sallyhanan’s blog

A writer’s blog

Book Cover Hilarity July 30, 2009

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 5:55 pm
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Having some fun with the orders on KT Literary blog. This is my random book cover. Make one yourself, link to it in the comments on KT Literary blog. , and you may win a NY Times List book.


1 – Go to Fake Name Generator. The name that appears is your author name.

2 – Go to Random Word Generator. The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.

3 – Go to flickrcc. Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar (She used Snagit Editor) to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in, as desired.

5 – Post it to your site along with this text.

Intern Jenny will pick her favorite cover to win a copy of Alyson Noel’s #1 New York Times bestseller Blue Moon.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Flash, Short, Nano, Micro . . . Categorize Your Fiction July 28, 2009

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Joy in a Box is an e-book (and soon to be published) collection of thirty flash-fiction stories. Because I have readers reviewing it, I was asked what flash fiction is. Most names for fiction relate to the fiction piece’s word count so I’ve made a list that gives a rough word count guide. It is not definitive, as many publishers have their own ideas on what the word count of various types of fiction should be.

Nanofiction: 55 words

Drabble: 100 words

69er: 69 words

Micro-fiction: 10-250 words (although some would say up to 750)

Flash fiction: 250-1,000 words

Sudden fiction: Slightly over 1,000 words

Short shorts: 1,001-2,500 words

Short story: 2,501-7,500 words

Novelette: 7,501-17,500 words

Novella: 17,501-40,000 words

Novel: 40,001 words and up
Pamelyn Casto write in her article Flashes on the Meridian: Dazzled by Flash Fiction:

“Other names for it include short-short stories, sudden, postcard, minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction. . . . In China this type of writing has several interesting names: little short story, pocket-size story, minute-long story, palm-sized story, and my personal favorite, the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette).”
My own name for flash fiction would be coffee-time or toilet-visit fiction, but Americans might find the latter distasteful because then they’d have to admit to reading on the toilet. 😉 The other negative to admitting to reading on the toilet is being unable to resell your books, as George discovered (in “The Bookstore” episode of Seinfeld).

REBECCA: (Opens the cover of the book) Oh, wait a second. (Certain) This book has been in the bathroom.
GEORGE: (Nervous) Wh-what are you talking about? That – that’s ridiculous.
REBECCA: It’s been flagged. I know. I used to work in a Brentano’s.
GEORGE: (Desperate to get rid of the book) Alright, I, I’ll just take fifty. Do – do we have a deal?
REBECCA: Yeah, and here it is: You get your toilet book out of here, and I won’t jump over this counter and punch you in the brain!

It can take a while to get the hang of writing a good piece of flash fiction as you only have a limited number of white space you can use. I used to take part in the Faithwriters weekly challenge and got so used to writing short pieces that I can now hack and slash anything that’s too long. I’d highly recommend attempting to write a complete story in less than 750 words. You must have at least one setting, one problem to be resolved, and one character because this is to be a complete story, not just a vignette (or slice of a story). The practice will make editing your novel a lot easier on the heartstrings—your writing ends up tighter and no words are wasted. Just like it is with kids at dinner time, you don’t want your readers pushing the half-eaten dish away because they are too full.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Write or Die July 26, 2009

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Debbie O’Conner directed me to this little gadget today—it’s called Write or Die, namely because if you don’t write, you suffer. . . . In other words, it’s writing for masochists.

Ok, so you don’t die, but if the Web application senses that you are not writing it will either write a pleasant warning to get going again, play an incredibly-annoying noise (one of which is called The Devil’s Interval), or start eating what you’ve already written. You can set it to whichever consequence you think you can handle. Yes, there is a pause button, but you can only use it once. The electric shock mode is a futuristic mode which the author hopes to enable soon.

Mode: Gentle, Normal, Kamikaze, Electric Shock

Grace Period: Forgiving, Strict, Evil

Time Goal: 10 min – 2 hours

You can watch Dr. Wicked’s YouTube video on how it works, too.

