Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Discover “The Power of Email Marketing” at the Guild’s 12/7 workshop

Online marketing can be overwhelming, but writers can discover how to accomplish more in less time and on a small budget during the St. Louis Writers Guild’s workshop from 10 a.m. to noon, Dec. 7, at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd. in Kirkwood. Free to members, $5 for nonmembers

“The Power of Email Marketing” is the first of a two-part series presented by Barry Coziahr, president of RESPONSE! Targeted Marketing, a local marketing agency specializing in small business marketing. He is also the Constant Contact Local Expert for St. Louis. Coziahr will return to discuss “Social Media Made Simple” at the Guild’s Jan. 11 workshop.

Many authors find themselves seeking the right strategies, tools and tactics to make their marketing efforts as effective as possible. But with Facebook and Twitter, email and mobile, and whatever new social network is rolling out that month, there's a lot to keep up with. Having only so many hours in each day, the number of possibilities can feel overwhelming. These sessions will help make sense of the noise, with tips on how to make the most of the combination of email and social media.
You’ll learn what it means to run effective email and/or social media marketing campaigns and what tools you can use to measure the success of your efforts without spending lots of time or money. Participants will learn ideas for timing their messages, how to write a winning subject line, what kinds of offers or content they want to try and how best to approach their next marketing campaign. 
On Dec. 7, The Power of Email Marketing will focus on:
    What email marketing “is” and “is not”
    Why businesses are using email marketing today
    The “ do’s” and “don’ts” of email marketing
    Best email practices to help you create successful campaigns
    What to write about 
    How frequently and when to schedule emails
    How to get your emails opened

Find out more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Monday, November 25, 2013

Swoon Reads: Bringing Writers and Readers Together in Publishing

Cori Bair
Guest Post by Cori Bair

In August I had the pleasure of being asked to beta test a ground-breaking new idea in publishing. I was given the opportunity to send my completed YA manuscript to Swoon Reads, a teen romance imprint under Feiwel and Friends, which is an imprint of Macmillan.

Swoon Reads is a crowd-sourced publishing initiative bringing readers and writers together. Authors are encouraged to submit their finished YA romance manuscripts to Swoon Reads. Upon submission, the author’s manuscript is available for readers to enjoy.

Swoon Reads then gives the readers control of what will be published. Once a reader registers an account with Swoon Reads (at no cost), the hardest part is deciding which manuscript to read first. Upon finishing a manuscript, the reader is asked to rate the manuscript in four different categories: Heat, Tears, Laughs, and Thrills. The manuscripts with the most “swoon-worthy” ratings will be chosen for publication under the Swoon Reads imprint.

Once a manuscript is chosen for publication, the author will be given a standard Macmillan publishing contract with a $15,000 advance, along with print and e-book formats—including editing, design, marketing and sales.

Cori and Melissa Combs
Currently, Swoon Reads has 64 romantic titles to choose from, in a variety of genres. My co-author, Melissa Combs, and I have a YA paranormal romance submitted to Swoon Reads—THE ONLY EXCEPTION. We encourage you to join the Swoon Reads community, read our manuscript, and help THE ONLY EXCEPTION reach publication!

Swoon Reads still needs YA romance writers and readers! For more information on Swoon Reads please visit

Cori Bair is a member of the St. Louis Writers Guild, a young adult and new adult author, and a fourth-grade teacher at Salem Lutheran School in Affton, MO.

Melissa Combs is a fourth-grade teacher at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Collinsville, IL, and a pregnancy counselor at Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Center in Granite City. In her spare time she likes to read, spend time with her daughter, and write. 

Please visit to learn more about Cori Bair and Melissa Combs.

Follow Cori on Twitter @CoriBair
Follow Melissa on Twitter @LissaCombs

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Richard Brawer: Marketing free books

By T.W. Fendley

A couple of weeks ago, Richard Brawer posted the following message on a Yahoo group for those formerly published by L&L Dreamspell:

I mentioned some time ago that I took my L & L book, BEYOND GUILTY, published three years ago, changed the title to THE NANO EXPERIMENT and the cover and put it on Amazon KDP. The main reason I changed the title and cover was because I didn't want both the L & L copy and my newly posted version to show up when a reader searched for the book.

Then I put THE NANO EXPERIMENT on free for 5 days. It got downloaded 36,000 times. (No that is not an extra zero) Now it is selling regularly, I have to assume by word of mouth. My other books which I listed the book jacket and reviews at the end of THE NANO EXPERIMENT are also selling well, a total of 70 copies.

Many of us who've tried giveaways on Kindle Direct Publishing found his success astounding. Richard graciously shared the following info that I, for one, plan to use.

Here is the list I used to advertise my free book:  This one site lists 11 sites you can click on to list your free book.   Has a special sub topic to list your free book  You need 5 Amazon reviews to list on this site  Your book has to have 4 stars and 10 Amazon reviews  this site has a special section to list a free book

Then you have all your social network groups such as Goodreads, facebook, yahoo, linkedin, pinterest. But make sure the group you are going to list your free book on allows self promotion. Some groups do not.  This site is expensive, but I think it was the one that really got readers to download the free book.  Since my free book ended I have sold 77 other books and that number is rising daily as people read the free book.

