Posts Tagged ‘writing from the peak’

Author Branding – The Nitty Gritty

Part II

By: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

In part one of Author Branding, we talked about what made you different. In this post, we’ll talk about putting that into practice.

An author brand is the experience you offer the reader. But how do you develop that?

First, determine who your ideal reader is.

What do they like, dislike, expect from your genre? Why do they read your genre?

This is important because if you don’t know who you’re trying to find to read your book, then you’re just spitting in the wind.

Write all this down on a list.

Second, decide what it is you, the author, offers the reader – besides books.

In this day and age, the author is as much the brand as the books. That doesn’t mean readers get to invade your private life, but it does mean they want to get to know you. Decide what they get to know.

Brainstorm your hobbies, interest and values you want to project. Add those to your list.

Third, add more. Your brand is you, the author, and your books.

What from your books can you use to create your brand? Locations and your characters’ hobbies, interests and careers provide a wealth of additional assets for your brand.

Brainstorm your books and add those to your list.

Fourth, put it altogether.

Look at your list and pick five or so items that you are comfortable consistently sharing across your platforms. These are what your author brand will be known for. Keep in mind, your reader is what matters. What will they consistently get out of your platform? These five items are it: the world or experience you are creating for them. THIS IS YOUR BRAND.

Fifth, time to pick colors and fonts.

What feeling do you and your books bring to the reader? Colors reflect feeling, so use appropriate ones. Red: aggression or romance. Yellow: cheer. Blue: calm. Black: haunting or ambition. Brown: soothing. White: purity or efficiency. Orange: enthusiasm, energy. Green: growth or fertility.

Fonts also reflect emotion. Frilly fonts are probably not best suited for horror books. Strong, bold fonts are good for mystery and thriller. Choose wisely.

Sixth, create your logo.

You can use a platform like Tailor Brands ( or Canva ( to help you.

The logo should reflect the brand you developed in the fourth bullet of this post. It’s a bit subjective and intuitive but you’ll know it’s the right one when you see it.

Seventh, be consistent.

Your colors, logo, font, values and persona should be consistent with every single thing you post online or develop for written products. A reader should be able to look at something and know it’s you.

Make sure your URL and all your social media handles are the same. Make sure your printed products all use the same font.

Your brand is what you offer. If you are clear on that, then your readers will be too. For a checklist to help you, click here.

Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Author Branding – How Are You Different?

Part 1

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

It seems like everybody is talking about “author brand” these days. Do you remember when all we talked about was “author platform”? It’s the same thing but I think it’s much easier to understand and develop a brand than a platform, especially for a fiction author.

What makes you distinct from other writers?

Do you Stand Out?

While branding does include logos and slogans, the bulk of it is what you offer the reader. It’s how you are different and stand out. What makes you distinct from other writers in your genre? Why should anyone want to read your work as opposed to anyone else’s?

Agents and editors ask writers this question all the time. They are looking for something different and unique. But it’s difficult sometimes to figure that out for ourselves.

I recently attended a branding seminar by a consultant firm that had nothing to do with writing, and it finally all clicked.

This firm used Marty Neumeier’s book Zag to help explain one aspect of brand, and I think it gets to the heart of everything writers need to develop the answer to their “uniqueness.” I’ve tweaked it to be specifically for writers and it starts with five questions.

5 Questions to Branding

1 – What do you offer?

This is your genre. Be clear and specific about which genre you write in. Romance isn’t enough. If it’s romantic suspense or romantic sci-fi, then say so. If you write thrillers, determine exactly what kind – spy thrillers, international thrillers, domestic thrillers, etc..

2- How is it different?

This is the twist on your take of the genre. Again, be specific. How is your romantic suspense unique? How is your international spy thriller different? This is the element of your brand that is unique to itself.

3- Where is it set?

Location can really help you set yourself apart. If everyone is writing about LA, and you write about Chicago, that’s great news. Location also gives you lots of color and character for your brand.

4- Who is it for?

Be very specific about your audience. Who is your reader? Have you done a reader sketch yet? Time to get on that.

5- What is the current trend?

Understanding and articulating the current trend is the foundation for how you explain the way you stand out.
What is everyone else writing right now? Vampires? Great then you write werewolves.
Thrillers in the Soviet Union? Awesome, because you’re writing about them in China.

“Only” Statements

Now that you’ve answered all these questions. Put it together in your “only” statement. Here are a couple of examples to help you:

Example #1:

Dan Brown is the only thriller author writing Catholic-themed adventure stories set in Rome for action readers in an era when the market is saturated with Middle Easter terrorists’ thrillers.

