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!


Fictional Framework

I will continue on with what I learned when Michael M. Alvarez spoke on Nov. 6th, at the Joyner/Green Valley.

First, Last Clichés:

Red Herring— A false or deliberately misleading trail; a diversionary tactic. Dates from 1800s. Comes from the use of strong-smelling smoked herrings as a lure to train hunting dogs to follow a scent. They also could throw the dogs off the scent, and it was this characteristic that was transferred to the metaphoric use of red herring.  See W. F. Butler (Life of Napier, 1890).

The Real McCoy—The genuine article. Probably originated in late 19th cent. America. A young boxer named Norman Selby changed his name to Kid McCoy and began a successful career in the ring. For years he averaged a fight a month, winning most by knockouts. Hoping to capitalize on his success, other boxers adopted the name Kid McCoy, but on March 24, 1899, the real Kid, in a now legendary bout, finished off Joe Choynski in the 20th round. The next day’s headlines in the San Francisco Examiner proclaimed, “Now you’ve seen the real McCoy,” and the description stuck. This explanation is somewhat verifiable, but there are several other theories to its origin. One is a Scotch whiskey made by the MacKay company was called the real Mackay or McCoy.

Smell a rat—Suspect something is wrong. A very old term alludes to a cat sniffing out a rat. John Skelton used it in The Image of Hypocrisy (c. 1550): “If they smell a rat, they grisely chide and chant.”

So, how many did you find?

 Michael M. Alvarez talked about Fictional Framework.  So I will tell you the whole kit and caboodle about what this is.

Fictional Framework means that all that happens in a story, happens for a reason, and it all has to make sense.

The elements in every mystery have to have:

1.      Interesting and Believable Characters

2.      Create an interesting and believable killer (you must balance 1 and 2)

3.      Need a good cast of suspects—3 for a novella, 5-6 or more suspects in a novel

4.      Victim’s death must not be trivial—need a good reason why victim was killed

5.      Setting – (regional, business type, etc.) something out of the ordinary is good-example is Tony Hillerman

6.      Interesting Plot and Subplots –Robert B. Parker can do in 200-210 pages what other authors do in 300-400 pages.

7.      Clues and red herrings

8.      Have to have a logical, satisfying conclusion—avoid bringing together too quickly

Logical ending needs to have a motive, means, opportunity. If you fail on these, then you have a novel that is dead in the water.

The Play Fair Doctrine – a writer gives all information and clues for the reader to be able to figure everything out. If he doesn’t, the reader will be fighting mad.

 Hope you’ve learned something like I did, and

Keep Writing!


Mystery vs. Thriller/Suspense Novels

Went to listen to a great speaker on Mysteries vs. Thriller/Suspense Novels

First, let’s do Last Clichés:

Par for the Course—Just about typical or average. Believe it or not, this term comes from golf.
Par means the number of strokes set as a standard for a particular hole or for the entire course, a score not attained by the majority of players. This term was used to other activities in the 1920s. However, often used with a mildly derogatory or deprecatory connotation. i.e. “He’s nearly half an hour late; that’s just about par for the course.” Up to par means “to meet a standard or norm,” while below par = “less than satisfactory,” by extension in poor spirits or health. See C>E> Montague (1867-1928) Fiery Particles.

Alive and Kicking – Very much alert and alive; still surviving. Originated with fishmongers who described their wares, meaning that they were extremely fresh. Mid-19th cent. coined a cliché. Recent version = alive and well, originated as a denial to a false report of someone’s death. French singer Jacques Brel, boosted this expression with his show and recording which was translated as Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Popular in the 1970s.

Own Up To—Confess, admit to something. Dates from mid-1800s. This expression uses own in the sense of possessing responsibility for something. See the Boston Journal (May, 23, 1890).

So, how many did you find?

I went to my writers’ club speakers presentation. Michael M. Alvarez told us some history starting back in 1841 when Edgar Alan Poe wrote the firs detective mystery. Then in 1868 Wilkie Collins wrote Moonstone.

Mysteries have puzzles, and are like putting pieces together. The murder mystery is the most interesting which includes red herrings, false alibis, climatic scenes. Of course we all know in 1887 Doyles’ Sherlock Holmes series, and in 1920s the Agatha Christie mysteries had very engaging characters and interesting stories. After that, the publishers began putting books into categories or genres.

