Writer’s Tips – The Book Designer – Marketing Tools, Book Titles, Branding, Self Publishing

Welcome to this month’s edition of Writer’s Tips. In this post there are some invaluable articles from authors sharing their best tips for – Branding ourselves as writers, Marketing Tools, Finding the Right Book Title and more!



Author Judith Briles shares a few handy marketing tools for authors at the Book Designer – Canva, Bookbrush, Photofunia and more!

Source: A Few of My Favorite Author Marketing Tools – The Book Designer


How to find the right comps and book title for your books by Ruth Harris.

Titles and Comp Titles — How To Find the Best Ones For Your Book


Surviving and Thriving in the ever-changing Self-Publishing world by Paul Dinas at Anne R. Allen’s blog

Surviving—and Thriving—In The Brave New World Of Publishing


Branding 101 for authors by Ev Bishop at the blog of Anne R. Allen

Branding 101 by Ev Bishop


Bonus: Are you stuck when it comes to finding the right categories for your new book? Check out this great Book Category Hunter by Nerdy Book Girl.

Book Category Hunter: Free Tool to Find Book Categories on Amazon


Nicholas Rossis has an informative post on 10 Top SEO Tools for Writers



I hope you find these useful. Lots of goodies here!



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Edit Your Work and Don’t Forget To Edit Your Life

We as writers talk about editing a lot because it’s part of our profession.

But editing is something we also do in our everyday lives. We make plans that may have to change, so we edit and reschedule.

When we speak, we should think before we verbalize a typo, which can be corrected by apologizing and changing to the correct word.

We edit our lives when we delete things or people from our lives. We proofread important documents before signing them (or we should) to ensure we agree with what’ we’re signing.

A writer would never just throw a first draft into the world. A writer’s work needs a timeout, a timeframe to marinate in itself while the writer distances herself for awhile, so she can come back with fresh eyes and perspective on her work to edit and revise before it’s ready for the professional editor. It’s a process like life. We must edit our work like we must remember to make the edits in our life in the same fashion.

Like cleaning out our homes, every once in awhile it’s healthy to take a pause and take stock of what we have around us, in our homes, sometimes even with the people in our lives.

Decluttering is editing – eliminating. Perhaps a bad habit would be a good editing project to work on? Bad attitude? No problem, you can edit that too – if you want to.

Is there someone in your life who brings a black cloud around whenever in your orbit? Maybe it’s time to take a look at what serves your best interest. Does this person make you uncomfortable or shed negative vibes when in your presence? It may be time to assess and perhaps edit them out of your orbit.

Sometimes we get too comfortable with our life, habits and circles, and become a little complacent forgeting we’re in charge of our own life, and forgeting we have the power to edit.

If we aren’t satisfied with the story we’re living, we are the editors of our own lives. It’s up to us to proofread the story we live in and decide the changes we need to make to have our story reflect the life we want it to be by editing out the unnecessary words and characters that hold back our story to allow it to flow better and read the way we desire, to permit a happy ending.


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Sunday Book Review – A Year in the Life of Leah Brand by Lucinda Clarke

My Sunday Book Review is for Lucinda E. Clarke’s psychological thriller – A Year in the Life of Leah Brand. Leah has certainly had her share of grief in her life, and just when she thinks life has given her a second chance at happiness, her world begins spinning out of control.





Leah’s nightmare began the day the dog died.

A few years earlier a fatal car crash took the lives of Leah’s beloved husband and their two babies, leaving her disabled. Life looked bleak. She was approaching forty, unemployed, broke and desperate.

Then she met Mason. He was charming, charismatic, persuasive, and a successful businessman, well respected in the community. His teenage daughter did nothing to welcome Leah into the family, but life is never perfect.

Then, two years into her second marriage, Leah Brand’s world is turned upside down; inanimate objects in the house move, her clothes are left out for the rubbish collection, pieces of furniture change places, there are unexplained noises and hauntings.

As the disturbances increase, everyone accuses Leah of losing her mind. Soon she begins to doubt herself and she starts to spiral down into a world of insanity. Is she going mad, or is someone out to destroy her? And if so, why?

A gripping, psychological thriller for fans of Mary Higgins Clarke and Louise Jensen.


