Featured Reviews


Current Columns:
Karen’s Writing Detours
Blogging 101
Marketing & Promotion

Past Columns:
Second Chance Cinema 
Lynn’s Writing Tips
Tech Savvy Writer

Don’t miss these other great columns each month in the BTS Book Reviews eMag!
“Chic Trends in Romance” The best romance reads by Sandra Bunino
“The Heat Diva” The hottest in erotic reads by Nikki McCarver
“Sex & The Single Woman” Steamy serial story by Nicole Morgan
“The Scrying Eye” Dare to read speculative by Kelly Hudson

Blogging 101


  Welcome to Blogging 101 a new post that we will have each month.   Today I would like to talk about how to start a blog.  For those starting out this will be very helpful. Before you start blogging you need to think of a few things.   Who will be your audience and what will you tell them? Finding your niche can be difficult, but it is a fundamental step to kick-starting your blog. Will you feature recipes and cooking, family life, fashion only, or cosmetics? Think of this step in relation to creating a business or marketing plan. What type of content will you provide readers with on a daily basis? Try to answer these questions first, because this will become a platform as you start to establish your blog. What will you name your blog and how will it help you build up your brand? You may think it will happen, but you may fall in love with blogging and want to do things like copyright your name, develop a team of writers, and become a blogging household name. Do some online research for tips on creating a blog name that will work for your goals ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – March 2014


Join me as I enter into that screenplay world. As you read about my experiences, please keep in mind that the industry and format expectations constantly evolve. Notice I said story instead of novel. Most of us could name dozens of novels that have been adapted. Hollywood seems cowardly about making something new. But bestselling novels pose less risk. They have readymade audiences. Think of the Twilight series, The Hunger Games, Memoirs of a Geisha, My Sister’s Keeper, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. But there are numerous examples of other story forms that have been successfully adapted: autobiography (Pursuit of Happyness), YA (Holes), novella (The Shawshank Redemption), picture book (Where the Wild Things Are), comic book (Spider-Man), nonfiction (Helter Skelter), short story (Brokeback Mountain), collection of short stories (Trainspotting), play (Death of a Salesman), journalism (All the President’s Men), lecture (An Inconvenient Truth), blog (Julie and Julia), TV Script (The X-Files), TV skit (The Blues Brothers), graphic novel (V for Vendetta), video game (Mortal Kombat), poem (Iliad adapted as for Troy), earlier film (Ocean’s Eleven 2001, 1960). Whatever you are adapting, another author’s work or your own, be aware that film is collaborative. Your script and what ends up on ... Read More »

Marketing & Promotion – March 2014


  Many authors struggle with the fact that marketing tends to devour writing time. Deadlines loom, but at the same time, there are books that require promotion. Often the worlds of Facebook and Twitter closely resemble black holes that suck writers in and refuse to release them. The question soon arises: How does one maintain a fine balance between marketing and writing? Here are a few easy solutions that I have found to be highly effective: Rock Around the Block: Schedule daily “clean-up” marketing in short blocks of time. By clean-up marketing, I refer to staying connected with readers who have commented on posts, sent messages, etc. These require a fairly quick response and should not be neglected. An example of blocking technique might be to use three fifteen-minute sessions: one first thing in the morning, one midday, and one in the evening, when the day’s writing is complete. Set a timer and limit yourself to fifteen minutes per block. Whatever is not completed during that time should be put off until the next block. Goal for It: When the black holes beckon, setting a writing goal and sticking to it works well. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. My ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – February 2014


Join me as I enter into that screenplay world. As you read about my experiences, please keep in mind that the industry and format expectations constantly evolve. My story would make a great movie! Most of us have had that thought. Writers who think cinematically and have a visually powerful story may be right. What goes into deciding whether or not to turn story to script? Before you start wading through a pile of books about screenwriting, consider your motivations. Why do you want to turn your story into a screenplay? Fame and fortune? Many writers dream of fortune, but most of us have learned the hard way that you’re more likely to win the giant stuffed panda from a carnival shammer. How about fame? How many people in the world know who Julia Roberts is? Steven Spielberg? Fewer remember Alan Ball who wrote American Beauty and created Six Feet Under among other notable projects. Writers are lucky if their names are pronounced correctly when winning an Academy Award. If fame and fortune are at the top of your list, you may want to step back and study the industry. I suggest The Writer Got Screwed (but didn’t have to) ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – January 2014


Join me as I enter into that screenplay world. As you read about my experiences, please keep in mind that the industry and format expectations constantly evolve. Besides pitching to filmmakers using lead services, joining local networking groups, exciting others with your story at festivals, and earning a final place in contests, you can seek out the help of an agent, manager, or an entertainment attorney. Or all of the above. A Hollywood agent helps find someone to purchase your film. One who is a Writers Guild (WG) Signatory charges 10 percent, has no reading fee, and has a ninety-day termination clause. Hollywood directories will tell you who’s who and give contact information. I pitched to and signed with my first agent while attending a film festival. He brought a romantic comedy (written with Christian Lyons) to Barry Sonnenfeld (director of Men in Black), a sci-fi farce (written with Janet Fogg) to James Cameron (Titanic), and a supernatural thriller (written with Janet Fogg) to Sony, HBO, and Showtime. Christian and I were told our Rom Com, Knock on Wood, was considered in the final three, but Fun with Dick and Jane (Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni) won out over ours—a ... Read More »

