How Bad Marketing Can Destroy Your Author Brand, Lose Friends, and Influence Nobody – by Anne R Allen…

Always wise to research what you are looking for, before you take the plunge…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Bad marketing is worse than none. And I’ve seen some breathtakingly bad marketing strategies recently. I assume authors are hiring cut-rate online marketers who have more experience selling real estate in Mumbai and knock-off designer sunglasses than books.

Do I need to say this is a bad idea? Being annoying may sell faux Viagra and Bitcoin scams, but it will not make people think an author has anything entertaining or wise to say. In fact, it may drive away your existing readers.

In publishing, your name is your brand. Once you’ve hired somebody who behaves badly in your name, it will be difficult to rebuild that brand.

Just an aside here, but speaking of bad marketing — American political marketers have quite a hustle going. Every day, they send us annoying placemat-sized “Postcards” that go straight into recycling, and hire robocallers to harass us in their candidate’s name. Then they…

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Writing Book Blurbs… Something I’m not overly good at…

Story Empire

Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about writing a book blurb. I’m in the final stages of editing my current book, and my thoughts are turning to create the dreaded blurb. It can almost be harder to write than the book.

Instead of writing my blurb, I wondered where the term originated. Here’s what I found: “The wordblurbwas coined in 1907 by American humoristGelett Burgess(1866–1951).[2]His short 1906 bookAre You a Bromide?was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner.”— Wikipedia

With that out of the way, I refreshed my skills by researching what makes a good blurb.


I stay between 100 and 200 words. I’ve seen plenty of shorter and longer ones. Shorter blurbs might not pull the reader in, while longer ones might give too much information.


When approaching writing a blurb, I do it from…

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The best time to release your new book

A good read. Thanks Paul.

Ramblings from a Writer's Mind

Yesterday I completed another book, making it ready for publication.

Over the previous three days, I have titivated with the internal layout, put the final finickity touches to my tome, trying to ensure I have no orphaned sentences, that the images, I have several throughout the book, are set as I wish and then, once again a run-through for any grammatical, punctuation or other errors such messing about can create.

For the two days before, I worked on finalising the cover.

The book Is now filed away awaiting the right window for publication. (I’m thinking sometime around May.)

The reason, I believe this will be the BEST time for me to release this book.

But is there a best time for you to release a book?

Let’s look at how this publishing game pans out over the year, and what else might influence when you make your book…

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The Adventures of a Wayward Author

255275263_265398562199854_8761098585425164998_nNot sure if the fairies have landed yet, never mind the muses. Will they ever come back and let me write a decent story again or is my life situation still a bit much for them. They sure as hell don’t like Covid. No idea where they’ve locked themselves up. Maybe it’s not me who’s wayward, more likely it’s the darn muses having a laugh at my expense.

“Hey look at her trying to write,” one nudges the other.

   “I know, right. Can’t do it without us,” they giggle.

I’ll show them. I already published a story, ‘Soul Man,’ though it’s an old one so doesn’t really count. This story was released in parts in Ghostly Rites Anthologies by Plaisted Publishing. I decided it was time the full story stood on it’s own.


The moon shone down eerily on the green-grey waves, glancing on the body guiding it to the shore. Gently, the waves propelled him towards the sandy beach. His body rolling over as it hit the sands; his empty eyes staring blankly up towards the wan moon as his body finally settled on the sand. His long black hair swirled in the seawater, each time the waves rushed over his body leaving seaweed and sand on his semi naked body.

Shadow of a man looking at the calm ocean on right side of image. On left is the book description.

I need new material and do I have heaps of that after my life since 2017. Oh. My. God. No wonder the muses won’t come home. Not sure I would either if I had a choice, except New Zealand is amazing compared to where I was. This is where my heart is and my adorable man.


I have an idea for a new type of romance. At the moment I’m calling it ‘The Book of Love.’ It’s a sexy hot tale of a frustrated woman who want’s what those erotic author write about… in her life. Sadly she is invisible to most people around her, including her family who ignore her.
   What can she do to set her life in the direction she wants? Reading erotic books and a vibrator is all she has right now. Breda want’s something real. A gentleman, a romantic and some glorious orgasms to make her scream. Instead of her dull shabby life she had.

