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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Karen Cioffi, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Social Media Tools Galore to Add to Your Marketing Strategies

Being in business takes a lot of work . . . and time. Not to mention expenses. Marketing you, your product, and your business is now a 24/7 endeavor. And, if you’re a small business or solopreneur, which includes the book marketer and freelance writer, you are most likely doing it all yourself. You’re the product designer, the marketer, the sales person, the content marketer, the social

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2. Focused Landing Pages - The Path to Better Conversion

by Karen Cioffi

What exactly is a landing page?

According to Hubspot.com, “A landing page is a web page that allows you to capture a visitor's information through a lead form.”

Copyblogger.com says, “A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result.”

So, landing pages are designed for specific purposes, such as a selling page for a product or service or for an email opt-in. But, no matter what the purpose is, it must be focused.

The page itself can be a separate website or a page on an existing website. But, since you want it completely focused, without distractions, a separate website usually works better.

It’s this landing page focus that allows for better conversion.

An effective landing page is designed and focused on a target market. This means if your site pertains to a specific cancer or illness, your content, opt-in, and any products you’re selling should focus on people dealing with this particular health issue. That’s your target market. And, your keywords should also reflect the page’s purpose.

If your site is about baseball, the same holds true. The landing page design, content, and any products or services being offered must pertain to baseball.

The landing page is kind of like a path on which there’s no way to stray off or be distracted. It’s intended for visitors to read exactly what you want them to, guiding them to say YES to your offer. There are no other pages for them to click on and hopefully no sidebar to be distracted by.

While inbound marketing strategies will get the visitor to your landing page, it’s the copy or content that will motivate him to follow the path and be responsive to saying YES.

Your content needs to be conversational, effective, and provide the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). People are overwhelmed with the amount of information being bombarded at them and with all the offers for books, ebook, and products. You need to write copy that (1) quickly lets the reader know what you’re offering, (2) lets the reader know exactly what the benefits are, and (3) lets the reader know what you want her to do.

Landing pages are no place for guessing games. They need to be fine-tuned, to the point, and simple. The more hectic you make the page, the more anxiety it will cause the reader. Anxiety isn’t good for conversion. Simple always works best.

You should also create separate landing pages for different offers or purposes. In other words, you don’t want to explain why a visitor should opt into your mailing list on your book selling landing page. And, you shouldn’t sell books on your subscriber opt-in page. Focus is a key element to motivating or leading a visitor to go through the necessary steps to saying YES to whatever it is you’re offering.

Bringing traffic to landing pages is done through inbound marketing strategies, such as email campaigns, special offers, guesting posting, and press releases. Other inbound marketing techniques include pay-per-click, ad banners, social networks, and affiliates.


Do you want to extend your marketing reach as an author? Sign up now for Karen Cioffi's class, Creating and Building Your Author Online Presence: Website Creation to Beyond Book Sales, which starts Monday, January 7, 2013.

2 Comments on Focused Landing Pages - The Path to Better Conversion, last added: 12/30/2012
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3. Use Formatted and Optimized Article Content to Increase Your Visibility Free Webinar

June is an exceptionally busy month for me.

One of my Free events this month is Use Article Content to Increase Your Visibility and is being offered by AnyMeeting.com, a webinar service provider.

Please join me on Wednesday, June 20th, at 11 am Pacific / 2 pm Eastern, for the next free webinar in AnyMeeting's “Small Business Toolkit” webinar series.

You'll learn how to properly craft your written content for effective search engine ranking and optimization.  This webinar is ideal for anyone using article marketing and blog posting as part of their marketing strategy. 

As a BONUS, I'll be giving a copy of my new her e-book, “Article Content Properly Formatted and Optimized,” to all registrants.

There are only 200 spots are available – so sign up today for free.  Make sure you log in to the webinar early – attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis. A recording of the webinar will also be made available.

Click Here to register now.

Need more persuading? Here's what we'll be going over:

  • Article Content Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized
  • Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Promotion
  • 10 Steps to Writing for Article Directories
  • CDO, SEO, and Marketing – Basic Tips and Definitions

This PowerPoint webinar will be information packed and it has NEW information.

You won't want to miss out this free webinar.

Click Here to register now.

And, don't forget about Writers on the Move's June 22nd webinar on Creating Your Own eBook Covers in 10 Easy Steps Using Microsoft Office 2101

Check out the details at:

And, I'm conducting a 3 week workshop for Savvy Authors, beginning on June 25th.

Workshop Title: Creating and Building Your Author/Writer Online Presence:
From Website Creation to Beyond Book Sales

For details go to: http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/showevent.php?eventid=1380 

To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars - signup for A Writer's World Newsletter on the right top sidebar!

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer

Find Karen’s eBooks on writing and marketing at:

Karen Cioffi Writing Services
A Team

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4. The Writer's Life with Children's Author Karen Cioffi

Writing itself has a number of rules that need to be adhered to, but that said, I don’t think any two writers have the same writing routine, and while I’m sure many writers have a typical writing day, I’m not one of them. Although, I am working on becoming more structured in this area.

Between babysitting my grandsons two days a week, taking care of a house and cooking . . . and a husband, and throwing in doctor appointments, my weeks themselves vary. Add to this ghosting projects and other writing projects that come along and, well, it’s tough to stick to a routine. But as my writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance always tells me, you MUST make the time to move your ‘real’ goals forward and stick to a weekly writing schedule if you want to realize your personal writing goals. So, I’m working hard at it.

In general though, my routine is to check my emails when I first get on the computer. While this can be a ‘bad’ thing, I do it in case a client or someone else in the writing world is trying to contact me. If I have a timely project that needs to get done, I’ll forego checking my emails in the morning.

My problem with checking emails or going online isn’t because of social networks or entertainment – I get sidetracked with informative emails. A writing or marketing article, webinar, etc. will have me off and running. I do try to watch it though. If I’m busy, I’ll save the email and go back to it at a later time.

I do have one rule that’s consistent - my clients’ work always gets done on time.

After I do the needed writing for the day, I’ll check in on my writing groups. There are some days I’m just too busy though. Depending on what I’m doing, If it’s something timely or I’m engrossed in, I’ll be at the computer till around 11 PM. But, the days I babysit, I don’t get much done.

As far as where I write, I wish I had an office. Unfortunately, I work in a corner of my dining room at a computer desk that has two additional shelves above the monitor area. The keyboard slides out from under the monitor shelf. Under that are two shelves that have paper, books, the router, lots of wires, and the computer box. Above the monitor shelf is another shelf that holds my printer and telephone, above that is another shelf that holds my fax machine and pictures of my grandsons.

Along with my business writing, for my personal creative writing I use the computer. I’ve tried writing on paper, but my thoughts are just too fast for my handwriting. Another feature I like that the computer offers is the ‘backspace’ and ‘delete’ buttons. As soon as I realize I want to change something, like magic, it’s revised. I do keep notepads around to jot down ‘sparks of inspiration’ or to jot down something I forgot to do or need to do. But, the computer is my favorite writing tool. And, I just upgraded to a new Dell computer with 6 GB of memory and a 1 TB hard drive, along with MS Word 2010, so I’m in writing heaven.

