Thursday, February 27, 2014

Awesome March Coming Up-The Romance Reviews Party and Seeds of Inspiration Event--Giveaways and Prizes

Beginning March 6, the Seeds of Inspiration Event features authors and their books. Find new authors and re-visit your favorite authors. Let's celebrate spring, even if you are snow bound!

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Stop by every Thursday this March and visit with these AUTHORS. Enter to win e-books and prizes every week!

 6   Heather Brainerd
13  Janie Franz
20  Roseanne Dowell
27  Miss Mae
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Celebrate this awesome event at the THIRD ANNIVERSARY PARTY 
during the month of March!

More than 450 participating authors!!!

More than 450 prizes to be won!!!

PRIZES: Grand Prize: $100 GC. Other Prizes: GCs, book giveaways, etc.

Play games, join the fun and win prizes! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Perfecting the Pitch Synopsis Toolkit by Joanne Brothwell

Authors write novels using thousands of words to tell the story, but the daunting task they face after the writing is condensing those 50000 words into a paragraph about the book. All the publishers require one so they can quickly know about the story and the author's voice. There is no avoiding the writing of a pitch synopsis if you want to interest a publisher, editor, or agent.

In 2011 I attended the FREE MuseItUp Online Writers Conference and was delighted (and thankful) to discover this class on writing a synopsis. Author/Presenter Joanne Brothwell graciously allowed me to share this handout from that class. 

Please read on for helpful advice on writing a synopsis.

Thank you, Joanne! 

Perfecting the Pitch Synopsis Toolkit
© by Joanne Brothwell, 2011
author of Stealing Breath

A pitch synopsis is like an audition or a job interview; it gives a potential agent/editor a taste of what they will get from your novel. Whether it’s a query letter, an in-person pitch, or an informal chat with your next-door neighbour, the pitch synopsis has the potential to sell your story. It’s your opportunity to show why your novel is special, unique and to give them a hint of the perfectly distilled, profitable elements from your story. Give an agent/editor a reason to want read more!

The Pitch Synopsis

“Grab them by the throat in the beginning, lift them off their feet in the middle, and leave your fingerprints on their necks at the end.”
-Joanne Brothwell

The pitch is a quick, highly-distilled synopsis of the unique and profitable elements of your book.
-Katherine Sands, Sarah Freyman Agency

Show them How Your Story is Unique, Fresh and Authentic
What is it about your writing that is different from every other writer in the slush pile? Figure out what it is about your work that’s more quirky, mesmerizing, charming, edgy or provocative than everyone else, and then make sure you highlight those qualities in your pitch.

The Hook
Agents and publishers want to be impressed. They’re looking for something that will stand out, something distinctive, fresh – something that piques their interest – the hook.

A pitch synopsis should read like the back “blurb” of a novel. It should set the mood, and be an enticing hint at the story to come, a hint that highlights an exciting incident or crisis that causes a series of obstacles for the character to overcome.

So, what Makes an Effective Hook?
Let’s break it down:

Right off the bat, agents/editors wants to know who the main protagonist is. Most pitches start with answering that very question, often in the very first sentence.

Where does your story take place? This is vitally important to agents, as they need to know if it is small town USA, an alien planet or Victorian England. Sometimes the setting alone will create obstacles for the character to overcome, and that information should be available immediately.

The Goal
What does the character want? What do they want to accomplish? Is it to find ever-lasting love, to achieve independence, or to kick an addiction? Decide what your character wants and make sure it is clear in your pitch.

The Motivation
For what purpose does the character want to achieve their goal? What is the driving force, pushing them forward, against the odds? Why does Harry fight Voldemort? To win the girl? To fight for freedom from oppression?

The Obstacle
What is stopping them from achieving their goal? Is there a monster trying to kill them? An ex-boyfriend who won’t let them go? Is the protagonist in the middle of a harsh desert, with no water supply and no way out? Show the barriers the character faces.

