Author Media Kits, Part 2—The News Release

Today at Story Empire, Staci Troilo shares an information-packed post on how to put together a professional news release. Part two of her excellent series on Author Media Kits, it’s loaded with tips and great advice!

Story Empire

Ciao, SEers. As promised, I’m continuing my exploration of the author media kit. (If you missed that post or want a refresher before continuing, click here.)

Today, we’re going to talk about the news release. (Press Release is an outdated term referring to the press that prints newspapers. That technology has modernized and we submit our release to more than just newspapers these days, so the name has been changed to News Release to reflect those changes.)

Authors can certainly submit their own news releases to the media, but I’ve found some elitist organizations still don’t accept indie authors as credible and talented artists, and therefore disregard announcements from them. Because of this bias, if at all possible, have your publisher or a professional organization submit the release on your behalf. However, if you have a kick-butt release and media kit, or if you find progressive organizations…

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Words ~ Old and New

Calling all dastardly rapscallions who speak Suessian then suffer a face-palm moment when they’re photobombed,

Confused? It’s quite simple actually, as Joan Hall takes a laugh out loud (or should I say LOL) look at word usage old and new. This post is a gem! Hop over to Story Empire to check it out. Abscond with thee! 🙂

Story Empire

Hi, SE readers. Joan here. I thought we’d do something fun today and talk about words.

Over the years, our use of language has evolved. Thank goodness we no longer use seventeenth century English with words like thee, thou,  or shouldst. These days we’re much more casual in our conversations. For instance, how often do you order a vegetable burger? You order a veggie burger.

The last few years these words have sprung up: SCOTUS, POTUS, and FLOTUS. These are actually acronyms for Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, and First Lady of the United States.

I never used the entire term, but I still stay Supreme Court, President, and First Lady. Evidently, some people are too casual (or perhaps too lazy) to use these terms. It takes just as much effort to use the acronyms as it does to say the word.

Merriam-Webster recently…

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The End in Mind

How clear is your ending at the beginning?

Wondering what I mean by that? Then you need to hop over to Story Empire where SEer Harmony Kent takes an in depth look at writing with “The End in Mind”

Story Empire

Hello SEers! It’s great to see you here today 🙂

When we write, we create things twice—first, in the mind, and then in the real world. To make the best reality, we have to begin with the end in mind. If we want to tell a story, to sit and write a novel, then we need to know the end (or have a good idea of what we intend).

Even though things may change as we invent, we still need to begin with at least a rough outline of the beginning, the middle, and the end. We need to have an awareness of the point to the tale. Both our characters and plot need to show some development and change by the time it’s all finished and done with.

If you envisage the end clearly enough, you will find less trouble in writing your way there. I have no doubt…

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Remember when I goofed up my Monday Buzz post for Story Empire? I had the wrong topic listed and the wrong blogger. Well, as promised, C. S. Boyack, has the helm of the Empire today and he’s got a great article about branding. It’s informative and quirky all at the same time. Hop over and see what Craig has to say…

Story Empire

Craig here again. It’s a challenge to write these tips and tricks every time, because so many of the items are debatable. I hate to take a hard line stance, but I do for the sake of the comments that trickle in during the week. The topic today is branding.

Not that kind of branding. The kind where authors promote products. As you appear across cyberspace, what kind of recognizable materials do you use so the masses will recognize you? Chances are, you’ll have a blog, the popular social media accounts, and possibly a newsletter. What kind of branding do you use to tell people this is some of your work?

You will also make guest appearances on blogs, maybe blog talk radio, the occasional video of some kind. While these post are all different, your branding is what sews them all together as you – the author.

My first…

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I need your help!!!

Okay, so you’ve probably noticed I rarely reblog, but I had to share this. If you are an author who has print copies of your books, please read this post and consider donating a book or two. Cancer claims many lives. It’s impacted my own family with many losses. As an author, Marlena Smith has come up with a great way to fight back, and spread the love of reading and books at the same time. Check out her post about “fighting cancer one story at a time!”

Life As I Know It

Hello, bloggers!

As many of you know, I am very passionate about Relay For Life and the fight against cancer. Cancer has affected my family multiple times. Not only have I lost loved ones, but I know many people that have also suffered the pain of this horrible disease. Cancer is a scary thing and, let’s just be honest, it sucks.

For this reason, I created my own Relay For Life Team – FINDING HOPE. My hometown’s event is scheduled for May, so the planning has already began. The theme this year is “Once upon a cure.” Each Relay Team has to create their own theme from the main one.

Perhaps it’s the writer in me or the awesome book club I’m in, but the first thing I thought about when I heard this was reading. So, from the main theme, I came up with this:

“Fighting cancer, one story at…

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An Amazonian-Sized Problem

Hey, gang, I’m very late in sharing today, but if you get a chance, hop over and check out Staci Troilo’s post on Story Empire. She’s talking Amazon and Reviews, and there is some great discussion going on. Weigh in with your own thoughts. We’d love to hear them!