Will her dreams come true? How will she find her man. She adores Snyden from her latest book. He’s gorgeous, muscular and knows how to make a woman scream, after all he makes Lisa, his girlfriend in the book, scream all the time.
   Unbeknown to Breda, the characters noticed Breda’s sad, lonely life and decided to do something for her. Hang on, they’re characters in a book Breda’s reading! How could they help, they weren’t real people! The decision belonged to Snyden and Lisa. Would they pull Breda into the book and give her a good time, or would they escape the pages and turn up in her real life.

Oh the possibilities… This is why I love fiction. Be warned, this story is for adults only!! 

Historical Research for Writers

A wonderful informative post on research. I love history and have over 20 years of family history research to work with. I can find most things I look for, though this information is great reminder on what is out there. Enjoy the read.

A Writer's Path

Researching is, believe it or not, a skill that not everyone has. If you do have it you should definitely put it on your C.V.; good research is often the thing you do not see, but the want of it is blindingly obvious, especially when you write historic fiction, or you’re writing about cultures and people you don’t know anything about.

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Beware Misguided Writing Advice

Brilliant Advice … Enjoy the read.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Author Anne R. Allen published yesterday a great post titled, 10 Dangerous Critiques: Beware Misguided Writing Advice. In it, she explains how trying to please everybody who beta-reads or critiques your WIP can turn a novel into a kind of jackalope of unrelated parts.

Jackalope illustration | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Sources of the Most Dangerous Critiques

1. The Realism Brigade

These are the folks who want to know when your characters go to the bathroom and point out that it really isn’t all that romantic to have your first kiss in front of everybody at work, the window of a department store, or the middle of a snowstorm.They’ll tell you that gun has too much of a kick for a young woman to handle or that nobody could run that fast in high heels.

The truth is that most fiction is not realistic and is not meant to be.

2. The Detailers

These are…

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Meltdowns – When our emotions overload

When I look back over the amount of times I’ve moved house since I was nineteen years old… Well it’s a lot. To be precise it’s at least twenty times. We’ve had few issues with rental properties, though in the last two years there is a boom again because fewer people can afford to buy their own property. The average in New Zealand is around $975K (other than Southland). Instead of buying people are lining up to rent. One house we viewed had over thirty people sign up for the open home. It’s no wonder more people are homeless. Fingers crossed we will be able to move house this year. I’ve already had one emotional overload with things going wrong, mainly in the last forty-eight hours of our stay in Christchurch. Anxiety is horrible, though when everything turns bad within hours, it is a nightmare. I’ll admit right now, I cried for the first time since I arrived back in New Zealand in March 2019.

Luckily one of my daughters was with me, and held me, while I cried on her shoulder, stroking my back to calm me down. We managed to get everything sorted in the end, though spent $120 more than we’d ever intended. This is when I wished I sold more books and knew more about marketing, it’s a good job I’m going to do some more training this year.

What a start to a new year. Though none of this is totally crappy, it wasn’t what I needed either. There again when do we ever get what we want, life is about learning and getting your needs filled. Obviously there is something I still need to learn about life which I keep missing.

What happened?

House hunting is getting frustrating and we finally find out why. One property manager texts me and asks if we can ask our landlord to reply to her messages because they aren’t answering her calls. So I emailed them asking them to call this property manager and give them a reference. I got a concise reply, which wasn’t what I’d being expecting. In fact, I’m still peeved due to the amount of money we’ve spent only to find out our present landlord isn’t replying to any reference requests because they don’t hand them out until after the active tenancy is no longer active… aka, we’ve ended the tenancy and no longer live there. They also only do verbal references and stated we need to give 28 days notice, which we already knew. I mean we’re old hats with renting already and due to having my publishing business, I’m kept up to date with all government changes for business which includes tenancies.