Example #2:

Stephenie Meyer is the only young adult shifter romance author writing vampires and werewolves set in Washington State for teenagers in an era when the market is saturated with vampire-only romances.

Example #3: (ok, this is my group, but had to make a quick plug!)

Writer Nation is the only book marketing group for authors that espouses a marketing strategy where authors get to be writers first and marketers second in an era when the publishing industry is expecting them to do the bulk of their own marketing.

Once you’ve figured out your “only” statement. You have the foundation to build every other aspect of your author brand. More on those other aspects in Part 2, next week.

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

Writers Conferences and Workshops

 Just Keep Writing

By: Margena Holmes

Writing is a craft that needs to be practiced and honed to get better. What’s out there to help the writer sharpen those skills? Writer conferences, workshops, critique groups, and classes are all out there to help the writer be the best they can be. But where do you find them?

Sharpen your writing skills at a Writers Conference.

Finding a Conference

An easy way to find conferences is to Google “writer conferences” and your city or state. A whole slew of conferences come up. But how do you sort through them all? Reading the description will tell you what kind of conference it is. There are some dedicated just to mystery writers, or science fiction—pretty much any genre! Your local library will also most likely have a list of conferences and workshops in the area. I found Pikes Peak Writers from looking on the library’s website.

Social Media

Another way (and maybe the best way) to find them is word of mouth. We all have writer friends on social media, so ask around, find out what they recommend. I’m sure at least one of your friends has gone to a conference or workshop. Also, you can search Facebook for writer groups, too. Some are affiliated with conferences and workshops, and others are for writers to ask questions or just to vent about their editing process, and will have special days where you can post your work for critiquing by the members to help you out.

A Few Recommendations

One group is Writers Club Live. On the third Saturday of each month, author, ghostwriter, and book coach Christine Whitmarsh hosts a live and virtual workshop focusing on the art and science of writing your book.

My favorite one, of course, is Pikes Peak Writers Conference, held once a year in Colorado Springs. It’s a favorite because it’s near me, but also because of the fantastic classes it offers to all levels of writers, and all stages, from beginning to write your book, to editing, marketing, and more. And, they feed you! The price includes all meals.

Along with their conference, PPW also hosts a lot of monthly events. The Write Brain workshops are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month. The free two-hour workshops bring in experts on writing, with emphasis on craft, as well as experts in other fields to help you make your story real. Make sure you bring something to write and take notes with.

Pikes Peak Writers also hosts a critique group once a month. Sign up to bring in your work you’d like critiqued, or just come in to observe how it works (no sign up necessary).

If you don’t mind travelling, the Southern California Writers Conference is held twice a year, in February (San Diego) and September (Irvine). It’s run very similarly to PPWC and also well worth the price of admission. I’ve attended twice and just one workshop made it worthwhile.

Another conference that is a hot commodity is the 20 Books to 50K Conference, held in Las Vegas. This one sells out in half an hour, that’s how popular it is. It is mostly for self-publishers on how to market and sell their books, but anyone can learn something from the conference. I’ve only heard good things from those who have attended, so I’m going to try to get tickets to this conference this year!

TCK Publishing has an great list of conferences. You can find every genre of writers conferences here, even very specific conferences on subjects like Haiku or Cats.

If you’re a crime or mystery writer, there are a whole slew of conferences and conventions for you throughout the country and abroad. You can find a list of them here.

One final conference to mention will get you out of the rat race and into the mountains of Crested Butte, CO. Murder in the Mountains is a thrilling weekend celebrating all things murder and mystery.

There are many conferences and workshops around in given area if you know where to look (and Google makes it easy) to keep you writing and learning throughout the year. Take a look and see what you can find that is the best fit for YOU. Happy writing!

Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email:

How to Tell if a Writing Contest is Legit

By: Tammila Wright

            I have several short stories that would be perfect for entering into writing contests. The notoriety would be nice, and, of course, a cash award would great, too. Right? My quest started by diving into an internet search for writing contests. Wow, look, here is one that offers a prize of $10,000! Sign me up. The entry fee is $75.00, ouch. But wouldn’t that amount of a fee guarantee the contest is legitimate because why would anyone enter? But in my gut, something seems off.

A Writer's Guide to Entering Contests


Something called “vanity publishers”, will use contests to attract paying customers. As a marketing tool, it doesn’t sound so bad if you win. Most of the time, the winner will receive free services, but if you’re an entrant, you will become the object of a persistent, relentless marketing drip. Ugh, don’t we get enough of that already?