Dr. Wicked’s mission is to “provide writers with consequences for not writing, thus instilling them with fear and productivity.” His next goal is to write code for an application that forces him to exercise or suffer the consequences. Apparently, the natural consequences just don’t happen fast enough for his liking.

May I suggest, Dr, Wicked, that the electric shock mode might be more feasible for the exercise app, especially if downloaded to the iPhone on one’s hip?

Become a fan of Dr. Wicked on Facebook

or follow him on Twitter.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Just Write/Fast writing July 25, 2009

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 12:44 am
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Just write
Many writers jump into a pit and stay there when it comes to writing because they have beautiful prose in their heads, but when it comes to getting it on paper, it doesn’t look the same. The body moves into a type of paralysis with the fingers unable to type any more in case what comes out is just as awful as what has already appeared.

Writing usually isn’t stellar in the first round, for any writer. Think of it as a boxing match. The winner has to hit his opponent many times before he finally falls. With words, the first round is composed of sentences of information. In each subsequent round, layers of goodness are added until the whole piece is a knockout.

Some perfectionists can’t get past the sign of green and red lines on their screen. I recommend blindfolding yourself, and if you can’t type that way, cover up the monitor with a large book or something to keep your fussy eyes away. It only takes a few moments to get rid of the spelling and grammar mistakes once it’s all written down, and no words will die for lack of instant correction.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month) is a time of the year when writers from all over the world commit themselves to writing 70,000 words of a novel in thirty days. The reason why so many writers like this type of challenge is because they have to force themselves to focus on word count rather than writing quality. December is used as a personal recovery program (vital for the brain and all relationships), and January is editing time.

Writing like a madman is good for you, so I’m going to issue you a challenge. Write about something to do with water and a teenager, not for one minute, but for five. Do not look up at your screen, no, not even for a second. You can do that later. When the ten minutes are up, you should be happily surprised at what you’ve written, with a view to future editing a must.

When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart. ~Rabindranath Tagore (1881 – 1941)



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Review of Joy in a Box

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 12:23 am
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Recent review of Joy in a Box

I liked the old 50’s feel that it has, kind of like reading James Joyce or Steinbeck. Very nice job.

Rie McGaha . . . fantasy that keeps you up



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Market Your Fiction (and Yourself) July 20, 2009

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Penny C. Sansevieri
Today’s interview is with Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., a best-selling author and internationally-recognized book marketing and media relations expert.

Penny began her career in the publicity, book marketing, and literary field over fifteen years ago. During that time she has been an author, freelance writer, publicist, and instructor. Penny’s most recent book, Red Hot Internet Publicity, has been called “an indispensable guide to leveraging the Internet for success.” The second edition is being released soon.

Promoting fiction
I’ve read a lot about author platform, social media, and other ways to promote authors and their books, but most of the advice seems to refer to writers of non-fiction. Is this because it’s harder to promote authors of fiction? If so, what are the difficulties unique to promoting fiction authors?

It’s tough to promote fiction. That’s always been the case, mostly because fiction authors always try to promote the book, not the message. Remember that it’s never about the book; it’s about what the book can do for the reader. Sometimes you have to get super creative with this, like the marketing team did for My Sister’s Keeper—they incited debate on the very topic that is the arc of the story. That’s really what you want to create. So, for example, if you’ve written a story about spousal abuse, child abuse, etc., there might be some discussion points on those subjects that you can “hook” your message on.

For example, a few months ago I taught a webinar and talked with a participating author who had written a vampire YA novel. He said that he was not looking forward to competing with Stephanie Meyer, who had just released her book. I told him to pitch himself locally on the topic of YA vampire fiction and see if he could get himself on some shows. He was on three shows in his area talking about the trend of this type of book and, of course, during the interview, he was able to mention his own title!

Which would you say is more important—promotion of the author or promotion of the book?

