Friday, August 30, 2013

Virtual Book Tours--an interview with Jo Linsdell

Today's guest is Jo Linsdell and she has a book out on a topic that many of our readers are curious about: virtual book tours. The title of the book is Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home. Ms. Linsdell has a great deal of experience in the promotion arena and we are pleased to have an interview with her today. Welcome Jo!-- Mary Ann

Tell us a bit about your latest book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release or to put life back into an older publication. In this book I take you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour.  The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation: 1) What is a Virtual Book Tour? 2) How to organise your own tour 3) Promoting a tour 4) Useful resources. You'll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit.

Why do authors need your book?

Marketing is part of being a writer. Regardless of how you're published (traditionally or self-published), you will, at some point, need to do some marketing. Virtual book tours are one of the most effective methods of creating a buzz about your book and have numerous benefits. In this book I cover everything you need to know to organise and carry out a virtual book tour. Even if you decide not to do a virtual book tour, you'll still find this book useful as it's packed full of marketing ideas and links to resources.

Why did you decide to write a book about virtual book tours?

I've done several successful virtual book tours for my own books and have worked with book tour companies and authors for years hosting them on my sites. Over the years I've therefore gained a lot of experience in doing virtual book tour both from the author and host point of view. As I often get asked for advice about doing them from other authors I decided to put all the information together and created Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

What is the first thing you recommend authors do when they decide to organise a virtual book tour?

Put together a media kit. In creating a media kit you have all the information regarding your book, you as an author, and your virtual book tour, all in the one place. This makes it a useful reference tool for you, but also a valuable tool you can use during preparations for your tour. It looks professional and creates a good impression. I also makes life easier for your hosts as they have all the information they might need for your post all in the one place.

You created the cover art for the book yourself. What was your inspiration for the design?

I wanted a cover that was thumbnail friendly as, more often than not, it gets seen online in that format. That meant the text needed to be easy to read and the whole look needed to be clutter free. Too many details or fancy fonts don't look good in thumbnails. I also wanted an image that quickly portrayed what the book was about. I choose the theme "sending your book around the world" and played around with some ideas based on this idea. I'm really pleased with how the cover came out.

Why did you choose to self publish using Amazon's KDP program?

I've always been very pro self publishing. For me, it's always been my plan A. I choose Amazon because it's the leader in its field. Everyone knows Amazon. Using the site is super easy and through KDP your book can be available to the public in just 12 hours from hitting the publish button. 

I like that through KDP setting up a free day is easy. It's a great way to spread the word about your book and get readers to take notice. I like that you can update your book information as and when you please and have full control over pricing. They also have one of the best customer services I've come across. If that's not enough, they bought Goodreads earlier this year (one of the top sites for book lovers).

You're best know for your best selling children's picture books. Why the change in genre?

For me, it's not about thinking outside the box. The box simply doesn't exist. I like to experiment with my writing and although I've had most success as an author and illustrator of children's picture books, I'm always trying out new genres. When I get an idea that gets me excited, like this book about virtual book tours, I go with it. 

You're a mum to a 5 year old and a 2 year old. How do you find the time for writing and marketing?

My kids definitely keep me busy but I've learnt to make the most of the time I get. I do most of my writing in the evenings once they've gone to bed. Sometimes my husband will take the kids out for the morning to give me a break and give me a few hours to work on bigger projects. 

During the day I hop on and off my social media pages to network. I have the apps installed on my phone so I can visit and engage with my contacts even when I'm not near my computer.

I use sites like Social Oomph to program some content to post at scheduled times. I do the same for some posts to my Facebook pages. This gives me a constant online presence without needing to actually be online all the time. I also program my blogs ahead of time. When you have young kids anything can happen and so you need to prepare for the unexpected. By having some content programmed in advance I give myself a safety net and so don't need to stress about keeping up with things as much.

What's next?