Watch for literary agencies that may or may not charge a fee but are also trying to attract clients similar to vanity publishers. But with a twist, they will represent you, but YOU get to pay upfront, inflated editing fees. Oh, and there are the agencies that hide behind false names. The winner will be required to sign up with the actual agency for a steep fee. Another detail to watch is if the company is disclosing the exact amount of semi-finalist, meaning everyone that enters has won a prize.

If the contest is sponsored by a magazine, it must be reputable, right? Wrong. Similar to literary agencies, they will advertise disguised under several different names and URL’s to attract entrants. If a magazine offers monthly contests, it probably is running a contest mill and won’t be to your benefit and waste of your time.


A high entry fee may be a clue to “scamville.” It appears to be a rule that high entry fees of $50 or more, must have a logical prize attached to it. Awarding an “honorable mention” on the sponsor’s website is sad without prize money, maybe in the form of a gift card, or the attention of a genuine literary agent. Where did all that entry fee money go? The standard fee to legitimate contests usually is between $0 and $25. Even at $25.00 Where is that money allocated? Certainly, you should NOT be required to pay more money AFTER submission. You should not have to purchase ANYTHING; critiques of your work, entry into some secret author society, credentials, or BUY your trophy, NOTHING.


Here is an example of how much revenue a contest can generate. One site explained that a media company runs dozens of conventions and “festivals.”  Here is the math for one festival in 2014: 2,832 entries, charging $75.00 per entry equaling $212,400. If the company is sponsoring 20 or more events, with only $50.00 per entry and a conservative estimate of 2,000 entrants, they are bringing in over $2 million in entry fees alone! Then, they bring in additional revenue from merchandise and professional services such as critiques, $2.5 million in business off of writers.  The Better Business Bureau is a great place to check for open claims by spurned entrants and winners. The allegations read like a horror show for a writer.


How about thinking you won a contest, but you find out your reward money is based on the number of entrants? That doesn’t sound that bad because the entry fees can be $25 to $50 or more, right? The thousands of dollars in prize money they advertise for top winners most times is an illusion. The funds are paid AFTER all the company’s expenses known as a “pro-rated basis.” Why gamble?

What other prizes can be a local benefit? Being published in an anthology sounds cool. Wouldn’t that give me bragging rights? Yes and no. Yes, there are companies publishing collections of works, poems, flash fiction, short stories, and essays, but your precious work is assembled into a compilation and sold back to the very writers that initially contributed to the issue for a required fee. Sounds a little communistic, don’t you think? “We love your work. You beat out thousands of other contestants. We want to publish it. Now, about our purchase price…” 


            A reputable writer’s contest will have a few categories directed at a specific genre or market classification — not a lump sum of short stories, poems, or novels. The rules and deadlines will be easy to understand. Your rights regarding copyrights are clear and contact information readily available on the entry site. The prizes are without substitutions, or if a replacement must occur, what is the reason? You need to know precisely the future of your submitted work. How will your name be used? Is the contest an annual event?

            Look at this example of a legit writing contest. The guidelines are easy to understand, with no entry fee, the prize of $10,000 awarded rewarded as an advance on sales of the manuscript, and the contest is offered once a year specifically for one genre at a time. The sponsor is a publisher operating internationally within eight divisions and been in business since 1813. Sounds good.

            Here is a quick checklist to scrutinize a contest. Also, there are many non-profit sites expressly set up to verify contests and grant programs available to writers. With these tools, I’m encouraged that I won’t fall prey to a scam.


  • Do an internet search on all sponsors and professionals attached to the contest.
  • An entry fee of over $25.00 needs an inquiry.
  • What is the winning prize? Can the sponsor substitute the prize for some reason? Is it on a “pro-rated” basis? How many winners?
  • What will happen to your rights regarding your submission copyright?
  • Will you be spammed following the contest?
  • Is the number of categories logical? Short stories not lumped with novels.
  • Research internet reviews on the contest. If there’s been a bad experience by an entrant, their review should be easy to find.
  • If the contest frequency occurs ten or more a year, RUN!
  • No additional fees following your submission.
  • A lack of a cash prize doesn’t mean scam, but the award should be worth your time in creating your masterpiece.

PPW’s Zebulon

Editor’s Note: Of course we couldn’t post about contests without including our own Zebulon. Although this contest is closed until 2021 it is certainly one of the “GOOD” ones. The Zebulon simulates the real process of submitting to an agent, serving as an excellent learning experience. Do you have what it takes to get published? The Zebulon will help you find out.