18 Comments on The Writer's Life with Children's Author Karen Cioffi, last added: 3/30/2012
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5. Day's End Lullaby on Tour

My children's picture book Day's End Lullaby recently had a facelift - I had new interior and cover illustrations created to make this sweet, rhyming, and soothing bedtime story even better.

Day's End Lullaby is based on an original lullaby and the sheet music is included in the back of the book. To check out a singing review go to:

Or check it out on YouTube:

To celebrate the new illustrations, I'm having a week long virtual book tour through the Working Writers Club and it starts Monday, March 26th.

Be sure to follow along and comment - there will be three great giveaways:

1. $10 gift certificate to Amazon
2. Two copies of Day's End Lullaby

The winners will be based on the most comments during the week long tour. If there are ties, they'll be a random means of choosing a winner and the first and second runners up.

The tour schedule:

Monday, March 26 - Irene Roth 

Tuesday, March 27 - Mayra Calvani

Wednesday, March 28 - Suzanne Lieurance

Thursday, March 29 - Faye Levow

Friday, March 30 - Billie Williams

I look forward to seeing you on the tour!

Always the marketer, here are links you might find interesting:

Plan a Virtual Book Tour: The First Steps
Book Promotion: The Foundation
Book Promotion: Creating an Informational Funnel

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer

Karen’s eBooks at:

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing
DKV Writing 4 U
http://KarenCioffi.com (children’s author site) Add a Comment
6. Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part2

Last Monday Part1 on this topic was posted here. It talked about website traffic statistics in regard to two of my sites. Today, we go into the rest of the 'blog posting' promotional elements: anchor text, tags, and promotion.

Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part2

Anchor Text

Another interesting fact in regard to the statistics’ referring sites is that the KCWM site itself is listed as a source. This is accomplished by creating anchor text within the post content and/or at the bottom of the post as “Additional articles to read.” The anchor text leads the reader to another page/post within your site.

According to Wikipedia, “anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in the search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page.”

Is there a difference between an anchor text leading to another post and simply putting the url itself? YES.

Anchor text allows search engines to easily find and index your content and they value this strategy, the url address doesn’t have the same ‘word power.’ Wikipedia says, “The objective of search engines is to provide highly relevant search results; this is where anchor text helps.” This is part of SEO.

Blog Tags

Next on my ‘to do’ list when posting an article on my site is to put relevant tags.

In the article “Using Categories and Tags Effectively on Your Blog” on
ProBlogger.net, it explains that tags should be thought of “as the colorful little page markers you might use to flick back to your favorite pages in a book. The tags don’t describe the book as a whole, instead they describe individual sections of the book.”

Two important 'tags' factors to consider:

•    Tags complement categories. If you use Wordpress you’ll be able to and should use categories. Blogger does not offer this feature, so it’s even more important to use tags.

•    Tags should be focused and use the same ones for each specific topic. This means if you are writing about book marketing, use one specific tag: book marketing. Don’t switch it up with ‘book promotion’ or ‘marketing.’ Be consistent because it is this consistency that search engines will use to index your site and establish you as an authority on that keyword. This means a higher ranking in the search engines.

Going into this a bit further, when writing on the topic of writing, whether it’s on characterization, setting, or plot, you should always include the keyword ‘writing’ or ‘writing advice,’ or other relevant writing keyword you use consistently. You can also include the more specific keywords, like ‘setting’, ‘writing goals,’ or whatever the content warrants to give more indexing information, but it’s important to use your main ‘writing’ tag for all your posts on writing.

Promote your Blog Posts

If you want to enhance your visibility, you need to SHARE each article/post. Wordpress and Blogger both have plugins or gadgets to provide easy ‘sharing’  to Facebook, GooglePlus, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Linkedin. Make use of the ‘sharing’ feature.

Then of course there are your other social networks, your groups. Don’t forget to post a message in your groups letting them know you have a new post up.

Use these three blog posting elements for each of your posts and your traffic/views are sure to increase.
2 Comments on Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part2, last added: 3/6/2012
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7. How to Promote Your Book Through a Virtual Book Tour

How to Promote Your Book Through a Virtual Book Tour
Beginning to End Instructions - Lots of Book Marketing Resources

Great! You’ve written a book, got a contract, and now your book is available for sale. This is where the fun begins.

If you’ve been doing your homework, you know you should already have a website in place and posting content to it on a regular basis in order to bring in traffic. You should also have an autoresponder in place to collect subscribers email addresses.

With all that done, and your book finally ready to be purchased, you should get started on a virtual book tour. Hopefully, you had this included in your marketing plan.

This 23 page ebook is divided into five sections:

Plan a Virtual Book Tour: The First Steps

This section explains where to start, how to find your hosts, what type of content should be used, and a bit about book touring services.

Plan a Book Tour: Taking it Up a Notch – Attract Followers

Here you’ll find out what to do to help attract followers and comments on your tour, like offering prizes and thinking out of the box. And, how to learn from the book touring pros.

Plan a Virtual Book Tour: Be a Gracious Guest and Effective Promoter

This section goes into the nitty-gritty of the tour itself, like having promotional material ready and what that includes; keeping track of hosting sites, dates, comments, and so on; press releases and other promotional strategies; what to do during each tour stop, and what to do after.

Book Promotion Basics

The section includes information on:
Focused Keywords and Your Content
Book Promotion: 20 Strategies that will Broaden Your Reach
SEO and Marketing: Basic Tips and Definitions
Websites That Work: 7 Key Factors

Here you'll find article and site links to help you on your book selling journey.

How to Promote Your Book Through a Virtual Book Tour is packed with helpful book touring and book promotion information and it costs less than a cup of coffee, only $2.99.

Get your copy today!

If you want to order today, it's the last day of my January and February 2012 eBook Special, don't use the BUY BUTTON, send me an email at karencioffi *at* ymail *dot* com

I'll email this ebook for $1.19!

You can check out the other ebooks included in the Special at:

eBooks on Writing
eBooks on Marketing
8. Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part1

This is another two-parter, being over 900 words, so please stop by next week for Part2.

Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part1

Every marketer knows the importance of article marketing – it’s an effective visibility tool and increases the user’s expert status. For individual websites, this is in the form of blog posting.

But, you can write an article that’s properly formatted, has a great title and amazing information and if you don’t use keywords, include tags, SHARE and Promote that article, you won’t get optimized traffic to your site. This can’t be stressed enough.

I did an analysis of two of my sites. Both are focused on writing and marketing. My individual site, Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing (KCWM) usually has three posts per week. My group site, The Writers on the Move (WOTM), usually has at least one article per day – a few days there are two articles per day.

