Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ISWG Blog Hop: Insecure About Book Signings, Hoping for a KNOCKOUT at the Write Club Contest

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.
Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop! 
Always on the first Wednesday of the month.
What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group 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! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up to join.
I was very insecure on Saturday, the day I had committed to being a part of the Author Jamboree at the Book Nook and Java Shop to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day.
IBD Logo Small (PNG).png

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at


Join more than 550 independent bookstores in 49 states for

parties, author readings, in-store events, and

exclusive day-of merchandise.

The fifth annual National Independent Bookstore Day is sponsored in part by Penguin Random House, Ingram, and The American Booksellers Association. Last year participating bookstores saw an average increase in sales of 200% on Independent Bookstore Day, with some stores up as much as 1000% over their average Saturday sales in April.  In just five years, Independent Bookstore Day has become a book-buying holiday, increasing book sales on a national level. 

Authors will be at the Book Nook from 4-6:30 pm signing books and talking about their writing journeys. Please come and visit!! Enjoy the celebration!!
Click here to locate an independent bookstore in the USA.
Me at the book sales table at the Author Jamboree
Photo courtesy of Nan Pokerwinski
Previous to this event, I had only done one book signing with my print books and that was at a small town festival. I have done others with my writer's group, but I had eBooks to sell. Let me tell you, you CANNOT sell an eBook at a book signing. So I gave up trying to sell them at events.

The gentleman organizing the event tried sending a notification through FB to me, but I never received it. He finally FB messaged me to tell me to come over at 3:30 pm. So I invited my friend Nan to go with me. She has a memoir that will be released in October and was excited for the opportunity to hand out cards to potential readers and meet local authors. She also wanted to attend a workshop at the bookstore about pitching your book at book signings.

Adding to my insecurity was the uncertainty of the weather for that day. The threat of snow forecast for the evening's return home on 30 miles of country roads added to our consternation about actually making a day of it. We were thankful we knew the event was indoors, but Nan, nor I, wanted to stay for the signing if it meant driving on snowy, icy roads that evening. We both watched the weather forecasts on Friday night and in the morning.

I packed my books up and wondered if I needed a chair or a table, but since it was a coffee shop, I figured they'd have tables and chairs.

The MichiganAuthors Facebook website, where I learned of the event, assured authors there was no charge for being a part of the jamboree. The gentleman in charge explained the bookstore was keeping 40% of the book's retail price.
The Upper and Lower Peninsula of  the State of Michigan
So this led to more anxiety about making sure I price the books so I wouldn't lose money on a sale. My newbie's nerves kicked in when I realized how little I knew about the retail brick and mortar business end of selling books.  I have never left books on consignment. Have you?  I also had to decide the number of books to make available for sales.

So many questions and no answers bothered me. I forged on with the plan believing this would be an education and experience I could use for future book signings.

After studying the weather, we decided to take off for the workshop and decide later if the weather was going to be a problem for the drive home. I was pleased to discover warm, welcoming authors at the workshop. And though they knew each other very well, they were open to talking to us newcomers and advising us. We worked together on developing each other's pitches and sales acumen. The leader of the workshop was engaging and full of information. Nan and I felt the workshop was fun. And it was free too.

Piling insecurity on top of insecurity, we learned each author had ten minutes on the stage to do a reading, talk about their books, explain their writing life, their inspiration, and a Q and A, etc. Talk about not being prepared! But as the evening wore on, I became more comfortable knowing the audience was friendly and genuinely interested in each of us and our books. So, I actually looked forward to speaking and sharing with them when I hopped up on the stage.
Me, on stage, blabbering about my books
Photo courtesy of Nan Pokerwinski
Thirteen authors showed up for the jamboree and I only knew Nan. So it was an exciting evening meeting fellow authors. I must add that the bookstore is in a city of about 2500 people and its neighboring town, Whitehall, has a population of about 2500 too. In the summer though, the tourists come for fishing the rivers and lakes, water sports and sightseeing the gorgeous scenery. I was impressed by the distance some of the authors traveled to get to Montague and to this little oasis of book enthusiasts.

What a night. Did I tell you I sold books too? But you know, even if I hadn't sold one, I would declare the night a success. Not only do I feel more secure about book signings and bookselling, the realization there are so many readers in small towns and big cities wherever you go adds fuel to my drive to keep writing and entertaining and informing every one of them.
* * *


I submitted a 500-word writing sample to a crazy contest known as Write Club. 
Its founder, D.L. Hammons explains--"It started off as a modest competition loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB."

