blog)

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Filed under Guest Posts, On Writing, Self-Publishing