Tammila K. Wright

Tammila K. Wright is a fifth-generation Colorado Native and self-proclaimed history geek. She writes, talks, and even acts out her love of history. She is a commissioner for the Manitou Springs Historic Preservation Commission contributing articles for the Pikes Peak Bulletin Newspaper. Tammila has been involved in projects for Pilgrim Films & TV, Greystone Productions, Taurus Productions, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, PBS and Animal Planet. Her first full novel, Mirror Memory, will be released in May 2020 and is a member of the Scriveners of Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak Writers.

Tammila resides in Manitou Springs with her husband of 31 years, an astonishing daughter, and runs The Feather W Bird Sanctuary.

Sponsor PPWC2020!

By: Marta Lane

PPWC2020 New Vision, New Focus

Sponsorship registration is now open for our 2020 Pikes Peak Writers Conference on Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19 at The DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs Hotel. As a nonprofit, your sponsorship helps us pay award-winning faculty while offsetting one-time conference expenses. 

Sponsorship Packages

We offer two types of basic sponsorship. General sponsorship is for businesses who want to connect with everyone at the conference. Faculty-Focused sponsorship is exclusively for the eyes of conference presenters, which includes (so far) 14 authors, 6 agents, and 4 editors—an optimal choice for those with novels, or writer products and services. 

How To Become A Sponsor

Check out our list of 15 packages here, where you can upload your logo and pay with a credit card. Once we receive your information, we’ll reach out to see how we can be of further service.
Deadline to register is March 31, 2020.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference App

Top-Tier sponsors engage with potential customers while enjoying more exposure through our app, available for iOS and Android, which includes customized sponsor branding with your logo and website. Attendees use our app to find events, updates, and workshop locations. Our full directory of event participants features our sponsors, as well as authors, agents, editors, and attendees. The easy to navigate user interface is free to use, has a venue map, and announces sponsor giveaway winners.  

Our Attendees

We are celebrating our 28th year and expect up to 400 attendees, 80-percent of which are from Colorado. We’ll connect you through one of 15 sponsorship packages, which begins at $150, and includes branded engagement with more than 4,700 of our Facebook fans.

The Location

This is the conference’s first year at The DoubleTree by Hilton in Colorado Springs. The full-service, 229-room hotel recently completed a $9 million renovation, which includes a new bistro-style restaurant; the largest hotel bar in Colorado Springs, with local craft beer, wine, and cocktails; and a spacious lobby with fireplaces and complementary internet access. 

Conference History

Pikes Peak Writers Conference was founded in 1993 by author Jimmie Butler. The inaugural conference centered on “Useful Tips for Writing Commercial Fiction,” and enjoyed sponsorship by the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District and The Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration. Today, the 3-day fiction writing conference is for writers of all levels, featuring workshops, acquiring editors/agents and well-known authors across a variety of genres.


If you have questions, please contact Marta Lane at

Writer Productivity Gurus are Full of Crap

By: Jennifer Lovett

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find a million reasons to procrastinate, and your productivity is crap. Actually, writing this article is a way I’m procrastinating from writing the next chapter in my book. I’ve read all about “writer productivity” and I call b-s on it.

  • I need to go out and buy books at Costco.
  • I want a new black bag for my trip to Japan.
  • Company is coming this weekend, and I need food.
  • College applications are due and I need to nudge Miss Thing’s guidance counselor.

The list goes on and on. So I figured if I write about writer productivity, then maybe I’ll get my butt in gear. Whoops, just had to check Facebook and my email. Simone Biles just won her umpteenth world championship – way to go girl!

Just Do It!

Back to productivity.

I actually have a list. One I write every single night before I go to bed. On it now are eight items, half of which have three sub-items. I’ve been working for three hours and only one is checked off. I posted to social media!

But I like to wake up early, drink coffee and read the news. Then check email. That takes nearly an hour. Does it help me get motivated to write? Who knows, but once I take the time for news and email, I’m no longer thinking about it.

Now I’m researching writer / book statistics. It has been reported that nearly 80% of Americans want to write a book. Know how many finish that book? Two percent? Two!

Have you finished a book? Then welcome to the two percent.

Doesn’t matter if you haven’t shopped it around yet or indie-pubbed it. You finished it and you should be proud!

But what about the rest? Why haven’t you finished?

What got me to finish my book? I have five completed books. Only one is out, but that’s neither here nor there. I finished five.