My 4 Star Review:

This is certainly a different type of physcological thriller. Leah Brand is a lovely woman whose life has become a series of crazy mishaps making her life spiral out of control shortly after marrying Mason. After surviving a fatal car accident that took her first husband and two children and one of her legs, Leah’s new life becomes a nightmare.

The story begins when we’re taken into Leah’s life and marriage She’s remarried to Mason, a very unlikeable man whose ex-wife had run off and left him with a teenage terror daughter Belinda and estranged son Leo (who doesn’t show up til late in the book). We’re vaguely informed that Mason’s first wife left him. Slowly Leah becomes unraveled as things start appearing and disappearing in her house to the point where she thinks she might be going crazy. The only friend she has is next door neighbor Andrea, and throughout the book we’re left wondering if even Andrea is a real friend.

There are many unlikeable characters in this book from conniving Mason to his daughter – and plenty more, but no spoilers. There seems to be no place of safety or sanity for Leah as she spends her days trying to figure out what is going on in her life, her home, and with her hot and cold relationship with her narcissistic husband. And without insights about this awful man prior to the start of the story, I continued to struggle with why on earth this lovely woman who has been through so much grief in life – losing her family and putting up with an equally evil mother with dementia, continued to endure the unhappiness she was living.

The story is told from Leah’s perspective – first person, which I enjoy. We get to learn Leah’s thoughts and rationales for actions and surmisings. But despite not knowing why everything is going bizarro in Leah’s world, I found it a tad unbelievable that a smart woman with a head on her shoulders would endure all the shenanigans, and I felt disturbed throughout the book – sign of good writing, but reader frustration. It took the whole book of enduring Leah’s angst to wait for the explanation of the happenings, which ultimately felt a wee bit out of left field when we finally learn some of the story’s mysteries.

The ending didn’t tie up things as I anticipated, once the discoveries were let out of the bag, I assume more will be revealed in book 2 as I’m sure this book was left as a cliffhanger because some of the answers still left room for clarification, leaving me questioning why I was left still suspecting more behind the revelations, as just desserts weren’t doled out and a mysterious disappearance hadn’t fully been resolved.

Without a doubt, Clarke is a crafty writer. She planted lots of red herrings throughout the story along with two minor other characters who brought back the likeability factor – a real friend, Bill, and Aunty Dierdre. These characters offered a breath of fresh air in a story of constant craziness, while feeling sorry for Leah, yet wanting to smack her in the head with a wake-up call to get the hell out of the nuthouse she was living in and away from the people in her life who treated her so bloody poorly. I like to root for the underdog in a story, but I think Leah missed stepping up to the plate. I know not every story has likeable characters, I may just be that reader who it bothers too much.

Well written and definitely a book to keep the pages turning. The only reason for 4 stars is a personal one, not a reflection on the writer who certainly had a vision in mind for Leah’s character. But as a reader, I get flustered by women who stay with abusive men and make excuses for them.


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Smorgasbord Health Column – Common Conditions A-Z – Working from Home – Backache by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Today I’m sharing a worthy reblog from Sally Cronin with her article on backpain, in her Smorgasbord Health series, Sally hits on a topic that many of us writers can identify with – the sitting syndrome, and what we can do to alleviate some of the aches and pains.


Smorgasbord Health Column – Common Conditions A-Z – Working from Home – Backache by Sally Cronin



In this series I take a look at some of the more common health conditions we might experience.

Backache and working from home.

To give you an idea of how common backache is around the world; it is estimated that nearly 10% of the global population will experience either acute (one off or occasional event with recovery) or chronic backache (constant and disabling).  There are a number of proven factors such as weight, height, age and of course occupational posture but generally the causes of lower back pain in particular are very hard to diagnose.

Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability but it also results in one of the biggest financial burdens on health services and industry around the world. An estimated 25% of all sick leave is the result of back problems with billions of pounds and dollars in medical costs.

In a paper published by the World Health Organisation it mentions the number of work days lost in a year due to back problems in the UK alone as over 100 million.  

“Low back pain is the single biggest cause of years lived with disability worldwide, and a major challenge to international health systems. In 2018, the Lancet Low Back Pain Series Working Group identified a global problem of mismanagement of low back pain.” WHO


Work from Home and lack of Health and Safety Regulations.

