What I learned from 2018 Self-Publishing Expo in Tucson, AZ

The first session at the expo was by Sandra Beckwith from BuildBooksBuzz.com, “how to Creat a Killer Book Marketing Plan.” I took great notes and I’ll tell you as much as I can remember, and then some.


First, Last Clichés:

You Said It—I couldn’t agree more, you are absolutely right. This Americanism dates from the first half of the 1900s. Dorothy Sayers, British mystery novelist, used it in Murder Must Advertise (1933).

Keep One’s Fingers Crossed—To hope for success. This comes from an ancient superstition that making the sign of the cross will avert bad luck. Also used as Keep your fingers crossed, meaning “Wish me luck.” This dates from the 1920s. This might have come from children’s games in which crossing one’s fingers denotes that one is “safe,” as well as the gambit of telling a lie with one’s fingers crossed, presumably to avoid punishment for this sinful act.

In Two shakes of a Lamb’s Tail—Very quickly, instantly. Lambs are known to be frisky animals. This expression is shortened to in two shakes, and dates from the early 19th century and originated in America. Mark Twain changed it in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884) to “three shakes of a sheep’s tail.” This was well-known by the late 19th century.

So, how many did you find?

Sandra Beckwith was a vibrant and informative speaker. Her agenda was to tell us 1) Whey we need a marketing plan, 2) Seven questions you must answer, 3) The step by step process for a marketing plan. There was a fourth step, but only for the participants of the expo.

  • Why do we need a plan? We Must Plan for Success
  • The seven questions we need to answer:
    1. What’s your book publishing situation? – self-publish or traditional, need your book description, what differentiates your book from competitors?, What makes it marketable? Do you have any outside validation, i.e. awards, etc.?
    2. Who is your targeting audience?—Your target audience is not everyone. Be specific and find a niche. Do research and find your specific audience
    3. What are your goals for your book?—(marketing goals), What do you want to accomplish?, build a reader fan base? You must have at least One Goal.
    4. What is your book marketing strategy?—Get as much exposure as you can, public speaker, book signings, book giveaways, plan on giving away the books
    5. What are the tactics to reach your goals?—this is your meat and potatoes. The things you’ll do, but don’t try to do them all. Sample tactics=pre-publication endorsements (how do you get them? Build relationship early – join author’s Facebook, twitter and make comments, then send out many requests to get one blurb on your book from them), reader reviews (blurb comments), Facebook page, publicity, e-mail marketing. You should pick out one or two and MASTER them before moving on.
  1. What is your budget? – You need to figure this out for yourself.
  2. What is your time line?—You need to lay your ground work before your book comes out for your marketing plan. Ideal Timeline: start while writing book, six months before publish date on your marketing, expand your platform, make important connections by preparing materials.

You must keep marketing all the time.

So, Keep Writing!


2018 Self-Publishing Expo in Tucson, AZ

It has been a long time. Unfortunately, I had issues with my website. I’m proud to say they are fixed, and soon, I will be revamping my website so it’s more user friendly. That will be coming shortly, as well as my new book.

I will continue putting clichés throughout my writing, and you will continue to find them and then the next week, I will give you the definitions. Of course, I will continue to write about writing, but may have some “extras” in my blog posts. Hope you will still follow me and have your friends come check me out

First, Last Clichés:

Kit and caboodle, (the whole)—All of it; everything. We’ll speculate that caboodle comes from the Dutch boedel, which means a large quantity. Kit has long meant a set of tools or equipment for a specific purpose; i.e. makeup kit or tool kit. The OED maintains that caboodle is a corruption of kit and boodle, and gives quotations for whole caboodle (1838), kit and cargo (1852), kit and boiling (1859), and lastly, the hul kit and boodle (1861). They all meant the same thing—“the lot.”

Red Herrings- A repeat and used in my Nov. 11, 2017 post, so you can find description in Nov. 29, 2017 post.

Dead in the Water—A failure. This phrase alludes to dead fish floating. This dates from the second half of the 1900s and is most often applied to a business that is struggling and is about to fail completely.

Fighting Mad—Infuriating. This American expression dates from the late 19th century. William James used it in a letter of 1896: “If any other country’s ruler…equal moral ponderosity, …population…gone twice as fighting made as ours?”

So, how many did you find?