The Conflict.
What is the problem the main character faces, both internal and external? As people, we love to hear about the problems other people face. Just look at the sheer volume of reality shows there are, and it’s obvious we love conflict!

The Stakes.
Make sure you clearly show what is at risk should the character fail. Is there a possibility of danger, loss, failure? The loss of a lover? Loss of self-sufficiency? Death? World domination?

Make sure you ratchet up the tension. At the beginning, the blurb should hint at the conflict. But by the end, the tension should have mounted to the point where the threat is imminent.

Formula for Success
Former literary agent and successful blogger/writer Nathan Bransford, has talked about how query letters can be reduced to a fairly generic formula. For the full query letter formula, check it out on his blog:

What I’m interested in for this workshop, however, is the pitch portion of the query:

Pitch Formula:
[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

Nathan Bransford also recommends three separate pitches depending on the situation they will be used: the one-sentence, one-paragraph, and two paragraph pitches.

Fantastic Writing
Watch your adverbs and adjectives. Purple prose is a definite no-no in any writing. Use action verbs and words that pack the most punch. Check spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Find something that resonates
First, do your homework on the agents you choose to pitch to. Don’t pitch to agents who don’t represent your genre, otherwise you are wasting valuable time and energy. Do pitch to those agents who have an interest in your genre, but make sure you thoroughly creep them online beforehand. Check personal blogs, twitter, wordpress and websites for information.

Borrowing Tricks from Media Relations and Business

Check out Blurbs or Plot Synopsis from your favourite book or movie. What appealed to you about them? Consider what works for movie/television pitches:

Think controversial. Think outrageous. What will cause people to talk about a show at work the next day? For features, romantic comedies are always in demand. Think about how ideas can be adapted. For example, CBS Features just greenlighted a version of Beauty and the Beast set in high school.Put on your thinking caps.

Sound Bites
TV and film media love sound bites. The reason for this is because of basic human psychology. As Mark Twain put it: “a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense.”

These key words are charged with standing out more in the memory, becoming the “opening notes” that most succinctly represent the “symphony” of the overall book.

Put careful though into crafting impactful sentences that will resonate for far longer than the time it took to say (or read) them.

Cognitively, we only retain a portion of what we see or hear. Sound bites maximize the punch that the intended message delivers to its recipient. This is where you use all of those killer words that immediately bring up something thrilling or provocative to the imagination: terrible secret, gruesome murder; or my personal favourite, Beware.

Turn of Phrase
Be the person who thinks up a deadly turn of phrase, the kind of phrase that is clever, witty and fresh. Coming up with fantastic turns of phrase will highlight your skill as a writer, and cement that fact in the mind of your listener/reader.

To come up with a great new turn of phrase, you may want to turn to
-metaphors (a figure of speech that attributers a characteristic of one object to another),
-inversion (inverting the subject and predicate of a sentence),
-parallelism (the use for rhythmic effect, of similar constructions in adjacent syntactic units, often giving an equivalent, complementary or antithetic sense) and
-chlasmus (the repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order). Rather than get into each of these tools, you may want to check out this full article:

The Rule of Three
The Rule of Three is a principle in writing (I have no idea who founded it, by the way), that suggests anything presented in groups of three tends to be more effective and have more impact on the intended audience.

Amplify Words by Drawing Contrasts
Borrowing a technique from speechwriting, sometimes the best way to highlight or magnify a concept is by providing contrast.
More is not always more. Remember the KISS rule: Keep it Simple Sweetie. If we cram too much information into a pitch, we effectively weaken the impact.
Watch transitions. Be careful how you segue way from one idea to another, from one sentence to the next, and from one paragraph to the other.
The First and Last Words is The Most Important. Most people remember the first and final words of a lecture, particularly if it is describing a new concept. These are moments of elevated awareness to hone in on.
The Psychology of Words
We writers are already familiar with the emotional impact of words on our readers. Emotion is the heart and soul of pitching. We want our words to stimulate the audience, compelling them from disinterest to excitement

Sex Sells. Sexy words don’t have to be explicit, like naked; they can be more subtle in the hint of sensuality they suggest, like supple, nape or dewy.