  • The first one got done because I was motivated by all the awesome other writers around me who were finishing their books.
  • And the second one because it fed into the first one and the story just kept on coming.
  • The third one was a NaNoWriMo challenge and a super fun one on a topic I love.
  • Fourth? Completely fed up with the American political vitriol and I had to figure out a way to work through it. Book done.
  • I had the time and a deep desire to help others. This is the one that’s actually out. It’s also nonfiction and I’m much more comfortable with the topic.

So how did it happen?

We could look at the fact that I’m a night owl and can cram four hours’ worth of quality work in after dinner as opposed to the mediocre crap I can push out before 9 am.

I also have a need to be around people, and I write a hundred times better at my favorite, Panera Bread, or my favorite, favorites coffee shops. Poor Richards in downtown Colorado Springs and Poet’s in Cookeville, Tennessee, are my super favs. Sooo productive there!

I also drink a crap-ton of coffee, water and tea, so there are a lot of breaks in my day. If I didn’t walk outside everyday after lunch, I’d be a jumbled mess on whatever issues I’m having with my work.

I can’t find my 2019 vision board. I don’t have a white board. But I hear those things work too. What I do have is a deep fascination with writing and words. I love them.

Think about your day.

  • Are you following what someone else told you to do and suddenly you find yourself pouring over cat photos on Instagram instead of writing?
  • When are you most productive? It’s usually only about four hours of the day. Find those four hours and hold them hostage. No one is to steal those from you.
  • Or you could just do what Nora Roberts does. Writing is her work, and she works 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That might just kill me. Probably why I don’t make a gazillion dollars a year with my books too.

I don’t have any answers for you other than to think about your time. Where are your holes? What are you doing instead? Why are you doing that instead? Forget all that writer productivity guru crap and think about you and your writing.

You sat down to write for a reason. What is it? Hold on to that for dear life and get that book done! Be a two percenter.

Ok, I’m off. Not to write. I need to buy that black bag and a couple of books.

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

How’s Your #Hashtag Game?

By: Jennifer Lovett

Social media is about interaction, networking and engagement. If you authentically engage with other users of a hashtag, you’ll create a genuine experience online. That experience is why people are on the platform in the first place.

The great marketer Seth Godin repeatedly says, “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.”

Think about Jeep owners. Rugged, athletic, outdoorsy. They’re part of a club.

The Hashtag Game

Patagonia. Subaru. There is almost a cult following for brands like these.

While I’m not advocating you build a cult and head to South America, I am definitely telling you that creating an experience with you, a real person, is important to potential readers. Readers buy from people they know or think they know. The most common place for people to do that is on social media. That’s where hashtags come in.

Hashtags are basically categories for posts.

If you click on a hashtag you see in Tweet or Instagram Post, the system will take you to every tweet or post that includes that hashtag. It’s a nice way to categorize topics, and it makes it easier to find information. That’s the basics.

But another reason to use hashtags is to help build your following.

  • Reach like-minded folks.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags in your posts is to reach like-minded users and hopefully bring them into your author brand online space.
    • If you’re looking for readers of paranormal romance, then you’ll want to scroll through all the posts or tweets with the #paranormalromance hashtag.
  • Engage with them.
    • Once you see what those readers or writers are posting, you can like, comment or share their posts, or even follow them. These actions encourage that person to do the same for you.
  • Help folks find you.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags as well, so people can find you. If you write #westerns, then use that hashtag to put yourself in front of readers of westerns.
    • Make sure whatever you post is interesting and reflects your brand.
  • Another very cool reason to use hashtags is to connect with publishing industry professionals. #MSWL is Manuscript Wish List. This is when literary agents post exactly what stories they are looking for.

But don’t be a stalker.

One thing you’d probably not want to do is overuse a hashtag.

On Twitter, don’t use more than 3 hashtags. I really encourage only 2 and put them at the end of your tweet, so it doesn’t clutter the tweet and make it harder to read.

On Instagram, one or two in the original caption is best. Then, put up to 30 in first comment. Yes, 30.

So you don’t come across as a relentless stalker of a particular hashtag, I recommend you create five to seven different lists of hashtags that you can rotate.

To help you do that, I’ve compiled a list of hashtags most common for readers and writers at the end of this post.

Make it easier on everybody.

Hashtags just make life a little easier on social media. Platforms are just so crowded with posts or pics, vids, tweets and other stuff, using hashtags is a way to help break through the noise. For you and for your reader.