Take note though that when getting website statistics, numbers will vary significantly depending on the source of the information. Blogger’s Stats tool was used for this analysis.

According to the Blogger Stats, which site do you think gets more traffic?

Since the marketing philosophy is’ content is king,’ you’d think the WOTM site would get tons more traffic, because it provides quality information on a daily basis.

Well, if that’s the site you chose, you’d be wrong. The KCWM site gets double the traffic WOTM does.

Another interesting tidbit is that the majority of traffic from both sites comes from:

Google searches
Yahoo searches and yahoo mail

Google is by far the leader of the traffic sources with Twitter holding up the rear.

So, the question to ask is WHY does the KCWM site get so much more traffic than the WOTM site?

The answer has to be keywords, anchor text, tags, and promotion. We’ll now take a look at each factor.


If you notice above, the leader of the traffic sources is Google searches, which is driven by keywords.

Every post on my site is keyword focused. What this means is that I do a keyword search before posting the article. I start with a focused word, say “blog posts.” If the article focus words don’t pull their search weight, I change them to more effective keywords.

And, as it has been stated before in other articles, your keywords should be in your title,  subtitle (if you have one), and within the content of your article. Be sure to add the keyword in the first paragraph and last paragraph, and here and there throughout. Just be careful not to overdo it.

As mentioned above, this is Part 1 of two parts. Next Monday, the post goes into anchor text, tags, and promotion. Please be sure to come back!

Related Articles:

Article Content Formatted and Search Engine Ready Part1
SEO and Marketing: Basic Tips and Definitions
How to Drive Traffic to a Website Using Expert Information Content<

2 Comments on Blog Posting, Keywords, Anchor Text, Tags, and Website Statistics Part1, last added: 2/27/2012
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9. 2012 Writing and Marketing eBook Extravaganza

2012 Writing and Marketing eBook Extravaganza To start the New Year with a BANG, from January 1st through February 28, 2012, Karen Cioffi is offering all her writing and marketing e-books (purchased directly from her site/s using the Paypal SHOPPING CART) for a $1.19 each. And, this will include new titles added within that time period. Yep, that’s right, only $1.19 for each of these titles: Continue reading

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10. A Ghostwriter: 5 Features That Can Help Build Your Business Part2

Today, I'm back with Part 2, features two through five, of "A Ghostwriter: 5 Features That Can Help Build Your Business."

2. A Ghostwriter Provides Informational Content

Information rules in today’s ever changing world. Providing informative and/or instructive content to your staff, customers, and potential customer is now essential, especially with business transparency being a desirable feature that employees and customers look for.

While businesses and marketers can generate their own content, a ghostwriter frees up company time for more productive and revenue generating work.

‘Informational gifts’ is another content product that businesses need to be aware of. Of the thousands of websites within your industry available for customers to find and subscribe to, why should they choose yours? That’s where an ‘ethical bribe’ comes in to play. Providing an informative report or e-book with valuable information that your potential customer will appreciate tends to motivate that individual, company, or visitor to click on your opt-in box, thereby increasing your mailing list. And, every business knows the importance of having a mailing list – it’s crucial with the increasing e-commerce trends.

It’s this offering of valuable and quality information that helps build a relationship with your site’s visitors and keeps them coming back. This ongoing relationship will eventually lead to an increased mailing list and sales.

3. A Ghostwriter for Your Business’ Landing Pages and Products

The first impression an online searcher – potential customer searching for your product or business type - will have of a business, is its landing page. Obviously, a business needs to have an attractive, quick loading, SEO friendly, and informative page. Now, while a ghostwriter will most likely not be a web designer, she can create the needed content for the site, content that will engage the visitor and motivate him to subscribe to the mailing list and make contact with the business.

The mailing list is what generates long-lasting relationships and sales. Through the mailing list you can offer information, along with product and/or business promotion. Marketing experts advise though, to offer a 75 to 25 percent ratio of information to promotion.

Again, information is what people want today; they want to know how to find a solution to their problem or need, and they want to be informed. If you provide that, you will have sales.

Along with creating effective landing page content, a ghostwriter can produce product descriptions and guides. Through the information you provide and additional research, she can create informative and customer appreciated content, thereby fostering customer loyalty.

4. A Ghostwriter – Copywriting and Keywords

In addition to writing articles, newsletters, e-books, reports, and other content, a ghostwriter should know copywriting. While this skill isn’t essential for some aspects of the job, it is important in the event a client requires projects such as landing pages, email marketing, product guides, articles, or other.

And, being aware of SEO and keywords will help the ghostwriter create traffic effective content, leading potential subscribers and customers to the business’ website.

Knowing copywriting and SEO is a surefire way for a ghostwriter to increase her value to business clients.

5. A Ghostwriter Must be a Good Writer
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11. Want to Attract Customer/Clients for Your Books and Services?

Join me tonight, Friday, August 19th, at 8PM, EST (U.S.): Got to http://workingwritersclub.com/join-2/

If you're a writer, speaker, or coach, chances are you love what you do for a living. But, you may HATE the sales part of your business.

I know just how you feel. Aside from being unpleasant, it just so time consuming.

Cold calls leave YOU cold.

Query letters are the LAST thing on your to-do list every week.

And expensive paid advertising just isn't within your budget.

So you tend to avoid sales as much as possible.

But the down side of that avoidance is, you don't have as many clients, customers, sales, or speaking gigs as you would like.

What If I Told You There's an Easier Way to Sell?

Fortunately, for you and me, and other professionals who hate to sell their products and services, there IS another way to create a stream of new business.

It's called informational marketing.

With informational marketing has the potential to free you of all those torturous sales activities.

You won't have to make a single cold call.

You won't have to write a single dreaded query letter.

And, perhaps best of all, you won't need a big advertising budget.

Here's What You Will Need

What you will need is know-how. Information is power, which usually translates into money.

So, you'll need to know what informational marketing is, how it works, and how to create your own informational marketing plan.

Here's How to Get That Know-How

To get that know-how, so you can start making informational marketing work for you, simply join the Working Writer's Club and attend the live teleclass tonight - or listen to the replay later - called Attract Customers/Clients with Informational Marketing.

The teleclass will be presented by me - freelance writer and author Karen Cioffi-Ventrice. And, through informational marketing I have new clients actually coming to me!

During this teleclass, you'll learn how to start making informational marketing work for you like this, too.

Membership in the Working Writer's Club is just $9.99 per month, so it certainly won't break your budget. And at the end of this call, we'll show you additional ways the club will help you painlessly market your business on an ongoing basis. I've been a member for a couple of years now (under it's former name and now the new club) and can attest to its value!

To attend tonight's teleclass just join the club; go to http://www.writemoresellmore.com right now.

Hope to see (talk with) you tonight!