Most businesses where staff are working at desks and on computers will have a some guidance on best work practices to prevent issues such as back pain or repetitive strain injury. But what about when hundreds of thousands of office workers are at home and using computers. Will their chairs be the right height, or their screens be at the right level?

Some of the pictures I have seen of people working from homes seem to be of laptops on knees, working on the sofa or sat on the floor with a laptop on a coffee table, or even when in bed. None of which will be good for posture and likely to result in back or neck pain.

Most people when experiencing lower back pain will reach for over the counter pain-killers.  Whilst these may be effective in the short-term, they only mask the symptoms and do not address the cause of the back pain. If it is chronic, it becomes very easy to become dependent on the tablets, and very likely that the body will develop a tolerance. The nervous system, particularly the brain and spinal cord become less able to interpret the actual levels of pain you are experiencing requiring increasingly more medication over time.

This results in most people taking more pills that is good for the body. Apart from the risk of addiction, it can seriously damage your endocrine system (hormones) and this can impact many functions within in the body reliant on hormones for health. One condition in particular, Osteoporosis is already a risk factor for women following menopause, but with a consistent use of painkillers the impact on bone health can be very severe.

Unfortunately, since the cause of back pain can be difficult to diagnose, it is likely that your doctor is simply going to move your medications to the next level to opiods such as Tramadol which are highly addictive if used long-term.  I have experience of this with my mother who had chronic hip pain and in her late 80s and early 90s was prescribed Tramadol. Very difficult for the person suffering the pain and those who care for them.

Where to start.

Most back pain is the result of posture issues due to your own physical condition or your work environment. . . continue reading at Sally’s Smorgasbord


Books by Sally Cronin

Visit Sally’s books


Source: Smorgasbord Health Column – Common Conditions A-Z – Working from Home – Backache by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine



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Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Guest Interviews 2015 – A Funny Thing Happened, #Relationships D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Sally Cronin is running a new fun series at her Smorgasbord blog – she’s pulling out some classic interviews from the past on the topic of ‘A Funny Thing Happened’. Sally invited me over five years ago, and I think I never left. LOL.



Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Guest Interviews 2015 – A Funny Thing Happened, #Relationships D.G. Kaye



As I sort through and organise my files here on WordPress which now amount to over 12,000 since 2013, I am discovering gems, such as guest interviews that I would love to share with you again..

This week an early interview with D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies as part of a Sunday interview series ‘A Funny Thing Happened to Me.’ in 2015.

Little did I know as I asked Debby about one of the topics for her non-fiction books, narcissism, that a few years later she would be writing the Relationship Column for us. I have updated the interviews with recent books and reviews and I hope you will enjoy revisiting the posts with me.


Thank you Debby for joining us today and perhaps we could start with the increasingly documented personality trait labelled Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is only recently that this disorder has become better known as more and more people realise that at some point in their lives they have been subjected to its negative impact. Perhaps you could describe the sort of behaviour that a narcissist would exhibit?

Hello Sally and readers of this wonderful blog. Thank you so much for inviting me to this new series to share my stories here with so many other talented artists and writers.

A narcissist, in laymen’s terms, sees him/herself as the center of existence. They feel as though their appearance and/or words trump everyone else’s. In my mother’s case, she had created a false persona that she had convinced her own self that she was superior. It was her mission to be the most beautiful one in a room, and craved attention so that focus had to be on her at all times.

Everything she talked about was exaggerated to make sure she could captivate her audience with her stories of grandeur. Her wants and needs came first to anyone else’s, including her children’s. She’d go to any lengths to acquire whatever it was she seeked.

Now, some people like to tell lies and paint pretty pictures of themselves for attention, but a true narcissist, as in my mother’s case, actually believes her own stories because she lived in her own ego.

I learned through the years of studying her, that this was a disease, which commonly wasn’t recognized as such. In the last generation, I don’t believe it was prominently diagnosed.


Do we all have some elements of that behaviour and if so what triggers it becoming a full blown disorder?