The real McCoy mystery novel is called a series of interviews.

So what’s the difference between a mystery and thriller or suspense novel?

A mystery—the reader does not know who the killer is until the end, but the reader should be able to smell a rat.

A thriller (which has elements of suspense) sometimes lets the reader know who the killer is at the beginning and reader has to figure out the how to stop the killer or catch the killer. Thrillers are faster paced (Mary Higgins Clark was good at this) and definition of suspense is anticipation of what happens next. Every ten pages something happens.

A mystery can do the same with short chapters, which gives the illusion of moving fast.

In the first 15 pages, the killer should be introduced—not necessarily by name.

Next blog will continue with what I learned about the Fictional Framework.

Keep Writing!


Speaking about how, why, what you Write

On Monday, September 11, 2017, I spoke to a group of church ladies at a luncheon about my writing.

But first,…

Last Clichés:

Quiet as a Mouse—Means subdued or hushed. This dates from the 16th century and probably refers to the behavior o a mouse that stops dead in its tracks at the approach of a cat. The mouse remains as quiet as possible—to avoid notice. Also used as still as a mouse—it’s been repeated over and over, outliving the still older version quiet as a lamb (14th Cent.)

Knock on Wood—Hope for good luck and/or avoid misfortune. In Great Britain used as touch wood. This phrase is based on superstition that rapping or touching on anything wooden will avoid a disaster, especially after a person has boasted. “Touch wood, it’s sure to come good,” is the proverbial saying. Might have an ancient religious significance, maybe from time of Druids, who regarded certain trees as sacred, however the exact meaning has been forgotten.

Blaze a Trail, to—To begin a new enterprise or find a new path. Comes from the practice of marking a forest trail by making blazes—spots or marks on trees made by notching or chipping away pieces of the bark. First used in 18th century America by scouts who marked new trails for the soldiers behind them. Used figuratively from the late 19th Cent. on.

All For Naught—All done has been in vain. A poetic word for “nothing.” Naught formerly meant “worthless” or “morally bad.” See King James version of the first Book of Kings (2:19): “The water is naught and the ground barren.”

A Mixed Bag—A haphazard collection of people, categories, or objects. Dates from the 1st half of the 1900s. A Behrend, Samurai Affair, 1973: “Representatives of the press, a mixed bag in age, but not in sex.” Means—journalists of different ages but all either male or female.

So, how many did you find?

Well, this week I put together a panel of four local women writers to speak at our church ladies’ luncheon. The program was 20 minutes, so to fill the bill, each lady had 5 minutes to tell how, why, what they write, and if religion has any effect on their writing. I had to mind the store and do the introductions for the panelists, even though I was one.

I write psychological thrillers; Bonnie Willemssen writes humorous essays and a column for the local newspaper, as well as working on a book about her adoption and how she met her birth family, and is writing a cozy mystery; Mary Maas writes pictorial history books from Nebraska, freelance articles, poetry and homespun essays, plus she published Sisterhood of the Wounded Breast,a collection of stories written by survivors of breast cancer; and Bonnie Papenfuss writes book reviews for the local paper and poetry.

After giving a brief bio of each speaker, I broke ground and told my story. What is my story? Check out my About Page. But I also told the luncheon that I have always made up stories. I was shy and quiet, so writing was my main way of communicating. That’s how I ended up with my first boyfriend in high school– a writing assignment in study hall where I sent a fictional account of me to a very cute boy. He liked it so well, we became friends. My first husband and I used to argue, but my arguments were always written on paper.

I wrote poetry (for myself only), and started writing mystery children’s stories for my son. I published a couple in magazines. But then, he grew up, so I started writing what I thought were adult mysteries. However, my editor says they are psychological thrillers, and I have an alter ego that she would not want to meet in an alleyway.

I took correspondence classes, joined writer’s groups and joined an on-line critique group while I lived in Baja Mexico during the winter months for 25 years. When I returned to the States, my writer’s group encouraged me to self-publish my novel Night Terror, which I begin in 1989 and finally published in 2013.

Anyway, when I finished my story, the other ladies told their stories. All of us have different backgrounds and write different genres, but our passion from writing shown through. Hopefully, we encouraged some of the women in the audience to start writing. I know we inspired a few, because they wanted to join our critique group in town.

So I say, until next time,

Keep Writing!