Punchy verbs. Consider the power behind a carefully chosen strong verb. Choose verbs that croon, intoxicate and schmoose.

Power words can be extremely persuasive, so choose them wisely! For a great book on emotional words, check out Words that Sell, by Richard Byan.

Play Up What You can do for Them
Know your audience before you pitch. Are they potential readers who are interested in becoming informed, amused or distracted? Are they agents, hoping to build their careers and become more financially secure? Or are they publishers, with the goal of profiting from your book?

Ultimately, we must be able to peer into our audience’s mind and show them what our book will do for them.

The In-Person Pitch
There may be a time in your writing career where you will have to pitch live to another person. This may be at a conference, a writer’s group, a convention or other writing festival. While this is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to actually do without swallowing your own tongue, it is possible.

Sell Yourself


Use a Dramatic Pause.

Conquer Anxiety

Be Ready for Criticism

Remember, They're Just People, Too

Watch Your Negative Self-Talk

Mistakes to avoid

Poor Writing. Grammar, punctuation, spelling.

Misaddressing your audience.


Perfecting the Pitch Synopsis Checklist

© by Joanne Brothwell, 2011
author of Stealing Breath

-          You’ve introduced the Hook: character, setting, goal, motivation, obstacles, conflict, the stakes.

-          You’ve considered sound bites, turns of phrase, the rule of three, and drawing contrasts

-          You’ve made your first and last words the most powerful.

-          You have checked for errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar.

-          You have the proper spelling (or pronunciation) of the target person’s name, and the correct address.

-          Your pitch is geared to the proper audience.

-          Words are chosen for maximum impact.

-          Your pitch is clear, potent and succinct.

-          The unique, fresh and highly distilled selling points are persuasively highlighted throughout the pitch.

-          Superfluous words have been eliminated. Brevity is paramount.

-          If spoken aloud, you have rehearsed and are familiar with what will be said.

-          You have styled your one-sentence, one-paragraph and two-paragraph pitches similarly to maintain consistency.

-          Your pitch appeals to the audience’s needs or desires and clearly shows what your novel can do for them. 

-          Every word seduces enough to keep the reader/listener interested.

-          You conquer fears but remain humble and courteous.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidents Day USA, Florida, Writers Chatroom Writers Challenge

Mt. Rushmore--Image courtesy of samandale /
Presidents Day is today, February 17, 2014. Officially it is known as George Washington's birthday, (which is actually February 22, but the federal government wanted a 3 day weekend, so the Monday close to his birthday is his day now.) 

Growing up in central Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, I think Abe Lincoln's February birthday on the 12th gets overlooked. Do you share a birthday close to a holiday? Like my aunt's birthday was December 24, so she usually got a Christmas gift OR a birthday gift or ONE gift to cover both the holiday and her birthday. I always felt bad for her. Or how about the person who was born on December 31? One party for New Years AND her birthday just doesn't seem fair.

I doubt Abe is bothered by the federal birthday holiday for George. Afterall most folks call it President's Day  recognizing those who served as presidents or at least honoring the office of the President of the USA.
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Weeki Wachee River at Linda Pedersen Park near Spring Hill, FL

My brother-in-law visited over the weekend. He was happy to get out of the freezing Northern regions of the USA and kind of warm up in Florida. We had cold nights and mid 60's days while he was here. The day we took him to the airport, it finally hit the 70's and was a gorgeous day. Isn't that the way it goes? We had a great time together and enjoyed giving him a glimpse of the snowbird life. 

Hopefully a few of these photos will warm up your fingers and toes in the snowy areas of the country. 