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, and Freelance Writer

Oh, while you're here, please

2 Comments on Want to Attract Customer/Clients for Your Books and Services?, last added: 8/19/2011
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12. Imagery and Your Story

Probably one of the most difficult aspects of writing is providing content that your reader can turn into pictures or imagery. You may know exactly what you’re trying to convey, the image you want your reader to see, but does your content translate into effective imagery for your reader?

Stephen King discusses this topic in an informative article in the August 2010 Writer magazine. Obviously, any advice from this author is valuable, but I especially like his views on imagery. A key tip that struck me is: “Imagery does not occur on the writer’s page; it occurs in the reader’s mind.

The question that follows is: how does a writer transfer what’s in her mind into the mind of the reader?

The answer is through description.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. What many writers may tend to do is offer too many details that aren’t necessary and may weigh the story down. According to Mr. King, you need to pick and choose the most important details and descriptions that will allow the reader to understand what you’re conveying, but also provide enough room for the reader to create his own unique image.

To accomplish this task Mr. King says to “Leave in details that impress you the most strongly: leave in the details you see the most clearly; leave everything else out.”

The strategy in this is to look carefully at what you want to convey. Picture an image in your mind and focus on the key aspects, the aspects that give you a clear picture of what it is. Then, write what you see. Again, this may not be easy to do, but Mr. King suggests that there is another vision tool to use, which he calls “a third eye” of imagination and memory.

What we see is translated to our brain. Once there we need to interpret that image and transcribe it into content that will provide the reader with a strong gist of what it is, but also allow the reader to fill in her own details. And, those details should convey what you’re targeting.

For example: The house stood dark and dreary.

While this simple sentence provides imagery that should enable the reader to create a picture, there are probably not enough details for the basic image you might be going for. What color is the house? Is it in disrepair? Is it a new or old house, big or small?

A possible alternative to the above example that adds a little more detail, but not too much is: Cracked shingles hung on the dingy grey house; chipped paint and missing caulking on the windows further emphasized its disrepair.

Another example of imagery is from my children’s middle grade fantasy book, Walking Through Walls: Wang bound the last bunch of wheat stalks as the sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore.

The two sentences provide sufficient imagery for the reader to understand the situation, while not giving too many details. If you notice, the content doesn’t mention the color of his shirt, or if Wang knelled on the ground or hunched over the bundle. It’s also missing a number of other details that aren’t necessary and would weigh the story down.

Interestingly, along with concise details, your characters’ names might also add imagery to your story. When you read my character’s name, Wang, what image comes to mind?

You might think of your story’s imagery as an outline or sketch, rather than a colored and finely detailed painting. The basic idea is there for your reader to enhance with her own imagination and memory.

6 Comments on Imagery and Your Story, last added: 8/17/2011
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13. Guest review: "Dyslexia and Horatio Humble," by Karen Cioffi

Title: Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D"
Author: Margot Finke
Illustrator: Ellen Gurak
ISBN: 13: 978-1-61633-101-6
eBook ISBN: 13: 978-1-61633-102-3
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D" is a children's rhyming picture book that tackles dyslexia. For those who are unfamiliar with the term dyslexia, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is a brain impairment that hinders the "brain's ability to translate written images received from your eyes into meaningful language." And, it is the most common learning disability in children.

Margot Finke, in her usual insightful and playful way, shows the academic and emotional affects that dyslexia carries with it. Horatio, like all children with dyslexia, wants to read like his peers, but just can't. "Something was wonky within his poor head, so words in his books stayed a mystery instead."

The author captures the emotional impact a child feels when he can't read like others, which leads to: the need for special resources, tutoring, low self-esteem, and even anxiety.

With vivid full page illustrations Finke brings Horatio through the process of 'special class' and shows the outcome that can be attained with proper instruction. "Words came unscrambled and flowed smooth and clear. "

I've mentioned it before, and I'll do so again, I'm a fan of Margot Finke's work. She has a unique talent for approaching topics that children can use help with, such as moving away from familiar surroundings and friends, as in her book Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind, and now with dyslexia. What's wonderful about Finke's books is she addresses these issues with lighthearted rhyming fun.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D" is a book every parent of a child who is struggling to read should get. It's important for children to know they're not alone in their struggles, and that dyslexia is a problem that CAN be overcome.

Included at the end of the story is a resource page that provides information on dyslexia and also offers links to pertinent articles, along with book suggestions. Listed in the information is the advice that encourages parents of children who have or are suspect of having dyslexia to let their children know it is not a sign of a lack of intelligence. These children should be told that actors/celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson overcame dyslexia, as did Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.

According to statistics, one in five students (around 20% of the population) has a language based learning disability. And, less than one-third of the children with reading disabilities receive school services to help with their disability.

Reading Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D" with your dyslexic child is a valuable strategy to help with your child's self-esteem and motivation.

About the reviewer:

Karen is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. She is on the team of DKV Writing 4 U; the creator and manager of VBT Writers on the Move; moderator of a children's writing critique group; and an acquisition editor intern.

Karen is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance; the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters; and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. She is also a member of SCBWI, Children's Writers Coaching Club, Writer's Market, Author's Den, and Jacket Flap. Here books include: Day's End Lullaby (a children's bedtime picture book) Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy chapter book) Writing for Children One Step at a Time (a 100+ page e-book) Writing, Publishing, and Marketing - You Can Do It (a 36 page e-book)

For more on writing, ghostwriting, freelance writing, and promotion visit:
http://KarenCioffi.com While you're there, be sure to sign up for Karen's FREE monthly newsletter, A Writer's World; you'll get TWO FREE e-books on writing

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14. Guest blogger: Writing With Clarity, by Karen Cioffi

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines clarity as lucidity, clearness of thought.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn't a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear you think you are conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, the reader may not be able to see what you intend - you've missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if you have clearness of thought; if that clearness of thought or intent doesn't translate onto paper, you will have missed the mark.

As the author, you know what you're thinking, what motives are involved, what you assume the reader should be seeing, or understanding-this knowledge may cloud your perception of what is actually being conveying. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what you think you're saying and what you actually say. This happens because as the author, you're too close to your own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

This is what can happen with your story. You can see what's unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters, and the intent. But, your vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. You may think it has, but that doesn't mean it actually has.

An example of this is a children's picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others. This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story. While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was problematic. The authors knew what they intended, but that intent didn't show through. And, because they were so sure of their intent, they couldn't see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what they intended.

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre, will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story. They are the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.

For more on writing, ghostwriting, freelance writing, and promotion visit: http://KarenCioffi.com While you're there, be sure to sign up for Karen's FREE monthly newsletter, A Writer's World, and get TWO FREE e-books on writing and marketing in the process. For writing services visit: http://DKVWriting4U.com

14 Comments on Guest blogger: Writing With Clarity, by Karen Cioffi, last added: 1/13/2011
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15. VBT Writers on the Move September 2010 Authors' Tour

VBT - Writers on the Move had a 2 month hiatus over the summer, but we're back now, and roaring to go!

