Guest Bloggers

Ingram Spark? Bookbaby? CreateSpace?

Guest Blogger Shirin Bridges sheds light on Ingram Spark, BookBaby, and CreateSpace. The following is an excerpt from Shirin Bridges’ June 24, 2016 blog post on Goose Tracks. I was recently asked for the pros and cons of Ingram Spark vs. BookBaby. The answer, I quickly realized, is a complex one, greatly dependent on the particular publishing goals for the book. I also thought that in any decision tree, Amazon’s CreateSpace would have to rate a mention. So what follows is my attempt to delineate the decision tree I would adopt in choosing between these three services . . . [Note from Marlene: For the full post, please go to Shirin’s informative blog, Goose Tracks]. How important are bookstores to your sales strategy? If NOT VERY, skip to 4. If VERY, keep reading. Self-published authors will find it almost impossible to get wide distribution in bookstores. Period. The reasons are legion but boil down to two words: workload and risk. Most self-published authors…


Something you will never forget . . . Prompt #266

Today’s prompt is inspired by Hal Zina Bennett, Write From The Heart For some people, summer means sipping cool drinks. For others, summer might mean sitting around a campfire after a day of hiking, swimming, exploring. Summer might mean telling stories —tall tales or short ones— while lounging on a porch, a patio or a boat deck. There is a rhythm to summer, unlike any other time of year. Summer ’round the campfire brings out story tellers. The shaman storyteller of ancient times, embraces his own life experience, tells stories to the community that gathers in a circle around him, a fire blazing at its center. In the telling of what most deeply touched his life, the shaman helps others to see that they are not alone. And in the process both storyteller and listeners are healed. Imagine now, that you are sitting ’round a campfire, very comfortable with the…

Places to submit

The California Sunday Magazine

The California Sunday Magazine is looking for freelance writers, photographers and illustrators. From their website: The California Sunday Magazine roams across California, the West, Asia, and Latin America, telling stories for a national audience. We also produce a live event series, Pop-Up Magazine. We explore science, business, entertainment, politics, technology, art, social issues, sports, food, and more. We’re curious about everything. We publish stories regularly on the web and in print — delivered monthly with select Sunday copies of the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Interested in working with us? Check out our job openings. Writers We’d love to hear your story ideas. We’re not hiring staff writers or contributing writers yet. But we look forward to working with a wide network of independent, freelance writers. Our rates for reported features will be competitive with national print magazines. And you’ll work with exceptional editors. Send a note to…


Note to your younger self . . . Prompt #265

Before you start writing on this prompt, how about a little relaxation? Sit back. Relax into your chair. Both feet flat on the floor. Hands resting lightly.  Take a deep breath in. Relax it out. Roll your shoulders in a circle.  Other direction.  Drop your chin to your chest and roll your head in a circle. Other direction. Take a deep breath in. Ease it on out. Now, We’re going to time travel back in years. Think back to the person you were ten years ago. See yourself as in a snapshot. Now go back to when you were 25. Remember what you looked like. What were you doing? Just take a moment to remember yourself at 25. Now go back to when you were twenty. Take a look at yourself when you were 15.  What were you like at 15? What influenced you? When you’re ready, write a note…

Guest Bloggers

Call the Authorities!

Guest Blogger Elaine Silver: How to show your expertise in your writing. Think about any book that you have read that really grabbed you. Take some time to read parts of that book again with the idea in mind of writerly authority.  Once you start looking for it, you will be dazzled at the facility with which the author commands the story. You can write like that too. Let’s examine the word authority. What feeling do you get reading the word “authority?” Do you feel rebellious, like you don’t want to listen to someone else? Do you feel like you want to immediately say “no” to a request? If you answered yes to these questions, then you think of authority as something that subjugates you. Or conversely, when you think of authority, do you feel secure knowing that someone else knows more than you do about something? Do you envision…


Here and There. Prompt #264

Today’s writing prompt comes in two parts. Before writing on this prompt, I have a suggestion.  Do a little relaxation first. Just for a few minutes. Use your own method or follow this method: Relax into your chair. Feet flat on the floor. Hands loose, resting on your thighs. Take a big, deep breath in, feel your chest expand.  Let it out like a deflated balloon. Another deep breath in. And release. This time, when you take a deep breath in, bring your shoulders up to your ears. Shrug them down hard with the out breath. Another one. Let your head drop forward on your chest. Rest there for a moment. Rotate your head in a circle. Opposite direction. As you read about the next prompt, please place the palm of your writing hand on any place in your body that calls for attention. If you can’t put your hand…


While you were out. Prompt # 263

If you are of a certain age, you might remember those little pink telephone message notepads, “While you were out.”  Back in the days when executives had secretaries, and before answering machines, we would fill out these forms with information:  Who the message was for. The date. Who called and why. There were little boxes to check:  Telephoned. Came to See You. Returned your call. Please call. Will call again. Wants to see you. And my favorite, “Urgent.” I don’t know why it’s my favorite, perhaps it appeals to the dramatic aspect. And there is a larger space to write a message. Today’s Prompt:  While you were out. A variation of this prompt: The red light is blinking on the telephone answering machine. Or “you have one new message” on your cell phone. You hit “play” or “voice mail” and listen. You are shocked to hear. . . I can…


Worst and Best . . . Prompt #262

Think about this past weekend . .  . this past week . . . this past month.  Take a few minutes to reflect how things have gone, are going. When you are ready, write about the worst thing that happened to you this past weekend, or week, or month. When you are done with that, write about the best thing that happened to you this past weekend, or week, or month. Worst and Best. Just write.


Force yourself . . . and don’t stop . . .

“Force yourself to begin putting words on the page immediately, and don’t stop until the timer goes off, even if you have to write about the weather.” — Jan Ellison, inspired by Ellen Sussman I read this quote in the 12/4/15 Writer’s Digest guest blog post, “9 Practical Tricks for Writing Your First Novel,”  written by Jan Ellison. Since Ellen Sussman was scheduled to be a Writers Forum presenter and since I also believe this philosophy . . . my ears perked up. . . .  Daydreaming about how “ears perked up” would look and could it really happen? I think so, in a Fred Flintstone kind of way, when he’s . . . Oops, I’m taking the writing advice to put words on the page too literally. And the timer is ticking. Brian Klems, host of The Writer’s Dig Blog where this post appears, gives this introduction to the…

Places to submit

Real Simple Life Lesson Essay Contest

What was the most dramatic change you have ever had to make? “Maybe you had to move cross-country after being relocated for a job, opening up new possibilities along with fears. Or maybe you needed to sell your house or leave an apartment before you expected to. How did that situation influence the rest of your life? If one unavoidable shift changed your world—for good and bad—in enduring ways, write it down and share it with Real Simple.” Send your typed, double-spaced submission to 1,500 words maximum. Deadline: 11:50 pm, September 19, 2016. Read the 2016 Winning Essay How I Made My Best Friend During the Worst Tragedy of My Life, by Diane Penney.