Which brings me to an important point. At the end of your free book list your website prominently and also list all your other books with the book jacket and the reviews you received on those other books.

For me the purpose of the free book was to advertise my other books which it seems to have done.

As far as the sites that charge $10 and up, I did not use them. Instead I put all my money in bookbub. For me it worked. I'm sure each book will be different.

Good luck on your promotion.

Richard Brawer writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels. When not writing, he spends his time sailing and growing roses.  He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.

THE NANO EXPERIMENT: At fifteen, Eileen Robinson lives in an ideal, middle class African-American family in Houston, Texas.  When her father is murdered her sheltered life spirals downward into gloom.  Her once stay-at-home mother is forced to go to work cleaning offices at night.  Eileen is relegated to babysitting her two younger sisters. One night she sneaks out on them. Trying to cook something, they die in a fire.  Tormented and wanting to kill herself, Eileen runs away from home.  Befriended by a drug dealer, she moves in with him.  At twenty-one she is a single mother of two, falsely convicted of killing a state senator’s son. 

At thirty-two Eileen is executed. However, the doctor that performs the execution puts Eileen into a coma with a controlled dosage of medication and corrupts the EKG monitor to make it look like she is dead and she is rushed to an island prison where she is used as a guinea pig in a nanomedicine drug experiment.

How Eileen escapes from the island prison, evades a private security force chasing her, finds the evidence that will prove she is innocent and reunites with her children make The Nano Experiment an emotionally charged, page turning thriller.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cliff Winnig: No one has traveled my path

I had the pleasure of meeting Cliff Winnig in 1997 at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop. Cliff writes science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk. His short stories appear in a number of anthologies, including When the Hero Comes Home 2, Gears and Levers 3, Retro Spec, Footprints, and the forthcoming World Jumping. The twitterzines Outshine and Thaumatrope have published his very short stories.

Though he's made his home in the East, the South, and the Midwest, he's now a Californian. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Debby and their two children. When not writing, Cliff sings, plays sitar, does social dance, and studies tai chi and aikido.

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus -- the characters, the stories, the love of words? All three, really.  A good story takes readers away from themselves and their world and moves them into fictional lives in a fictional world, using words to create the portal between the real and the imaginary.

Writing's an interesting art form in that you can see the code -- letters, words, punctuation -- that comprise the work, but when you get caught up in it, your focus changes to the thoughts and feelings the words bring forth in your mind. It's like looking at a pointillist painting close up, then stepping away and watching the picture emerge. You're aware of the components, but the illusion of form takes over.  If the story and characters seem real enough, the focus stays with them. But in reality, they're never more than the words that comprise them.

When I'm writing or editing a draft, I'm aware of all these elements. At some points in the process, I may focus on one of them, but in the end they all have to work together.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? It's tough. I work full-time in Silicon Valley, and my wife and I have small children. That's why I'm concentrating on short stories right now, rather than trying to tackle a novel. I write mostly after the kids are in bed, even on the weekends.  With shorter works, I can really polish the stories I want to tell, yet still have time to be the dad I want to be.

What's your favorite way to interact with fans/readers? I love readings:  both giving and attending them. There's something primal about storytelling, hearing stories told out loud.  It's one of the oldest human art forms, and it's a good part of how we build our views of the world, how we convey the ideas that really matter. I have theater experience, so I draw on that when I do readings. I really enjoy it if I can do Q&A and/or meet folks afterwards too.

What inspired your latest work? My newest story appears in When the Hero Comes Home 2 (Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood, eds.), an anthology that takes as its theme the hero's return from the big battle/quest/whatever and the unexpected things that crop up with such homecomings. Many of my stories appear in themed anthologies, because the themes spark ideas that lead me to characters and worlds, and the desire to explore both.  In this case, the theme prompted me to ask:  what if the hero and the person the hero comes home to are one and the same?  In the resulting story -- "The Call of the Sky" -- the stay-at-home narrator and the returned-from-space hero are clones.  Furthermore, they're capable of synchronizing their memories, something they do whenever they happen to meet.  Only this time the injuries suffered by the hero clone prevent that, so our narrator has to try to understand her clone's experience -- and the importance of that experience for everyone back on Earth -- through mere words.  Even within the story, the important ideas come through storytelling.

I also have a flash-fiction piece coming out this December in the anthology World Jumping (Eric T. Reynolds, ed.).  Like several other stories in the book (though not all of them), it draws its inspiration from the digital painting reproduced on the cover, which shows a woman dancing or leaping in an empty landscape.  The crescent shapes of huge moons or sister planets dominate the sky above her.  I asked myself who she was and if what she was doing really was what it seemed.  I wondered what wasn't in the painting because it lay behind the viewer or took place a moment before or after the scene depicted.  That's what led to the story.  Unlike a painting, where the viewer sees the whole thing at once and might notice this or that detail with time, a story flows linearly and explores all the senses within that flow.  I could add movement, a sense of touch, sound, and so forth.  The painting drew me into an alien world.  My story explored it.