Story Empire

Hi, SEers! Happy Wednesday.

reviewsI wrote a post on my own blog recently about Amazon and reviews. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.  That post was the inspiration for this one.

There are nine categories on the Amazon Community Guidelines page that dictate the rules for reviewing books (or anything else, I suppose). Some are just common sense. Others pose some problems.

For example, one of the categories is Eligibility. You must have spent $50 on Amazon before you are allowed to review a product.

  • What about people who don’t have an account or have just opened one? (And before you laugh at the absurdity of that statement, you should know I know people who have family members buy things for them on Amazon because they don’t want to enter credit card information online.)
  • What about teenagers who read the YA books their…

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The Delusion by Dr. Hank Wehman #PsychiatricThriller

Hey, friends, I have a special treat today. I’d like to introduce the psychiatric thriller/mystery The Delusion,  the debut release of Dr. Hank Wehman, a practicing psychiatrist. Hank is part of my local critique group, so I am overly excited to see his novel in print and on Amazon. I provided critique and feedback for half of this novel before getting pulled away by publishing deadlines. Since then I’ve read the entire book and was blown away by how everything played out. This is a roller-coaster, cat-and-mouse game of suspense with an ending that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the story.

Book cover for The Delusion by Hank Wehman, M.D. shows close up of woman's face in profile against a dark backgroundBlurb:
It’s a routine Monday morning when psychiatrist AJ Beasley meets a new patient, Valerie Clinton. Valerie was freed from abuse after her boyfriend was killed on a Philadelphia expressway. AJ is confident this is a textbook case, until she reveals the real reason for her visit: the dead man has been menacing her. Clearly a delusion.

AJ has dealt with delusions before, but this one is different. As he delves into the case, strange things begin to happen. Ultimately he becomes convinced her claim is NOT delusional, that in fact the deceased abuser is actively pursuing them both.

How can this be? How will AJ and Valerie come to grips with this impossible situation? Will it turn deadly?

“The Delusion” is a fast-paced, tense thriller in the seldom encountered genre of psychiatric mystery.


Hank Wehman is a psychiatrist with thirty years’ experience, currently practicing at a community mental health center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He received his MD degree from Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey. Medicine is his third career. Previously he had earned a PhD in developmental biology from Johns Hopkins, did basic biological research and taught college prior to entering medical school. He was a member of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order known as the Jesuits, for eleven years. He is married, has four children. He resides in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. This is his first novel.

I gave this book five well-deserved stars. You can grab your own copy from Amazon in Kindle format or print, and explore the author’s website at You can also connect with Hank on Goodreads. I’m already looking forward to his next book!

Macabre Sanctuary #Free #Halloween #eBook

It’s October, nearing Halloween, when things that go-bump-in-the-night push to the forefront of our minds. What an ideal time to curl up with a book designed to inspire shivers and goosebumps.

I invite you to explore MACABRE SANCTUARY, a FREE collection of ten short stories published by AIW Press. Yes, you heard correctly. MACABRE SANCTUARY is free for the taking from Amazon, Apple, Kobo and others.

Click HERE to download the anthology in the format of your choice

Close up of part of a spooky old house at nightBlurb:
Thrills. Chills. Shadows and superstitions. Things that go bump in the night. Macabre Sanctuary boasts suspenseful fiction designed to elicit goosebumps and raise heartrates.

Learn the lore of a haunted island.
Grapple with the undead while robbing graves Halloween night.
Endure a hazing ritual unlike any other.
Deal with a demon at an All Souls’ Day celebration.
See what happens when you court death in the wild.
Battle zombies and cannibals in a quest to stay alive.
Travel back in time to witness the birth of true evil.
Fear prophetic nightmares made manifest.
Come to terms with new ethereal realities.
Befriend a feline to extend earthly life.

This collection from ten talented authors offers ghosts and demons, spirits and zombies, cannibals and killers… even a ferocious animal. Historical and contemporary tales of violence and fright keep readers on the edges of their seats. There’s something for everyone who loves spine-tingling, bone-chilling, blood-curdling stories.


I’m delighted my short story The Lady Ghost, about two brothers who go grave-robbing on Halloween night was accepted for inclusion in this anthology. You’ll find nine other stories as well, all themed around Halloween or spooky happenings. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you entertained. Please share the news with your friends and tell them to download a copy as well. Who doesn’t like a good spooky read near Halloween? Bwahahaha!

You can find the fabulous authors in this collection at the following haunts:
Joan Hall:
Mae Clair:
Jan Morrill:
Staci Troilo:
Pamela Foster:
Stacy Claflin:
Michele Jones:
K. E. Lane:
Harmony Kent:
C. S. Boyack:

And don’t leave without grabbing your

Happy Hauntings!