Along with a great group of new and experienced authors and writers, we have a couple of new members also. As part of our author group, we try to provide our readers with writing and marketing information as well as updates, information, and reviews on wonderful books.

Each day in September a different author and information will be presented. Just follow the schedule and click on the corresponding day.

So, stay tuned, we start September 1st - hop on board!

Here's our September 2010 Author Tour Schedule:
1st Karen Cioffi is featuring Donna McDine
2nd Kathy Stemke is featuring Virginia Grenier
3rd Nancy Famolari is featuring Robert Medak
4th Margaret Fieland is featuring Jane Sutton
5th Dianne Sagan is featuring Marietta Taylor
6th Elysabeth Eldering is featuring Janet Ann Collins
7th Helena Harper is featuring Debra Eckerling
8th Carolyn Howard-Johnson is featuring Helena Harper
9th Heather Paye is featuring Dianne Sagan
10th Marvin Wilson is featuring Kari Wolfe
11th Stephen Tremp is featuring Nancy Famolari
12th Darcia Helle is featuring Dallas Woodburn
13th Martha Swirzinski is featuring Stephen Tremp
14th Debra Eckerling is featuring Maggie Ball
15th Heidi Thomas is featuring Heather Paye
16th Dallas Woodburn is featuring Gary Murning
17th Maggie Ball is featuring Brigitte Thompson
18th Virginia Grenier is featuring Karen Cioffi
19th Janet Ann Collins is featuring Margaret Fieland
20th Katie Hines is featuring Martha Swirzinski
21st Brigitte Thompson is featuring Kevin McNamee
22nd Marietta Taylor is featuring Darcia Helle
23rd Kari Wolfe is featuring Marvin Wilson
24th Jane Sutton is featuring Jessica Kennedy
25th Gary Murning is featuring Katie Hines
26th Jessica Kennedy is featuring Elysabeth Eldering
27th Robert Medak is featuring Carolyn Howard-Johnson
28th Kevin McNamee is featuring Heidi Thomas
29th 0 Comments on VBT Writers on the Move September 2010 Authors' Tour as of 1/1/1900
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16. Guest blogger Karen Cioffi on the "Final Stages of Self-Editing"

There is so much involved in self-editing; the lists and checkpoints can fill a book. But, in this article we’ll look at how to do a final once over. These are steps to be taken after you’ve proofread and self-edited the manuscript and had it critiqued, checked for grammar, storyline, punctuation, showing, etc.

1. Read you manuscript

Read it again. Try to read it slow and watch for all the self-editing tips you’ve learned and think you’ve applied. Spotting one’s one errors is difficult since we know what we wrote and intended. Some of the other tips here will help with this problem.

2. Change the font and read it again.

Surprisingly, you will spot errors you just glazed over before. You won’t run through it the same way you did with the original font.

3. Read each paragraph from the last sentence to the first

This is an interesting method for an additional self-edit. It’s helpful because your brain won’t be on auto-pilot. You will spot glitches within sentences that you would glaze over when reading normally.

Note: I don’t mean reading each sentence backward; read each sentence as you would normally, but read the last sentence first and work your way to the beginning of the paragraph.

5. Print your manuscript

Okay, I know what you environmentalists are thinking . . . I’m one also. I try very hard not to waste paper and protect our trees. But, there is a difference between reading on a computer and reading paper copy. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why our brain perceives it differently, it just does.

As you’re reading your manuscript, use a colored pen or pencil and mark the text you find errors in. Once you’re finished go back to your computer document and correct the errors.

The other practical aspect of this process is it’s a good idea to have a hard copy of your manuscript near its final stage. Unless you have an offsite backup, you can’t be too careful (I’d be skeptical of this also – you never know with any online system). I’ve lost a number of files when my computer broke. And, I’ve even lost files on

23 Comments on Guest blogger Karen Cioffi on the "Final Stages of Self-Editing", last added: 5/12/2010
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17. 5 Steps to Becoming an Author and Writing Workshop Update

I know this is a week after the workshop, I've been trying to catch up with work I have to do. I haven't even prepared my A Writer's World Newsletter for May yet. I'm hoping to get to it before the end of the weekend.

The Writing for Children - A Beginner's Workshop, I'm pleased to say, went great. In fact, I give myself a green star! LOL, not really, I just like the picture.

It was a lot of work preparing for; I created an exercise and answer document, that I turned into a pdf at a couple of the attendee's request, as well as a workshop guide e-book.

Then, I decided to create another e-book: Writing for Children One Step at a Time. This e-book is over 100 pages and full of great writing and marketing tips and resources. I'm hoping to publish it through Lulu.com or Smashwords.com over the summer.

There were 8 winners of either an e-book or critique of 250 words and comments from the attendees were great. I'm hoping to be giving another free workshop some time in the summer.

One attendee, Susanne Drazic, was gracious enough to send me a testimonial:

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Writing for Children - A Beginner's Workshop. The information and resources were well presented and easily understood. The exercises were challenging and the feedback I received helped me in learning some of my weak areas in writing. I think this will be a wonderful workshop for all beginning writers to take. It is also a great refresher course for anyone who has been writing for awhile, but finds themselves struggling.

Susanne Drazic


By presenting this workshop I put into practice things I've learned about writing and marketing. It's great to learn what to do, but if we don't apply what we've learned, we stand still.

5 Basic Rules to Follow if you want to Become an Author

1. Learn the craft of writing. Even seasoned writers are always honing their skills.
2. Join a critique group and writing groups with new and experienced writers.
3. If you can afford it, work with a writing coach. This really does make a difference. You get answers to all your questions along with guidance and advice. Just be sure the coach knows her buisiness.
4 Learn about marketing and book promotion. If you look, you'll find many free teleclasses on how to promote and market your books. Take advantage of them.
5. Pay it forward. Help other writers who are starting out. Okay, I know this isn't a prerequisite to becoming an author, but it should be. :)


If you want to write, but need a little nudge, and need guidance with your writing career, books or freelance endeavors, I have just the program for you: Write More, Sell More, Make More Money Than EVER in 2010 Coaching Program.

Not only will you get an email every weekday morning steering you in the right direction, coaxing, nudging, and yes, even shoving you into action, but you'll also get access to tons of resources and audio of writing and marketing advice. What's so unique about these audio is that members ask Suzanne Lieurance their questions and she answers them in her next week's audio.

But don't worry if you forget to listen to the audio when the link is added to one of the daily emails, you can always go to theWrite More, Sell More, Make More Money Tha

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18. Writing for Children – A Beginner's Workshop

Writing for Children – A Beginner's Workshop
A free one-day writers’ workshop on May 1st, 2010

Presenter: Karen Cioffi

Location: http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com


On May 1st, The Muse Online Writers’ Conference will be offering a FREE one-day workshop for beginning writers. It is geared toward children's writers, but much of the information is applicable for all writers. It offers the basics of writing such as: structure, formatting, grammar and punctuation, showing vs. telling, and writing resources and tools. It will also touch on marketing for writers. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to get a critique of up to 250 words of their manuscript or article.