I'm currently working on another children picture story book The Bedtime Book, a series of non-fiction books for writers and authors about using social media, and some new collaborations as an illustrator. I like to keep myself busy ;)

Where can people find out more about you and your books?
On my website

Anything else you'd like to add?

Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home is available to buy at the discounted price of $2.99 for the whole month of September to celebrate its release (normal price $4.99)

Ready for more? Here is the best way to get in touch with Jo Linsdell and get a copy of her book!

Full Name: 
Jo Linsdell

Jo Linsdell is a best selling author and illustrator and internationally recognized marketing expert. She is also the founder and organizer of the annual online event "Promo Day" ( and the Writers and Authors Blog ( To find out more about Jo and her projects visit her website

Links to twitter, facebook, blog, and website 

Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home

About the book: 
Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release or to put life back into an older publication. In this book I'll take you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour. 

The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation:

1) What is a Virtual Book Tour?
2) How to organize your own tour
3) Promoting a tour
4) Useful resources

You'll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit.
Product Details:

File Size: 384 KB

Print Length: 83 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Purchasing links:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Playing the system

I admit here and now that I'm no supporter of the idea of giving away books (and nor are any of our authors). Yes, it is founded on a good idea - the notion of giving free samples to customers in order to entice trade. My uncle used to be a rep for a chocolate company and he'd have boxes of sweets to give out to shopkeepers to 'try' (in the comfort of their own home, of course). I know for a fact that this ‘generosity’ ultimately resulted in lots of sales.

Don't make publishing a game of chance
I'd say the same for the modern book giveaways but just look at it from a customer's point of view. The average reader simply wants a (good) book so, unless they're seeking out a specific title or author, why should they do anything other than pick a freebie. After all, that same book could cost as much as $10 tomorrow (probably not but it could).

The sad fact of life is that there are just too many blasted books being given away for your novel to be noticed once it stops being free.

Based on the theory that goes 'if you can't beat them, change the rules', when you're looking to write a new book, make sure that you download all the top reviewed freebie books in your field. You'll need to do this over the space of about a week so that you don't miss any important ones.

Having got the books, quickly analyse them. How do they begin? How many principal characters? Do the books generally have happy or sad endings? What about the locations?

Because of the range of different genres, it's impossible to come up with an exhaustive list of questions but you get the idea. Find out what makes these books tick. Grab 20 or 30 and really see what the common thread is - that's what you're going to gain from this exercise from a writer's perspective.

Having done that, now look at the covers. For this part you can also go to the paid-for books but obviously don't download them unless you really want to buy them!

How many words do the titles have? What words keep appearing? How many images are the covers made up of? What do they have in common? Where is the title - top, bottom or middle? What about the author's name?

This sounds like a lot of work. True, but it's nothing like as much work as goes into writing a book. Given that all the invaluable research I've set out here shouldn't cost you a red cent, what can be the excuse for not doing it?

Not only that, the days of so many freebies to choose from has got to be numbered and they’ll soon disappear along with the incredible wealth of information that's currently a mere click or two away.

Any Subject Books acts as a conventional publisher of e-books and POD's as well as providing a full range of services to the self-publishing and independent author. Not sure which applies to you? Follow the link to the publishing services page.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Summer...

As a teacher, it always makes me a little sad when the end of summer approaches. Summer is when I have time to really dive into the zillion writing projects on my plate and finally make sense of them. Fall means back to the full time job and juggling family and writing in the evenings.

Here at All Things Writing it means we journey into yet another successful blogging season! As always we will continue to accept guest bloggers for our Friday slots. Clive West will continue to bring you his brilliant tips and advice on the writing process, and next week I will be announcing the winner of our Summer Short Story contest! It's a doozy!