I don’t believe we all have the elements of becoming a narcissist, but I do believe there can be circumstances or incidents one encounters in life that propel one to becoming narcissistic. I’m no licenced psychologist, but I have to believe it can also be linked to various (undiagnosed) mental disorders, such as depression, which becomes a catalyst to narcissism, used to overcome some troubling issues. I say this because I think that besides my mother’s strife to be the best in show, I sensed a sadness within her that she was trying to conceal, not just to everyone, but also to herself.

She medicated that inner sadness with booze, pills and gambling, intermittently. She came from a poor family, and in a Scarlett O’Hara sort of way, had used her beauty as a weapon to obtain materialistic things in life.

I don’t believe anyone is born a narcissist. I think that it is the situations one lives through, which have a propensity to steer them in that direction as a means to achieve a status to feel better about themselves; and no matter at who’s expense.


It is obvious, as in your case, that a child would feel powerless in that kind of relationship. But is also true that adults of narcissistic parents can still be under the influence of that negativity especially as the parents age. What would be your advice to someone facing that challenge?

I would have to say the statistics show that many adults are still held under the powers of a narcissistic parent. It’s a major feat to become freed from the power that parents hold over us, mainly from their use of guilt as a means to obtain what they demand. . . please continue reading at Sally’s blog.


Source: Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Guest Interviews 2015 – A Funny Thing Happened, #Relationships D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine



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Facebook Foibles – Spying, Judgment and Privacy Invasion Galore!


I received a warning, doesn’t say for what, but my account “could be restricted” if I violate again. Violate what? Will I be sent to Facebook jail yet again?


I search around in my scrolling and reading, clicking away, sharing posts then I find that a post I shared in a private  group, from a reliable source on Facebook, or quite possibly, one I’ve shared from a writer friend, was deemed false and marked on the post ‘content not available’. But that’s not enough. There must be warnings to threaten me as a punishment for sharing such posts that despite showing up on other pages as perfectly legit – without being marked ‘content not available’ on those same articles. And oddly, I’m never told why an article on writing I may have shared from a friend’s blog is deemed false. False because why? How about an explanation besides “article deemed inappropriate”? A book review is not inappropriate, among many other nonsensical rulings.

Funny how posts linger on some pages, and when others share the same post, they get reprimanded from Fakebook. What’s good for the goose is apparently, not good for the gander. If the Fakebook police don’t like it, remove it and move on, even though you’re invading my ‘private group’ space and freedom of thought and speech. Spare me your idiotic messages about why you push your authority, warning me I’m on probation (once again), and putting people in Fakebook jail timeouts. Almost not surprising coming from a site that has a difficult time promoting democratic ads and plays politics with the opposition .

Just Sayin'


There is no privacy on Fakebook. Most of us know this, yet, there we still are, while they sell our personal info to 3rd parties – where most of those ads come from that follow us. Many of my close writing friends feel mutual sentiments about FB, yet we feel stuck there as a place to stay in touch and interact. Somebody needs to take them on and make a better site WITHOUT privacy invasion. MeWe is the closest to trying, and Sally, me and  Colleen and about a dozen other writers gave it a try for awhile, posting just as we always did on FB in various groups we set up. But I don’t think that site is ready for primetime because every group seems private, there’s no newsfeed, and keyword searches for a topic you may be interested seeing posts about, mostly just offer other groups to join, everything seems to be a private group you must join to be able to interact or read anything, that’s an epic fail. The concept is great, but there’s much left to be desired for the user. And then there is Liker.

Liker seems to be a social media site many EX Fakebook patriots have and are moving to by the droves. I’ve only just signed up there, and I’ve seen lots of posts via there prior, and yes, there’s a live newsfeed!. This is their slogan:

Liker is a smarter, kinder social network that is reimagining social media. “Our feed is fully customizable and filled with intelligent posts that are free of hate. We are the kinder, smarter social network .’

I kind of like the idea of freedom of speech without being censored or patroled. It seems like this site is growing daily and is user friendly, so I think I may venture getting more involved with it. Apparently, I’m not alone as a disgruntled Fakebook user, based on the many recommends I’ve read, and some of the comments I’ve seen on Liker:


Closed my FB account 2 days ago. Pushes Authoritarian rule and with Trump pushes dictatorship.