Register at: http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com
(just follow the directions)

Once registered, you can sign up by emailing Lea Schizas at: museitupeditor AT yahoo DOT ca.

Include: your name and email address within the body of the email. Please include Karen Cioffi in the subject heading.

Register today to be sure you have a spot reserved.

For complete details go to:

Learn more about Karen Cioffi at: http://karencioffi.com/media-page/

I hope to see you there,

Karen Cioffi
Author, writer-for hire, freelance writer, reviewer


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19. Heather Paye, Part 2

We're back with Heather Paye for the 2nd part of our VBT - Writers on the Move tour. Today we have a number of questions that Heather happily answered for us. So, lets get to know this young author a little better:

You seem to be a very determined and confident young lady. Where do you think you get this from and does anything get you down?

I’d have to say I get my determination from a little bit of both of my parents.. My confidence probably comes from my mother as she is always encouraging me to do my best, and assures me that I am.

Does anything get me down?

Yes, there are a few things that get me down. Being a 15-year-old published author things are basically black and white, either people judge me and think that I am incapable of publishing a book, they’re jealous, some people even get to thinking that ANYONE can publish a book that it’s “so easy”. Other people are completely and utterly astonished, and happy for my achievements. So, it’s really black and white for me, there is no in between as an author, which can get quite frustrating. And so, I guess my answer is: people’s judgment of my age, and not my stories, or not my abilities really gets me down. And it really doesn’t sound like something too bad, but it can get really upsetting for me and people just close their eyes and refuse to believe anything. So, it’s hard.

Tell us a little about your family life.

Well, I have lived in Arizona my entire life, and I know this place like I know no other, and it will definitely always be my “home”. But right now, it’s 106 degrees, and I’m looking at the like for the next few weeks, probably more, plus 60% humidity, so right now I’d really like to be somewhere else, Montana maybe? *laughs* Other than the heat, Arizona is really a wonderful place to live, quiet and full of beautiful scenery.

I have always been homeschooled, along with my three other siblings. Right now I’m really starting to see how useful homeschooling can be with my writing career. Say, for instance, I would have to do a book signing early in the morning, being homeschooled I could do this book signing, and then I could complete my school work later in the day. So, it’s really convenient.

What’s a typical day for you?

Typical day… let’s see… I wake up around 8AM, check my emails and do all of my necessary work on the computer (I can’t say exactly, since it varies from day to day), I eat lunch and then complete my school work.. By this time, it’s usually around 3PM maybe, then I finish up my work on the computer (if necessary, which it usually is), I eat dinner and then go for my evening walk which also includes playing with my little brother. Then I use the rest of the night for my writing, editing, or reviewing, depending on which I need to do. Most of the time I’m multitasking, such as right now, I am typing on my laptop, playing with my iPod, and watching TV. Lol

When you told your parents you wanted to publish your book what was their initial response?

Well, it wasn’t quite as awkward as you make it sound. It was really just a gradual thing, I started writing, and my mom was reading over my shoulder, and I don’t remember her exact words, but it was something along the lines of me getting my book published, and it was mostly a jokingly, but I kept writing, I think I was about 10 years old then. But, what really caused my book that is currently published to be published was a contest that I entered it’s called NaNoWriMo, you may have heard of it you may have not, it’s where you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. And I managed to do just that, well, a few weeks after the contest; I found out that all winners received his or her first proof copy of their book for free if they use a certain publisher. So, I decided there to get my book self-published, I mean, why not?
So, I guess my answer to your question would be excitement, we were all excited.

I know you’re very involved with your writing, but what do you do for fun?
Watch movies, read, play video games, listen to music, and I would say play keyboard, but it recently broke, so right now I’m having piano withdrawals.

Who’s your favorite writer? And, what is your favorite genre?

My favorite writer, and my role model is definitely J.K.Rowling, with Nora Roberts coming up closely behind. My favorite genre is definitely fantasy, anything with drama, and a little bit of comedy, mild romance is good too; I have a wide variety of books that I like to read.

What advice would you give other young people who have a desire to write?

Read, Write, Research, Revise, Learn! READ a good variety of books, learn about what you like and what you don’t, it’s a rule that I’ve heard quite a few times myself, and it doesn’t require very much thinking, just read, it helps! WRITE what you know, and what you love, writing about a subject (fictional or non-fictional) that you don’t know about doesn’t work very well… ever.

RESEARCH good writing skills, publishers, publishing techniques, learn everything you can about publishing. It’s necessary, and it makes the process go a lot smoother if you don’t have any/many bad surprises, research anything and everything you can get your hands on, from writing, to publishing, revising, how to write query letters, how to market your book after it’s published, everything. REVISE everything you’ve written, I usually revise my work around 9 or 10 times, seriously, I know it sounds like a lot, but it is definitely necessary, I recommend a minimum of six rounds of editing. LEARN everything you can about grammar, keep it sharp. When I first started writing, I used no punctuation, I did not make paragraphs, and just about every word was misspelled. I worked to learn just about everything I could about writing a proper novel. I’m still learning proper writing even now, but look, I’m using punctuation, and nothing is misspelled. *laugh*

How has your personal faith and beliefs influenced your story?

Well, it might have slightly influenced my story, but not by very much I wouldn’t really say that it is a religious story, a lot of people assume that it is because of the title, “A Gift From Above” but it isn’t really. There is one scene with Celia (the main character) going to church. But, other than that, there isn’t anything else really religious in it. To be honest I’m not quite sure how to answer the question, I guess I would say, I’m a Christian and Celia is a Christian so that its self might have influenced the story. I’m not strongly religious though, so... yeah.

Do you have plans to go to college when you finish your high school courses? If so, what will you major in?

I’ll definitely be heading off to college. I get along really well with computers, so it’s only natural that I do something that they are involved in, my major of choice is game design.

Heather Paye
Student, Author, Dreamer

You can get your copy of A Gift From Above at:

Amazon Kindle Amazon

And, you can learn more about Heather at:

That's it for this tour. Thank you Heather for being our guest; with your determination and confidence I'm sure you'll reach all your goals.

The Mystery Site winner will be announced sometime within the next several days, so stay tuned.

And, on August 10th, Stephen Tremp will be the host of VBT - Writers on the Move Viewpoint/Hot topic Segment. Stop by and find out what this month's topic will be about!

Talk to you soon,
Karen Cioffi

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20. Use Characteristics to Create a Believable Protagonist

I have read numerous times that you should let the reader see your protagonist’s characteristics within the first few pages. This enables the reader to quickly identify with him. This connection will determine whether the reader turns the next page. Unless you are writing fantasy or science fiction, your protagonist will have ordinary strengths (possibly extraordinary, but with the realm of reality); he will also have weaknesses. These qualities need to be conveyed early on.