I am currently interested in finding someone to fill another blogging spot at All Things. It would be great to have someone do weekly book reviews for us in a wide variety of genres. Unfortunately, it would be a non paying position, but if you are itching to share your thoughts about the latest books out there, email me at

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Striking a balance with your descriptions

A good book should engross you, fold you up in its arms and then transport you through its pages on a journey that you will never want to end. If this book were thus compared to a long coach journey, the vehicle’s seats would be comfortable, the road smooth, the scenery dramatic and the driver highly competent. OK, there would be little 'rest stops' along the way but they'd not likely be the memorable part of the ride.

Likewise, when you write a book, you will need to incorporate 'interruptions' (for want of a better word) to the story when the narrator describes a particular object or action. In general terms, that descriptive element should be sufficiently long as to satisfy its purpose but no longer. Having an hour rest stop while you 'freshen up' and get a hot meal is about right - you'd not want it to be 3 or 4 hours, though, because that'd be much too long. Likewise, 10 minutes would be ridiculously short. See what I mean? There’s a balance to be struck.

The thing I'd really like to concentrate on the remaining part of this blog centres around the best way to tackle detailed descriptions and how not to make them intrusive. To my mind, and ignoring the self-indulgent author's "I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway because I just don't care what the reader thinks" with his or her page after page of largely irrelevant nit-picky details, there are three ways of tackling it.

Add some relish

From my experience, this is a somewhat archaic style much favoured in the nineteenth century. Here is one of my favourite authors, the great M R James, who penned a series of ghost stories which were famously drawn from by the BBC as their Ghost Story for Christmas production for a number of years. Here's an excerpt from 'Rats'. You can see by the way he writes that he clearly takes a great delight in his choice of words. This carries the whole thing through.

One of his walks took him along the northern road, which stands high and traverses a wide common, called a heath. On the bright afternoon when he first chose this direction his eye caught a white object some hundreds of yards to the left of the road, and he felt it necessary to make sure what this might be. It was not long before he was standing by it, and found himself looking at a square block of white stone fashioned somewhat like the base of a pillar, with a square hole in the upper surface. Just such another you may see this day on Thetford Heath. After taking stock of it he contemplated for a few minutes the view, which offered a church tower or two, some red roofs of cottages and windows winking in the sun, and the expanse of sea - also with an occasional wink and gleam upon it - and so pursued his way.

Show and tell

This is my own preferred way of dealing with a detailed description. I do it in two parts - the first, a brief outline of the object providing sufficient information for the reader to form a basic picture of the object (ideally 1 paragraph) and then, using dialogue, I get my characters to explore it. This breaks up the narrator's monologue and (hopefully) means my reader feels that they're playing an active role in the scene.

Thus, if I was writing the above piece, I might use the narrator to describe the distant view and then dialogue (even with the character talking to himself) for the second part.

Do it in instalments

In some cases, it might be possible to break up the description into two or more parts which can be kept separate to avoid clogging up the action. Again, using the above example, Part 1 might be the distant view of the object, Part 2 might be subsequently lying in bed, remembering what happened and Part 3 might be asking questions about it the next day.

Ultimately it doesn't matter how you tackle lengthy descriptions as long as you give enough but not too much detail to the reader. You're writing fiction, after all. Too much detail detracts and also makes you appear pretentious or self-indulgent.

Finally, if I'm to return to that coach analogy, I should end with something like, "That's the ticket!", shouldn't I?

About the author

Any Subject Books offers a full-range of self-publishing services which are provided by real people, not computers! You'll find everything from brainstorming and ghost-writing to formatting, video production and all other aspects of promotion on our website. Full prices are displayed along with our famous 'no quibble' guarantee of satisfaction.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Art of Effortless Writing: The Flow

We have a guest blogger today, Kirra Sherman, who is all about keeping positive during the writing process. I hope we hear more and more from this talented writer!--Mary Ann

It sounds almost too good to be true, but there is a space where writing almost writes itself. Most writers at some point stumble on this flow of creativity where the words just flow effortlessly.