That depends on what the brand is. Generally in fiction the author (at some point) becomes the brand. But let’s say it’s early in your career and you have only published one book. Maybe it’s the story (your story) that is your marketing hook. Maybe you overcame obstacles to do this work. Whatever it is, market the hottest element, either the book or the author, and if it’s tough to determine what this is, then sit down with someone who can be objective and guide you. Spending a couple of hundred dollars to get some focused direction might save you thousands of dollars in the long run on marketing

Are there any staple skills that you require of authors before you take them on as clients?

Not really. Authors come to us in all stages of marketing knowledge and readiness. I must love the book; that’s the first piece of this. I try and get the book (or the manuscript if it’s not published yet) and do a read through. I believe that at the end of the day, I’m selling this book, and I can’t sell something I don’t believe in.

The average reader of this blog is a woman who is between thirty-five and fifty-five. (Yes, I made those ages up in my head based on the profile pictures of fans!) She has written her first novel, edited it to perfection, but could not find an agent or publisher to take her on. Instead, she released it through a reputable print-on-demand company. She has a blog, and she is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook; however, her book is not selling. Is she doing something wrong? What can she do?

Keep in mind that not everything you do will relate in sales and, candidly, you should *never* measure the success of what you’re doing in sales alone and here’s why: traction for a book is cumulative. It’s what I call the long runway of publishing success. You have to keep the momentum going for a while before you see results and, often, authors get discouraged at the 90-day point and give up. That’s why I suggest keeping a running list of things to do. Surround yourself with people who will help you keep the momentum to keep marketing, even when you feel like giving up. If you’re doing the right marketing you’ll see a marked difference—perhaps in web visitors or signups to your social networking page or a jump in your Twitter followers. Success leaves clues, so does effective marketing, but to measure it by sales is too discouraging. Remember the rule of 7—it takes seven impressions of your book, message, or product for the consumer to buy it. I almost think that the rule of 7 is not the rule of 70, though. With so much stuff coming at us at any given time, it’s tough to sift through it. That’s why consistency of message and consistency of marketing are both important. It takes seven consistent impressions.

When you think of the top fiction authors you have helped, what was it that they did (over and above other clients) that sold more books? Alternatively, have fiction authors ever done things that damaged their sales figures?

Let me answer the second question first. The thing that authors do (and this isn’t just limited to fiction) to damage their sales and career is that they give up or switch horses mid-race. By this I mean that they think what they’re doing isn’t working and they switch to doing something completely different. This steals the momentum from their first project, just like you’d lose steam in a race if you switched fuels.

The thing that separates the successful fiction authors from the unsuccessful is the successful ones keep going. As long as the direction is good (and again, if you’re not sure, spend some time and money on a coaching session with a marketing professional) then keep going. Also, often the best way to sell your first book is with your second and so on, so if all else fails, keep writing.

Finally, be open to feedback from reliable people. Your family and friends will all love what you do, so don’t dismiss their feedback, but what you want is someone in the industry to offer you insight and advice. Perhaps that person can even suggest slight improvements to what you’ve written or point out a new, more supportive marketing direction.

You currently have over eleven thousand subscribers to your weekly newsletter. What do you think has made it so successful?

I think the reason for its success is that we always go heavy on the helpful information and light on the self-promotion. So often you read newsletters that are all about “buy this” and “buy that”—I tend to unsubscribe from those very quickly. A good newsletter should be 95 percent helpful and 5 percent self-promotion.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Copywriting July 18, 2009

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A copywriter, according to the Random House Dictionary, is a writer of copy, esp. for advertisements or publicity releases. In simpler terms, a copywriter is a person who writes advertisements with a view to persuading a reader to buy the products or services written about.

Copywriters are sniffed at by some who consider copywriting to be a lower caste of writing, as if anyone could write copy. I disagree. Copywriting takes creativity. Trying to breath new life into an oft-flogged horse can leave that horse lying just as limp by the end of the piece; it takes real talent to raise it back to vigorous life again.