Let me state now, that a landlord is not legally required to hand out a reference in New Zealand. It is something I’d think about 95% of them do. They also generally give them prior to a tenant leaving their tenancy, thereby helping them get rehomed. We also have a Bond system here to cover any damage, other than wear and tear.

The problem is… when you go to apply for another home, most property managers want to have a reference from your last landlord to verify you’re a good tenant. If they can’t get one, then you lose the chance of getting the house you applied for. The last thing we want in these days of Covid is to be homeless due to lack of a reference, causing a lack of a new home. Argh. When we told the property manager who’d text me, they weren’t amused as our landlords attitude. By lunchtime on Wednesday, I’d had enough and we went out for a walk and lunch. A long walk at that and considering my bad back, I’m rather proud of myself. On the way back to the hostel, my daughter stopped at the bus terminal to buy a Metro card so we could get to the Airport the following day. This is where the extra costs started. $20 later, she caught up with me in Cathedral Square and we took some photos of the tumbled down cathedral from the earthquake ten years back. (they are finally rebuilding it).

Christchurch is now a gorgeous blend of old and new, the sad part is the tumble down building and the vacant lots still fenced off. There is a lot of new central city homes looking over parklands where building have been cleared away. I wonder if some might be Red Zone areas, which can no longer be built on. I have no real idea at the moment.

Slide Show of Christchurch

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The following morning, we signed out of the hostel checking where to find the bus stop (thanks the reception) and set off to wait for the bus. The bus which never arrived. It was late. In face, it never arrived and nor did the next one. Getting worried my daughter looked on their website for information. Apparently there were disruptions for Thursday, though it didn’t say what. Digging deeper, she finally glanced at me. “The 29 bus is not running from 10 am – 1 pm due to a UNION meeting!”
What the hell? Why couldn’t some other drivers take over the run? We had a bus card, it would’ve cost us just over $5 to get to the airport and instead we ended up paying for an UBER at a cost of $30. This made us $50 over budget. I just wanted to get on the plane and fly home. Nope more instore for us. Stupidly we asked about our baggage… which ended up costing us another $40 and this is when I had my emotional meltdown on my poor daughter.

The flight was as bumpy as hell, though the flight was only an hour long due to the wind pushing us. Arriving at our airport in Palmerston North we had to get a taxi to our home at another $30 because my husband was in Wellington with our other daughter visiting our son for his birthday. Now I’m out of pocket for $120 and out of pocket due to our landlords lack of response for a reference for houses we’d applied for.

I think I have a right to be peeved with life in general, especially after all the money I wasted viewing houses we never had a chance of getting. We wish we’d known this prior to signing for the tenancy we’re in now… if we’d known, we probably wouldn’t have signed the paperwork.

I wonder what life is going to throw at us next. Hopefully nothing nasty for a damn change.

Negative Actions and Depression – Part Two

Actions Speak Louder than Words? NOPE

I’ve always known Actions and Words can hurt. Bullying is sadly still as strong today (though different) as when I was growing up. It’s not something you notice forty years ago, not to the extent it is now. You were expected to be strong and get over it. Some people still say this or make a bad joke out of a situation. Nobody ever helped me through being bullied. I was generally smiling in those days. Even if I was a bit broken underneath. It wasn’t something I understood at the time. The common comment if someone physically attacked you was ‘hit them harder than they hit you and they won’t touch you again.’ 