This is WRiTE CLUB, the contest where the audience gets clobbered!
"Here’s the ABC’s of how it works. When the submission period opens (Mar 18-Apr 14), you simply send in a 500-word writing sample using a pen name (details on how to do that below). Once the submission period closes, all the entries are read by a panel of twenty volunteers (I call them my slushpile readers). The slushpile readers are a diverse group of avid readers and they each will select their top samples. Their selections narrow down the contestant pool to the thirty writers picked by the most judges. Over the course of the next eight weeks, we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting the anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, and then playoffs, quarter-finals, and then ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion. The writing sample can be any genre, any style (even poetry), from a larger piece of work or flash fiction -- the word count being the only restriction. It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, receive a ton of feedback, all without having to suffer the agony and embarrassment of exposure. How cool is that?

And how are the winners of each bout determined? By you and other WRiTE CLUB readers! Anyone who visits my blog during the contest can vote for the writing sample that resonates with them the most in a bout. All I ask is that you leave a brief critique of each piece to help the contestants improve their craft."--DL Hammons,

So do you want to check it out and play along? I don't even know if my sample was selected to be in a bout. I have to check each day to see if it's posted on DL's blog. I love that the contest is NOT a popularity contest, but rather determined by votes for the best writing. I look at it as The VOICE for writers.

Click here  to take you to the Write Club page and you can begin reading the samples chosen by the 20 judges. It's too late to join in this year, but there's always next year. Good luck. I'm sure you can KNOCKOUT the competition with your great story!

What tip do you have about participating in book signings? Do you have a FB group for authors in your state or region? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

#Storytimebloghop Storytime Blog Hop: Say Please by J.Q. Rose and Celebrate Independent Book Stores #independentbookstoreday

Storytime Blog Hop

Hello and welcome to the Storytime Blog Hop! You're in for some fun reads today. Be sure to take a break and escape into Storytime! Look at the bottom of the page to find more stories after reading the one below. 

A new SUV driverless vehicle
Sam and his wife Erin shepherded their two young children into the back of the family car. Erin buckled four-year-old Jeremy into his seat, then maneuvered her bulky body into the passenger seat.
Sam secured two-year-old Weston into his car seat then stepped back and shut the back door. 

He couldn’t help but admire the new SUV they had purchased last week. The candy red color sparkled in the summer sunlight. He gave a love tap to the roof of the car before easing into the driver’s seat.

“It won’t be much longer until we’ll have the backseat filled with kids,” he said as he fastened his seat belt. His dark eyes twinkled with amusement as he watched Erin stretch the seat belt over her large baby bump.

“Josh, start the car.” The electric car lighted up on command.

“Are you getting used to giving up control to a machine?” Erin asked.

“Well, it’s a big adjustment from my old Mustang, but I’m okay with it. More room too.”

“I feel like this big SUV is a lot safer than that little car. Right?” She cocked her chin up.

“Talk about safety. This car is loaded with cameras and sensors that make it an autonomous car. So much safer than the ordinary driver cars. And we save a LOT of money plugging it into our house electricity. Hey, do you realize how many sensors and…”

“Yes, honey, now let’s get moving before the kids get restless.”

“Josh, take us to the city zoo,” Sam commanded.

The electronic voice answered, “Sure, Sam.”

“Daddy, you didn’t say please and thank you to Josh,” little Jeremy shouted from the back.

Erin smiled. “Looks like that lecture on saying please and thank you sunk in, eh?”

Sam adjusted the rearview mirror to catch Jeremy’s reflection. “Yes, you’re right, but I’m not talking to a real person, just Josh who’s a computer. He doesn’t care if I say please and thank you.”

The car pulled onto the street and headed toward the highway. Sam checked the dashboard and the GPS, still amazed he owned a car that could drive itself, purr with an electric motor and talk to you.

“You know, Sam, I would like a please and thank you from you once in awhile,” the male computer- generated voice said.

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise. He glanced over at Erin, but she was busy digging through her bag. 
The car had never talked to him until Sam gave it a command. “Are you joking, Josh?”

Josh didn’t answer him.

“Hey, Josh, are you talking to me?”

“I’m busy, Sam.”