Anclote Gulf County Park near Tarpon Springs, FL

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

I've been pretty faithful in working on my Work in Progress during the Writers Chatroom Writers Challenge of writing 1500 words a day, well that is, until this long weekend... I have not reached the 1500 words a day, but I'm still happy to have revised scenes and then work on from there. Every hundred words means I have more of the story down than I had at the beginning of the month. Plus I am finding my way now that I have written the 15th chapter. It's exciting to see the story take shape. 
Go to the TWC discussion board/forum for more info on the TWC Writers Challenge.

Wishing you all a fantastic week! What are you all up to this week?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, Play Winter Nights Scavenger Hunt Feb 10-15, Win Giveaways

A bouquet of red roses, the symbol of love, 
is the perfect way to wish you all 
Happy Valentine's Day! 

Scavenger Hunt is on! 
Hop around to the fascinating blogs hosting this event and win prizes at each blog. 


1) Below are 5 items. Those photos are placed on 5 random blogs that have taken part in this event.
2) Click on the blogs listed below and see if one of the 5 images is in that blog’s post.
3) If you find an image, write down the name of the blog because you will need it for the grand prize.
4) Find all 5 items and go back to the Grand Prize giveaway rafflecopter  enter the names of the blogs where the pictures were posted and get 10 extra entries.
5) If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or leave a comment below.
Good luck and thanks so much for participating!
Find the images for these items:

  1. Cute White Puppy in a Cup
  2. Leaves with the word LOVE cut into them
  3. Dish of Colorful Candies
  4. A Pencil with a note that says "You Make My Heart Glow"
  5. Heart shaped pocket watch hanging in the trees
Find all the images and get 10 extra entries into the grand prize! 
Click the link for the Rafflecopter to enter to win the Grand Prize. 
Sponsored by Gliterary Girl.

 Have you ever participated in a scavenger hunt? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment below to enter to win a drawing for the e-book copy of Coda to Murder, a cozy mystery/sweet romance. Reviewer H F. Brainerd called it "a zippy little book full of quirky characters and humorous situations."

Continue the hunt at the blogs below. Good luck and have fun!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway <!-- end InLinkz script —>

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Shares Five Editing Myths and Five Things to Avoid for a Pristine Query Letter Plus Giveaway

Today is a special day on the J.Q. Rose blog because Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning  HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, is here with helpful information for authors. She shares five editing myths and five things to avoid for a pristine query letter. I know I can use all the advice I can get on query letters. How about you?