Personally I don’t think Actions speak louder than Words. I think they are about the same, just used in different ways and not always in a positive directions. I tend to be a calm person, kind to others, helpful and put my cheerful face on. This is the one which can be fake for many with mental health issues. I smile because it is better than crying. It is a rare event to find me teary these days, unless I’m in the UK where tears seem to hit frequently last time I was there. Mind I mentioned that in my last post.
14.55 (2)The last time I remember crying is about three days prior to my baby daughter passing away due to to many congenital defects. I went out for a walk, little money on my bankcard, the Auckland Domain was busy and nobody seemed to notice how upset I was. I had a coffee then left the café and sat on the grass where I cried quietly, tears running down my face, knowing our daughter would be leaving us to become an angel to watch over us. I didn’t want her to go. I wanted someone to talk to, nobody came. everyone was to busy. I was on my own. My husband was looking after our other children, though we managed to fly him up on the morning Anastasia passed over. She died in his arms. Even now, nineteen year later, I can’t believe she has gone. She was a beautiful baby and taught us so much during the time she was here.
The next time I cried was after her burial. I had literally switched off my emotions, I did it so well, it is probably why I don’t cry so often anymore. Anyway, I remember taking the children to the swimming pool (ACTION) that afternoon and I sat in the spa pool in a corner and cried while my husband and a few other adults watched the children play. It was better to see them happy than sad. This is also when my anxiety and depression kicked in fully, though I didn’t recognise it for what it was until a few years later.

I tend to get off track. I do remember a lot of action and words during these years. I have a mind which if triggered, it over things everything for days. Lack of sleep is something I’ve suffered from for years. I can’t even blame my kids, though I’m sure as a parent, this is when it starts.

I grew up learning to help others, doing voluntary work, helping my mum put of posters for the history society, doing a paper round to earn some pocket money. Most of my childhood was fun and filled with cycle rides down country roads, playing cricket on the school grounds, going carol singing at Christmas. I went to church, sang on stage, in my late teens i joined a theatre group and we did a few musicals.
Behind the scenes of life were the actionable bullying, be it kids from school or my sister. I don’t recall having many issues with my brother, though like all siblings I’m sure we fought at times.

Needless to say, do actions really speak louder than words? I don’t think they do. Words can be hurtful and push you to the edge the same as seeing a comment on social media from someone you know. Nobody is positive 100% of the time. Reminding a friend in person or private chat is far better than announcing it to the world in a social media group, none of us know how close to the edge a person is with their mental health. I have had to breakdowns due to others and life situations. They aren’t nice at all, and the worst of it. Both incidents were brought on by friends, both in actions (how they spoke to me in person) and what they actually did. This is now why I trigger so much easier and have anxiety. Then came covid, within months of me returning to New Zealand, which also didn’t help, nor did changing where we lived. I’ve lost contact with a lot of old friends in the area and due to one thing or another, I don’t really see any of them and some don’t seem to be interested in re-connecting either. I do leave messages at times, so it isn’t all on me. As for family here. Not heard a peep out of most of them in the last two and a half years.

In the publishing world, I’ve assisted many authors and writers with various information. Many have never said thank you, several others have technically scammed me. Now that did hurt. You help make sure three books an author has published won’t get you sued due to copyright infringement and help them with a fourth which they have to pay for. Then you’re waiting on book five which your contractor is working on and it suddenly appears to be published. WHAT THE HELL… Apparently, I didn’t do much and I was to expensive. I beg to differ, especially with the amount of time I wasted on them. This was from an author who I did FREE work for. They never contacted me, which is what upset me more than anything. Lesson learnt. I don’t do FREE work for anyone anymore. I’m worth more than that. As I say to people…You pay your plumber, then pay me for work done. This particular author is now blocked on social media. Talk about action speaking as loud as words…

Due to all this one of my main phrases I use is ‘Are you sure.’ This links back to my insecurity and when people help me. Their usual reply ‘If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t ask.’ I need to remind myself to stop and realise this. It’s been difficult to move through this.
I may be quiet, though it doesn’t mean I’m not helping someone somewhere or having a few moments to myself. We all need to be more respectful of each other. We all fail at this at some time or other. Stop with the negative actions and words, be nice. We are humans first. Everything else is learnt behaviours from those around us. Value each others opinions, even if you don’t agree with them. It is their choice, not yours.

Then I found this, my friend/sister posted this on Facebook. It’s a preview of a story written by an up and coming author who has given permission to share. We will learn more about this new author at a later date. Anyway, this post resonates with me and what I’ve written.