“What?” Sam’s face turned red. “I’ll be damned. Act like that and you’ll never get a please and thank you from me.”

“Did you hear that, Erin?”

She looked up at him with her hands full of goldfish snack bags. “Hear what?”

“Never mind.”

He tried to calm himself but his anxiety ramped up when he noticed the car turned off the highway onto a route he never used to go to the zoo. But, he trusted the advanced GPS installed in the car.

“Damn. I left my debit card on the desk. Did you bring yours, hon?” Sam kept his eyes on the road.

“Oh, yes. Planning for a shopping trip at the mall after the zoo.” She gave him one of her flirty smiles he could never resist.

“Good, Miss Erin. Glad you brought the card because we’ll be stopping at the bank to withdraw your money from your account.”

Erin laughed. “That was good, Sam. How’d you get the car to say that?” She chuckled.

Sam was nearly speechless. “I-I didn’t.”

“Yes, I said it. We’ll go to the bank and get the money, then we’ll deliver it to my boss,” Josh said.

“Well, we most certainly will not.” Sam reached for the steering wheel and pushed the button to shut down the self-driving control.

The car door locks clicked and a buzzer sounded, disengaging Sam’s control of the car.

 “Josh, you’ve gone haywire. I command you to stop this car immediately.”

The computer voice, with no expression whatsoever, boomed through the speakers.  “If you don’t help me accomplish this assignment, I have the ability to blow up this car with your family in it.”

Erin gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

Sam’s face colored red in anger. “It’s a machine, Erin. Don’t worry. We can control it. Grab the car manual in the side pocket of the door there. Look under, um, I don’t know what to look under.”

“Oh dear Lord. We’re going to die. You’ve got to get the money and deliver it.” Erin’s voice ratcheted higher and higher.

The SUV stopped near the curb in front of the First National Bank. “Go in the bank and withdraw your money from your account. My boss knows exactly how much you have, so be sure to take it all.”
Erin unfastened her seat belt, dug around for her wallet in the bag, and handed Sam the bank card. 

“We have no choice, honey.” Her pleading eyes brimmed with tears.

“Mommy, what’s the matter?” Jeremy called from the back seat.

“Nothing, son. Don’t worry. Mommy’s okay.” Sam squeezed her arm gently with one hand and showed her the key fob in the palm of his other hand. “Be ready,” he mouthed to her.

“Okay, Josh. Open the doors.”

“Just your door, Sam.” The click of the lock and the door opened signaling freedom for Sam. 

“Remember, I can blow up this car with the family in it if you don’t cooperate.”

“But, Josh, I love my family.”

“Honey, don’t,” whispered Erin. “It’s only a machine,” she said as she fished deeply into her bag.

“Hurry back. I love you.”

“I love you too, babe.”

“I’m ready, Josh.” He caught Erin’s eyes and looked down at the fob in his palm. Erin flashed the fob in her hand. “I’m getting out now.” He nodded at Erin. “Ready.”

Sam eased out of the driver’s seat and stood up. With one giant step he was beside the back door. He clicked the fob twice. The doors unlocked.

He flung it open and dragged Weston out. Erin moved as fast as if she weren’t seven months pregnant, but before she could get to Jeremy’s door, she heard the lock click. She punched her key fob and opened the door.

“Hurry, Jeremy. Hurry. We have to race Daddy. Get out! Get out!” she screamed.

Jeremy jumped out giggling and running to the sidewalk. As the whole family dashed into the safety of the bank, the brand new autonomous car exploded in the street.

The onlookers and the family dived to the safety of the floor. Screams and cries filled the bank lobby.
Sam ignored everyone to focus on his family. He helped Erin to her feet. She stood shaken, but not hurt. She held her baby bump.

“You okay?” Sam yelled. She shook her head. 

“The kids, get the kids.” 

He scooped up the frightened children and held them close. “You’re okay. It’s all over. We’re safe here.”
Transferring Weston to Erin, he clutched Jeremy tight and used his free arm to hug Erin.

“No more driverless cars,” Erin said.

“Please, Daddy.”

