sallyhanan’s blog

A writer’s blog

How to write academic sentences November 20, 2009

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 4:19 pm
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For those of you who like to sound as if you are from an elite group of academia, here is a handy-dandy tool to help you out.

Make you own academic sentence.

Simply choose from four drop-down boxes to create your next sentence of genius.

If you don’t like the way it sounds, you can change it or edit it, or simply start over.

If you’d like to learn more about how to sound boring smart, you can teach yourself here.



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                                                                                                                                      





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                                                                                                                                      





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                                                                                                                                      





Sometimes, the unexpected happens June 10, 2009

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Sometimes things just happen, and you haven’t pre-planned them, and you’re not quite sure if you could ever orchestrate anything like them again.

My family and I were at a conference all weekend. After the Saturday morning session, we asked if we could tag along (with the organizers and speakers) for lunch. We didn’t get to sit with the speakers, but we did sit with their assistants. The conversation had hardly started when we talked about writing. I handed over my card and was asked if I did ghostwriting. When I said that I was a ghostwriter for Destiny Image, a feather fell from the air above . . . inside the restaurant. . . . Was it an angel flying off once his assignment was completed? I’ll never know.

However, I now have a two-book ghostwriting contract with one of the speakers. On the way out, we stopped to speak to the other speaker—a man we had had the good fortune of having lunch with the previous Christmas. I asked him if he still wanted me to edit his book, as I had heard nothing from him for six months. He said that he had had at least six others offer to edit it for him but he really wanted me to do it, as I “get him.”

All this work should keep me busy for the next five months. 🙂



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 and edit your book June 1, 2009

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If I haven’t told you before, the book I am about to publish, Joy in a Box, is a collection of 30 stories. Each one should take about five minutes to read—perfect for the morning coffee break. I have included suspense, literary fiction, humor, biblical fiction, inspirational fiction, and contemporary fiction into the mix so that the reading never becomes boring.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately going over and over my book to make it perfect. I’ve edited it for mistakes about seven times, printed it out to do a paper edit, moved stories around about three times, and tightened up one story that was too verbose. That said, I cannot rely on myself to perfect something that will be published, reviewed, and read by (hopefully) a few hundred people.

Even though I am a freelance editor, a writer should ALWAYS have a second pair of eyes to edit her book. It’s not just a quick look over for mistakes, it’s to see:

how things might be written in a tighter way
how to expand on certain points that are difficult for the reader to understand
if there are formatting problems on another PC
if more character development is necessary

Book editors can also look for problems with the plot and make sure that there is rising action, a good climax, and a suitable denouement (fall and wrap-up).

I only do line-by-line editing because I love to fix grammar, punctuation, and sentence flow, but I know many editors who do developmental editing of manuscripts, and I would be more than happy to direct you to them should you decide to go ahead and have your book reviewed for all the problems mentioned above.

As for my book, I am very happy with everything so far. I just wish it didn’t take so long to make it perfect. My sister will be returning from her vacation in France on Wednesday, and she has agreed to design the cover. That means at least another week of waiting. 😦

If you would like to taste a sample of what’s in the collection, you can read the first ten percent of the book here: Joy in a Box Alternatively, if you are willing to review the book and post about it on your blog, I can send you a coupon code to enable you to read the whole thing.

Thanks for reading!




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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