Marketing & Promotion – January 2014


  Marketing is like coordinating the perfect outfit . . . it takes planning, care, and an eye for color. Combining the right fabric, cut, and style while also understanding current trends is key. Adding a personal touch is vital, as well. The art of marketing is simply defined as making a connection with others—specifically, your audience or the people who buy and read your books. So, finding out just who your audience is remains the key. One way to determine this is by setting up a Facebook reader page and inviting your friends to join. Boost the invitation post by targeting a large group, such as men and women aged 18–65 who live in the United States. Pretty broad, I know, but the Facebook marketers will let you know pretty quickly who is responding to your post, and with that information, you can target a narrower audience. Boost posts are very inexpensive, as well, and can provide a pretty accurate snapshot of who’s stopping by to window shop . . . and more. Twitter is a great tool for quick posts and has the added bonus of being easy to manage from a smartphone. This is the place where ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – December 2013


Join me as I enter into that screenplay world. As you read about my experiences, please keep in mind that the industry and format expectations constantly evolve. You’ve polished your screenplay and protected it through WGA (Writers Guild of America) registration. It’s time to get some exposure. There are many ways to do this. Consider attending conferences, entering contests, joining screenwriting and film organizations, hiring a script consultant, and seeking out coverage. Network, network, network. I met writer/director Jan C.J. Jones (co-producer of Walt Disney Treasures—50th Anniversary) at a conference. Her advice, encouragement, and friendship have been invaluable in my journey. Over the years, she’s offered hints about networking, interviewing, marketing, agents, etc. If I hadn’t attended that conference and had her subsequent cheerleading, I might not have gone on to write a dozen screenplays. Another easy way to feel like part of the community, seek advice, and find jobs is to join local groups devoted to filmmaking, even so-called “flyover states” have organizations. My state has a thriving community, Colorado Actors Scripts and Film. I’ve made valuable connections through it, including a writer-for-hire job that led to a produced screenplay. Broader groups, such as media networking loops, are also ... Read More »

Marketing & Promotion – November 2013


So, you’ve just signed a contract for your first book or perhaps even published as an indie author. Or, maybe you’re on the journey to publication and looking for a great editor or agent while you’re hashing out the final edits. Whether a seasoned author, a newbie author, or a wannabe author, how does one connect with other writers and readers who share the same interests without losing an abundance of precious writing time? One of the answers is Twitter. With a little practice and a bit of patience, navigating Twitter is fairly easy. Here are the basics: Set Up an Account Choose a username that is as close to yours as possible, so others can easily find you. Avoid using underscores if possible. If someone shares your name, you can add a numeral after yours. For example, my username is marymanners1. Add a short bio that’s catchy and gives viewers a snapshot of who you are. Be sure to include both a touch of professionalism and a tidbit of personal. Do you love dark chocolate? Consider flavored coffee a food group? Hike the Himalayas for kicks and giggles? Let viewers know. A bit of humor goes a long way. ... Read More »

Tech Savvy Writer – November 2013


Writing your book is a great start, but as a self-published author, there is so much more to be done to turn it into a product that you can promote. In fact, your journey as an independent author has begun! What do I mean by that? Your book is your business, and you will find that there are a lot of different things that you will need to do to make that business profitable. Business is the art of bringing people and products together . . . and it is just as much of an artform as writing your book. Start as you mean to go on with your book. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into its creation. The next steps will be just as time and energy intensive; it only makes sense to make the presentation shine, too. We’ve talked about the first step extensively.  See the January–March 2013 issues of BTSeMag (now titled BTS Book Reviews) for step-by-step guides for publishing your book with Kindle Direct in an e-book format. For a first time author, this is a fantastic way to get noticed . . . even on a shoestring budget. Once you get your ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – November 2013


Join me as I enter into that screenplay world. As you read about my experiences, please keep in mind that the industry and format expectations constantly evolve. I have a great idea for a movie! It’s high concept. My pitch is ready to go. I have a rough treatment (synopsis) and a catchy title. I’d like to wow a director with my idea, and then write it. I plan to pitch it at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Should I? NO. NO. NO. Hear me? NO. Titles and ideas are not protected. Don’t take a chance that someone will steal or inadvertently run with your idea. Sound paranoid? Think about it: your high concept cannot be protected. You are much better off waiting until you have a completed product. Once you have at least a draft and have it protected by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), it’s cheaper for them to pay you for the draft than defend themselves in court. Prepare to clench your fists and pull your hair. I’m about to confuse you with a seemingly contradictory suggestion. If you have the script to show a producer/director/agent, be prepared to sign a waiver. Hollywood and even ... Read More »

Marketing for Busy Authors
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