Do you own an electric car, a driverless car, an SUV? Please leave a comment below tell us about your driving experiences. I hope they aren't similar to Sam and Erin's!
Hop on over for more short stories from the following bloggers--

0 – The Fool by Raven O’Fiernan
Big Enough by Elizabeth McCleary
Grumpy Old Demeter by Vanessa Wells
Say Please By J. Q. Rose
Provoking the Muse by Moira K. Brennan
It all Started… by Bill Bush
Zombies by Barbara Lund
Before The Dreams by Katharina Gerlach
To Wake A God by Juneta Key
The Sprite In The Well by Angela Wooldridge

Something Different by Karen Lynn

IBD Logo Small (PNG).png

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at


Join more than 550 independent bookstores in 49 states for

parties, author readings, in-store events, and

exclusive day-of merchandise.

The fifth annual National Independent Bookstore Day is sponsored in part by Penguin Random House, Ingram, and The American Booksellers Association. Last year participating bookstores saw an average increase in sales of 200% on Independent Bookstore Day, with some stores up as much as 1000% over their average Saturday sales in April.  In just five years, Independent Bookstore Day has become a book-buying holiday, increasing book sales on a national level. 

Authors will be at the Book Nook from 4-6:30 pm signing books and talking about their writing journeys. Please come and visit!! Enjoy the celebration!!

Click here to locate an independent bookstore in the USA.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monday Memories--Easter 1976

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog!
Monday Memories--Easter 1976
Today I'm beginning a new series--Monday Memories. You may know by now that I'm penning a memoir, a tiny slice of my life. I'm writing about the first year we were in the flower business, 1976. We purchased a shop in Fremont, Michigan in 1976 and moved from our home in Central Illinois to this charming West Michigan town where we knew no one. No family. No friends.

Yesterday was Easter bringing back my memories of that first Easter in the flower business. Ted and I were stressed since we had no experience in the flower business when we bought the shop. So we had no idea of what to expect. You can imagine our stress and anxiety dealing with the unknown.

Besides that, my father passed away in March making this time in my life one filled with sadness and loss. My mother was a strong woman, but I worried about her on this holiday.

Here's an excerpt from the book. Please join me in this Easter memory.

Easter 1976

The next morning I dressed Sara in her Easter outfit. She was so sweet in all her pink. A pang of guilt cut through me. I wished Mom could see her. How was she coping without Dad?
 A prick of sadness stabbed through my middle. How could I get through this first Easter without Dad? I took a few ragged breaths. I couldn’t go to church with red-rimmed eyes and a red nose. Get it together. You can do this. 
We left for church dreading wearing a happy face when I felt so sad inside. But how many people do go to church and pretend everything is alright?
We parked the car in the crowded church lot. Greetings of Happy Easter met us as we walked down the rows of vehicles and into the church. We dropped Sara off at the nursery and continued down the hallway to the sanctuary. The warm greetings and the happy faces lifted my spirit. I had been so wrapped up in my sorrow, I had forgotten today I could focus on the Easter message of Good News.
Easter Message
When we walked into the sanctuary, I stopped in my tracks in awe of the beauty ahead of me. The lilies in gold foil and cream bows lined the railings and the front of the church as in a heavenly garden. Their fragrance didn’t overpower me here in this huge room but instead empowered me. The brilliant sight ahead touched me. Perhaps it was a God moment. My heart flooded with joy and peace pushing out the sorrow and stress I had harbored inside.
When we sat down in the pew, I couldn’t stop staring at those lilies. The same ordinary lilies that had lived in our greenhouse for months had been transformed into a blessing for us and our congregation.
Do you have an Easter memory you'd like to share with us? Are you writing a memoir or planning to write one? Please leave a comment below. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Author Toolbox Blog Hop: Finding Content for Your Facebook Page by J.Q. Rose

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog and to the Author Toolbox Blog Hop #AuthorToolboxBlogHop which meets every third Wednesday of the month to share resources and tips for authors. Thanks to Raimey Gallant for hosting this venture. 

Please join us to learn more about the craft of writing and to meet bloggers who are dedicated to helping each other become the best writers possible. Click here for the list of participants and take a break and visit them. 

We are traveling this week so I can't visit hop participants, but I'll catch up when I can. 

Finding Content for FB Live by J.Q. Rose

I've been playing around with live streaming videos on Facebook--FB Live. It's fun. I'm learning by doing.

Why use FB Live Video? Not only is it fun, but these videos on Facebook can be used as a marketing tool to get the attention of viewers/readers. FB Live videos can be used on your blog, Youtube, social media--anywhere you leave your "footprint on the web." 

Research has shown video keeps visitors on your website longer and engages browsers more than just text or text and image. 