“It’s not easy being the good guy, you know? You have to remember things like trust, loyalty, morals and respect. You have to stand your ground and maintain your focus, even when all around you, others begin to fall. You must control your emotions and confront your fears. You must learn to read between the lines, to see past the masks of illusion and find the truth. You must learn from the past, no matter how ugly it is, so you can make the right decisions, not for yourself, but for the sake of a better future.
But above all, you must understand that life in general, runs on free will. There cannot be light without the darkness, there cannot be life without death, and there cannot be free will, without something to challenge it. Life is about choosing wisely, and having the freedom to do so without being judged, for it is not up to the people to judge one another. No, Death is the ultimate judge, and those who choose wisely the path they walk, should have no reason to fear him.”

Be safe. Be good. Stay positive.

Negative Words and Depression – Part One

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

255275263_265398562199854_8761098585425164998_nDo we ever realise how negative we are about ourselves? I know I tend to say things about myself without meaning to be negative, though I use negative words. Is it without thinking or is it ‘being set in your ways.’ I’m not entirely sure! I also get told off for pulling myself down, even though some of those who tell me, are ones who are negative to me… Weird.

One of the few words I don’t allow in the house, funnily enough, isn’t a swear word, it is STUPID! I disagree with people using this word about or too others. None of us are stupid. We’re all different and do things is ways we need to, to achieve what we want in life. Or do we. What many of us forget is our upbringing and how we at taught or told to react to certain situations. Looking at todays world I find most of those ways are now defunct. 

I was bought up as a young lady who wasn’t allowed to swear. Even if I said Bugger or Bloody Hell, my mother would tell me off and you know something, I was similar with my own children, however I tried not to use negative words. I’d ask them not to swear in the house, in my hearing etc. Worked well with the occasional slip up. It took years to get parenthood right, helping my girls through being bullied at school, protecting my son by sending him to Taekwondo so he could protect himself if need be.

My childhood, I thought it was amazing, it’s only in the last few years I’ve realised it wasn’t as good as I thought. I was bullied. I never really worked out why. My sister was one of those who bullied me. I know she doesn’t like me, though she loves me because blood is thicker than water… whatever!! My school friends often called for me and we’d walk to school together. My mother was a ‘Lollipop Lady’ also known as a crossing lady for the school. My sister used to brush my long hair one hundred times, often bringing me to tears, two of my friends recalled these times and say near exactly the same thing. My sister would do mean things and at one stage overstepped herself by trying to become friends with my friend due to having none of her own. I ended up with two black eyes and she ended up been kicked out of the house. My father wasn’t best please. These days my mother thinks I’m making it up, though my sister still remembers. Is it any wonder I moved as far away as I could.

Many of you may know I went back to help with my parents in 2017. The whole family went though my husband only lasted 11 months due to failure to get approved for the correct visa. He came back to NZ with our son. That is another story though… 

In 2012 I turned up at my sisters house the night before my dads birthday meal. None of my family knew I was in England. My niece hugged me, my brother in law did too. They called my sister who arrived home about an hour later. First words out of her mouth! “What are you doing here?” Right… rolls-eyes. I asked for a hug. “I don’t do hugs!” What the hell? What happened to my sister, I’m sure she wasn’t this bad before I left for New Zealand. Anyway, she organised another place setting for our dads birthday meal. I hid out until they were all sitting down at the restaurant then stepped out, walking across to them. My mother saw me first, looked at my dad and stood up crying. 
“How did you get here?” she hugged me hard as did my dad who looked a bit bewildered.
“On a plane,” I grinned.

You may ask why I’m telling you about 2012. Well it is to show the difference in reception when you can surprise someone and when they know you’re turning up. In 2017, I organised for myself and my daughters to fly to the UK. I set the dates so my parents would be home, booked the tickets only to find out my sister had given me the wrong days. She would be on holiday with them when we arrived and wouldn’t return for three days. I wasn’t pleased. I have no idea if it was deliberate, I have a feeling it was.