I’ve been in FB jail so many times, I can’t stay out for more than 15 days.”

In the past 6 weeks, I’ve been in FB jail for 3 days the first time, 7 days the second and I’m down to 19 days on the last 30 days. Guess what? FB is dead to me – just like Suckerberg.
Same here! I have been in FB jail 5X for 30 days for posting about tRump. My current suspension will not end till the 27th. When it does, I will notify all my friends and let them know I am on Liker and deactivating my FB.
They completely blocked me, forever… LOL!
Those were just a few of many people, like me, who’ve been repeatedly punished on FB by muting, reprimanding, and jailing, overtime. And oddly enough, my jailings haven’t even been about politcal posts – BUT WRITING POSTS! And I am not the only one in my circles this has happened to.
So now I’m asking if anyone here has joined Liker and if so, please share your experience there with us and let us know how else it differs from FB. Motivate me enough to want to start over again somewhere else. Thanks.
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Sunday Book Review – Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay – #HistoricalFiction

My Sunday Book Review was a riveting read by Tatiana De Rosnay – Sarah’s Key. Once again I came across this moving book after a fellow author shared her own gripping review for the book. As many of you know I’m drawn to historical fiction – particularly in the WWII era. As much as my empathy has me turning away from violence and abuse, I am drawn to the stories that take me on a journey of trying to understand the human condition and the triumph of those that survive the heinous war. The atrocities of war don’t always have to relate to the physical violence, but the atrocities of mankind that instill fear in those living daily struggling to survive is equally frightening, sometimes more than a hand or a stick being struck against them.




Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.


My 5 Star Review (Really 4.5 stars, read on to discover why)

In this heart-grabbing story, it is told in two eras – the present day 2002) , where American journalist Julia – living in Paris for the past 25 years, is hired to do a story on the 60th anniversary of the Velodrome d’Hiver roundup by the French police, where 13,000 Jews were suddenly snatched from their homes in Paris, July 1942 and disappeared. Julia comes across a list of families taken on that fateful night, and later finds on the death list, one girl’s name is missing, despite her name being on the roundup list. Where did Sarah go? In the now, we are taken into Julia’s erratic life, marriage and stunningly, a common bond she discovers with Sarah of the past when Julia’s husband has chosen a new apartment for them to live in Paris.

Is it possible for anyone to survive the death camps? What happened to Sarah after that fateful night on July 16, 1942 after she and her parents were taken along with 13,000 others to the Velodrome stadium in Paris, once a sports arena, left to starve as they waited for days til their fates were sealed? Their crimes? They were Jews. The children were taken elsewhere separately and murdered, so as not to cause ‘alarm’ to onlooking citizens, while they watched parents loaded  onto buses headed for the train station and then loaded on like cattle in cattle trains, and were taken to their immediate deaths in Auschwitz.

In Julia’s investigation to try and solve what happened to Sarah from 1942, she travels from Paris to a farm community in Orleans, back to Paris, and then Italy where a lead takes her. When she returns to Paris she must deal with her newly discovered pregnancy that her philandering husband isn’t too excited about. Until she grows a pair and leaves him (finally) and moves back to New York.

The two stories converge when later, Julia discovers an incredible and heart-wrenching link between her husband’s family and Sarah’s family.

I found Julia’s life was a bit blase with some unnecessary filler, and I did not like the character of her husband and found Julia wasn’t empowering enough by staying way too long with her philandering husband. I can’t help but wonder how the book might have been more intense if it was told by Sarah in its entirety. Julia was banal, lacking dimension and gumption.  But this book was a great read with lots to keep me turning the pages. One of those – hard to put down books – despite my not loving the protagonist’s weakness as a woman. But Sarah’s story was absolutely riveting. And because Sarah’s story was riveting I’m giving this book 5 stars instead of 4 with my 4 1/2 actual rating (I deducted only half off for Julia’s lack of depth), because it was a fantastic, although disheartening story.


*NBFor those unfamilar with the Vel d’Hiv capture, even France liked to keep it under wraps for decades, ashamed to speak of their part in thousands of Jewish deaths. The roundup was the largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust.  Vel d’Hiv and how it began with the German occupation in France.



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