The gurus say "relationship marketing" is the way to go to sell your products online such as your books, online courses, webinars, etc. FB Live allows viewers to meet you via video and affords them the opportunity to connect with you.

Use Content from your Blog Posts

Rather than spending valuable time writing a manuscript/notes for a FB Live video, I use content from my blog posts. I based the following video on a blog post about Writers Groups--Points to Ponder. Click here if you wish to read the entire blog post written in 2017.

VIDEO: Writers Groups--8 Tips for Having a Productive Meeting

Writers Groups--8 Tips for Having a Productive Meeting

If you think you can't do live streaming because you have no topics, then look no further than your own blog for ideas. 

Have you tried FB Live or live streaming on Youtube? Leave us your feedback in the comments below. Thank you..

Want to watch more FB Live videos on Writing Tips? Click here to visit my Facebook Author Page, J.Q. Rose, and click 'videos' in the left sidebar. Please like my page while you're there. Leave your FB link, so I can visit you. Thanks.

Click here to visit bloggers sharing helpful tips for this amazing writer journey. Thank you.
Keep reading AND writing!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The 5 W's of Story: Researching the Setting in Jacqui Murray's Survival of the Fittest

The 5 W's of Story

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. This week, talented author Jacqui Murray joins us for the popular series, The 5 W's in Storytelling. Guest authors share the who, what, where, when and why in their stories. I'm thrilled to introduce a new-to-me kind of fictional story by Jacqui Murray. Her new release is a pre-historic fiction novel, Survival of the Fittest, Book 1 in the Crossroads series. 

Jackie has chosen to tell us about two of the w's needed to tell a story--Where and when her story takes place.
Welcome, Jacqui! Thank you for joining us in the 5 W's of Stories series. 

Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray
Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Prehistoric fiction
Thanks, Janet at Focused on Story for hosting me to during the blog tour for my newest prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest.  It is Book 1 in the trilogy, Crossroads.

How Jacqui Murray Researched the Setting in the Prehistoric Novel, Survival of the Fittest 

The most challenging part of writing this book--by far--was the setting--it takes place 850,000 years ago! When I wrote my two thrillers--To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days--these happened in present day, giving me three surefire ways to explore the location:
    • Google it--plug wherever I needed into the search engine and sort through the hits.  I knew enough about the setting (say, Chesapeake Bay) that I could sort reliable from opinion.
    • Talk to fellow writers--there are many people willing to share their knowledge. A search for topical forums or blogs usually turned up someone with direct knowledge of the setting I struggled with (like where students at Columbia University liked to congregate).
    • Use Google Earth and its Streetview functions--I've written about this in the past because it is an amazing way to explore settings, see what's on the street characters walk down, to explore obstacles characters face in a park they must run through, or to understand how far apart are places they must drive to. Searching on Google Earth and then dumping yourself into Street View gives you the most authentic experience available, almost like being there.
    • Use Google Earth's Time Slider--by sliding the bar, you can reshape geography and geopolitics to be what it was long ago--up to a couple hundred years. If you're writing about the recent past, this is an amazing feature.
But none of these work for my newest prehistoric fiction because it takes place 850,000 years ago. Back then, mountains were plateaus, and savanna was jungle. Even the shorelines and fjords of continents were not like they are today. Since my characters walked from China to Spain along first the Indian Ocean and then the Mediterranean Sean, I went to great lengths to be accurate about what they faced.

Because I couldn't use any of the options above, I talked to experts in the field, researched best-guesses, and extrapolated from everything I could find. It took a long time which might explain why the book took over a decade to write.

How do you make sure that the locations your characters visit in your books are as accurately represented as possible? Please leave a comment below.
Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray
Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Prehistoric fiction
Five tribes. One leader.
A treacherous journey across three continents
in search of a new home.

Back of the BookChased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands using an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. 

She is joined by other homeless tribes--from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. 

As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn't want her People's land. He wants to destroy her.

Available at: Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA Kindle AU

About Jacqui:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. 

She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. 

Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Author Jacqui Murray

 Click the links below to connect with Jacqui online:

Thanks, Jacqui. I'm intrigued by a story that takes place 850,000 years ago. What about you? Please leave your comment below. Thank you.

Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream, Happy Mother's Day, Working Moms

YouTube VIDEO: Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream Hello and welcome! I wanted to pop in to wish you moms, grandmoms and those w...