Close up of a spooky old house at night

Guest Blogger A. M. Manay with “A Brief History of the Universe” #RRBC

I’m delighted to turn my blog over to Rave Reviews Book Club, sister author, A.M. Manay today. I invited her to guest blog after reading her spectacular novels SHE DIES AT THE END and SHE LIGHTS UP THE DARK, the first two books in the November Snow series (look for my five star reviews on Amazon).

Set in a riveting reality where vampires, faeries, werewolves and humans interact, this series easily rivals the Twilight and Shadowhunter sagas (and yes, I read those, too). I was so impressed with the world-building and character development A.M. created, I asked her to write a post about world-building for my blog. I hope you’ll make her feel welcome and take a look-see at her engrossing novels.


“A Brief History of the Universe” by A.M. Manay

One of the most enjoyable yet dangerous things about being a fantasy author is the opportunity to build a world.  It’s fun because you get to come up with strange creatures, an imaginary history, your own rules for how magic works, etc.  It’s dangerous for many of the same reasons.  There are a lot of places where you can easily write yourself into corners, or bore the reader, or contradict yourself.  So how did I create the world of November Snow, a world in which vampires, fairies, and werewolves wander among us?   And how did I communicate my vision to the reader?

Writing the first book, She Dies at the End, primarily based on November’s perspective allowed me to present the world as she saw it, as she was getting to know the new world into which she’d stumbled.  This is, of course, a commonly used and fairy effective tack to take.  November naturally asked a lot of questions during those initial chapters, and in addition, her psychic visions helped to fill in some information for the reader.  I tried to parcel things out a little at a time and avoid exposition dumps as much as possible.  You have to trust the reader to put pieces together over time.

Book covers for She Dies at the End, She Lights up the Dark and She Sees in Her Sleep by A. M. Manay

As far as the creatures are concerned, I knew I wanted to do vampires, because I’ve always thought they were sexy and interesting.  I knew I wanted some daytime help for the vampires, and the fairies filled that role.  I wanted the fairies and vampires to have their identities as predators in common, so my fairies feed via touch on the life force of human being.  My fairy and vampire allies needed a common enemy, which is where the werewolves came in.  I wanted to make them a genuine threat, so I came up with the notion that if a werewolf kills a fairy, it extends his own life.  But I also wanted them to be sympathetic, so I could explore issues of oppression.  So I included the werewolves’ self-perception of as the protectors of human beings.  Essentially, I made the characteristics of my supernatural creatures fill the needs of the story I wanted to tell.

As far as the aesthetics of the world are concerned, I tried to take a cinematic view: what would this look like if it were a movie?  What would enhance the story, and what would detract?  For example, I gave the fairies brightly colored hair and eyes to add some cheer and brightness and to distinguish them from the vampires.  And this may sound strange for a vampire novel, but I wanted to limit the blood and avoid piles of dead bodies lying around.  Thus, when my vampires die, they turn to ash.  When my fairies are injured, they bleed light rather than blood.  When the fairies die, they explode in a blinding flash, leaving nothing behind.  In this way, it doesn’t read like a nonstop horror show, and the really bloody violence on the part of Luka, the villain, has the appropriately disturbing impact it deserves.

For the setting, I made my work easier by using a reality we’re all familiar with, the contemporary United States.  I chose to use the San Francisco Bay Area, where I have lived for over 10 years, as much as possible.  It’s a diverse place with a lot of variety, and I didn’t see any need to complicate things by choosing a setting that would come across as awkward if I tried to fake familiarity.  When they do leave the East Bay, they’re mostly on contained sets rather than exploring their surroundings.

The history of the characters and their civilization developed in a pretty organic fashion.  I found that writing short stories about them helped me to flesh things out as far as their pasts and their motivations were concerned.  Even the stories I didn’t finish helped me give my characters some depth.  On a practical note, I did make lists and charts to help myself keep track of everyone, especially during the writing of the first book.  I included them in the second novel to give my fans a refresher.  All the names do have a disturbing tendency to run together!

What are your thoughts on world building?  Where have you seen it done well?  Where have you seen it done poorly?

Author A.M. Manay in a casual outdoor pose in front of a treeAuthor Bio:
A.M. Manay is the author of She Dies at the End (November Snow Book 1), She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2), and She Sees in Her Sleep: Three November Snow Shorts.  She is currently working on the third and final novel in the series.