Here are 12 characteristics that may pertain to a protagonist or main character (MC):

1. Intelligent: Is your MC smart? If so how smart: is he a genius, did he finish college, does he gets all As in school?

2. Handy or Crafty: Maybe your MC isn’t great at academics, but is he handy, musically inclined, or crafty?

2. Arrogant: Does your character think he’s better or smarter than others? Does he let others know it? If so, how?

3. Trustworthy: Is your MC the kind of individual that others feel they can trust?

4. Determined: Does your MC know what he wants and strives to obtain his goal?

5. Greedy: Is your MC the kind of person who wants everything he doesn’t have? Is he the type of person who wants much more than he actually needs? Does he make it obvious?

6. Dependable: Is your MC the kind of individual that others know they can count on?

7. Brave: Does your MC do what he has to even if he’s frightened? Is he known for his bravery?

8. Cowardly: Is your MC afraid of his own shadow? Does he try to avoid any kind of confrontation or adventure?

9. Caring: Does your MC demonstrate kind and caring qualities? Does his family and friends think of him as a caring individual?

10. Selfish: Does your MC think of only himself? Is he known for this unsavory quality?

11. Strong: Does your MC have great physical strength? Is he strong emotionally?

12. Weak: Is your MC weak either physically or emotionally or both?

These are just some of the characteristics you can give to your protagonist. There are many others though, such as: shrewd, cheap, a liar, a thief, a go getter, beautiful, awkward, loyal, kind, lazy, introvert, extrovert, and cruel. It’s up to you as the creator to give your protagonist a set of characteristics that will allow him to connect to the reader – whether the reader loves him or hates him there must be a connection. This connection is what will cause the reader to keep turning the pages.

Be cautious though, if you are giving your protagonist unsavory qualities at the beginning, be sure to include at least one redeeming quality otherwise your audience may not feel that connection.

And, remember, you can always have the protagonist change characteristics through the momentum of the story. He can start out as a coward and through various occurrences within the story he can evolve into a hero, or whatever you choose. That’s the amazing thing about being a writer – you create something from nothing. You give your character breathe and dimension.

Talk to you soon,

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21. Book Review: The Tiny Caterpillar and the Great Big Tree, by Kelly Moran

This review is written by guest reviewer Karen Cioffi.

Title: The Tiny Caterpillar and the Great Big Tree
Author: Kelly Moran
Illustrator: Lyn Lorbeske
Publisher: Lulu.com
Genre: Children's Picture Book

The Tiny Caterpillar is a wonderfully illustrated and written book. The tiny caterpillar lives in a big tree; the tree is also his friend. One day the caterpillar leaves his to explore the world around him. He is saddened when the insects he meets won't be his friend. The tiny caterpillar goes back to his friend the tree, and finds comfort. Each insect has its own reason for at first dismissing the tiny caterpillar, but when the caterpillar wrapped itself in a cocoon and emerged a butterfly, he wins over the friendship of the insects.

The Tiny Caterpillar provides an important message about the differences between us all. I read The Tiny Caterpillar to my 3-year-old grandson and he enjoyed it. He listened attentively and was concerned about the tiny caterpillar. He also enjoyed the illustrations. This is the reaction an author wants from a young child.

As I mentioned, it is a wonderful young children's book, but I did find one drawback to it. The message it is sending may be construed differently than what the author intended. When the caterpillar ventured out in search of new things and friends, the insects he met all found fault with him because he didn't meet their criteria for a friend. The first insect he came to, a ladybug, told him they couldn't be friends because he didn't have spots and couldn't fly. Next, he met the spider. The spider told him he lacked the ability to spin a web. Then, came the ant. The ant felt the caterpillar wasn't strong enough. The only way the caterpillar was able to meet their criteria for friendship was to become a butterfly. This changed the caterpillar's appearance and physical attributes, thus the drawback.

Although the book is engaging and charming, showing children that the only way for the caterpillar to gain the friendship of the insects was to become something else, something stronger and more attractive, may not be the message we want to convey to children. It is important for children to know that they will be accepted and liked for who they are; they don't have to become psychically different to be liked and accepted. Although, the caterpillar was surprised by his metamorphosis (he didn't intentionally change), it still shows a need for change to be accepted. But, you should read it for yourself to determine if I am off base. Aside from this one drawback, it is a delightful book.

About the author: Kelly Moran is an author of several published books in romance, literature, and children's genres, a recipient of an Editor's Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement, inducted into the Who's Who Book of Americans, a Finalist in the 2009 Indie Excellence Book Awards, and a Finalist in the 2008 Best Books Awards. She resides in Milwaukee, WI with her husband, twin sons, and black lab.

About the illustrator: Lynn Lorbeske is a native of Milwaukee, WI. She obtained a Graphic Design degree from UWM and works as a full time veterinarian's assistant.

About the reviewer: Karen Cioffi is a freelance writer; a reviewer for BookPleasures.com; and a co-moderator of a children's critique group. She is also the co-author of Day's End Lullaby, a lyrical and rhyming children's bedtime picture book.

Her blogsite, Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children, at http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com, offers two FREE ebooks on writing for children (A Children's Writer's Checklist, and Dealing With Writer's Stress). It also offers writing and marketing articles, as well as book reviews. In addition to this, it is a hosting site for VBT - Writers on the Move (a group of authors who cross-promote using a number of marketing strategies).

Karen is also on the team of DKV Writing 4 U at .com. If you're interested in writing for children, check out our Learn to Write page at: http://dkvwriting4u.com/learn-to-write/

DKV Writing 4 U also offers a number of affordable and professional writing services.

1 Comments on Book Review: The Tiny Caterpillar and the Great Big Tree, by Kelly Moran, last added: 10/29/2009
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22. February Author and Book Tour - NOT Just Your Ordinary Tour

Can you believe it? The first month of the year is just about gone. But, it’s okay, we have a great February, full of great author articles, interviews, and reviews.

If you want to learn about poetry, writing and marketing, we have a just the writers to provide the information. Be sure to stop each day.

Our February 2010 Author and Book Tour:

1st Dianne Sagan is hosting Vivian Zabel
2nd Karen Cioffi is hosting Margaret Fieland
3rd Kathy Stemke is hosting Dana Donovan
4th Lea Schizas is hosting Heidi Thomas
5th Vivian Zabel is hosting Lea Schizas
6th Nancy Famolari is hosting Dianne Sagan
7th Margaret Fieland is hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson
8th Elysabeth Eldering is hosting Stephen Tremp
9th Helena Harper is hosting Dallas Woodburn
10th Liana Metal is hosting Maggie Ball
11th Carolyn Howard-Johnson is hosting Nancy Famolari
12th Gayle Trent is hosting Mayra Calvani
13th Mayra Calvani is hosting Elysabeth Eldering
14th Marvin Wilson is hosting Heather Paye
15th Stephen Tremp is hosting Marvin Wilson
16th Darcia Helle is hosting Helena Harper
17th Martha Swirzinski is hosting Gayle Trent
18th Heidi Thomas is hosting Martha Swirzinski
19th Dana Donovan is hosting Liana Metal
20th Dallas Woodburn is hosting Debra Eckerling
21st Linda Suzane is hosting Janet Ann Collins
22nd Debra Eckerling is hosting Darcia Helle
23rd Heather Paye is hosting Karen Cioffi
24th Maggie Ball is hosting Kevin McNamee
25th Kevin McNamee is hosting Linda Suzane
26th Janet Ann Collins is hosting Kathy Stemke

Be sure to stop by each day - we have some great and useful articles. 