#Spy Thriller

#MSWL – manuscript wish list

Books and Reading

#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)
#D2D (Draft 2 Digital)

#Novelines (to quote your own work)

Writing Process or Community

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Plan Your Writing Year

By: Margena Holmes

Happy holidays! I hope you’ve gotten through Thanksgiving without too much trouble, and Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve and Day are just around the corner. What’s coming up for your writing year next year? What important dates do you have coming up? Any plans at all?

Start Planning Now

Now is a good time to start planning out your writing year for 2020. What DO you have coming up? Deadlines? Conferences? It’s good to get these things planned out ahead of time so you don’t have any conflicts. I started using a planner this year and it has helped tremendously for deadlines as well as personal events like baby showers.

I use an old school planner notebook to plan out my writing deadlines and what I want to accomplish for the year, but if you’re techy, you can use your phone or tablet. I like to get the pretty planners, and a nice pen, though if you use pencil, you can easily erase if you need to move up or push back a deadline (which I’ve done a lot in the past).

What to put in your planner?

The obvious is deadlines you have. When you plan to have your book finished, sent to the editor, when you’ll be revising, etc. It may seem like micro-managing, but if you have an open-ended date to get your book finished, will you finish it? I base my deadlines on when the next comic cons are in Colorado Springs, so cons usually go into the planner first. I like to have a new book out for those.  Since I self-publish, I need that date so I know when to submit the book and have it printed and sent in time for the Con. Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you. “Oh, crap, that’s tomorrow?”

Plan for Writing Conferences

Regarding conferences, you’ll want to plan that out to take time off from work if needed, and to make your reservations. It’s helpful, too, if you put reminders in your planner a month or so ahead of time. That way you know what’s coming up. [Don’t forget PPWC2020!]

Don’t Forget Social Media

Do you plan out your social media content? You should! It keeps you engaged with your readers. I Google holidays and national days for each month and plan my content around that.  January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day (I have these in my planner for next year). You can plan a theme for the month, or just randomly post each day or week. If it ties into your book or series, all the better! Social media users like to read about personal things, too, like how you spent your day, or see photos of you at different events.


Contest deadlines. If you plan on entering contests throughout the year, you will need to know when those are. When to start writing your submission (if needed), the deadline to send it in by, and when they plan on making the announcement of the winners.

Why Plan?

Why plan out your writing year? It helps you stay on track with deadlines, and keeps you engaged with readers. You may not stick to it religiously, but it helps you to know what’s coming up and you can always make adjustments to it, and you won’t be surprised when the Pikes Peak Writers Conference comes up on April 17-19, 2020, almost a month earlier than 2019. Happy planning!

Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email:

Giving Thanks

Today, here in the USA, families and friends will sit down to share a meal surrounded by laughter and love. Today, I too will sit with my family and new friends, and we will share a meal together. I will think of my family who have passed and those who are too far away to wrap my arms around.

I will also be thinking of you. All of you who ever jotted down a poem, wrote a master thesis, published research, slugged out an epic novel, merrily created a song, or quipped a short story. To every writer who ever touched pen to paper, I say THANK YOU.

Thank you for sharing your heart, your talent, your knowledge, your fears, and your love. Not only have your words taught me to be a better writer, but they have also taught me to be a better person.

Thank you for the adventures through Wonderland, Whoville, and The Shire. The visits to Mars, Dune, and The Foundation were amazing. I will always treasure my Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy too. It is because of these, and so much more, that my world is so rich.

Today I say my thanks to you all, but know this…. I am grateful for every word you have shared with me – everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Write Brain with Trai Cartwright

By: Debbie Lane

Write Brain PPW

November’s Write Brain event featured Trai Cartwright, a veteran in the entertainment industry, who shared her expertise on how utilize new media to create a personalized marketing campaign.  Trai encouraged us to begin thinking of ourselves in terms of being a corporation as we approach this task, and offered key insights into how to effectively find our audience and reach them through a multitude of platforms.  I was impressed with how Trai not only offered advice, but also kept a spotlight on the importance of how personal and authentic marketing needs be in order to be successful.

What is Write Brain?

Write Brain sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. They are a dynamic part of PPW’s interaction with the writing community, both in Colorado and beyond. We hope you’ll join us! Write Brain is held in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. For more information on future Write Brains please visit PPW’s website.

Debbie Lane

Debbie Lane is your host at Write Brain and provided this recap of Trai’s presentation. Having always been an avid reader, she feels honored to follow in the footsteps of her literary heroes as she now works to become the best writer she can be.