Connect with A.M. Manay at the following haunts:
Twitter: @ammanay
Fan email list  November’s News

Guest Blogger: J.M. Goebel on Researching Your Novel

Guess what? I’ve got a brand new guest blogger I’d like to introduce you to today. Julie Goebel and I have been blog followers of each other and Twitter friends for some time now. And I finally nagged, twisted her arm, invited her to do a guest post. I was thrilled when she consented. Julie’s got an ultra sexy muse who sometimes keeps her too focused on her WIP— when he’s not pub crawling with my own muse, Mr. Evening.

Anyway, I gave her free rein to pick a topic of her choice, and I think she came up with a subject of importance to all writers. I hope you’ll give her a friendly welcome!


Thanks to Mae for inviting me to her blog. I asked her what she wanted me to write about. She let me pick my subject.

I warned her  🙂

Then my Muse warned me.

Gawd, he sure has a way of taking the fun out of mischievous intent. So, since Mae’s first Point Pleasant novel is due out soon, I thought I’d use her posts about her travels to Mothman territory for inspiration.

One of the fun things about writing is the research. Let’s face it, learning new stuff is like exploring a forest with any number of trails. You follow one path, which leads off to a different path, and before you know it, you find yourself hacking through the underbrush in pursuit of a tidbit you didn’t know you needed.

Research helps us give our stories authenticity, which gains the reader’s trust. Inaccuracies will jar a reader out of the story and create doubt about the writer. Remember the scene in Die Hard 2, where McLean lights a fuel trail from the plane? The flame raced to the plane and BOOM! Wrong. Jet fuel doesn’t burn like that—it’s more like diesel fuel or kerosene than gasoline. If I hadn’t worked in the aviation maintenance industry, I could’ve believed that would really happen

And it was a good movie–up to that point. Actually, there were a lot of aviation things the movie got wrong. On second thought, maybe not such a good movie.

Cute kitten and dachshund wearing glasses on open book with another book beneathDepending on the type of fiction, some details can be fabricated. You make the rules in fantasy and science fiction. If, however, you are setting your story in contemporary times, or a real time or place in history, research is vital to make the world of your story believable to your readers. If your small town in North Dakota is based on a real town, you’d better make sure your character doesn’t go to the mall in that town if there is no mall there in real life.

Some might say Google is a writer’s best friend. It is a great tool for conducting research, and the Internet offers more information at your fingertips than a lot of small-town libraries. But before the days of Google and Wikipedia, writers did research the old-fashioned way: interviewing people who know the subject, visiting the locations in the story, and maybe trying things out on their own.

Mothman statue located in Gunn Park, Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Statue of the Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Going to the locations in your story allows you to see the area for yourself, taste the flavor of the area, and get a feel for the community and atmosphere. My host, Mae Clair, traveled to where the Mothman inhabits local legends when researching for her Point Pleasant series. I don’t know if she actually saw the infamous Mothman, but she’s posted a picture of his statue.

Best-selling author Christine DeSmet made many trips to Door County, WI to research her Fudge Shop Mystery series. She visited the lighthouse featured in her second book of the series, and toured the church spotlighted in the third book. One of her biggest sacrifices—she learned how to make fudge. I understand her coworkers were quite happy to help her perfect her recipes!

The vast plains of Saskatchewan, with wheat fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, have a different feel than Door County or the wilds where the Mothman haunts. Author Ceone Fenn traveled to Canada and interviewed museum curators and historians to learn the idiosyncrasies of grain elevators and trucks from the early 20th century for her story.

Researching on-site isn’t limited to books for grown-ups. Middle-grade author Bibi Belford toured the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago for her soon-to-be released MG book about the Chicago race riots. Though the riots took place in the 1920s, the lake remains, along with memorials dedicated to those who lost their lives.

Technology these days makes it far easier to reach distant areas of the world that or connect with people who know about the subjects you need to learn. What better way to check the accuracy of a crime scene or the process of an investigation than to ask a retired detective. Need to find out what it’s like to have a pet ferret? Ask the members of your Facebook writing group (who, by the way, are very willing to help).  What about Australian slang? You could use Google to find a reference for slang, or you could touch base with a real Australian through your Facebook writing group.

Not only can you gain knowledge for your story through research, you can meet some awesome people along the way. A wonderful thing about the writing community is the willingness of writers to help each other. We have a network of resources at our disposal that rivals Google, and I’m glad to be a part of it.


Author Bio:
Pen name: J. M. Goebel  A fiction writer since elementary school and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, Julie has been published in small press magazines such as “Fighting Chance” and “The Galactic Citizen”. She currently has two novels ready for the world (but without representation at this point), and a number of others waiting their turn. She writes adult mystery with extrasensory elements, mystery with a touch of romance, and fantasy (contemporary and traditional). In real life she is a technical writer with a wonderful hubby, two teenagers, cats, dogs, chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. Her hobbies include writing, reading, gardening, and searching for her wayward sanity.

Connect with Julie at the following haunts:
Twitter: @jmgoebel2k13