I'm happy to say the resulting tale bore little resemblance to those of the other authors, which leads me to...

What makes your book/characters unique? No one else could write my stories, because no one else has traveled my path. I bring my lifetime of experience, including a background in math, software, martial arts, music, and anthropology. In my science fiction, I draw as much as possible on actual science, and in my imaginary societies, I draw on what I learned from anthropology and ethnomusicology. My SF tends to include concepts from computer science and characters from a variety of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

In addition to being a writer, you're a musician. What's the relationship between writing and music? In early human cultures, storytelling around the fire combined words and music. Only much later did humanity distinguish among prose, poetry, and song, and even now the lines often blur. That said, the written word is quite different from music in that the former creates an object outside of time, experienced by a reader at the reader's own pace, whereas music is immediate, present, and (ideally) an event where the musician and listener are in the same time and place. Nonetheless, both are collaborative art forms: readers bring themselves to the book or story, using the words to create the imaginary universe, and listeners bring their movements and any sounds they make -- dancing, singing along, clapping, etc. -- to a concert experience. So while writing and music have different characteristics, they grew from a common set of roots, and their branches intertwine.

I'm very pleased to be part of this series.  I've enjoyed the opportunity to focus on aspects of reading and writing that are often subconscious.

You can find out more about Cliff and his work at:

Cliff's website -- -- has info on his published stories, a list of his readings and concerts, and a resource page for writers.  You can find him easily on Twitter (@winnig), Facebook and on Goodreads (  The audio of his recent SF in SF reading can be found at

When the Hero Comes Home 2 is currently on sale in both Kindle ( and ePub ( formats.  It's also available in paperback (


This is T.W. Fendley. You can find out more about me and my books at Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

St. Louis Writers Guild Write-ins To Celebrate NaNoWriMo!

St. Louis Writers Guild Write-ins To Celebrate NaNoWriMo! 

In support of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), St. Louis Writers Guild will hold write-ins at two different locations, on two separate nights of the week - so check times and locations. 

The write-ins are free to attend, but please support the businesses. 
Bring your writing tools (pen and paper, or laptop). You may also want to bring a powerstrip.

What's a write-in? It's a chance to write socially, bounce ideas, and write without distractions of home or jobs. There are a number of write-ins being held around town, all through the month of November. If you are signed up for NaNoWriMo you can find a list of area write-ins and other events at

Good luck making your word goals!

St. Louis Writers Guild Write-ins

All On The Same Page Bookstore - 11052 Olive Blvd. 63141
     Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4pm to 7pm
     Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 4pm to 7pm 
     Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 6:30pm to 8pm *SLWG Author Series

Kaldi's Coffee in Kirkwood - 120 S Kirkwood Rd. 63122
     Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 6pm to 10pm 
     Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 6pm to 10pm 
     Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 6pm to 10pm *or at All on the Same Page

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SLWG Author Series: New Book Spotlight

SLWG Author Series: New Book Spotlight

In October, the SLWG Author Series event featured the New Book Spotlight. A couple of times a year St. Louis Writers Guild showcase some member’s new books. This time, we featured two area authors Fedora Amis and Denise Elam Dauw.

The SLWG Author Series is held on the third Thursday of the month at All on the Same Page Bookstore, 11052 Olive Blvd. The interviews are streamed live online and recorded to be posted on St. Louis Writers Guild members are sent a link and can watch and interact with the event live online.

The SLWG Author Series: New Book Spotlight showcased:

Jack the Ripper in St. Louis by Fedora Amis
If Music be the Food of Love by Denise Elam Dauw

Fedora Amis
Fedora Amis won the Mayhaven Fiction Prize for her Victorian whodunit, Jack the Ripper in St. Louis. She dons corset and hoop skirts to perform as real historical people and imagined characters from the 1800s. Fedora loves live theater, travel, plants and cooking. She has one son, Skimmer, who partners Fedora in writing science fiction and fantasy. “Why do I write? I love words—always have--reading them, writing them. I even like looking them up in the dictionary. So call me eccentric. Call me crazy—but call me a writer.”

Denise Elam Dauw
Denise Elam Dauw is a music educator in west St. Louis, Missouri. She holds a M.M. in Music Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a B.M. in Music Education from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Specializing in instrumental music as a band director, Ms. Elam Dauw also has experience teaching choir, orchestra, piano, music history and appreciation, guitar, jazz band, marching band, and color guard. She is currently a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and volunteers for the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

I’ve posted the interview on The Writers’ Lens Tumblr page –

The video can be viewed on or on Youtube by searching for the SLWG Author Series!

You can find all the SLWG Author Series interviews at or on

SLWG Author Series
The third Thursday of the Month
All on the Same Page Bookstore
11052 Olive Blvd. 63141
Next Event: November 21, 2013

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit , follow me on Twitter @bradrcook , or my tumblr page Thoughts from Midnight