It's as if one idea leads to another, and one word leads to another until there is a gorgeous piece of writing that almost miraculously flowed out of thin air. The truth is that it did. What do you think creativity is? It’s the space of imagination, and it is both empty and full depending on how you look at it. It’s full of infinite ideas, but it requires you to be empty in your mind. 

To write from the space of flowing creativity, the space in your mind must be clear to access all possibilities. When you’re open to all possibilities, you allow an idea to come into your space, which is likely something you love to express. And when you write from that space, you don’t need to know the whole story, or how it will end, or what the ultimate message will be because it’s moment to moment.

Effortless writing is about writing vulnerably, which sometimes emerges emotions into the writing by connecting with the feeling that wants to be expressed through a message, or characters, or a story. It can be cathartic writing in this way, processing the reflections from your own life experiences.

Writing in the flow is accessing that one message wanting to flow authentically from your fingertips. It requires your presence, willingness, and the ability to put aside judgment of what it is that’s being written through you.

When you write from the space of creativity, rather than your mind, it’s going to be a very different experience, too. It feels differently in the body, and in my experience, it’s much more enjoyable. It’s enjoyable because from moment to moment, I, as the writer, am on the edge of my seat waiting for the message to unfold. And it feels like a flow is coming through my body, not just floating thoughts in my head. In fact, there is no thinking whatsoever.

When the flow takes over a piece of writing, it’s as if it’s a whole body experience because the flow is a part of my whole being. And while this is the experience you have while you write, inevitably it affects the reader in the same feeling way. It can be a powerful experience in how it inspires you as a writer, and how it feels to the reader.

How do you access the flow in writing and what gets in the way?


1) DECIDE – Sometimes a writer puts a pen to paper, but still hasn’t made a whole-hearted decision to write something of value whether it’s for the writer or the reader. Decide with your whole being to write your message, dance your dance, and sing your song.

2) Get present – put your energy in your feet and feel the sensations in your body. The flow is found by connecting with your being-ness.

3) No judgment – Let go of what you think the message is and just open up your mind. Notice any limiting thoughts and embrace them rather than resisting them, but bring yourself back to presence.

4) Don’t write until the message finds you. You don’t find creativity… creativity finds you when your mind is empty.


Kirra Sherman is an Intuitive speaker and coach who shares about writing and living Intuitively to feel more alive. She works one-on-one and in small groups to guide you to follow your inner feeling and make your choices from love. Follow her writings and learn about her Intuitive Guidance sessions on



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

4 Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue

Effective dialogue should be realistic, character building, plot-related, and, above all, interesting. With the following tips, you can begin to improve the dialogue in your writing instantly.
  1. Think about what your characters are saying. Is this what somebody would say realistically? Listen to conversations when you’re out and about, whether you’re on the bus or in line at the supermarket. Pay attention. This will help you start to think about how people generally communicate with one another.

    Listen to the tone of their voices and the kinds of words they use to establish their relationships. Is the average person likely to use a word like ‘tenacious’ in an everyday sentence when a more commonly used word would be ‘stubborn?’

    These are all things you need to be thinking about and asking yourself when writing dialogue. Say what you’ve written aloud to ensure it sounds realistic when spoken.

  2. So, somebody might say it realistically… but should you really write it into your story? By the same token, going too far in the other direction should be avoided too! People frequently say things like ‘I’m going to the bathroom,’ but it doesn’t make for interesting reading.

    For example, if two of your characters are having a conversation, don’t have them interject with things like this. It’s dry and doesn’t help the reader.
  3. Your characters should always be saying something. Long conversations about nothing in particular aren’t at all interesting. The following is an example:

    Bob: I’m going to make some coffee.
    Bobette: Can I have one too, please?
    Bob: Sure. Where have you put the coffee this time?
    Bobette: Top shelf. So, today I went to the shop…

    And so on and on and on. Everyday conversations that are somewhat mandatory in real life, but dull as dishwater to read about, do not make for effective dialogue.
  4. Think to yourself, ‘is this something my character would say?’ A middle aged character is not going to use the same dialogue as their fictional teenage son. Keep asking yourself questions as you write dialogue, and even more so during editing, such as: ‘does this sound like my character? Would my character say this?’ and so on. It might feel like hard work at first, but soon it will become second nature.