Until next time,
Karen Cioffi

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23. Travel Along This Week’s Blog Chain!

Your blog

This week we have something fun for everyone. It’s a blog chain, and you’re invited to visit all the links in this chain of fun and informative blogs from other children’s writers. Of course, you don’t HAVE to visit every link in the chain, but each link will have something special so you won’t want to miss a thing!

Here are the links in the chain, along with a short description of what you’ll find at each site:

Suzanne Lieurance
Children’s Author, Freelance Writer, the Working Writer’s Coach

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over a dozen published books for children. Find out what she’s up to every day by visiting her author site. You’ll find information about all her books, upcoming writer’s conferences and other events where you’ll find Suzanne, as well as tips for both aspiring and established children’s book authors. Suzanne hosts Book Bites for Kids, a talk show about children’s books, every weekday afternoon on blogtalkradio. Find out who her guests will be each day by reading her blog. Sign up for her mailing list at the site and receive a FREE ebook.

Grier Cooper
Children’s writer, photographer, Dancer

At griercooper.com, you’ll find reviews, tips, and articles about dance and movement for children.

Terri Forehand
Children’s Writer, Nurse, Freelance Writer

Terri is a freelance writer drawing on her experience as a pediatric critical care nurse and former elementary school nurse and high school teacher. She writes health and nursing educational material but her passion is in creating fiction and nonfiction for children. She is currently working on a series of easy readers focusing on teaching first aid to elementary students.

Nancy I. Sanders
Bestselling and Award-winning children’s author of over 80 books

Nancy I. Sanders loves to write for children, and she loves to help other children’s writers on their path to success. Much of the material she posts on her blog is based on her ground-breaking book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, Award-winning Finalist of the National Best Books 2009 Awards. Nancy writes a column for children’s writers for the Writer’s online magazine, the Institute of Children’s Literature e-News, and the Christian Communicator. She is on faculty at the National Writing for Children Center.

Mayra Calvani
Children’s Author, Reviewer

Mayra’s Secret Bookcase features book reviews, author and publishing professional interviews, and articles on writing.

Karen  Cioffi
Author, Freelance Writer, Reviewer

Stop by this site where you’ll find frequently updated writing and marketing tips and resources, and reviews. Sign up for the free monthly newsletter and get a FREE ebook.

3 Comments on Travel Along This Week’s Blog Chain!, last added: 2/4/2010

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24. Melissa and the Green Blanket by Julie S. Dobbins

Reviewed by Karen Cioffi for the National Writing for Children Center

melissa and the green blanket

Title: Melissa and the Green Blanket
Author: Julie S. Dobbins
Music by: Craig Dobbins
Illustrated by: David Moon

What’s the telltale mark of a wonderful children’s book or CD? The answer to this is easy, when a child requests to read it, or hear it, over and over and over…

Melissa and the Green Blanket is just such a CD. Along with the audio, Dobbins includes a small booklet with simple black and white illustrations. Dabs of green are used for the blanket. While the illustrations are simple, they hold the child’s attention.

I played Melissa and the Green Blanket for my 3-year-old grandson while we looked at the corresponding pages in the booklet – he was engrossed. He asked to listen to it five times! And, he had to look at the booklet while we listened. Not much else needs to be said about this CD/book’s child appeal.

The story is about a little girl who loves, and relies on, her green security blanket. One day, she can’t find her special, make-me-invisible and protect-me-from-monsters, blanket. The search is on… and Mom to the rescue.

What is especially beneficial with stories in this format, is that the parent, guardian, grandparent, or other, doesn’t have to read a story over and over – the author/teller does it for you. Along with an engaging and entertaining story, Dobbins voice is soothing and expressive, as is the accompanying music. I highly recommend Melissa and the Green Blanket.


Karen Cioffi is an author and freelance writer. You can learn more about Karen at: karencioffi.com/media-page. Join her mailing list at DKV Writing 4 U and receive a special gift: Writing, Publishing, and Marketing – You Can Do It!
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1 Comments on Melissa and the Green Blanket by Julie S. Dobbins, last added: 2/4/2010
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25. How Can You Learn to Write for Children?

Karen Cioffi
by Karen Cioffi

I write for young children and I also write marketing and health articles. Writing in multiple genres, I can tell you that writing for children can be much more challenging. When writing for children, there are guidelines to keep in mind to help your story avoid the editor’s trash pile.

Writing for children involves specific rules and appropriate story lines geared to each specific age group. Each age group even has its own vocabulary: Is the word “smuggle” appropriate for a 2nd grader? There is just so much that goes into writing for children and the question becomes how do you learn all the rules, tricks and answers. Well, there are a number of ways to learn and hone your children’s writing skills, but the most efficient and expedient is to find an experienced coach.

I’ve only been writing seriously for publication for about two years. And, I admit I had it all wrong at the beginning. While I am still learning, I’ve come quite a ways. I’ve come so far that I recently got a contract for one of my children’s books with 4RV Publishing.

So, how did I learn the children’s writing ropes enough to land a contract?
The answer’s simple, through the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club (CWCC). I joined Suzanne Lieurance’s club when I first became serious about writing for children. I can say without hesitation and with all honesty, Suzanne helped me get that contract. Her guidance, tips, knowledge, advice, lessons, teleclasses, and weekly critiques of my work all helped me to hone my craft.

What’s amazing about the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club – CWCC – is that membership is only $27 per month. It is probably the best outright bargain online. That’s less than a dollar a day!

And, I praise the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club (CWCC), only for what it’s helped me accomplish, but for what each and every member in the club has accomplished. I can’t be certain, but I think every club member has become published through either books or articles. That’s an amazing track record!

Suzanne Lieurance knows her business and has an innate ability to impart her knowledge to others. She’s a great coach, instructor, and motivator.
To add to this, along with Suzanne’s excellent coaching skills, the members of this group are all amazingly giving and helpful—this all makes for a dependable and proven path leading to publication.

But, if this isn’t enough, the CWCC also guides you through creating and maintaining visibility and marketing your work. We had one teleclass on creating a video so we could all learn to make book trailers for our published books!

So, if you’re serious about writing for children, don’t procrastinate, jump on board. It’s an investment in your future!

Join the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club today.

Karen Cioffi, Author, Freelance Writer, Reviewer

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