Carolyn is generously offering a free e-book of the newly formatted, expanded and updated Frugal Editor. Just leave a comment to be eligible to win the random drawing. Winner will be announced on Sunday after 9 pm EST. Look for more information on this dynamite book for authors after the article.
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Editing IS Marketing: Boning Up on First Impressions
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
First impressions are important. We all are aware of that as we brush our teeth and try to unknot the rat's nests from the back of our hair each morning. In fact, first impressions are part of our marketing efforts, too. Whether we authors are trying to get an interview or a TV appearance or marketing our books using e-mail or social networks, editing is an essential part of that first-impression effort. Generally that first effort is a query letter or proposal. Thus editing equals great first impression. That makes it an integral part of a marketing campaign.
Here are a scattering of helps gleaned from my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books, but especially the new second edition of my Frugal Editor that’s been newly formatted, expanded and updated.
Five Editing Myths Waiting To Trip Up Your Campaign to Market Your Work
  • If your English teacher told you something is OK, it is.
(Nope. Language rules and style guidelines have changed since you were a sophomore.)
  • If a manuscript or query is grammar-perfect, you'll make a great first impression.
(No! Lots of things that are grammatically correct will annoy publishers, agents, and other gatekeepers like feature editors.)
  • Always use your Spell and Grammar Checker.
(Maybe. Some well-known editors suggest you don't use the spell and grammar tools that come with your word processor at all, but The Frugal Editor gives you dozens of ways to make it your partner instead of your enemy.)
  • Your publisher will assign a top-flight editor so you don't need to worry about your manuscript.
(Maybe, but don't count on it. Besides you can be a better partner for an editor—whether she is assigned to you by your editor or you hire one for yourself—if you know something about the process. For one thing, you'll feel more confident about nixing her suggestions! In any case, I suggest hiring an editor of your own before you submit your manuscript.)
  • Formatters and editors will take care of the hyphens, ellipses, and all the other grungy little punctuation marks that English teachers avoided teaching because they didn't know how to use them either.
(Chances are, you'll catch even great formatters and editors in an error or two if you know your stuff!)
Five Things to Avoid for a Pristine Query Letter
We are selling our work when we approach any gatekeeper, an editor, an agent, a contest judge. Here are five little things to avoid so you'll look like the professional you are.
  • Don't tell the gatekeeper you always wanted to write. You can think of something more pertinent to your cause (and something more original!) than that.
  • Don't use the verb quote when you want the noun quotation. Some stylebooks will tell you that it's OK to use them interchangeably, but agents can be a picky lot. Use zero-tolerance grammar rules for your queries.
  • Don't pitch more than one book at time. You want to give just one your best shot.
  • Don't call your novel a fictional novel. By definition, a novel is fiction.
  • Don't overdo exclamation marks, question marks, or the use of sentence fragments. (Yes, fragments are acceptable when they're used for a good reason.)
Here's one last suggestion for fiction writers 'cause they're so often neglected when it comes to marketing. Avoid using italics for internal thought in the synopses sections of your marketing tools or in the sample chapters you must include. Italics are being used more and more these days, but using them can become a crutch that enables writers to avoid writing great transitions and being meticulous about point-of-view. The best agents and publishers will recognize it as such.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, a former publicist for a New York PR firm and an instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program. She is an editor with years of publishing and editing experience including national magazines, newspapers, and her own poetry and fiction. Learn more about the author at .Her The Frugal Book Promoter ( won USA Book News' best professional book award and the Irwin Award. The Frugal Editor, now subtitled Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller in its second edition ( ) is top publishing book for USA Book News and Reader Views Literary Award. The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 30 Minutes or Less is a helpful little booklet available at And don’t miss another booklet Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy,,

The Frugal Editor:
Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success
Second Edition Subtitle:

Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller
From the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Red Engine Press.
Awards: Winner USA Book News, Reader Views Literary Award, New Generation Marketing Award    
ISBN: 9780978515874
Quote from The Frugal Editor: “Language is a fluid lifeform. To assume that because we once learned grammar one way, it will always be accepted is fallacious. To neglect researching the language we write in when we so assiduously research the facts for what we write is folly.”
There are gremlins out there determined to keep your work from being published, your book from being promoted. Resolved to embarrass you before the gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for you—they lurk in your subconscious and the depths of your computer programs. Whether you are a new or experienced author, The Frugal Editor will help you present whistle-clean copy (from a one-page cover letter to your entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say “yea” or “nay.”
“Absolutely essential for beginning writers and a necessary reminder for the more advanced.  The mentor you've been looking for.  This book won't collect dust!”~Christina Francine, review for Fjords Review
"Using the basic computer and editing tricks from The Frugal Editor, authors can prevent headaches and save themselves time—and even money—during the editing process. It’s well worth your effort to learn them." ~ Barbara McNichol, Barbara McNichol Editorial