Copywriting can provide you with an income and still leave you with a few hours at night to write what your heart beats loudly for. With an earning power of approx $60-$80 an hour, yes, $60-$80 an hour, it is definitely one of the few writing genres that can be lucrative.

Some books I recommend (these are reviewed on Amazon as being the best of the best):

Start and Run a Copywriting Business (Paperback) by Steve Slaunwhite

The Well-Fed Writer (Paperback) by Peter Bowerman

The Well-Fed Writer: Back For Seconds (Paperback) by Peter Bowerman

Writing Copy for Dummies (Paperback) by Jonathan Kranz

To get in some practice, read the advertisement pages of the magazines in your home. They will look like letters or bios—written and designed in a way to make you feel as if the ads are written personally to you. If the ads makes you feel like you can’t live another day without the products or services, the copywriters have done their jobs.

Some of you more honest folk might feel that you cannot possibly represent a product in this way—writing as if the reader will be sick or fat for the rest of his/her life if she doesn’t buy XYZ pills. That’s ok, there are plenty of other products out there that you can sell without guilt—your homeowner association’s latest activities, speeches for your favorite politician, business proposals, case studies, etc. Have a look around you this week—read the school news, the speech on the Web, the medical report. If you can put what you have read back down or close the page without having fallen asleep, then you probably have what it takes to write copy.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Writers’ inspiration. Help! July 15, 2009

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Inspiration for writers is sometimes hard to come by. Here is a little collection of helpers.

Meet Hank
If you don’t just get on with it, he will beat you the moment he finds his missing Samurai sword.

If Hank doesn’t scare you
Here is something softer, and it’s not the latest fabric softener. One Word is a beautifully clean, simple-to-use Web site that has you write for one (timed) minute about anything that comes to mind when you see the word of the day. I wrote something on two separate days that could easily end up as short stories.

SPRAY: I lift the cologne bottle up to my neck and my finger freezes on the spray button. This scent, this favorite fragrance, is supposed to entice, attract, draw his lips near to mine. Will it? Is a scent enough?

HEARTBEAT: Dadum, dadum, dadum, like a dance.
Like the flutter of the tiny hummingbird’s wings
your heart doesn’t even thump,
it pats itself against the inside of your tiny chest.

Search engines
Go to your favorite search engine site, search for images, and then close your eyes and pick one at random. Here is one I found. Now write about it.

Think of your favorite place to be alone. It doesn’t have to be from the present; it can be from the past. For some, they revisit their childhood bedroom, for others, they find themselves walking along the beach.
Write this horizontal list on a piece of paper or on the computer.


Beside each word, write one of your own. Now put your words into an opening line.

And if all of that doesn’t work, I can send Hank back in to give you a more thorough going-over. . . .



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





6 Tips for Integrating Your Blog with Facebook and Twitter July 13, 2009

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I’ve discovered a few things of late that I’d like to share with you—practical things that computer geeks don’t even bother telling us because it is assumed that we would know such basic stuff. . . .

1) To create a fan page on Facebook, visit Facebook’s section that leads you through this.

2) If you would like to invite readers of your blog to follow your fan page on Facebook:
Go to your fan page.
Click on Add fan box to your site (under your photo).
Copy the code.
Paste it into a text widget.
Add it to your blog column.

The first time I did this, the only thing that showed up were some numbers and letters that looked like this: FB.init(“d7ed0dab25240bf5b8856fa3d408f2d9”);. I went back to the widget’s text box and deleted those. Now, even though I don’t have the photo or the fancy widget that appears on other people’s sites, at least there is a link there that says Inksnatcher on Facebook.

3) To get more readers for your blog, join Networked Blogs on Facebook:
Go to their home page on Facebook.
Add your blog via the button on the top-right corner.
Fill in your profile information.

To learn how to:
–import your feed to your fan page
–add the Networked Blogs tab to your profile wall
–add your blog list to your profile and info wall
visit their information page.