The Society of Southwestern Authors put on a Second Annual Tucson Self-Publishing Expo on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

I paid $25.00 for the 9 – 4 event, and you said it, friend, it was the best money I’ve spent on a writing event in a long time. My fellow writers and I kept our fingers crossed we weren’t wasting our time and money. We all learned so much and came away very excited.

We had four workshops: “How to Create a Killer Book Marketing Plan” by Sandra Beckwith from BuildBookBuzz.com; “The Reality of Marketing” by D.L. Dennis, Author of several books; “The Nuts and Bolts of How to Create a Professional Book” by JaNell Lyle from Truth Book Publishers; and “The Secret to E-Book Publishing Success” by Jim Azevedo from Smashwords.

In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, the expo was over. In my upcoming blog posts, I will relay what I learned. But if you get a chance to attend a writing conference, workshops, etc. please do so, and I hope you have as good an event as I did.

So, Keep Writing!


SSA author showcase

Hope you have a great holiday season with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah,  etc.

First, last clichés:

Three-ring circus—an event of utter confusion. This is an Americanism that started in the late 19th century, alluding to a circus in which three rings or arenas are featuring performances at the same time. Probably invented by P. T. Barnum. The term was transferred to other extravagant events and disorderly situations by about 1900. Rudyard Kipling used it in A Diversity of Creatures (1914).

Have another guess coming—Be mistaken or wrong. This cliché also implies that though one is wrong, one has a chance to reconsider and correct one’s error. Dates from the first half of the 1900s. D. Day Lewis used it in Child of Misfortune (1939).

Hope you enjoy trying to find the clichés.

Now that my second book Vanity Killed is out, what do I do next?

Well, I have my hands full with working on my third book. Also, I will be reading from Vanity Killed at my Society of Southwestern Authors/Santa Cruz Valley Chapter’s 9th Annual Local Authors’ Showcase. It is a luncheon held on Saturday, January 16, 2016 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Desert Hills Lutheran Church in Green Valley, Arizona. Eight local authors will read from their works of fiction, memoir, humor, and poetry. Also, there will be a delicious catered lunch and door prizes.

I will hopefully also be working with a musician and putting my reading to music for another event.

Day in, day out, I write on something. I try not to be my own worst enemy and procrastinate on writing, but write, even if it doesn’t make any sense at the time. My third book, Birthmark is coming along.

Please, all of you keep writing!

Until next time,



bookmarks and branding

making it real

Cover for your book:

Since I’ve been ill, I postponed my cover design for my book. Couldn’t agree on what I wanted. Took a survey, and too many different ideas.

Last Clichès:

Ran amok—Go crazy; behave in a wild, frenzied manner. Based on the Malay word amok, meaning “a state of frenzy.” In England, it was at first spelled amuck, see Andrew Marvell’s account (The Rehearsal Transposed, 1672).

Get my act together—To get organized, behave effectively. This slangy expression, dating from about 1960, alludes to show business.

Get off my duff—To get moving, become active. The slangy idiom duff in the sense of buttocks, a usage dating from about 1840 and at that time considered impolite. No longer is, at least in America, and this cliché is a euphemism for still ruder synonyms.

Hope you found these in last post.

Since I was not full of piss and vinegar and haven’t even read a book or been able to do much, I stopped working on my book cover for Vanity Killed. Now that I’m starting to function again, I will proceed with it.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the novel, and now must get cracking on the cover. If any of you have any ideas, contact me. Would love to hear from you.

Keep Writing,




Book Cover Designs

Hope everyone had a good new year’s day and settled in with all of the resolutions.

Last clichés:

With bated breath—Holding one’s breath back in expectation. To restrain is to bate, but now this verb bate is rarely heard except in this cliché, which has an archaic sound and often is used ironically. Shakespeare used it in The Merchant of Venice (1:3)

Made my Day—Made me very happy, restored my confidence, gratified me. This is a 20th century expression and it relies on the meaning of make as “succeed.” But, In Dirty Harry, played by Clint Eastood, the phrase was used as “Go ahead—make my day,” meaning “Give me a chance to get back at you.”  George H.W. Bush used the phrase quite often in 1988 during his presidential campaign and Ronald Reagan used it before him, and it was not always clear which meaning was intended.

Put all one’s eggs in one basket—To risk all one’s resources in a single venture. You’d think this was an old proverb, but the same idea used to be put as trusting all one’s goods to one ship, which antedates it by many centuries. “Putting all one’s eggs in the same basket,” incurs the risk that the basket will be droped and all the egss will break, was first stated only in 1710, in Samuel Palmer’s Moral Essays on Proverbs. Mark Twain contradicted the idea in Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894).