My parents finally arrived home from their holiday, meanwhile my anxiety wasn’t going to well. Usually my sister and her husband would drive up the driveway to drop our parents home. I was puzzled when they didn’t. All three of us stood at the open front door excitement shining on our faces. My parents hadn’t seen my daughters since 2003 (14 yrs) My parents walked up the drive and just metres before us mum looked at us and said. “So you’re here are you?”
I was shocked and hurt as we stepped to the side, letting them into their home. I don’t remember to much other than them heading back out for dinner to their favourite pub and not even inviting us. I still feel we were set up by my sister for my mother to say something like this after not seeing me in five years and her granddaughter since they were little. Yes, I cried. In fact over the next six weeks before my husband and son arrived, I cried more than I’ve cried for years. My depression and anxiety hit hard. One friend said I had PTSD. I do know I’d triggered my anxiety thanks to another abusive person in 2012. It was horrible. My mother wasn’t nice, my dad was confused with dementia. I felt unloved, unwanted and god knows what my girls thought. It was a sad time. Within two weeks, she wanted us out of their three bedroom home where they lived alone because it was confusing my dad. Messy me has to find somewhere else to live. We managed to stay until my husband and son arrived though she kept mentioning it to me every few days. During that six weeks, we went to stay with another friend for three weeks. It was good until I got back to my parents once again and within an hour my mother had me in tears yet again. This time over the death of my youngest daughter, their youngest grandchild. You see as a family, we celebrate her birthday by going out for a meal and I had wanted my parents to come with us. It wasn’t to be. 
“I lost three friend last week, the older you get the more you lose, you shouldn’t …etc.” She went on and on unaware of what she was doing to me… I crumbled, burst into tears. Of course, this is when my sister walked in and asked what was going on. “I don’t know, she just started crying,” said my mum…well along those lines.
My girls took me to my bedroom where I continued to cry for at least half an hour even though my husband called. Hiccups and sobs. He was furious. I think at that stage we should’ve gone home to New Zealand, though never mind. I learnt a lot about my family and how it had changed over the years in my absence. I knew I needed to change a lot of thing in my life to get back into a good space. A place I’ve not really been in since about 2015. They may believe in anxiety, though none really believed in depression. You’re one of us… You’re strong. Maybe I am in my own way, though I’m not strong until someone pushes me to far.

All the above brings me to having my daughters home and living with us. It has helped lift my depression though not my anxiety. During Covid we both got cats as Emotion Support Animals. I didn’t realise you could register them in New Zealand, this is something I will be doing. It takes away their pet status, which they never were anyway. 
Learning to live in the same unit, which is too small for us, has been a challenge to say the least. I love having my girls home, love the hugs and conversation, most of the time. It is the negative comments I dislike. I feel like I’m getting told off all the time with how they speak to me. As the youngest in my own family, I was quite loud, so I’d get heard. These days I’m loud because I am hearing impaired/deaf and I need new hearing aids (which I can’t afford and need funding for…still working on this). 
I’ve gotten used to using more positive words with everyone, though it seems those negative ones are returning. ‘Don’t do this or that or forget or you forgot.’ It’s annoying as anything and I’m not coping well. Mind I have other issues affecting the situation, from the outside which don’t help.
They are their fathers daughters and though we all love each other, we are also looking forward to having my son home for Christmas. It’ll be our first Christmas together since 2017 and we are going to have a blast with a house full of laughter.

Words not to use – Don’t, Can’t, Didn’t, Stupid…etc

Try to change how you say something to someone. Keep out the negative words, there are kinder ways to say things. If someone forgets to do something for you, remind them nicely or if you can do it yourself, then do so. We are all forgetful at times. Also check in on those facial expressions. Yeah they might make you laugh, though hurt the person you are looking at. If you know they have depression, anxiety, deafness or any other disability for that matter, then be KIND.  It’s daft to make a face or sigh, if someone asks you to repeat yourself. My hearing is null and void without my hearing aids. Another thing to avoid saying “I have bad hearing to!” when a person with aids is talking to you. After all, if you had bad hearing and needed hearing aids, you’d be wearing them. It is belittling when people say this and annoyingly unnecessary. Of course, their is due process too, though most of the people who’ve said things like this to me, still don’t wear hearing aids.