  5. Are you furthering the plot? So, you’ve reached the climax of your story. There is chaos everywhere. And your characters start having a conversation about how many trees there are around them.
Okay, this is an unlikely example. But the point is, ensure that your characters are not having discussions that are irrelevant, or speaking for the sake of it. Yes, you need dialogue for the purpose of building your characters, but they must always be furthering the plot at the same time. For this purpose, dialogue is just as important as narrative.

Writing good dialogue takes practise and a great deal of thought. Keep all of the above in mind and you’ll find yourself writing effective dialogue in no time.

Stephanie-Louise Farrell is an up-and-coming authoress who has already published a popular selection of short stories called 'Haunted' and is now engaged on writing a full-length novel. She is represented by Any Subject Books.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All the world's a stage

Partly because of my job and partly because I love reading, I tend to get through a lot of books in the space of a year. Most of these I’m pleased to say that I get all the way with, while with others I just can’t make it past the first few chapters. One of the major reasons (just below lousy writing and poor grammar/spelling), is where the writer has introduced an over-preponderance of characters.

It's an understandable fault. The author wants to make their book realistic - one person doesn't equate to the cavalry and, in real life, the ‘cavalry’ doesn't operate as one being. Each individual acts individually so they must be described that way in order to accurately represent the real world.

Unfortunately this invariably makes for absolute confusion in the mind of the reader. The difference is that, in our day-to-day lives we have history with the characters; some of whom we may well have known for years therefore they aren't just names on a page. Even if we've only just encountered them (in real life), we've still seen, heard and even smelt them so, when they do something or something happens to them, we can quickly and easily relate to them as an individual.

Facing the quandary of 'do I have loads of characters whose identities confuse the heck out of the reader?' or 'do I sacrifice realism for ease of reading?' and you've really got to let the latter win. Go back to before the age of literacy and widely available reading material and what do you get? A small band of traveling players who'd go from town to town performing a few plays for the entertainment of the populace. Troupes were of a limited size, stages were small and stories had to be simple. Characters were frequently composites and always at least a bit larger than life.

On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth ...
Today's audience is undoubtedly more discerning but they’re just as easily confused by dozens of characters whom they've not really bonded with milling around the stage that is your novel. Even the most dedicated reader is not going to persevere if they can't figure out the "who's doing what to whom and why?" question and you will soon lose them, not just for the current book, but for good. A successful author has to take liberties with their writing in the same way that a playwright has to with their casting. From the early days of street theatre, the most important thing has always been the act of getting the message across through the provision of an entertaining and memorable show. If you want to join their ranks, consider their dilemma of depicting a battle scene (for example) by just using 2 to 4 participants.

Your role as a storyteller should be as unobtrusive as possible and your characters should never get in the way of that story. That way your readers will always want to stay until the final act.

Any Subject Books provides the full range of self-publishing services to independent authors. Unlike larger companies, they offer the 'personal touch', using human beings to edit and format scripts instead of throwing books to the nearest computer (to mangle).

Friday, August 2, 2013

How crawling to the summit of Kilimanjaro got my novel over the finish line – and why everyone should climb it--by Caroline Doherty de Novoa


In August 2011, I climbed Kilimanjaro. Whenever I say that I proudly add “the highest mountain in Africa”, just in case you didn’t know that little fact and, even if you did, because I like how it sounds.

After 10 hours of crawling up the side of the mountain during the night of our final ascent, I finally reached Uhuru Peak, the summit. And I didn’t know it then, but there, 5,895 meters above sea level, something inside of me changed.

To explain why, I need to back up a little – to the flight from Nairobi to Tanzania a week earlier. Our group consisted of my husband, Juan, and a couple of good friends, Marc and Dana – and throughout the flight we debated why we were doing this.

