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

Karen’s Writing Detours – September 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.   In a previous post I touched on High Concept as it applies to screenplays. The notion is just as important, however, for other forms of writing—poems to comic books, novels to fortunes in cookies. High concept is a unique premise with mass audience appeal that can be communicated in a sentence or a phrase. It is the seed with which to create and market your story. What will be on the book cover or the movie poster? How will a teacher encapsulate the essence of a poem? The brevity of such a description forces you to come to terms with the essence of your story. Consider these high concepts:   Nonfiction—East Eats West. A cookbook about how Asians adjust our food to meet their tastes (I foresee writing this one in the future). YA—Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser. High school students mysteriously disappear after being mentioned in a blog. Poem—Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Sexual outcasts find their glory. The fewer the words, the higher the concept. One of my favorite examples ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – August 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. You’ve decided to adapt your story into a screenplay. You’ve studied books that have been successfully remade for the big screen. Are you ready to take the next step? Preparation makes the adaptation process go more smoothly. If you are adapting another author’s work, seek rights first. Consider the budget, audience, and attached stars (if you are lucky enough to have them lined up). Whether it’s your work or someone else’s, here are several early steps to take. 1) Read the book several times until you are infused with its spirit. 2) What is the story is about? 3) What scenes stick in your mind and why? (Ted Tally who adapted The Silence of the Lambs says he tries to latch on to six or seven scenes). 4) Reduce each event to a one- to two-sentence statement. 5) Who’s the main character? You may change the point of view (POV)—The Silence of the Lambs had three additional POVs, but Tally considered it Clarice’s story. 6) What’s the ending? Can you make it more ... Read More »

Blogging 101 part 2


Social media and what to add to your blog   This month we are going to talk about Social Media and what to add to your blog. Rather you are an author or a blogger, when you are new to someone they are going to come looking for you all over the internet. One of the first places they will stop is your blog.  You want to have everything you need for them to follow you in one place. You want to attract as many readers as possible. You also want your readers to share your blog with their friends, followers and connections. The best way to achieve these goals is to link your blog with your social networking sites. Below is information on how to add social media to your site. ** Remember you want your icons at the top of your blog or website.** First, you need to find social media icons that you want to use. It always looks better if you choose colors or designs that flow with your blog theme. Just google “free social media icons” and a million different options will show up. Download the icons and save them to a folder where you will be ... Read More »

Karen’s Writing Detours – May 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. Many forms of writing can be adapted to film from short stories to comics to poetry. Here I’ll address the most common, novel to script. There are three common ways of adapting book to film. Each has advantages and disadvantages. 1. You can follow the book beat by beat. Pro The outline is there for you. Typical YA length lends itself. (Louis Sachar’s Holes is a good example, adapted almost word for word) Cons It can come off crowded with characters, jerky, and melodramatic (which means motivation won’t match action). You will have to cut the story down to two hours—at one page per minute You will likely anger some readers who remember and miss eliminated scenes or characters. 2. Another method is to work from key scenes Pro You will pick the most colorful, dramatic scenes. Cons Scenes tied together artificially will not look like the novel. Again you’ll anger some readers when scenes are nixed.  3. You construct an original screenplay based on the book. Pros You’ll nail down the premise, ... Read More »

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 »

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