Ifs, ands, or buts—Restrictions or reservations; excuses. This expression actually mingles two older ones, ifs and ands with but me no buts. The first dates from the 16th century, was more or less the equivalent of wishful thinking, and its most famous version is Charles Kingsley’s rhyme of 1850: “If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there’d be no trade for tinkers.” Almost as old is “but me no buts,” meaning make no objections or excuses, which according to Eric Partridge was made popular by Sir Walter Scott’s use of it in The Antiquary (1816). The current cliché is often used as a negative imperative.

So, how many did you find?

I’ll be sending out my edited novel Vanity Killed to beta readers for a final edit. Now I’m looking for a book designer. I contacted my Night Terror book designer and she’s busy until mid-February. And, she only works with you if she can sit down personally with you. I don’t think so, but that’s how she does it. Well that’s hard to do when I’m in another state for the winter.

So no what? I’ve googled book designers. There are many. I’ll talk to the old-boy network in my new writer group to get their ideas on who they use. I don’t want to find someone who’s a round peg in a square hole.

However, I might be going back earlier, so I may try using the designer I used with Night Terror. Mary Mitchell Designs worked with me closely, tries to save money, and I liked the cover design of my first book. She also helped me with the layout of the inside, giving me pointers on how to do that part. She has a form you fill out to help you as a writer as well as her as the designer to figure out the cover of your book. She also creates e-book covers, a banner for facebook and your web page, and a jpg for bookmarks.

Maybe I’ll go back early and use Mary Mitchell Designs after all.

Have any suggestions?

Until next time,

Keep Writing,


Learn more about me and designing book covers:

Book cover designs

Book Titles

Books Marks and branding

About me




Creating your Writer Platform

A platform is not a list of your credentials, but is the ability to self-market yourself.

First, last clichés:

Still Wet Behind the Ears – Inexperienced or immature. The term refers to the fact that the last place to dry on a newborn colt or calf is the indentation behind its ears. The observation is surely older, the term dates from the early 20th century. J. F. Straker used it in his novel A Coil of Rope (1962).

Short and Sweet – Satisfyingly brief. Richard Taverner quoted this term as an English proverb back in 1539. It’s been repeated ever since, sometimes with some additions. See James Kelly, Scottish Proverbs, 1721; or F. K. Purdon, The Folk of Furry Farm, 1914.

Cliff-hanger – A situation whose outcome is in extremely suspenseful doubt until the last moment. Term comes from serialized adventure films popular in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s. At the end of each installment, the hero or heroine is left in a very dangerous situation, sometimes literally dangling from a cliff. This was to entice the audience to return for the next installment in order to see what happened. By the 1940s the term was being transferred to other suspenseful states of affairs; i.e. elections.

Dull as Dishwater – Boring, flat. This expression was used in 18th century as dull as ditchwater, alluding to the muddy color of the water in roadside gullies. See Dickens’ Fanny Cleaver (Olive Twist). This version survived on both sides of the Atlantic well into the 20th century.  Either through similar analogy or careless pronunciation, it became dishwater—the water in which dishes had been washed and became dingy and grayish.

So, how many did you find?

Well, I’m duty bound to relate what I learned in my Tucson Nov. 22nd workshop for you all. The next session was about platform and social media.

A platform is your visibility, your influence and your networking reach. The way you speak to your readers and when you speak, who listens?

There are several elements of a platform and if you’re on a shoestring budget, most of them are free. 1. Create a website and/or blog of impressive size – you want to grow your blog as big and make it successful; 2. Create an e-newsletter/mailing list of impressive size; 3. Article/column writing for media (larger outlets and with writer’s specialty); 4. Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals; 5. A track record of strong past book sales; 6. Individuals of influence you know – networking personal contacts; 7. Public speaking appearances – the bigger the better; 8. An impressive social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, etc.; 9. Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own; 10. Recurring media appearances and interviews – print/radio/TV/online.  You don’t have to do all of these, and you don’t want to be one on one with a reader, but pick a couple to start building on.