Dana and I were there for the experience, so we argued it didn’t matter if we reached the summit, we’d always have the memories of the journey – no matter how far we went. For the men, on the other hand, it was all about the destination. Even though the odds were not in their favor (only 40% of people make it to the summit), for them, anything less than the highest point would mean the whole thing was a waste of time. In their view, why start something you didn’t intend to finish?

Fast-forward five days to our arrival, after walking 8 hours in the dark, at Gillman’s Point. The edge of the crater, a respectable 5,681 meters above sea level. The point where you become entitled to a certificate saying: “I climbed Kilimanjaro”.

There was a sense of elation in our group that we’d made it to that point. And as I looked at the smiling faces around me, I burst into tears.



Now you may think it was the sense of achievement that got me all emotional. That’s what Juan thought as he hugged me. But that’s not why I was crying. I was crying because Gillman’s Point is not the finish line.

The finish line is a mere 210 meters higher up. It’s tantalizingly close. Squint and you can see it. But at that altitude it’s another two hours of walking. Another two hours in the freezing cold. Another two hours sucking in air that’s been stripped of oxygen. If I wanted to go all the way with this challenge, I knew that’s what lay ahead, and that prospect reduced me to tears.

I could’ve turned around at that point. Many people do. I could’ve turned around an hour later when we reached Stella Point at 5,685 meters. But I started thinking about our discussion on the plane. I began thinking about all the things I’d started in my life and never finished. I thought about the tango shoes that were gathering dust under my bed after six months of classes and the easel in the spare room, a relic from my misguided attempts at painting.

But the thing I thought most about was the novel in my Documents folder that I hadn’t looked at in months. I always knew I sucked at painting and dancing, but somewhere deep inside I believed in myself as a writer, and I hated myself for abandoning it. I hated myself for quitting.

So suddenly it was no longer just about the journey. Suddenly I became fixated with the destination. And so on I crawled, practically bent over my walking sticks, pausing every four steps, sick with exhaustion.

Finally, somehow, we all made it to Uhuru Peak, to the cracked wooden sign that meant so much to me. And it was there that I was transformed.


Of course I wasn’t thinking that at the time. I was thinking I should look around and take this in as I may never in my life return to this spectacular spot on the roof of Africa. In parallel, I was also thinking, I really need to go down as my head feels like it’s about to explode and I wish I had some Mars bars left.

So, after taking the victory photos, we started our descent. I practically ran down the mountain feeling the pain in my head lift with every step.

At camp, our celebratory breakfast awaited. At the table, Dana handed me a cup of coffee and said with a smile, “we did it!” And I promptly threw up into the cup.

I hadn’t slept in 24 hours, I hadn’t showered in five days, I’d just vomited in my coffee, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Things didn’t change straight away. When we got home I was still a lawyer working crazy hours, with little time for writing. But I stopped using that as an excuse for never finishing the book. It would be another eighteen months before Dancing with Statues was published. But unlike before Kilimanjaro, when completing and publishing the novel seemed like a pipe dream, afterwards I always knew I’d get there, one step and one word at a time.

So the moral of the story? When you climb Kilimanjaro, no matter how far you go, you start to see the world in a new way. And afterwards, what seemed impossible in your life beforehand, might just be achievable.


About the Author


Caroline Doherty de Novoa grew up in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She now splits her time between Bogotá and London. She worked as a corporate lawyer for nearly ten years before leaving to focus on her two greatest passions – travel and writing. 2013 has been a big year for Caroline. In January, she launched her own business (Hotel Trail) and in February her first novel, Dancing with Statues, was published. It is available in selected stores in Ireland and on all Amazon sites. As one reviewer described it, "...with the Troubles in Northern Ireland providing a dramatic backdrop, Dancing with Statues provides a unique take on post-conflict Northern Ireland and what it takes to turn the page." You can learn more about Caroline at