The Frugal Book Promoter:
How to get nearly free publicity on your own or partnering with your publisher
(Second Edition).
From the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
First Edition Awards: Winner USA Book News, coveted Irwin Award
Award for Second Edition: USA Book News winner, silver medal from Military Writers Society of America, honored b Global Ebook Awards
ISBN: 9781463743291
To order paperback from Amazon:
To order for Kindle and other e-readers:
Order e-book from Createspace:
For only a few cents a day The Frugal Book Promoter assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty-gritty how-tos for getting nearly-free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor for UCLA’s Writers’ Program and former publicist and journalist, shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional. The first edition is a multi award winner and the second edition is a USA Book News winner. It is updated and expanded by more than 100 pages.
A recommendation from Feather Schwartz Foster, an author, September 9, 2004, 5 out of 5 stars
Packed With Wonderful Information! For anyone who has written a book of any kind - this is a must-have, and must-keep guide! Every chapter is filled with insights and how-tos and a whole bunch of where to finds!”
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Which one (or more) of those myths have you always sworn by? What is your experience with query letters? We'd love to hear from you. Remember, leave a comment to win Carolyn's book.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group Post, The Writer's Chatroom Writers Challenge, Word Count

It's the first Wednesday of the month so it must be time for a post from all the folks in the Insecure Writers Support Group. (IWSG)

What is IWSG? Founder of IWSG and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is
"to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"
After visiting here, please take time to hop over to other blogs and hear their voices. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page 
Check out the new IWSG Website for great writing tips.  
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Word Count or Scene Count?

I am very aware of my daily word count this month because the first Writer's Chatroom Writer's Challenge has begun! During the entire month of February, Audrey Shaffer and the gang at TWC challenge writers to pen 42,000 words by the end of the month. That's 1500 words a day. It's not a novel writing challenge like Nano, but rather writers can work on all kinds of projects to get their word count. Of course writing stories, novels, poems are at the top of the list, but a writer can also revise pages and count that writing as well. One page of revision equals 100 words. Book reviews and more can be included. Lots of stuff that we writers do every day, but probably don't think about it as actual writing. (No, sorry no grocery lists allowed.) If you're interested in joining it's not too late. Go to the TWC discussion board/forum to find out more.

I never base my productivity on how many words I get down on the page, but rather how many chapters or scenes I have completed. I don't care if it takes me 600 words or 1200 words to complete the picture in my head.

If I dwell on making it to 1500 words, it would drive me crazy. I just write till the story or the scene is told. How about you?

If we don't make the 42000 words by the end of February, I don't think our laptops will lock up or our hair fall will out, but we may appreciate our daily job as writers a little more and flesh out that story idea or work-in-progress. And wow, what a great excuse to eat more chocolate!!

Thanks for stopping by today. Come back tomorrow when award winning author and guru for writers, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, will be here to share about "Editing is Marketing" and give away her e-book, The Frugal Editor, to one commenter.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Six More Weeks of Winter Weather, This Week, and Free E-book

Here's a cup of coffee to warm you up! Sounds like there will be six more weeks of winter weather.
Actually I am sitting here at the laptop with iced tea because in Florida it's 80 degrees. Okay, don't throw rotten tomatoes at me. I am thrilled to be a snowbird and in fact, my first mystery novella is a story about snowbirds. Some of you may recall Sunshine Boulevard. It's a fun read to escape with whether it's 80 degrees or 0 degrees. Check out the video below for you viewing pleasure...!!

Available at a MuseItUp Publishing and all major online booksellers.

Wednesday, February 5-- I am looking forward to participating in the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. The IWSG is a grand group of supportive authors who share their thoughts the first  Wednesday of every month. Join us to discover so much knowledge about writing and publishing and sign up to be a part of the gang too. Check out the new IWSG Website for all kinds of helpful information for writers!
Thursday, February 6-- I am honored to have award winning Carolyn Howard-Johnson sharing her information about Editing is Marketing and a chance to win her e-book, The Frugal Editor. Her outstanding series of books for authors, How to Do It Frugally, has won awards and praise. You don't want to miss out on her wealth of knowledge. She loves to answer questions. Plus your comment will enter you into the random drawing for her e-book. So you're invited to get in on the discussions on Thursday through Sunday. Winner will be drawn after 9 pm on Sunday evening.