What you want to and must provide to your readers is value. Important Principles of a Platform: To quote Chuck Sambuchino, “It is in giving that we receive.” Try to be a guest blogger on other’s posts, so you don’t go it alone. A platform is what you are able to do right now. Above all, learn by example, and feel free to study other writer’s blog, etc. and mimic them. Use what they use. What does that mean? Well, at the end of my post, I will ask you if you want more information and give you links to other posts. I learned that in the workshop—it’s what Chuck Sambuchino does and he said feel free to steal it from him, so I did. Make yourself easy to contact, spread your reach. Start small and start early. Outline a plan, but be adaptable and make changes along the way. Be open and likeable and networked, make connections. Quantify your platform. Leverage—when you have something people want, use that opportunity. Market by not marketing. Always have the end goal in mind-the connection. Always market something; if not, market yourself.

Until text time,

Keep Writing,


If you’re new to my blog, check out:


Links to useful sites





A Nightmare is a scary dream where when you wake up, it disappears.
A Night Terror is a scary dream where when you wake up, it continues!

First let’s learn about last clichés:

Too Many Irons in the Fire – More projects than you can handle. This term comes from the smithy and has long survived the profession of blacksmith. The blacksmith who tries to heat too many irons at once is probably going to spoil the forging of some of them. It’s been used since the 16th Century.

Stubborn as a Mule – Singularly obstinate. No one knows why mules have been singled out for this quality, but they have, for centuries. “Obstinate” and “contrary” are other adjectives used in the simile, which started in the early 1800s and remains today. You could also use “mulish.”

A Good Egg – A trustworthy, agreeable person. This expression outlived “bad egg,” which it actually implied in the 16th Century. Started out referring to birds, then morphed into people. See The Athenaeum, 1864 and Rudyard Kipling used it in Traffics and Discoveries (1904).

How many did you find?

Why are titles of your book so important? I think you can win brownie points with a good title. A title should grab the reader’s attention. My title Night Terror reflects that it will be a scary book, but if you know the meaning of “night terror” as explained above, it gives you a real clue as to what the book might be about.

In using a title, you don’t want to lie low. For example in my next book Vanity Killed I’m giving you a clue about the book. My character will risk life and limb to discover how her friend died. Is the book about a person so vain who kills, or are the victims killed because they are vain?

Your titles should speak volumes, so really put some thought into them. If you self-publish, you can use your title. However, a publishing house might want to change your title. You have to decide which the best title is for you.

Keep Writing,



I have three readings scheduled for my book Night Terror.

First things first-last weeks clichés:

Man of the World – A sophisticated, experienced individual. From 16th Century meaning simply a married man not a “man of the church” like a priest who was celibate. See Shakespeare As You Like It, 5:3. Not clear when term changed to mean sophistication or worldliness, but it did by the time Emerson used it in The Conduct of Life (1860).

To go to hell in a handsbasket – Means to deteriorate rapidly. Originated in America in early 20th Century. Something carried in a handbasket is light and easily conveyed. The phrase can mean going to ruin easily and rapidly. However, more likely it’s simply an alliterative elaboration of gone to hell, meaning ruined or destroyed since the early 19th century. This cliché is usually applied to large generalities.

 By Fits and Starts – In bursts of activity, spasmodically. Fits portion dates from 16th Century and pairing with starts came soon after in early 17th Century. See Robert Sanderson in one of his Sermons  (1620). Also John Ray’s proverb collection of 1670 used it slightly different – “fits and grids”

To Fall Short of – Fail to attain a certain standard or be insufficient. Expression comes from archery, horseshoes, and other activities in which a missle may fall to the ground before reading the desired goal or mark (falling short of the mark). See essayist William Hazlitt, Table Talk, (1821-22).

Did you find them all?

Night Terror has been selling well. I can’t give you a ballpark figure on how many books I’ve sold, because most have been through Amazon for ebooks. Personally I’ve sold or given away about 34 books. Am I in fat city with the sales of my books? No! However, I’m happy with the way things are going. Can I improve my sales? Of course!

One of the ways to do that is to be on the go and get out there with your book and do readings.

With that in mind, I’m scheduled to read at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA at the Redwood Writers Author Launch on Sunday, July 8th from 3-5p.m. There will be several authors reading and all guests are free. I’m also scheduled to read in Santa Rosa at Gaia’s Garden, 1899 Mendocino Ave., from 2-4 p.m. on July 26th along with other readers; and reading on July 29th at Copperfields Book Store in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa from 7 – 8 p.m. with another reader.

Time will tell by reading from my book if I will generate more interest and book sales, whether paperback or ebook.

Keep Writing!