(The Networked Blogs widget won’t work on your blog because JavaScript is not supported.)

4) To get Facebook fans to follow your blog (that is now listed on Networked Blogs):
Visit your blog profile page on Facebook .
Click on invite friends (under the photo of your blog page). Follow NWB’s instructions on how to invite friends to follow your blog. (You are only allowed to invite twenty people a day.)

5) If you want to add a button to for people to follow you on Twitter, you have many sites to choose from. I googled Twitter buttons follow me and found this site. I entered my Twitter name and then had multiple choices of text to copy and paste into a widget’s text box.
Enter your Twitter name.
Choose your picture.
Copy the code.
Paste it into a text widget box.
Add to your blog column.

6) IMHO, The best way to follow Twitter is with Tweetdeck, only once you have it set up, be sure to have settings open all information searches in a new tab—Twitter will freeze your account for clicking on too many names within Tweetdeck. Yes, I sure do have an opinion about this, but today is going to stay happy. 🙂
Read more about Tweetdeck here.
Download the Tweetdeck service here.

And an extra tip that has saved me from the Irritated-Facebook-Users Society:
When scrolling down the list of Facebook posts, right-click any links that you want to read later. Pick open in new tab and Facebook will open each page in a new window. You can read these later at your leisure.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





Reviews and Interviews—Why Bother? July 9, 2009

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Meet Tim George—guest blogger; author of novel in the making, The Source; reviewer; interviewer; and author of: t.e. george, unveiled.

Reviews and Interviews—Why Bother?
A recent e-mail reflected a question more than one person has asked me. “How much do you get paid for your book reviews and author interviews?” the earnest writer asked. Now if that had been my eighty-five-year-old mother, I would have understood. But it was a fellow writer hoping to be published, as they put it, “in the near future.” One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my writer’s journey is you have to be willing to give more than you take. Seems like Jesus had some things to say about that.

For many years I hoarded books like a squirrel does acorns. There couldn’t be too many on my shelves, or in my closet, or under the bed. You get the picture. But the more serious I have become about writing, the less I want to horde my works of fiction. More and more, I find every way possible to give away a good book once I have finished with it. Why? Because I want others to know the same pleasure I found in the story.

Why I review fiction
That is why I review fiction. I love to read and I want to help other people who love to read. At first I reviewed on Amazon just because. Then I began to offer reviews on my Web site and blog for my friends. And now I review for Fiction Addict because my love for books was recognized by others. But in the end, I review because I read. My aim in a review is not tell you what the book says (that’s why you buy the book). One of my pet peeves is reviewers that can’t resist telling me the whole story, including the ending. Instead, a good review tells you why you should read the book and, on a few occasions why your money might be better spent elsewhere.

Several have also asked me how I got into doing interviews. The answer is similar yet deeper. I review because I read. I interview because I write. Interviews with published authors fascinate me. It allows me to join the writer in front of their computer, if you will, and see things through their eyes as they work to bring ideas, characters, and plots to life. We can interact and discuss those characters as though they are a part of the conversation. And in many ways they are.

I was amazed to learn how readily many authors are willing to do an interview. Their time is very valuable and limited so I do everything through email (back and forth several times usually). What I enjoy most is when an author gives me something from the heart. Like when Athol Dickson said, “the novel I’m writing now also has a lead character who is morally perfect. Since I’ve never met anyone like him, he’s been a real challenge to write.” Priceless. Or when Randy Singer responded, “If Christ didn’t wrap up each parable with a neat spiritual conclusion and tie a bow on it, I don’t feel pressure to do so either. I will let the story be king and the spiritual truths will flow out of that.” That comment forced me to change the ending of the novel I am working on—for the better.

More than one fellow blogger has asked me how I get these people to grant interviews. There’s no mystery to it. I asked. The worst they could do is say no. And, if we writers are not thick-skinned enough for that, we surely need to find some other pursuit.



Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      





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